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NEW DELHI – News Corp.’s broadcasting group Star India announced Monday that it has ended its brand association with joint venture Hindi news channel Star News. The venture’s holding company Media Content & Communications Services was formed in 2003 with Star India holding 26 per cent equity – the maximum allowed for a foreign investor in a news broadcasting venture under Indian guidelines – with the balance held by local partner and leading Indian media entity Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) Group.
“Given the current regulatory environment and structural issues ailing the Indian cable and satellite television market and the news genre in particular, Star took this extremely difficult decision to withdraw its brand from the genre,” Star India said in a statement. While Star India will continue to hold its equity in MCCS, the ending of the brand association means that the venture’s three channels will not include the “Star” name.
Following the rebranding, Star News will be called ABP News while the joint venture’s other channels, Bengali general entertainment outlet Star Ananda will be rebranded as ABP Ananda and regional language Marathi news channel Star Majha will become ABP Majha.
The rebranding on the three channels will take place within four months.
Meanwhile, newspaper reports here indicated that there were other issues that led to Star India ending its brand association. “Editorial control in the MCCS joint venture had always been a stress point, as Star had no control over the running of the organisation due to the foreign direct investment limit. It made no sense for them to continue with the venture,” said the Business Standard newspaper quoting an “industry source.”
The newspaper also quoted sources stating that if and when Star India decides to sell its stake in MCCS, the ABP Group would have the first right of refusal to purchase Star’s stake.
Star India’s foray into the news broadcasting business started with the launch of Star News in 1991 which was originally a hybrid English/Hindi news channel. Star News initially had a content supply agreement with New Delhi Television (NDTV), a leading news production company. The agreement was terminated in 2003 when Star News was reorganized as an exclusive Hindi news channel under the specially launched MCCS joint venture. Meanwhile, NDTV launched its own news channels starting with 2003’s English outlet NDTV 24×7 followed by Hindi channel NDTV India. Recently, Star India and NDTV renewed their relationship following a recent agreement wherein Star India became the advertising sales marketing arm for NDTV’s news channels.
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