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August 31, 2008

Murdoch on Star India 2.0

Businessworld has an interview with Rupert Murdoch on his latest plans for India.

You have a DTH success story in BSkyB. What has been the experience in India like?
Tata Sky has become a great brand, but it is going to be very competitive. There are Reliance and Bharti coming in; there are many who would like to provide these services. In three or four years, we will see some consolidation. Some will lose money, others will say they are investing money because they are expanding. And then we will see who will tire first. It has been a two-player market in the US, but otherwise you rarely see more than one player in most markets.

...China and India have both been great growth stories, but for News Corp. and Star, India’s performance has been way ahead of China. What happened?
China does not like foreign media. Period. We tried and tried; and we tried to get joint ventures going; ... then there was a change of regime and we closed down. We are standing by now to see what happens. India has a huge advantage. It is a working democracy, there is rule of law, and you know where you stand. India has been a great experience. Yes, 60-70 per cent of Star’s cake is out of India, and... it will be maintained...

You own a huge chunk of media worldwide spanning television, publishing, and now digital platforms. While these companies do good business, they also give you a lot of power to shape public opinion. How do you exercise this power?
With the power comes great responsibility. It is not uniform. Take Star Plus. The channel can hardly be said to shape opinion. Globally, we try very, very hard to be absolutely objective in news coverage. We don’t stop having opinions on the pages that are meant for that, and strong opinions at that. We fight very hard for open and free markets within countries, and globally.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.