Finally, Rupert Murdoch’s Star News has got permission to uplink from India for a duration of 10 years. For a good part of 2003, Star News uplinking remained a controversial issue. It all began mid last-year when the channel applied for permission to uplink from India and government detected loopholes in the application.
A new entity, Media Content and Communication Services, was floated for Star News, and government questioned its real ownership. Even as Star was abiding by the rulebook of the country on paper, government felt there was no compliance in spirit. Then followed government queries to Star News, and several weekly and fortnightly extensions to the channel for uplinking from India.
Ultimately, government changed its uplinking rulebook. As per the new norms, a single Indian entity must hold at least 51 per cent in the company seeking uplinking from the country. From among various suitors ready to partner Star, Kolkata-based Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) was Murdoch’s final choice.
Although Star News never had to disrupt its live transmission in the country, despite all the obstacles it had to face, the uplinking licence has given a permanence to the Star-ABP venture. ABP holds 74 per cent in the venture, while Star has 26 per cent.
Before Star News was launched as a channel, in its new avatar in April 2003, it had a deal with Prannoy Roy’s NDTV for content.