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Star India’s Hotstar adds two more news channels to its platform

MUMBAI: After adding Republic TV as its first third-party channel, Star India’s video on demand (VoD) service has added two more third-party news channels to its platforms. The VoD platform has added Hindi news channel ABP News and Malayalam news channel Asianet News.

Over the top (OTT) services like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are un-regulated. Thus, Hotstar doesn’t need any licence to show news channels on its platform.

In television, the broadcasters are required to take a licence from the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) to launch a news channel. In case of print, the publishers need to register with the Registrar of Newspapers under MIB.

Hotstar already live streams American news channel Fox News and British news channel Sky News, which are part of its parent company 21st Century Fox.

Star India has for long been urging the government to relax the foreign direct investment (FDI) rules in TV news broadcasting to allow more investments to flow into the cash-strapped sector.

The government has hiked FDI limit in TV news to 49% for foreign companies, however, the remaining 51% will have to be held by a single Indian shareholder. This is proving to be a major bottleneck for foreign companies who are keen on investing in news broadcasting.

Incidentally, Star had a joint venture (JV) with ABP Group through a company called Media Content and Communication Services (MCCS), which owned and operated Star News, Star Majha and Star Ananda.

In 2012, Star exited from the 74:26 JV with ABP taking total control of the news network and rebranding it ABP News Network. The FDI restriction was the major behind Star’s exit from news business.

Similarly, Star had also bought out the entertainment channels from the Asianet Communications. The news channels under Asianet are owned and operated by Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Capital. Chandrasekhar is also an investor in Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV.