Days after his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his sixth India visit, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman & Chief Executive of the $32-billion News Corporation, made it clear that he won’t be content being just a 26 per cent partner in the print business in India.Current norms of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the media sector do not allow foreign partners to go above that limit, and News Corp. which currently has no presence in the print media in India, would be keen that that limit is hiked, to perhaps 49 per cent. Speaking at the launch of a Dow Jones blue-chip index for India (News Corp. acquired Dow Jones last year) last fortnight, Murdoch made it clear that “we would not like to be a 26 per cent partner in print here,” although he was quick to add that “News Corp. is not eyeing stakes in large media houses in India.” In case anybody didn’t get the message, Robert Thomson, Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal (which is published by Dow Jones), drove home the point loud and clear: “We will need to see a relaxation in policies here to have a full commitment here.”
News Corp.’s local broadcasting operations, Star India, continue to hum along, with the New York-headquartered media monolith set to commit $100 million to launch six new regional language channels over the next 12 months. With regard to the movies business, Murdoch did say News Corp is planning to get aggressive in this space via group company Twentieth Century Fox. But he adds that he will be prudent in making investments in India in this space.