Murdoch exits Indian news TV

NEW DELHI - Rupert Murdoch-owned Star Group is exiting its news business in India after ending an eight-year brand association with its local partner.

The company, which owns a 26 per cent stake in the joint venture with Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP), will withdraw its branding in the next four months, Star India said in a statement late Monday.

"Given the current regulatory environment and structural issues ailing the Indian cable and satellite television market and the news genre in particular, Star took this extremely difficult decision to withdraw its brand from the genre," it said.

Star India and ABP operated three 24-hour news channels, including the popular Star News in Hindi.

In a separate statement the ABP said both brands had benefited from their association and it was time they focused on their core business areas.

"Star wishes to focus on building their brand on their core business that is general entertainment. The core business of the ABP is news and it wishes to promote and establish its own brands in the broadcast news space," it said.

Local media reports blamed discontent over editorial direction for the split.

"Editorial control... had always been a stress point, as Star had no control over the running of the organisation," an unnamed industry source was quoted as saying by The Business Standard.

The Star Group, which is an Asian TV service owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, has its headquarters in Hong Kong and broadcasts in China and the Middle East.

Star's move in India comes amid a phone hacking scandal that has engulfed Murdoch's British newspaper arm News International, forcing the Australian-born tycoon to shut down the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid last July.

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