Recently James Murdoch, COO, 21st Century Fox met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also met other senior ministers such as Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information and Broadcast Minister, Arun Jaitley and Minister of Telecom and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar. Although not much is known regarding what transpired in the meeting , media reports state that interaction may be in regards with Star India’s aggressive expansion plans. Murdoch was accompanied by Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.
This is after it has expanded the sports broadcast business by several times its size since last year and further expanded its regional broadcast business. It has also one of the foremost broadcasters to make inroads into the digital space.
Murdoch has often cited that Star India has been a big focus for Fox with key growth business interests for the conglomerate. He had also said during his previous visit to India in 2011 that India’s creative force is still a sleeping tiger waiting to be awakened. Earlier in December he had also spoken to investors at a conference about Fox’s India business and it’s likely to grow faster than the foreign operations in other regions by citing affiliate fee and rise in advertising revenue.
It has been speculated that the discussions between the leaders could also involve increasing FDI upto 49% in news media, something that broadcasters are keenly looking forward to.
While expanding in many businesses, Star has also exited in several businesses such as with cable TV company Hathway Cable & Datacom, Star CJ Alive and the joint venture in TV news with ABP Group. The reason for the exit in the news venture was due to foreign ownership restrictions imposed by the government and is a key area for the conglomerate which owns top news network Fox News. Foreign ownerships restrictions also keep the company from expanding in many regions such as the direct-to-home (DTH) space. The meeting could also be seen as a way to present such issues that are roadblocks to international companies in the media and entertainment industry.