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Disney Weekend hits Latin America

MEXICO CITY — Disney’s about to take a long weekend south of the border, thanks to an unprecedented distribution deal between BVI TV and satcaster Galaxy Latin America (GLA).

Starting March 21, “The Disney Weekend” will beam across the region as an exclusive, 51-hour pay-per-view event, offering a mix of live-action films, TV series and occasional animated classics.

The news comes just two months after Disney formalized its long-awaited Latino pay TV entry by buying into top programmer, Warner/Sony-backed HBO Ole.

That deal allowed for Disney films on the HBO Ole film net, but a full Disney Channel is at least a year away, sources say — making the Disney Weekend a major asset for Hughes-backed GLA in its competition against Sky, the News Corp.-Televisa-Globo satcaster.

“The Disney Weekend is a GLA-created format, but we’ve authorized BVI to sell it elsewhere, for example to European countries like Norway where there is no Disney Channel,” GLA prexy Jose Antonio Rios told Daily Variety.

Subscribers to GLA, now available in nine countries including Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, can sign up for single weekends, one-month packs or an entire 52-week subscription. The Weekend runs 6 p.m. Fridays to 9 p.m. Sundays.

“It’ll be something parents will like to give the kids for the weekend,” said Rios, adding, “A lot of the material has never been seen on TV, in Latin America or anywhere else.”

The Weekend will use interstitials recorded in Spanish and Portuguese at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and will televise Orlando-staged events in which vacationing Latino kids can participate, Rios said.

The exec said the Weekend may be substituted by the Disney Channel, when the latter launches sometime in 1998, but until then the format gives BVI the chance to test the Latino market response to its programming.

Content already lined up for the weekend includes series “The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa,” “Goof Troop,” “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen and films “Father of the Bride II” and “Angels in the Outfield.”

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