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STAR chief meets Advani

New Delhi, July 28: STAR Television’s head in India, Peter Mukerjea, met deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani here this evening against the backdrop of a barrage of questions that the media house is facing from the government on its application to uplink for its news channel.

In the recent past, Rupert Murdoch’s son and Newscorp boss James Murdoch had met officials of the Indian mission in Hong Kong and expressed his views on the Conditional Access System (CAS) — the set-top box regime — that is to roll out from September 1. James Murdoch is understood to have pointed out the deficiencies of CAS. However, ministry sources said, “he, of course, said that STAR was supportive of CAS”.

The Indian mission faxed a report on James Murdoch’s views that has been routed to the Union information and broadcasting ministry.

Neither Advani nor Mukerjea talked to the media about what transpired in today’s meeting. But the timing suggests that it is crucial for STAR’s business interests.

STAR’s uplinking application is currently being studied by an inter-ministerial group that is to meet again later this week.

Mukerjea’s meeting with Advani is one of several that STAR executives have been holding with key figures in the government. STAR News’ boss Ravina Raj Kohli had last week also met the chiefs of the army and the air force and the assistance chief of naval staff. STAR News executives have been visiting Parliament, too, for consultations.

The chief of Newscorp, of which STAR is a division, Rupert Murdoch, had also sought to meet Advani in the US during the deputy Prime Minister’s visit in May. But Advani was reported to have shown little interest.

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