Star to exit India news biz, ends ABP JV

Rupert Murdoch-promoted Star Group today said it is exiting from news business in India and will end brand association with the ABP Group in their joint venture (JV) that runs three news channels, including Star News in Hindi.

"Given the current regulatory environment and structural issues ailing the Indian cable and satellite television market and the news genre in particular, Star took this extremely difficult decision to withdraw its brand from the genre," Star India said in a statement.

In 2003, Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) Group and STAR India Pvt Ltd, a part of the Star Group, had formed a 74:26 joint venture -- MCCS.

"Star and ABP have agreed to discontinue the Star brand affiliation with Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS), which operates three STAR-branded news channels, Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha," the statement added.

In a separate statement, MCCS said Hindi news channel, STAR News, will be rechristened as ABP News. Similarly, Bengali news channel STAR Ananda will be renamed ABP Ananda and the STAR Majha will be called ABP Majha.

"The core business of the ABP is news and it wishes to promote and establish its own brands in the broadcast news space through its subsidiary company - MCCS," it added.

Star India said discontinuation of the Star brand affiliation was one of the steps it proposed to refocus and reenergise the core strength of its business viz. General entertainment channels.

"The discontinuation will come in effect in phases from a period of two months to four months and the partners will work together to ensure a smooth transition during this period," it added.

The two companies, however, did not specify on the fate of MCCS. It could not be ascertained if ABP has bought out the foreign partner's stake.

STAR India is a leading media and entertainment company, broadcasting 33 channels in eight languages, including Star Plus, Star World, Star Movies, Channel V and Star Gold.

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