Rupert Murdoch-controlled Asian broadcaster Star TV is taking the offensive in a tussle for control of India’s television market.

The group has taken out full-page ads accusing rival firms of whipping up concerns about foreign influence over TV stations for purely commercial purposes.

Star is under pressure from the country’s regulators – the result, it believes, of a campaign against it masterminded by indigenous print and television rivals.

Foreign influence in India’s media sector has long been a source of controversy. Overseas broadcasters in particular have been accused of encouraging promiscuity and destabilising society.

However, the regulatory regime in the television industry has hitherto been light. The sector is highly fragmented, with a host of local cable operators importing satellite broadcasts from outside the country. Around half the nation’s 82 million TV homes watch via cable, with Star India leading the way in Hindi-language cable news services.

Now the government is keen to watch over the industry more closely and trying to introduce a pay-per-view price system, a method opposed by foreign broadcasters.

Star ceo Peter Mukerjea believes “vested corporate interests” seeking to reduce competition are behind such moves and using the foreign ownership controversy to win support. Star is eager to expand into the rural market with services in regional languages – a direct threat to the legion of local operators.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff