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  • Writer's picturePrayukth K V

Read of the Week - The Making of Star India: The Amazing Story of Rupert Murdoch's India Adventure

Book by Vanita Kohli - Khandekar

Essentially a weekend read for those who wish to understand how Star TV India grew big enough to earn a 71 billion dollar price tag from modest and almost forgettable beginnings.

This book by journalist Vanita Kohli gives you a ringside view of how the group emerged from obscurity and navigated many bureaucratic steeplechases to become one of India’s biggest media houses.

  1. One of the biggest reasons for Star’s success in India is the camaraderie that James Murdoch (then chairman and CE of Star Television) and Peter Mukherjea (then CEO, Star India) shared during the initial days of the struggle. The author brings out some interesting anecdotes to highlight the relationship between these two and how that bond helped Star grow in India

  2. Those who wish to understand how multiple layers of red tapes and ever-changing rules to favor a few players almost wiped out this sector (sort of like what happened to the civil aviation sector in the 90s and 2000s), this is a good book to start your research with.

  3. This book also brings out an interesting aspect of how important work culture is for the growth of a company. While the author brings out this aspect as an incidental narrative, the lessons are amply clear even for the casual reader. When Rupert Murdoch brought a seasoned bureaucrat to handle affairs at Star India, the work culture almost took a nose dive. But thanks to some quick moves by Murdoch himself, this wrong move only stalled Star rise but didn’t curtail it completely.

  4. The story of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), India’s version of Who Wants to be a millionaire comes out very clearly. In many ways, this series created the perfect environment for taking cable television to the masses in India.

  5. The narrative goes back and forth across multiple timelines. But the author has done a splendid job of keeping the reader interested. The story of Star TV India had to be told for many reasons. For one, there are many lessons here for budding entrepreneurs in India and other emerging markets. Take for instance the struggle that Star India had to undergo to get a Direct to Home (DTH) license. Even if you are not a budding entrepreneur, there are still good takeaways about working with people, competition, and ways to keep the government on your side.


What could have been added?

A bit about the programming confusion that surrounded cable broadcast in India in its early days. For instance, there is no mention of many channels that were sharing transponders on satellites while testing and building the Indian market (like Cartoon Network and TNT, Star Cantonese, and EL Tv).

The strategies adopted by Star’s rivals do not get much space in the book.

Many important rivals who shaped the airwaves in the 90s and 2000s and offered stiff competition to Star have not made it to print.


What to watch out for

  1. Other than the KBC story, the story of how Star set up its music channel Channel V is an interesting one as well.

  2. The level of interest that Rupert Murdoch took in running the affairs of Star India is worth reading about

Those of us old enough to remember the early days of cable TV in India will find the book more relevant and engaging.


Book Review by: Prayukth K V, Co-Founder MyBookWorks

A published author and speaker, Prayukth is passionate about books and their potential to transform minds.

He is a niche tech marketer by profession and lives to read and travel among other things.

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