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Making News, Breaking News

The STAR-NDTV marriage is on the rocks, threatening to change the face of newsmaking in the subcontinent

Making News, Breaking News
Atul Loke
Making News, Breaking News
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The note reflected on the growing need of Star News to have complete editorial control, ostensibly because news—especially after 9/11—was also seen as an important revenue earner for the channel as compared to serials, game shows and soaps. It referred to the fact that earlier news watching was habitual and the time spent on it relatively low as compared to soaps and serials. But now the concept of anytime news was catching up. Hence, it was important to have direct control on the channel's news operations, the note added, in a politically sensitive country like India, especially after South Asia has become the world's focus.

The contents of the note, expectedly, made many sit up and take notice at NDTV, whose contract with STAR expires in March 2003. NDTV claims that two years ago, James Murdoch—during a closed-door meeting with Prannoy Roy—had explicitly mentioned that the channel had no interest in supervising editorial issues. At that point, NDTV had even offered a group of ombudsmen comprising corporate captains like Ratan Tata and N.R. Narayana Murthy to check complaints, if any, against Star News' reportage. But Murdoch apparently said that editorial content was purely NDTV's headache. As for the financial aspects of the contract, a top NDTV official claims that two international investment bankers, DSP Merrill Lynch (for STAR) and Goldman Sachs (for NDTV) had almost agreed on the post-March 2003 package that was more or less the current amount.

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