A tie-up between Satellite Television Asia Region (Star TV) - News Corp's Asia-based unit - and Taiwan multimedia content provider GigaMedia will enable the companies to build the first broadband interactive television platform in the region, according to Star TV chairman James Murdoch. The platform will eventually allow viewers to watch premium television and have two-way broadband Internet and multimedia services through a set-top box, he said. But announcement yesterday provoked a sharp response from Pacific Century CyberWorks, which also has an interactive multimedia service, Network of the World (NOW). A CyberWorks spokesman labelled Star TV and GigaMedia offering as 'limited', and said it would address a small portion of Taiwan's population. Mr Murdoch said the interactive platform was a natural evolution for a cable operator, as it would allow a company to increase revenue by offering premium services and broadband Internet services at reasonable prices. 'This is new to Asia, but not new to News Corp,' Mr Murdoch said. 'Many companies make a lot of promises about delivering the next generation of television, but at News Corp, we have actually delivered on it.' Star TV and GigaMedia - Taiwan's leading broadband Internet services provider controlled by the prominent Koos Group - said the companies would invest more than US$100 million in a 50:50 joint venture to build the interactive television platform. Under a legally binding memorandum of understanding, the platform will roll out first in Taiwan's 4.8 million cable television market by the second half of 2001. Both partners have committed to bring their existing programming resources and assets in to the joint venture, particularly movies, sports and entertainment to help develop new premium services to Taiwan TV viewers through a set-top box, says Bruce Churchill, Star's chief operating officer. Star TV also plans to roll-out the services to other Asian countries but has no definite plans at this stage, according to Mr Murdoch. The GigaMedia-Star TV alliance is seen as a blow to Richard Li Tzar-kai's CyberWorks, say analysts, as it also intended to roll-out its multimedia interactive services NOW into the Taiwanese market. Last month, GigaMedia pulled out of a joint venture with CyberWorks and Taiwan-based video entertainment content provider ERA Communications, due to a dispute on the share spilt and business plan. But CyberWorks hit back at the plan. 'It's just another limited service . . . a comparison with us is like comparing night to day,' said CyberWorks executive Jeffrey Bowden, in a tele-conference call with five media representatives shortly before Star TV's press conference.