New Delhi: Star India Pvt. Ltd, the Indian broadcast and entertainment unit of News Corp., said it formed a 50:50 joint venture with DEN Digital Entertainment Networks Pvt. Ltd, a cable services company, to distribute television channels across platforms such as cable, direct-to-home, Internet protocol television and multi-channel, multi-point distribution services.
The joint venture, Star DEN Media Services Pvt. Ltd, will distribute all 14 channels from Star, which include Star News, Star Movies, Channel V, Star Sports and the market leader in Hindi television general entertainment, Star Plus. The company also plans to strike deals with other networks, domestic and foreign both.
“Initially, the focus will be on domestic channels,” said Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India.
The terms of the venture were not disclosed. Star has so far managed distribution of its channels through an in-house division, while the other two big networks—Zee Group and Sony Entertainment Television India Pvt. Ltd (SET)—had forged distribution alliances.
Zee’s parent Essel Group and Turner International formed Zee Turner Ltd in 2002. It distributes all Zee and Turner channels, including Cartoon Network, HBO and CNN, apart from channels from the Network 18 Ltd group. SET and Discovery Communications have a venture called SET Discovery Pvt. Ltd, which distributes all channels from both companies and some others.
“We felt the business of distribution has evolved enough to be a separate profit centre rather than being just a support division,” said Shankar.
Star also has interests in last-mile broadcast distribution through its 20% stake in Hathway Cable and Datacom Pvt. Ltd, a cable TV services company run by industrialist Rajan Raheja.
DEN is majority owned by Sameer Manchanda, a joint managing director at Global Broadcast News Ltd (GBN), broadcaster of channels such as CNN IBN and IBN7. Manchanda’s partner in GBN, Raghav Bahl, is also an investor in DEN. News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal, which has an exclusive content partnership with Mint in India.