Turkey’s Cine 5, majors ink pay TV output pact

Turkey’s first pay-TV network, Cine 5, has inked a long-term exclusive output deal for theatrical films with Hollywood majors Columbia/TriStar, Walt Disney, Fox, MCA/Universal, MGM/UA and Paramount Pictures.

The deal, announced in Monte Carlo Wednesday, gives the recently launched web exclusive pay-TV rights to a host of high-profile titles.

A new rival

More intriguingly, the deal means French pay-TV giant Canal Plus and HBO, which together have their own plans to launch a rival pay-TV network in Turkey this year, could find themselves desperately short of U.S. films to air.

Canal Plus execs could not be reached Wednesday, but are said to be furious about the Cine 5 deal.

Among the first wave of pix to go to Cine 5 are Col/TriStar’s “Awakenings” and “Postcards From the Edge,” Touchstone’s “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and “Sister Act,” Fox’s “Wall Street” and “Die Hard 2,” MGM/UA’s “Thelma and Louise, ” MCA/U’s “Cape Fear” and “Beethoven” and Paramount’s “Ghost” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

Cine 5 was launched Dec. 10, and web chairman Erol Aksoy told Daily Variety he expects between 100,000 and 150,000 subscribers by the end of 1994. Aksoy hopes to reach breakeven in about three years, “when we hit 300,000 subscribers.”

Bingham’s role

Sources close to the deal indicated that Col/TriStar Intl. TV prexy Nicholas Bingham was instrumental in bringing the Hollywood majors to Cine 5.

“I think it’s in our interests to have a pay TV network which is very strong and is supplied by all the studios. I want to be one of the suppliers to a successful pay-TV operation rather than the only supplier to a non-successful network,” Bingham said. Aksoy wouldn’t reveal prices, but did admit, “You obviously pay more for exclusive rights than non-exclusive.”

Aksoy also owns Turkish private network Show TV and Show Radio as well as a sizable stake in Turkey’s influential Hurriyet newspaper. “We are able to share studio space and Cine 5 uses our existing transponders. It’s not as though we have spent to start the network from scratch.”

Industryites at Monte Carlo observed that Cine 5 is now well positioned to provide tough competition for Canal Plus, HBO and their Turkish partner Kos. “They (Cine 5) have the Hollywood product, they are in the market first and they have deals with some of Turkey’s biggest soccer teams. It’s going to be difficult to beat these guys,” said one top TV sales exec.

Some observers were even wondering whether Canal Plus and HBO would go ahead with their net, given that the majors, with the exception of Warner Bros., had lined up behind Cine 5.

Sources close to the deal said the Hollywood sales teams had been worried about the alliance between Canal Plus and HBO. “It’s pretty frightening to see those two together. HBO dominates pay TV in the U.S. and Canal Plus is so strong in Europe that together they could virtually tell you what price they wanted to pay. By backing Cine 5 we have another player in the market,” said a top studio sales exec.

Aksoy and Cine 5 general manager Osman Erk are now waiting for the Turkish government to complete its current TV legislation and grant the web a license.

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