Sun TV in queue with Space TV for DTH nod

New Delhi, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2005, 05:38am hrs
Even as News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch awaits the government nod for the Space TV direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting venture, Sun Networks application for DTH is also learnt to be in an advanced stage of being processed. Sun TVs chairman and managing director is Kalanidhi Maran, brother of telecommunications minister Dayanidhi Maran.

Mr Murdoch met information and broadcasting minister S Jaipal Reddy here on Wednesday and sought an expeditious clearance of Space TVs DTH application. Space TV is a 80:20 joint venture between the Tatas and the Star group. Star is a 100% subsidiary of News Corp. Mr Murdoch called his meeting with Mr Reddy confidential.

Following his meeting with Mr Reddy, Mr Murdoch met Mr Dayanidhi Maran.

The I&B minister confirmed that two serious DTH applications are at an advanced stage of process and will be considered positively provided they are in conformity with the rules. He was referring to Space TV and Sun TV applications.

Mr Murdoch and his team spoke at length on DTH with the I&B minister. Specifically on the Space TV venture, Mr Reddy is understood to have told Mr Murdoch that the application is in an advanced stage of consideration. On whether Star was exploring any changes in partnership pattern for Space TV DTH, Mr Reddy said, Im not aware of any such development. The minister said there was no reference to the Star News channel during his meeting with Mr Reddy, even as there was an industry buzz that Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP), the majority partner for Star News, was exploring the possibility of running the channel on its own. Both chief editor of ABP Aveek Sarkar and the Star spokesperson, however, denied any such move.

Significantly, Mr Murdoch reiterated the need for higher foreign investment in media ventures during his meeting with Mr Reddy. The minister said theres no such proposal.