BBC Worldwide launch Japanese entertainment channel
LONDON - BBC Worldwide has launched BBC Japan, an entertainment channel running classic shows, such as 'Fawlty Towers', bringing the best of BBC programming to audiences in the huge Japanese market.
The new channel will incorporate top BBC drama, comedy, factual, learning and children's programming. It will also carry advertising, and will be distributed and marketed by Japan Mediark.
BBC Japan will carry classic British shows, including 'Ready Steady Cook' and the successful children's progamme the 'Tweenies'.
BBC Japan was created by BBC Worldwide's channel team, who were responsible for launching BBC Prime and the BBC's international entertainment channel for Europe.
It takes the BBC brand into an important new market and adds to its existing international channels such as BBC America.
BBC Japan is to be headed by Wayne Dunsford, BBC Worldwide director of channels for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, and will launch on December 1 2004.
David Vine, BBC Worldwide managing director for Asia Pacific, said: "Establishing our own BBC channel in Japan is a major step for us. Audiences there associate the BBC name with top-quality television and the time has now come to offer them a channel where they can see such programming from the BBC every day."
The BBC has allegedly been in talks with media giants including Time Warner, Disney and Bertelsmann, to discuss selling off parts of BBC Worldwide, which is valued at a total of £2bn.
BBC Worldwide owns 10 channels including UKTV stations, BBC America, and 26 magazines. Last year, it had revenues of £657m and generated £141m profit, which was ploughed back into the BBC.
The corporation is understood to be considering a possible break-up of the company, which also owns merchandising operations and overseas programme sales, rather than an outright sale.
The deal would be timed to coincide with a government study of BBC funding, which would be crucial to its Charter Renewal.
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