Star plans to launch five new TV channels in India, said News Corp president and COO Peter Chernin at a US investor conference. “There’s a land grab for channel space and capacity in India… we really want and ought to be at the forefront of that,” said Chernin. The channels will likely cover regional and niche entertainment genres. Chernin also indicated that though Star had budgeted for flat earnings growth in this fiscal year (year-end June 2008), indicators since June 2007 had been ahead of expectations, boosted by robust advertising growth.
According to Chernin, Star is likely return to significant earnings growth probably in 2009. A recent report by MPA analysts predicted that Star would see a significant uplift from 2009 onwards but added that earnings levels would return to historical peaks only after 2010 with operating cash flow or EBITDA levels expected to touch US$140 million by June 2011. “It’s all about growth and investment in India and we’re really focused on getting back to double digit growth as well as investing in new channel launches and new technology plays,” said Chernin.
With respect to China, Chernin said: “We aren’t making anything there and we are not investing there. It’s an extremely sensitive time politically.” At an earlier investor meeting this week in the US, News chairman Rupert Murdoch said that MySpace’s progress in Europe had been great but its momentum in Japan was slow and despite a recent successful launch in China, it faced tough competition from “hundreds of imitators” on the mainland. Murdoch added My Space would launch in India shortly.
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