Mumbai: Media giant News Corp. plans to invest $100 million (about Rs424 crore) to launch six regional language television channels over the next year in India, chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said.
The US-based media company will expand its presence in movies, and the digital and mobile space, with greater collaboration between its Dow Jones Newswires and the Star network, he added.
Growing Footprint: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp.
Ending incessant speculation in India’s business press, Murdoch ruled out entering the publishing business in India unless the regulation on foreign direct investments (FDI) in the sector is changed.
“We don’t want to be a 26% partner,” Murdoch said.
The regulatory cap on FDI in India’s print news media is 26%.
Mint, published by HT Media Ltd, has an exclusive content partnership in India with The Wall Street Journal.
On the Journal’s content tie-up, Murdoch said the “partnership with Mint is wonderful”.
Star India, wholly owned by News Corp., broadcasts entertainment and music channels. It has a 26% stake in Media Content and Communications Services India Pvt. Ltd, which operates three news channels.
Annual revenue for television in India, which is seeing an explosion of new channel launches, is forecast to more than double to $11.6 billion by 2012, according to research firm Media Partners Asia.
Murdoch and Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, were here on Monday to launch the Dow Jones India Titans 30 Index, which will track the largest and most liquid stocks traded in India.
Dow Jones and Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal, the world’s largest selling financial daily, was bought last year by News Corp. from the Bancroft family.
Murdoch also said he is happy with the company’s alliances in India, referring to its partnership with the Tata group in the direct-to-home (DTH) business and strategic investments in production houses.
Thomson said the Dow Jones Newswires team in India would be expanded to about 60 journalists in the next six months from the current 25.
The Dow Jones India Titans 30 Index includes two-thirds of the constituents of the Sensex, the Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock benchmark index. Dow Jones Indexes, a global index provider, is best known for the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index.
“The growing importance of India to the world and to Dow Jones and News Corp. is obvious to all,” said Murdoch.
What the world needs is a trusted means of measuring this country’s development and an index that can be used by investors globally to track the progress of Indian companies and its economy, Murdoch said. There will be huge capital flows from and to India in coming years, he added.
The index, whose composition is based on rankings by free-float market capitalization and 12-month average daily trading volume, will be licensed to financial institutions as the basis of investment products, such as exchange-traded funds. “The index constituents will be updated annually,” said Sumeet Nihalani, senior director, sales, for Asia- Pacific and Middle East of Dow Jones Indexes.
Separately, Murdoch also announced plans for The Global Dow, an index for existing and future global leaders in every industry. The world has witnessed a reweighting of risk and the world itself is being economically rerated, Murdoch said.
“Indian companies will obviously have a place in The Global Dow,” he added.
The components of the global index will be selected by The Wall Street Journal editors.
Rina Chandran is with Reuters. Bloomberg contributed to this story.