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Kids’ WB fills RTL 2 bill

Warners pushes global branding at Mipcom

CANNES — Warners has inked an extensive deal with Germany’s RTL 2 for its Kids’ WB programming block.

Deal, announced Friday by WBIT prexy Jeffrey Schlesinger during the company’s packed screening at the Mipcom programming mart, follows Warner’s pact with France’s paybox TPS, which acquired an extensive programming package earlier this year that included Kids’ WB content.

Among the titles included in the package are Warner Bros. animation series “What’s New Scooby-Doo?,” “Mucha Lucha!” and “Duck Dodgers.”

The Kids’ WB rollout is part of Warners’ strategy to market the brand globally, creating what it calls international Kids’ WB affiliates “with fully customizable programming blocks.”

The acquisition boosts RTL2’s standing in Germany’s tyke market. Until now, rival ProSieben had carried WB fare like the classic “Loony Tunes,” “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Superman: The Animated Series,” but it will soon be losing those shows. ProSieben had acquired the WB fare from EM.TV’s Junior library, but the German kidvidder’s rights to WB programming are reverting back to Warners, which intends to include them in the RTL 2 deal.

EM.TV’s future has become the subject of intense discussion on the Croisette as the repayment of a $525 million convertible bond looms. Company, which has been in the red for several years, posted a $62.5 million loss in the first half of 2003 and appears to be teetering in view of the bond payment.

The kidvidder has nevertheless expanded beyond its core licensing of children’s programming and moved into the licensing, production and broadcasting of sports, fueling speculation that it may pull out of children’s programming altogether and sell off its tyke-targeted assets.

EM.TV will soon be hit by serious financial difficulties unless it manages to restructure the bond repayment plan.

EM.TV topper Werner Klatten has been keen to avoid reporters at Mipcom, although the company did announce one deal: It inked a volume agreement with Hong Kong’s pay TV web TVB for at least 182 half-hours of children’s fare from its Junior catalog as well as the second season of puppet series “The Hoobs.”

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