Star TV plans indian interactive TV with cable firm

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HONG KONG--Star TV has acquired a 26% stake in Hathway Cable & Datacom Private Limited, which owns and operates the second largest cable network in India, reaching approximately 2.5 million homes with more than 80 channels.

Hathway's network covers more than 60% of the Mumbai market and holds significant market share in other key markets such as Pune, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.

Star and Hathway plan to launch a fully-integrated interactive TV and broadband Internet business in the first half of next year. Taking advantage of Hathway's distribution infrastructure, the News Corp.-owned broadcaster will offer a range of convergence services, connecting customers to content, to services and to each other.

"This alliance with Hathway takes us a giant leap forward in India," says Star Chairman-CEO James Murdoch in Hong Kong. "We believe our multi-service offering, consisting of popular programming, interactive services, premium content, to name just a few, will drive growth both for our own multi-media business [and] also for our new partner, Hathway."

Currently, the cable industry in India is highly fragmented, points out Hathway CEO K. Jayarama in Mumbai. "The industry needs to consolidate as technological change demands high investment," he says. "With the advent of value-added services such as Internet-over-cable, independent operators will join hands with the multi-system operator (MSO) in a win-win partnership."

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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