Cell phones users get a new toon

Index-affiliated companies will supply titles

Media group Index Holdings will launch a service that broadcasts Japanese toons to foreign cell phone users, company sources said Tuesday.

The service, the first of its kind, will beam toons from Index-affiliated companies via a specialty channel for mobile devices to fans in North America, Europe and Asia, starting midyear. Index also plans a TV toon channel, but has not finalized a start date.

Founded in 1995, Index is a leading provider of cell phone content that has branched out into toon and pic production and sales. It has a capital stake in Tatsunoko Prods., the creator of classic toons “Speed Racer,” “G-Force, Battle of the Planets” and “Time Bokan.”

Also members of the Index Group are Madhouse, maker of the hit “Nana” and “Death Note” TV toons, and Nikkatsu, a producer and distributor of live-action pics, including recently released omnibus “Ten Nights of Dreams.”

By 2010 Index expects to earn half its coin from overseas sales. For the fiscal year that ended in August, sales totaled $930 million and operating profit $51 million.

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