Court ends run of India's top soap

'Mother-in-law' canceled by Star India

NEW DELHI -- India's longest-running soap will go off the air Thursday following a court order that dismissed its producers' plea for an injunction against the show's broadcaster, Star India.

Once the top-rated show on television, the eight-year run of "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" (Once the mother-in-law was the daughter-in-law) helped catapult Star India's flagship Hindi channel Star Plus to market leadership, while the show's producer Balaji Telefilms is now one of India's most powerful TV content players.

Star India canceled "Saas" reportedly because of its falling ratings, given that rival channels, such as the recently launched Colors, are threatening Star's dominance with top-rated shows such as localized versions of "Big Brother" and "Fear Factor."

Balaji filed a case in the Bombay High Court against SGL Entertainment Ltd., a Star India unit, which terminated its sourcing agreement with Balaji. In its defense, Star India legal counsel Ravi Kadam told the court that "the program has outlived its life. We had no motive to hurt Balaji."

Balaji did not offer any comment, though they can appeal the court's decision.

In August, Star and Balaji ended their joint venture agreement to launch regional channels, which also included Balaji buying back the 25.99% equity -- valued at roughly $75 million (3 billion rupees) -- held by Star in Balaji.
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