News Corp. streamlines Asian broadcasting unit STAR

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 29, 2010 at 3:17 PM EDT

Rupert Murdoch's global News Corporation on Tuesday announced restructuring plans for its Asian broadcasting unit STAR, splitting it into three and cutting jobs at its Hong Kong headquarters.

Business will be divided between STAR India, STAR Greater China and Fox International Channels for the rest of Asia, comprising the existing English-language channels with the FOX and National Geographic brands.

News Corporation's chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia, James Murdoch, said the decision was taken as STAR, which launched in 1991 with five channels, had become a major broadcaster in the region.

"While it was once natural to have a larger, regional headquarters, the company has now reached a scale in its key local markets where we are ready to empower the teams on the ground and move a number of functions to be closer to viewers," he said in a statement issued in London and Hong Kong.

The restructuring will also see STAR's chief executive Paul Aiello leave the company in December. Murdoch said Aiello had played an "important leadership role" in developing the operation.

A new office in Hong Kong would see a small group of existing executives take responsibility for supporting News Corporation interests in the region, including managing joint ventures like ESPN STAR Sports.

The restructuring "will result in a reduction in the size of its regional operations in Hong Kong", the statement added, but gave no indication of the amount of job cuts.

Quoting a STAR spokeswoman, Dow Jones Newswires -- which is also owned by News Corp. -- reported that the cuts would involve 30 percent of the current workforce in the Chinese province.

STAR India will oversee 19 channels in eight languages while STAR Greater China will be responsible for five Chinese-language channels.

Fox International Channels will become Asia's largest international television network, with 37 channels under 17 brands, reaching more than 426 million households, according to the News Corp. statement.




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