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ESPN, Star Sports may consider split in Indian JV

The market leading ESPN Star Sports (ESS) joint venture in India may come to an end in order to expand the pay-TV reach of the two broadcasters involved, according to the Financial Express.

The Walt Disney-owned ESPN International and News Corporation's Star Sports have successfully worked together on premium sports broadcasting in India under the ESS banner since 1994.

The current speculation as to the joint venture's future follows Disney's recent acquisition of the Mumbai media group UTV, and with it a number of television channels. A review of ESS is now reportedly underway.

ESPN Star Sports' properties in India, including ESPN, Star Sports, Star Cricket and ESPN News are currently operated by ESPN Software India. In addition, ESS jointly runs 17 channels in the Asia-Pacific region from its base in Singapore, transmitting in five languages (English, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean).

The partnership owns regional broadcasting rights for the overseas cricket rights from England and Australia, ICC World Cup cricket, BCCI T20 Champions League, and the Bangladesh T20 Premier League, among other major sporting events. It will also broadcast action from the London Olympics in July and August 2012.

ESS has refused to comment on what it calls media "speculation and rumours".

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