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Murdoch's STAR TV to drop BBC

HONG KONG, March 22 -- Rupert Murdoch's STAR TV, Asia's largest cable television network, will drop the British Broadcasting Corporation's World Service news broadcast to northern Asia by mid- April, reports said Tuesday.

The news service is to be replaced by a 24-hour Chinese-language movie channel, STAR TV said.

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Murdoch, who last year bought a controlling interest in STAR TV, has accused BBC of bias against China.

BBC will be dropped from STAR's northern beam, which serves China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korean and Mongolia.

The decision to drop BBC follows an out of court settlement regarding the news service's access to Asian markets. The BBC had also sought to retain the right to foreign language broadcasts throughout Asia.

'I am very pleased that the agreement secures the continued availablity of BBC World Service thoughout most of Continental Asia, and in particular the (Indian) sub-continent,' World Service Television Chairman Bob Phillis said.

The settlement, he said, 'enables us to pursue the speedy implementation of the proposed Arabic news and information channel.'

BBC will also continue to broadcast on STAR's southern beam serving India, among other countries, until March 1996.

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While Murdoch has been critical of BBC's coverage of China -- including its airing of an unflattering documentary on Mao Tse-tung -- company officials say the decision to drop the World Service was based purely on economics, not politics.

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