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News Corp’s Star TV to exit Indian news arena

Star India and its news broadcasting partner Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP) are dissolving their eight year relationship, leaving the Rupert Murdoch owned group to focus on general entertainment TV in India.

Following the split, Hindi news channel Star News will be renamed ABP News, Bengali news channel Star Ananda will become ABP Ananda, and the Marathi news channel Star Majha will be known as ABP Majha.

"Given the current regulatory environment and structural issues ailing the Indian cable and satellite television market and the news genre in particular, Star took this extremely difficult decision to withdraw its brand from the genre," Star India said in a statement.

Star India has held a 26% stake since 2003 in Media Content & Communications Services (MCCS), which operates the three news channels, while Kolkata-based media group ABP held the remaining 74% share.

"Star and ABP have agreed to discontinue the Star brand affiliation with Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS), which operates three Star-branded news channels, Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha," the statement added.

Star News was launched in March 2004, followed by Star Ananda in June 2005 and Star Majha in June 2007.

ABP said its core business is news, and that it now "wishes to promote and establish its own brands in the broadcast news space through its subsidiary company - MCCS."

It remains unclear whether ABP is to buy Star India's 26% stake in MCCS, as has been previously rumoured.

Star India said its exit from the news genre "will come in effect in phases from a period of two months to four months and the partners will work together to ensure a smooth transition during this period."

Star India currently broadcasts 33 channels in eight languages, including Star Plus, Star World, Star Movies, Channel V and Star Gold.

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