Fox bows free TV block in Japan

Programming to include 'Idol,' dramas

TOKYO — Fox Intl. Channels Japan is launching a block on free-to-air digital broadcast satellite platform BS 11 on April 6.

The un-named block will offer Fox programming, including dramas and “American Idol,” from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, for a total of eight hours.

Many U.S. strands, including Fox, CNN, Discovery Channel and History Channel, are on cable and satellite in Japan, but few are available on free TV.

“We are doing this because the number of digital broadcast satellite viewers is increasing and being on BS 11 will raise the Fox brand profile,” said Fox rep Sachiko  Nakayama. “We plan to grow together with BS 11 as Japan enters the digital broadcasting age.”

Launched in 1999, BS 11 is owned by a consortium that includes the Bic Camera electronics store chain and the Softmap software store chain. As of August, its footprint covered 40 million households, though the number tuning in is far lower.

Japan is skedded to switch to digital broadcasting in 2011.

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