There was great speculation whether Rupert Murdoch would do it again - raise the DTH issue, which has got Star TV into trouble time and again in the past, what with rivals rushing to ministers and getting them to unenthuse over-excited information and broadcasting ministers about allowing it in India. But Murdoch apparently seems to have been undeterred by the past, when he met with I&B minister Arun Jaitley. He popped the same proposal: allow DTH. In a different garb though.
The minister - in a meeting with journos - said that Murdoch has proposed that he will use DTH for long-distance education in India in conjunction with the Internet, a proposal former ISkyB number 2 Urmilla Gupta has been flaunting for some time now. Jaitley said that Murdoch told him that he was considering tying up with some Indian Universities to promote distance education and health training.
In a forty minute discussion with the Minister, Murdoch said that he was in favour of an open skies policy wherein he expected the Govenment's whole-hearted support. Murdoch also highligthed the fact that Ku-band broadcasting is not harmful and it is the wave of the future and India cannot be left out of it. True, because even a so-called totalitarian (in Murdoch's words) state like China is experimenting with DTH.
When asked about the restructuring of Star TV, he said that the process was still on but there was no time-frame for its completion. Mr Murdoch further revealed that he had picked up a small stake in a Bangalore based IT company about which no details were disclosed by him.
Murdoch told reporters that Star TV is considering going in for an for an Initial Public Offering but a time frame for it has not been set as yet. He later met Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan with whom he discussed infotech policy outlines, and also discussed the old bubear, DTH, and convergence in India.
Later at night, Murdoch attended a bash thrown by Star TV on behalf of Janata Ki Adalat host Rajat Sharma where even Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was supposed to turn up.
After the party, he flew into the night in his private jet, headed for Hong Kong to ensure his partnership with C&WHKT is fine fettle and sort out other issues relating to Star TV in Asia.