Disney’s back to basic

Premium services slow to catch on in Latin America

BUENOS AIRES — Disney Channel Latin America shifted to basic in Argentina on Saturday, part of a move away from the premium-only, advertising-free service it launched in the region between 2000 and 2001.

The Disney Channel bowed on Cablevision, controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Media and Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, in most major cities and is scheduled to roll out to smaller markets in June.

Disney Channel switched to basic in Mexico in November.

Premium services have been slow to catch on in Latin America, and this limited subscriber growth for Disney Channel as an added-cost channel.

The 2001-02 economic collapse of Argentina, the most heavily cabled country in the region, and the bankruptcy of DirecTV Latin America last year further limited the potential for signing up subs.

Disney will continue to produce local versions of “Playhouse Disney,” “Zapping Zone” and “Disney’s Art Attack.”

ESPN Intl., a sports feevee that is part of the Walt Disney Co., will handle ad sales for the Disney Channel.

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