Star India, Jupiter widen their universe

Companies form joint venture, will launch channels

NEW DELHI -- Star India and Bangalore-based Jupiter Entertainment Ventures have created a joint venture that will operate existing broadcast channels and launch new ones in South India, the companies said Friday.

The two companies also are exploring other areas of cooperation, including film co-productions between Mumbai-based Fox Star Studios India and Indigo Movies, Jupiter Entertainment's movie production arm.

Under the deal, Star Jupiter Entertainment Television becomes the majority shareholder of Jupiter Capital-owned Asianet Communications Ltd., which runs channels broadcasting in the Kannada, Telegu and Malayalam languages. Star India's Tamil-language channel, Vijay, also will come under Star Jupiter, pending regulatory approval.

While investment figures were not given, "the joint venture is expected to make additional investments towards developing and launching new channels in South India in the coming months," the companies said.

Star pulled the plug on another joint venture in the South Indian market, with Mumbai-based TV content player Balaji Telefilms, in August.

During Rupert Murdoch's recent India visit, he announced that Star will invest $100 million to launch six regional channels.

Jupiter Entertainment is a subsidiary of venture capital and investment firm Jupiter Capital, founded by telecom and IT entrepreneur Rajeev Chandrasekhar in 2005.