MGM, Star TV pact for 4-yr. Asia output

News Corp. satcaster wins bidding war for studio's product

After pulling the plug on its MGM Gold channel earlier this year, MGM is back on the pay TV map in Asia through a four-year output deal with News Corp.’s pan-Asian satcaster Star TV.

MGM had been channeling its theatrical titles in Asia to its fledgling MGM Gold movie channel, which fell victim in April to the economic turmoil in the region. Contrary to speculation (Daily Variety, Sept. 24), MGM is not planning to launch a studio-branded movie channel in India.

Bidding for MGM’s pay TV rights in the region was heated between Star TV and its chief rival, HBO Asia. Star TV ultimately stepped up with an overall offer said to be worth $20 million over the life of the deal, which takes effect immediately.

“This deal puts into place a big cornerstone of our (global) pay TV strategy,” said MGM Intl. TV Distribution prexy Jim Griffiths. “This really cements our presence in the pay TV market in Asia.”

In addition to upcoming releases, the deal covers such recent MGM pics as “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “Ronin.” It also covers about 100 library titles over the course of the deal. The deal does not involve any of MGM’s TV product.

As is typical of pay TV output deals, the final pricetag for each new MGM title will hinge on its box office take and Star TV’s level of subscriber growth.

“MGM is an important studio,” said Gary Davey, CEO of Star TV. “In addition to the unrivaled Bond franchise, MGM continues to deliver high-quality theatrical titles with international appeal. We’ll make a great team.”

The Star TV service offers both free and pay TV networks throughout Asia, India and the Middle East.

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