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Japan bows samurai TV

DirecTV Japan platform first of its kind

TOKYO — All samurai, all the time. The world’s first channel of samurai and Japanese historical dramas hit the air last week with the launch of the DirecTV Japan platform.

The official name of the samurai channel is the Japan Classic Programming Network. The channel at present has the rights 511 samurai series, which consists of some 4,372 hours of programming.

Samurai dramas have been a staple of Japanese television for almost as long as television has existed. The dramas perhaps take up more shelf space than any other type of programming in the libraries of networks and movie houses.

According to Takao Kaji, the president of Creative Associates Ltd., the company that oversees the channel, this type of traditional Japanese TV fare is likely to prove popular in an expanding direct satellite broadcasting market.

Some of the backers behind the new channel that boasts rattling swords and kimono clad maidens include Japanese movie company Toei and major advertising company Dentsu Inc.

Kaji said he is in talks to bring the channel to PerfecTV, with 92 channels and over 415,000 subscribers, and the JSkyB platform, planned for an April 1998 launch with 150 channels.

If the channel proves successful in Japan, DirecTV may take some samurai series and dub them into the local language for their services in North and South America, Kaji said

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