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Thursday, July 9, 1998

Mandarins' Murdoch mission likely to end up in smoke 

Anil Wanari  
Well, the authorities have done another silly thing: issued a non-bailable warrant against apro Rafiq Madhok (as Rupert Murdoch is referred to by those in the know). The summons were not received by the media baron in the US and Australia. Hopefully, some bureaucrat or the police will not use the non-receipt of the warrants as an excuse to go on a Murdoch chase. The entire effort will be futile. Murdoch cannot be put down; he has enough money to ensure that he will not be.

And why the warrant? Because of some sex scenes on Star Movies? Has anyone in government turned on to -probably they have - to DD's Friday night movie or TVi's movie slot too? Has anyone also tuned into Sun Music, Udaya TV, Raj TV and Gemini TV's late night songs? The wet blouse and sari routine with the bump and grind by the heroine and the hero is more erotic than the bland nudity shown on Star Movies. And Star Movies puts up the rating for the movie in the corner while the Indian channels don't really care.

Another wrongstreet the government is getting into is going after Murdoch through Prannoy Roy and R Basu. Sushma Swaraj has said that she is letting loose the CBI to look into the undue benefits provided to NDTV by DD when he used to provide the state network with programming. An issue that has been simmering for the past couple of years but has got nowhere. It's about time, the authorities stop their tomfoolery and get over their Murdoch fixation.

The focus should be on the major issues at hand. Get broadcasting regulation in place; and that includes a reasonable censorship regime. (After all, India is the land of Khajhurhao and the KamaSutra; the land of Bollywood and Tollywood.) Three years of dithering over broadcasting law is more than enough time. Let the laws be a little cautious on foreign investments in this sector; but please let there be laws. Are Sushma Swaraj, MA Naqvi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP allies and the opposition listening?

Watch Ronaldo in full cry in 70mm delight

You thought thecinema hall was for watching movies, right? Pepsi and Reebok think not. The two have got together to sponsor the viewing of the Football World Cup final on 12 July at three cinema halls all over the country. The names of the theatres: Cinemax in Mumbai, PVR Anupam in Delhi and New Empire in Calcutta. Special equipment is being brought in to be able to throw DD's telecast onto the 70 mm screen. Pepsi and Reebok have also thrown in some entertainment like cheerleaders, games and several other freebies for those who attend the viewing. Passes to attend the football final in the theatre are being doled out by both Pepsi and Reebok.

Industry sources say that this is a first for the theatre business. Who knows into what new territory they will venture into? Theatrical showings of a nail-biting one day match with Tendulkar blazing his way to another great performance.Raheja buys Business India cable network

Rajan Raheja has finally bought out the Business India group's holding in BiTV's cable TVnetworking arm BiTV Cable Networks. This gives him access to UCN and Space and a sprinkling of networks all over the country. While Raheja's Hathway investments will be able to manage its Mumbai networks UCN and SpaceVision, it will have a tough time with BiTV networks in cities such as Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, and Ahmedabad. Reason: BiTV, on its own, failed to consolidate its hold on the operators who run the networks in these cities. BiTV, got together a consortium of cable operators, and then invested in the control room which would help them supply cable TV signals to subscribers. In most of the cases, the management of the control room was left with the consortium and BiTV was not involved operationally at all. So independent had the consortia become that very little returns were coming BiTV's way from them. Miracle mediaman Rajan Raheja will have to do the trick to get the BiTV operators to cough up.

Channel V's Jules Fuller packs Velocity

Channel V is changing gears and hoping to gathersome Velocity. That's the name of the new initiative it has launched: it involves a new programme called Artistree for showcasing musicians and unearthing new talent;It is a scholarship package for wannabe performers and free interstitials to music companies to air their promotions on the channel. The music channel's general manager Jules Fuller adds that he is also identifying a chain of venues all over the country which will service as live event sites. Programming will be developed around the live events and aired on channel V. The first partnership is with Not Just Jazz By the Bay. Says Fuller: "In this part of the world we invented what a music channel should be. The others who followed have aped that model. I guess we will now have to go back to inventing again.

(The writer can be reached at televison@hotmail.com or wanvari@giasbm01.vsnl.net in ).

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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