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    Sat news 04.10.04

    ESPN SEEKS TO EXPAND IN EUROPE
    The Walt Disney Company's ESPN sports television
    network is in discussions with European broadcasters
    to launch its first live channel in the region after
    securing a beachhead with the introduction of its
    Classic Sports platform Russell Wolff, managing
    director of ESPN International, told The Times that
    "we have had discussions, and are in discussions, with
    a variety of people" to launch a live 24-hour ESPN
    channel in Europe. The talks come as ESPN launches
    ESPN Classic Sports on Germany's Kabel Deutschland,
    taking its total audience across the region to more
    than 14 million households in 37 countries. ESPN is
    also in talks with BSkyB to broadcast the channel,
    which replays footage from past sporting events. The
    global expansion of ESPN is part of a broader strategy
    at Disney to leverage the strength of its television
    assets outside the US. Since 1995 Disney has launched
    25 TV channels in 68 countries. Wolff said that Europe
    was the last major market around the world where ESPN
    did not have a live channel.

    DENMARK

    TV2 CHARLIE ON AIR
    Commercial broadcaster TV2's new channel Charlie
    launched on October 1 with a slew of drama titles
    acquired from BBC Worldwide. Aimed at the 40+ crowd,
    the channel will be carrying a mix of recent and
    classic BBC series, from Pride & Prejudice and
    Ballykissangel to Cambridge Spies and all seasons of
    Monarch of the Glen and Judge John Deed. Other titles
    included in the deal are: The Cazelets, Daniel
    Deronda, The Way We Live Now, When the Boat Comes,
    Take a Girl Like You, Wives and Daughters and Madame
    Bovary. The volume deal with BBCWW follows TV2
    Charlie's earlier deal with Granada International for
    titles including Hornblower, Kavanagh QC, The Vice,
    Jeeves & Wooster, The Brief, Moll Flanders, Catherine
    Cookson titles, Peak Practice, The Hunt and Brideshead
    Revisited. The new channel sits alongside the recently
    launched TV2 Zulu, which is targeted towards the youth
    market.

    FRANCE

    FIRST GAY TV STATION PREPARES FOR LAUNCH
    Calling it "a giant leap for television, a small step
    in high heels," organisers on September 27 launched
    France's first TV channel aimed at gay, lesbian and
    transgender audiences. PinkTV was unveiled in Paris,
    where organisers believe most of the channel's
    audience will be located. France estimates its gay
    population to be about 3.5 million people. Accessible
    by subscription and available in France via cable and
    satellite starting October 25, PinkTV follows in the
    footsteps of Canada's PrideVision, and gay channels in
    the U.K. and Italy. Offering a mix of currant affairs
    shows, films, documentaries, music programming and TV
    series like the Canadian-produced Queer as Folk, the
    channel has no plans to be militant, organisers said.
    Pink TV will offer a slew of shows imported from
    Britain and the United States, where gay programming
    has become firmly established in the past few years.
    Programmes will include "Metrosexuality", "Queer as
    Folk" and "French and Saunders" -- all in English with
    French subtitles. Gay opera and ballet and
    documentaries will also be screened, as will interview
    shows, notably one hosted by one of France's leading
    news presenters, Claire Chazal.

    GERMANY

    DISNEY TO LAUNCH TWO CHANNELS ON CABLE PLATFORM
    Playhouse Disney Channel and Toon Disney Channel are
    set to launch in Germany on Kabel Deutschland’s new
    digital program platform Kabel Digital Home on
    November 10. Playhouse Disney will be the first
    dedicated preschool channel for Germany, featuring
    shows like New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Stanley
    and Bear in the Big Blue House. It will broadcast
    daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Toon Disney will operate
    for 24 hours a day with a slate of animated titles
    such Disney’s Recess and Disney’s Kim Possible. The
    German launches follow the two channels' previous
    debuts in the UK, France and Spain. Alongside the
    Disney offerings, KDG's new rival to Premiere will
    also carry E! Entertainment, BBC Prime, Fashion TV,
    13th Street, AXN, Sci-Fi, Kinowelt, History Channel,
    Nat Geo, Planet, Extreme Sports, ESPN Classic Sports,
    Sailing Channel, NASN, Motors TV, MTV Hits, MTV Dance,
    VH1 Classic, Trace TV and Playboy TV.

    FIRST PERSIAN TV CHANNEL STARTS BROADCASTING
    Germany’s first Farsi-language television station
    “Mohajer International TV” has begun broadcasting a
    24-hour test programme of music, dance, movies and
    news. A spokesman said the digital station is
    currently free to air on the Hotbird 6 satellite
    system in Germany and hopes to broadcast to other
    countries in Europe and the Middle East and eventually
    Iran itself. He added that the station, in which a 50
    per cent stake is held by Iranian businessman Hassan
    Arpanahi, would like initially to reach the estimated
    6,000 people from the Islamic Republic living in
    Europe. He said the goal is to ultimately finance the
    channel through advertising. Mohajer was given the
    green light by German authorities to begin
    broadcasting in July mainly because of its cultural
    content, including programmes about music, the media,
    film, lifestyle and cooking. It also has a documentary
    show and news bulletins.

    ESPN CLASSIC SPORT SIGNS CABLE DEAL
    ESPN Classic Sport’s English-language channel is now
    available on Kabel Deutschland (KDG) in Germany. ESPN
    Classic Sport, which will be included in KDG’s new
    digital home package, will transmit 24-hours a day,
    seven days a week, offering German viewers a sporting
    mix from Europe and around the world. It will also
    feature a nightly two-hour German-language programming
    block from 10pm, featuring some of Germany’s greatest
    athletes and most famous sporting moments. ESPN
    Classic Sport already has distribution among
    multi-channel homes in France and Italy (88 per cent
    and 100 per cent, respectively) via affiliates such as
    CanalSatellite, TPS, NOOS, FTC, UPC and SKY Italia.
    ESPN Classic Sport is also available as a three-hour
    branded block to 5.9 million subscribers in an
    additional 11 European countries. In total, ESPN
    Classic Sport programming can be seen in more than 14
    million households in 37 countries.

    NO-GO FOR KIRCH SUIT AGAINST DEUTSCHE BANK AND LIBERTY
    MEDIA
    A US court has thrown out a suit by former German
    media mogul Leo Kirch against US cable operator
    Liberty Media and German bank Deutsche Bank for
    allegedly conspiring to bring about the downfall of
    Kirch's media empire in 2002, Deutsche Bank revealed.
    Kirch had filed a 39-page complaint with a court in
    New York in January, accusing Deutsche Bank and
    Liberty Media and their chairmen of plotting the
    destruction of the Kirch Group in a bid to rid Liberty
    Media of an unwelcome rival in the German cable
    television market and secure hefty commissions for
    Deutsche Bank. The complaint alleged that Liberty
    Media and its chairman John Malone and Deutsche Bank
    and its former chairman Rolf Breuer "conspired to
    undermine a deal Kirch was negotiating to bring his
    privately-owned group public by 2004". But the court
    found that Kirch had failed to prove his case and
    "dismissed (the suit) for failure to state a claim,"
    according to a copy of the ruling made available by
    Deutsche Bank. The conflict dates back to comments
    made by Deutsche Bank's then chairman Breuer made on
    television in 2002, in which he publicly questioned
    the creditworthiness of the Kirch group. Soon
    afterwards, banks refused to lend Kirch any more money
    and KirchMedia, the main pillar of the Kirch Group,
    filed for insolvency in April 2002.

    PLAYBOY SIGNS CARRIAGE DEAL
    Playboy TV International has reached a deal to launch
    on KDG’s Kabel Digital Home platform. Playboy TV will
    air nightly from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Initially
    available in English, the channel will add
    German-dubbed programming over the course of its
    rollout. The new platform launched on September 27.
    Germany's Federal Cartel Office last week vetoed KDG's
    plans to merge with three regional cable operators.
    Operating cable services in 13 German states, with a
    reach of more than 10m households, Munich-based KDG is
    already Europe’s biggest cable operator.
    Internet - http://www.kabeldeutschland.de

    NEW HOME SHOPPING CHANNEL ON ASTRA
    SES ASTRA and 1-2-3.TV have announced the launch of a
    new concept in home shopping. On 1-2-3.TV, it is the
    customers who decide the price of each product by
    making an offer for each item by telephone. If that
    offer is one of the highest received for the items
    being presented, the purchase then takes place. The
    new channel is available throughout Europe via ASTRA
    19.2° East (transponder 47; downlink frequency
    11170.75 MHz; horizontal polarisation) and in digital
    (frequency 12.46050 GHz; horizontal polarisation,
    symbol rate 27.5; FEC 3/4). In addition to managing
    directors Dr. Andreas Büchelhofer and Henning
    Schnepper, the company's shareholders include the
    venture capital companies Wellington Partners, 3i,
    Target Partners and Cuneo AG. 1-2-3.TV GmbH is hoping
    to break even in its third financial year, by which
    time it expects to have achieved approximately half a
    million registered customers.

    BBC PRIME ADDS GERMAN SUBSCRIBERS
    BBC Prime expands in Germany with KDGBBC Worldwide,
    the commercial consumer arm of the BBC, and Kabel
    Deutschland (KDG), Germany’s leading cable network,
    have announced an agreement to provide carriage for
    British entertainment channel, BBC Prime, across
    Germany. BBC Prime has been selected by KDG for
    inclusion in its new Kabel Digital HOME package,
    launched this week in Munich, which heralds a major
    push to drive digital uptake in Germany. BBC Prime is
    broadcast to over 20 million subscribers across
    Europe, the Middle East and Africa on cable and
    satellite. This flagship British cable channel shows
    the best of the BBC’s award-winning programmes from
    drama, comedy, children’s, documentary, film, music,
    lifestyle series and celebrity talkshows.

    ITALY

    NEWS CORP BECOMES SOLE OWNER OF SKY ITALIA
    News Corp. on September 28 said that it agreed to buy
    the 20 per cent of Sky Italia, the
    satellite-television broadcaster that it does not
    already own from Telecom Italia for €88 million. The
    deal comes as News Corp., the media conglomerate
    controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family, seeks to
    make Sky Italia break even next year. Telecom Italia
    is selling non-core assets to meet its year-end target
    of cutting its debt to below €30 billion. News Corp.
    formed Sky Italia, Italy's only satellite TV provider,
    last year after buying rival Tele+ from Vivendi
    Universal and merging it with Stream, as News Corp.'s
    satellite channel was called. Sky Italia has 2.7
    million subscribers. Telecom Italia, which runs two TV
    stations in Italy, was prevented from exercising
    management control over Sky Italia because of
    antitrust rules approving News Corp.'s purchase of
    Tele+.

    THE NETHERLANDS

    DE MOL BUYS DUTCH FOOTBALL TEAM TV RIGHTS
    Dutch billionaire and media mogul John de Mol, through
    his investment company Talpa Capital, has bought up
    the rights to broadcast all six away games for the
    Dutch team in the qualification rounds for the World
    Cup in 2006. Talpa outbid Dutch broadcasters RTL
    Netherlands, SBS Broadcasting and the Dutch public
    broadcasters for the rights to the qualification
    matches which all three other contenders said were too
    expensive for them to take on. First broadcast of the
    away games will be seen October 9, well before De
    Mol's new venture is set to kick off. The six away
    games for the Dutch team were said to have cost as
    much as €900,000 per game. .

    CASEMA TO OFFER FREE DIGITAL TV CHANNELS
    Cable operator Casema intends to add an additional 40
    to 50 digital TV channels for free with the standard
    analogue TV package as of January 1. With this offer,
    Casema hopes to attract more customers to digital
    television. At the moment, Casema has around 24,000
    digital subscribers. In order to be able to watch the
    free stations, customers will still need to buy a
    digital receiver, which is available for between €100
    and €200. Casema is aims for a penetration of digital
    receivers of ten per cent by the end of 2005, and 80
    per cent within five years. Casema is the third cable
    operator in the Netherlands with 1.3 million
    subscribers.

    POLAND

    TP PLANS DIGITAL PAY-TV SERVICE
    In a few months TP will offer its customers digital TV
    and thus will enter direct competition with cable
    television operators. According to local press
    reports, the company might offer its services 20-30%
    cheaper than currently offered by the largest cable
    operators. "We might pitch our offer in Q2 2005, with
    a test phase probably beginning early next year," said
    Mariusz Gaca, director of the multimedia division of
    TP. A key advantage the phone company will have is its
    range, as it will be able to enter the homes of
    broadband Internet subscribers.

    RUSSIA

    MURDOCH SEEKS TO EXPAND INTO RUSSIA
    Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, wants to
    expand his operations into Russian television, where
    he plans to create a pay-for-view platform and produce
    TV programs, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph quoted Marty
    Pompadur, one of Murdoch’s aides, who is currently on
    a fact-finding mission in Russia. “We are looking for
    other investments,” Pompadur told the newspaper. “We
    are looking to add to our radio and our outdoor
    [advertising] holdings, and we are interested in
    pay-TV and content.” The company is considering
    satellite, cable and broadband Internet as ways of
    creating a pay-TV platform in Russia. As Russian
    Internet news resource Newsru.com reported, in
    November 2003 Murdoch was considering the possibility
    of buying part of the shares in the Russian satellite
    television company NTV Plus but the negotiations
    brought no positive results.

    UNITED KINGDOM

    OFCOM PROPOSES NEW PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTER
    Media regulator Ofcom is proposing the introduction of
    a new TV channel to broadcast public service
    programmes in the UK. The new network could cost
    around Ł300 million a year to run, the watchdog said.
    Ofcom's ideas are set out in its second interim report
    on public service broadcasting (PSB), with a final
    review to be published at the end of the year. Channel
    4 will be a "critical second provider" of public
    service broadcasting alongside the BBC, Ofcom says.
    Meanwhile ITV1 will be allowed to phase out its
    regional non-news programmes, with some of those
    responsibilities passing to the BBC. The BBC should
    continue to be paid for through the licence fee "as
    long as it retains broad public support" and
    contributes to society. Ofcom says advertising and
    direct government funding should be ruled out for the
    BBC but says the nature of the TV licence fee could
    change in the future. It suggests three "realistic"
    ways to fund the new public service channel, as public
    service broadcasting in general. Licence fee payers
    could be charged an "enhanced" fee, taxpayers could
    pay through a government grant or UK broadcasters
    could be taxed on their turnover.

    EEEZEE TV PLANS HOME SHOPPING VENTURE
    Kleeneze, the home shopping specialist, has announced
    an investment of some Ł4 million over two years in a
    joint venture TV shopping channel carried on Sky
    Digital channel 664. The channel, which the group has
    branded eezee TV, will broadcast as a pre-recorded
    channel until March 2005. In March 2005 eezee TV will
    be re-launched as a live channel with 16 hours live
    programming and 8 hours pre-recorded programming
    daily, giving a 24-hour a day service. Kleeneze said
    that the expansion into television shopping presents
    significant cross-promotional and cross-selling
    opportunities for the group. The joint venture
    partner, JML, is a well-established retail distributor
    and producer of promotional videos and has broadcast
    the pre-recorded shopping channel under the name JML
    Direct since 2002.

    ITV SIGNS WARNER BROS OUTPUT DEAL
    ITV has inked a volume deal with Warner Bros
    International Television Distribution. ITV has
    acquired feature films from Warner Bros' 2003, 2004
    and 2005 theatrical slates including titles like Harry
    Potter sequels The Chamber of Secrets & The Prisoner
    of Azkaban, plus Matrix spin-offs Reloaded and
    Revolutions. Also in the mixed bag are Scooby Doo and
    Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, The Last Samurai,
    Troy, Ocean's 11 and the upcoming Ocean’s 12, The
    Polar Express and Alexander. The deal includes library
    titles like Unforgiven, The Fugitive, The Matrix,
    Maverick, Lethal Weapon and Wild, Wild West. ITV3,
    aimed at the over-35s, is due to start transmission on
    November 1, airing UK reruns like Prime Suspect and
    Cold Feet and US crime drama and feature films. US
    drama imports already acquired for the network include
    Crossing Jordan, LA Dragnet, Quincy and Karen Sisco.

    BSKYB SEES DVR FUTURE
    BSkyB is hoping digital video recorder technology
    might help resolve the problem of the subscriber
    growth stall. Figures out on September 28 suggest that
    1 million U.K. households will be plugged into DVR
    technology within the next year. Some 400,000 of
    BSkyB's 7.4 million subscribers have Sky Plus boxes,
    and Sky hopes to increase this number to 2.5 million
    by 2010. Despite Sky's marketing push, however,
    consumers are confused about the benefits of DVRs,
    which allow viewers to record programs onto a hard
    disc. According to Continental Research, less than
    four in 10 people understand what DVRs are, with
    awareness highest among young men in Sky Digital
    homes. Meanwhile, Sky launched a new service enabling
    Sky Plus boxes to record interactive programs.

    BSKYB LAUNCHES BIGGEST ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN IN YEARS
    BSkyB unveiled its biggest advertising campaign in six
    years on September 30 as it seeks to reverse slowing
    subscriber growth and wrest back the initiative from
    Freeview. John Florsheim, managing director of sales
    and marketing at BSkyB, admitted previous advertising
    campaigns had not won over the 11 million terrestrial
    viewers in Britain. Freeview watchers and families
    with nursery-age children - a prime BSkyB customer -
    will be among the groups targeted by a three-month
    push. The advertising blitz follows a strategic shift
    ordered by James Murdoch, the chief executive, which
    included raising the annual marketing budget by 50% to
    Ł75 million. BSkyB is chasing subscriber targets of 8
    million by next year and 10 million by 2010 amid a
    marked slowdown in the growth of customer numbers.
    BSkyB dominates the pay-TV market with 7.4 million
    subscribers, with 90% of new customers buying top-tier
    deals costing Ł39 to Ł41 per month. The group is now
    targeting potential customers with cheaper packages,
    previously a low priority. BSkyB added 66,000
    customers in the first three months of 2004, but
    disappointed the market when it gained 81,000
    subscribers in the second quarter against expectations
    of 100,000 to 130,000.

    BBC COMPLETES SALE OF TECHNOLOGY UNIT TO SIEMENS
    The BBC has completed the procurement for a 10-year
    Technology Framework Contract (TFC) with Siemens
    Business Services worth almost Ł2 billion. As part of
    the landmark deal, Siemens Business Services has
    acquired BBC Technology, a commercial subsidiary of
    the BBC. BBC Technology will be renamed Siemens
    Business Services Media Holdings. The BBC has received
    approval for the sale from the Secretary of State for
    Culture, Media and Sport and approval from the BBC
    Governors for both the procurement and the sale. The
    two-part deal covering both contract and acquisition –
    the first of its kind in the media industry – means
    Siemens Business Services will work closely with BBC
    Technology Direction, the department responsible for
    the BBC’s technology strategy and development, to
    deliver the BBC’s technology services across the whole
    corporation for the next 10 years. The BBC expects to
    save around Ł30 million per annum over the life of the
    contract.

    BDA LAUNCHES PROPERTY CHANNEL
    Production company BDA (Bruce Dunlop & Associates)
    announced the launch of an entertainment-led property
    channel on the Sky Platform. Real Estate TV will be
    launched in October 2004 in the UK. Former Flextech
    management board member Mark Dodd will be heading up
    Real Estate TV in partnership with BDA. "In addition
    to providing developers and agents with a new way to
    market property not only in the UK, but across the
    world, Real Estate TV differs from other dedicated
    teleshopping channels by offering viewers a wide
    selection of the latest editorial content, including
    the channel's very own commissioned programmes, " the
    company commented. Real Estate TV has also acquired
    the programming rights for Property Rescue and the
    exclusive rights to Location Location. Complementary
    to the editorial content, Real Estate TV will also be
    presenting a blend of teleshopping windows and spot
    advertising. The interactive aspect of the channel
    will be supported by Broadband and mobile telephone
    services. The channel will air on Sky 18 hours a day,
    from 6am to midnight, and negotiations to transmit the
    channel over cable are underway with both NTL and
    Telewest.
    Salut Prieteni!



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