StarTV beefs up pan-Asian music channel

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StarTV, the Hong-Kong based satellite television subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is joining forces with four of the world's largest music production companies to develop Channel [V], its pan-Asian music channel.

EMI Music, part of Thorn EMI, BMG, part of Bertelsmann, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Music Group have taken equal shares in a 50 per cent stake in Channel [V], leaving Star with the remaining 50 per cent.

No financial details are being disclosed, but Thorn EMI, chaired by Sir Colin Southgate, said it was a modest investment for its music division.

Channel [V] was relaunched last May after it parted company with US-based MTV. Its name was changed from MTV Asia to Channel [V] and its beam was split in two to greater China and to India, South-east Asia and the Middle East.

The partners have signed an agreement that will provide access across the region to the best international and locally produced music television. A spokeswoman for Star said it was hoped the deal would allow Channel [V] greater access to local talent through a more direct relationship with the music producers.

EMI Music is already in partnership with Sony and Warner in Viva, a German-language music video channel in Germany. Thorn EMI's half-year results to the end of September showed 13 per cent growth in operating profits at the music division based on a strong performance by old timers Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.

A spokesman for Thorn said the company was keen to develop markets with exciting potential and to develop local artists. EMI Music would be equally interested in co-operating with other television operators in the area, he said.

British Sky Broadcasting, News Corporation's UK satellite television operation, added a net 180,000 direct-to-home subscribers in the last three months of last year. More than 70 per cent of the newcomers subscribed for all Sky's premium channels and arepaying the top monthly subscription rate of £22.99.

The subscriber base rose to 2.82 million at the end of 1994. BSkyB said that churning (subscription cancellations) fell from 12 per cent in the second half of 1993 to 10 per cent in the second half of last year, despite the subscription price increase last October.

Broadcasters Audience Research Board figures for this month show the total number of subscribers to Sky's programming now exceeds 4 million for the first time. The number includes cable receivers and commercial as well as private subscribers.