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Indonesia mines MGM Gold

MGM Gold, a new satellite channel that hopes to capitalize abroad on the famous studio’s lion logo, will make its international debut in Indonesia early next year.

The channel, unveiled June 22, will be Asia’s first Hollywood studio-branded general entertainment channel. It will feature movies and TV shows from the MGM and United Artists libraries.

The lineup will be mainly classic movies and TV series. Hit titles available for the service include not only the mainstays of the UA catalog – the James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky films – but also “Moonstruck,” “Rain Man,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Annie Hall” and “The African Queen.” The MGM titles are all post-1986; Ted Turner owns rights to all previous MGM titles.

TV titles available include evergreens such as “Fame” and “Highway Patrol” as well as recent hits like “In the Heat of the Night” and “The Outer Limits.”

MGM Gold is a joint venture of MGM/UA Telecommunications Group, a unit of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., and Indonesia’s Asia Media Management Ltd.

The partners plan to seek distribution opportunities throughout Asia.

The first to sign up for MGM Gold is Indovision, the sole direct-to-home satellite licensor for Indonesia. A number of U.S.-backed channels, from CNN Intl. to ESPN to Star TV, are available in that country via the Palapa bird.

MGM Gold is a concrete example of MGM’s long-term aim of forming networks around the world through equity partnerships. It’s in keeping with attempts by other U.S. majors – ranging from Ted Turner’s TNT/Cartoon Network to Time Warner’s various HBO payboxes – to lift their foreign program sales efforts to a new level: Instead of selling shows piecemeal to local broadcasters, Hollywood increasingly is taking advantage of new technologies and media deregulation abroad to offer webs of U.S.-originated programming.

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