Mouse bows in Italy

Oct. 3 debut kicks off with 'Lion King'

MILAN — After several delays, the Italian version of the Disney Channel will start broadcasting on Oct. 3 with the first TV broadcast in Italy of “The Lion King,” VP and managing director Janet Scardino announced Tuesday at a press conference in Milan.

The channel will be commercial-free, and all programs will be transmitted entirely in Italian. It will air daily from 6 a.m. to midnight and will be transmitted as part of Telepiu’s digital bouquet, which has 360,000 subscribers.

“Italy’s market is ready for digital TV, there is a growing request for quality programming and a wider selection of channels,” Scardino said.

“Our target is to be the first TV choice, during the whole day, for all Italian kids. In France we have already reached 500,000 subscribers after 18 months from the launch of Disney Channel France,” she said.

The schedule will include a selection of Disney productions, original productions and program acquisitions from Italy and Europe, including “Art Attack.”

Local production will comprise 15% of local airtime but is expected to increase, Scardino said. The channel will employ 40 people, most of whom will be Italians.

The Italian web is the seventh country-specific Disney Channel to be established, following those in Taiwan, the U.K., Australia, Malaysia, France and the Middle East.

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