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Star comes to Media City

Ruperty Murdoch's Asian TV operation says its new regional office will focus on distribution and advertising sales.

Rupert Murdoch now has a foothold in the Middle East. After years of pumping his Sky and Fox TV news channels into the region, the Murdoch-owned Star TV has taken offices at Dubai Media City.

It is the latest step towards fulfilling Murdoch’s long-suspected dream of dominating the world’s media. When he first opened Sky News in London more than 20 years ago his trusted aide, David Hill, said, “This is our first step in offering the world’s advertisers ‘one-stop-shopping’ through owning TV, print and entertainment media around the world.”

It could also persuade the Murdoch news channels, Sky, the oft-criticised Fox and the Hindi Star News, to establish physical presences in the Middle East. They are, of course, already broadcast in the region, but the president of Star’s digital platforms group, Altaf Alimohamed, said it was likely that all three would be seeking to open bureaux in the region “in the near future.”

Asked how he felt Fox’s abrasive, pro-American style might be received he said, “I’d rather stay away from sensitivities – I’d like to concentrate on sport and entertainment.”

Announcing the DMC deal, which has been three years in the making since DMC’s first approach to the Hong Kong-based operator, Alimohamed, said, “We look forward to contributing to DMC’s success over the next few years and to being part of its expansion plans.”

Star already offers 18 channels of mainly entertainment television on the ADD platform, so why do they need to have a physical presence in Dubai? “It is important in terms of giving local support to the channels and looking after distribution and advertising sales,” explained Alimohamed.

“Also, ADD only accounts for part of our operation and distribution. We service hotels and cable companies throughout the region ourselves. It’s important that we have a presence in order to develop that side of the business.”

He also intends to regionalise the Star package. “English and Hindi are our only languages in the Middle East but it is our intention to change that over time, to produce local programming in local languages over the next few years.”

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