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Country Music TV deals make U.K. cable-ready

Just a month after the backers of Country Music Television began pitching a European version of their channel to European cable operators (Daily Variety, Oct. 13), the cable web has cut deals to put its fledgling service into about one-third of Britain’s cable homes.

To be sure, that’s only 123,000 cable households, since cable penetration in the United Kingdom is extremely low.

But Lloyd Werner, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Group W Satellite Communications–CMT’s one-third owner–indicates that by year-end it will increase CMT’s reach in Britain to as many as 275,000 cable homes through several additional deals.

He projects that within 10 years, there will be 8 to 10 million cable subscribers in the U.K.

Werner said CMT Europe is close to striking further agreements with operators in Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

Since Nov. 1, CMT Europe has struck agreements with Southwestern Bell, Telewest Communications Group, Devanha Group Plc. and Maclean Hunter Cablevision Ltd., operators in both England and Scotland. It made these agreements after spotlighting its programming of country music videos at a European cable convention in London Oct. 19 through 21.

Werner said he has been “extremely encouraged” by the response of programming-hungry European cable operators. “They all need programming and the greatest export this country has is our culture. I don’t think rap and rock ‘n’ roll express the entire American scene,” he said.

While country music is in the throes of a resurgence in the U.S., the musical genre is little known in Europe. But CMT believes that with proper encouragement , Europeans can learn to appreciate the strains of Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus.

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