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Govt yet to okay Space TV project

23-March-2005
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Govt yet to okay Space TV project

The information and broadcasting ministry will take a call on awarding the letter of intent to Space TV, the joint venture between Tata Sons and Rupert Murdoch controlled Network Digital, only after the investigation report from the ministry of company affairs (MCA) has been submitted.

Murdoch, however, today made a strong case for further opening up of the Indian media to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Government sources said it had been communicated to Murdoch, who is on a five-day visit to India, by top government functionaries.

Information and broadcasting ministry had asked the MCA to look into the joint venture agreement between the two companies to ascertain whether it confirms to the law.

The government had raised objections to the original joint venture between the two companies entered in January last year. Subsequent to which, the company had made certain changes to the agreement between the two.

The government had raised questions on the clauses of the joint venture agreement, which gives the minority foreign shareholder the power to appoint the chief executive officer of the company.

The application of the company, which is a 80:20 joint venture between Tata Sons and Murdoch, has been waiting government approval for over a year now.

“The agreement was put up before the MCA to examine its various aspects. We will wait for the MCA’s report before taking the future course of action,” a government official said.

MCA is expected to submit its report in the next seven to ten- days. Murdoch, who is in Delhi today, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

In the meeting Murdoch raised various issues relating to his ventures in India, including the DTH venture with Singh and Patil.

Government sources said Murdoch spoke about the need to increase the limit of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the media sector. Murdoch is also learnt to have presented a comparison between the progress made by India and China in various sectors.

Murdoch is expected to meet Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Wednesday. Murdoch, during his stay in India, has also reviewed the company's various operations in India.

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