STAR TO LAUNCH TWO NEW CHANNELS

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Star India is shining and how! Not only is it bringing two new entertainment channels to the country, it also plans to launch direct-to-home services with 65 channels on its platform for a monthly subscription of Rs 180 from November.

STAR Group CEO, Michelle Guthrie today met the I&B minister Ravi Shanker prasad and briefed him on the Company's expansion plans in the light of the network's performance in the country. The Rs 180 subscription fee proposed for Star's DTH service is cheaper than not only the existing DTH offering from the Zee stable but also ordinary cable services.

Sources said she told Mr Prasad that the existing entertainment channel, Star Plus was a big hit and the Company was raking in revenues.
The Group was therefore very positive on India which had an "abundance of talent, geographical and linguistic diversity."

However, it was difficult to bring in new flavours unless the ongoing soaps were removed. So the Company had decided to start two more new channels in the entertainment segment.

She also said that the television sector in India was booming and there was sufficient room for all players. ar importance to consumer satisfaction, sources said.
She also mentioned the pending DTH application to the minister. Earlier, accompanied by Star India CEO, Peter Mukherjea, Ms. Guthrie made a presentation on the Rs 1,500 crore DTH joint venture which it plans with the Tatas to I&B officials, urging for a speedy clearance.

Hopeful of attracting one million viewers in the first year of operations, the Star- Tata DTH platform will add on content on lifestyle, cookery, gardening it was revealed.
According to sources, Star-Tata DTH subscriber would be required to make an initial payment of below Rs 5000 for the DTH service, while the set-top box will carry a sub-Rs 3000 price tag.

Various finance schemes will be on offer. The application for the Star-Tata DTH venture was filed in February soon after CAS was put on hold by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. While the non-refundable entry fee of Rs 10 crore has been paid up, a guarantee of Rs 40 crore has to be paid before the Company receive a letter of intent from the I&B ministry.

The Company (which planned to link through PAS) is still trying to sort out the issue with ISRO as the norms demand that the link should be through an Indian satellite.
The first and only other DTH operator, Zee -affiliate ASC Enterprises has launched the service in October last year for Rs 100. This service called DISH TV offers 38 channels and is gradually adding ten niche channels for Rs 10 each.

Prasar Bharati is also speeding up preparations for what it calls free-to-air or common man's DTH (meaning only FTA channels would be carried ) with the view to reaching those viewers who have no access to cable or terrestrial TV.

It signed up with ISRO to hire transponders for the DTH project. Meanwhile, in the Delhi Court today, Saisagar Cable Networks from Manmad, Maharashtra which had petitioned against Star India for disconnecting signals, withdrew the plea after informing the Court that it would approach TDSAT for relief.

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