Picky Disney bows kids block

Two-hour Studio D block buzzing with tweenies

SINGAPORE — The world’s most discriminating Mouse has finally found local programming in Asia that meets its high standards.

Disney Channel Asia is wooing tweenies, kids aged 7-12, with the two-hour Studio D program block that kicked off July 5.

With 24% of Disney Channel Asia’s content made locally, it’s been a slow process sourcing Asian content good enough to pass Disney muster, said Raymund Miranda, MD Walt Disney Television Intl. (WDTVI), Southeast Asia/Korea.

“People assume productions costs are lower in Asia, but that’s not necessarily so for product to meet Disney’s very high standards,” he says.

Airing 9 a.m. weekends, the Singapore-produced block features three shows new to Asia: “That’s So Raven,” “Proud Family” and “Fillmore,” plus a new season of “Lizzie McGuire,” interspersed with local segments.

With local hosts, both studio-based and kids’ segments from around the region, Studio D follows the success of teen version Disney Buzz.

“Studio D is the centerpiece of our programming for 2003 and showcases some of the best new shows on the kids TV landscape,” says Miranda. “It has an extraordinary cast of multi-cultural hosts and kids starring in key segments.”

“Viewer participation is the essence of Studio D. We lay much emphasis on active viewing as well as on expanding the viewing experience beyond the show through interactive elements and ground level activities,” says Ashok Miranda, exec producer, WDTVI, South East Asia/Korea.

Disney could not comment on the production of a local versions of Aussie pre-school popsters “The Wiggles.”

However, since the March expansion of pre-school strand from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, it is anticipated PlayHouse Disney will launch as a channel in its own right in the fall.

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