Television

Star needs to look at regional strategy: Guthrie

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NEW DELHI: Some regulatory stumbling blocks in India and China notwithstanding, Rupert Murdochs pan-Asian venture, Star, will push deeper into local territories.

The Hong Kong-based Star Group, which is expected to close the FY 2006 in June with a higher revenue pegged at $ 548 million, also thinks that its time a regional strategy is devised for the lucrative Indian market.

In an interview to Hong Kong media research firm Media Partners Asia (MPA), Star Group CEO Michelle Guthrie said the company needed to seriously think about a regional strategy in India we are looking at strategies based around our existing content.

But, according to Guthrie, Stars a bit wary about the lack of advertising in the regional markets (in India) as pricing power is limited and the overall pie remains small.

Were still constrained by the fact that TV ad spend (in India) is only 0.20 per cent of GDP, she explained.

Still, on the positive side, Guthrie feels that the Indian economy continues to grow and the ad market is gradually expanding with a lot of new categories coming on board like telecommunications and finance, which have started to become serious spenders on TV.

During Q1 FY 2006 ending September, Stars turnover grew by 22 per cent year-on-year (YoY), driven primarily by advertising revenue at Star Plus (currently airing a new season of Kaun Banega Crorepati, Indias version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), higher subscription revenues from new channels in India and international distribution of several bouquet channels.

Though Guthrie feels its still a long way to go, she admitted Star One in India is starting to work,challenging rivals like Zee TV and Sony in terms of audience share and Star Gold was gaining strength in India with the shifting of Hindi movies from Plus to Gold, resulting in re-branding of the channel as a destination for premium Hindi film. Of course, this has come after investments have been made.

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