Disney Japan plans digital network

Free channel set for 2011

TOKYO — Walt Disney Japan has applied for a license to operate a free-to-air digital satellite channel in Japan, according to a report in the Nikkei newspaper,

The channel is set to launch in 2011. If Disney carries through with this plan, it will be the first foreign-backed broadcaster to operate a free channel in the local market. 

Fox Intl. Channels Japan will launch a service on BS11, a free-to-air digital satellite operator, in April, but it will be an eight-hour program block, not a separate channel.

The number of digital satellite channels is expected to climb from the current 12 to nearly 20 following Japan’s switch to all-digital broadcasting in July 2011. Today is the last day to apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications for a digital satellite license. The ministry will award the licenses in June.

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