Star channel awaits regulatory approval

Star channel awaits regulatory approval

New Delhi: Star India’s launch of a stand-alone home shopping television channel has been held up by regulatory hurdles.

The channel, named Star CJ Alive and run by Star CJ Network India Pvt. Ltd, a venture of Star India Pvt. Ltd and CJ O Shopping Co. Ltd, which broadcasts a home shopping channel in South Korea, is still awaiting approval from the information and broadcasting ministry.

“We are ready with our infrastructure and manpower. Everything is ready to roll," said Paritosh Joshi, chief executive officer of Star CJ Network. “We will launch our channel within a fortnight of getting the licence from the government."

The delay for the broadcaster comes even as its flagship channel Star Plus lost its clear dominance in the Hindi general entertainment category earlier this year.

Rivals Colors TV channel, run by Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd, and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s Zee TV are now also closely contesting for market leadership in the category that has the largest viewership in cable TV homes in India.

Star CJ Alive is available for six hours a day on Star Utsav, another Hindi entertainment channel operated by Star India.

“We get thousands of calls in a day but the rate of conversion to a purchase is very low as of now. We are only on one channel for a limited amount of time," Joshi said.

Star CJ Alive’s rival, HomeShop18, a venture of the Network18 group, was launched in July last year and has both a TV and online presence.

In the three months ending September, HomeShop18 clocked gross sales of Rs46.7 crore, an increase of 91% over the year-ago period, according to information available on the company’s website. It processed 187,000 orders in the quarter, an 87% rise over the year ago, the firm said.

“With the backing of a brand like Star and stable financial investments, the delay of the launch should not be too much of a problem," said Smita Jha, media and entertainment analyst at consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Star India had received government approval for overseas investment in a home shopping channel in October 2008 and announced a partnership with CJ O Shopping in March. Approval to air the channel was sought in May, Joshi said.