Murdoch to invest $100 million on 6 new TV channels in India

Mumbai, Aug 4 (IANS) Rupert Murdoch's Star Group Ltd will invest $100 million (Rs.4.2 billion) to launch six new television channels in India within the next 12 months, Murdoch told reporters here Monday.

Murdoch is here to announce the launch of the Dow Jones India Titan 30 Index.

Star Group Ltd is owned by the United States-based global media conglomerate News Corporation. Murdoch heads News Corporation which last year acquired global business news and information services firm Dow Jones in a $5 billion (Rs.211 billion) buyout.

News Corporation, however, "has no plans to acquire stakes in the Indian print media as there is a 26 percent cap on foreign ownership in print," Murdoch said.

"We don't see ourselves taking a stake as we don't want a miniscule stake," he added.

Star currently operates 17 channels in India, including some regional channels, catering to India's many different ethnic groups. The new channels being planned will all be regional channels, Star Group officials said Monday.

The Star Group broadcasts over 60 television services in ten languages to more than 300 million viewers in 53 Asian countries.

Murdoch arrived in India July 30 and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, before travelling to Mumbai for meetings with Star Group executives.

Murdoch said the Dow Jones India Titan 30 Index measures the performance of the 30 largest and most liquid stocks listed on BSE and NSE. The index will be based on the first 30 stocks ranked by free float market capitalization and 12 months' average daily trading volume.

The top five companies in the index by free float market capitalization are Reliance Industries, Infosys Technologies, HDFC, Bharti Airtel and Larsen & Toubro. The three biggest sectors represented in the index are financial services, basic materials, and oil and gas.

"We are unveiling the Dow Jones India Titan Index to track the stock market performance of prominent Indian companies. It will be licensed to financial institutions and will provide the basis for investment products such as exchange credit fund etc.," Murdoch said.

"We will also track capital inflows both to and from India in the coming years and this is an opportunity for us as a financial information company," he said.

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