Japanese cabler to add original content to lineup

Tokyo — Japan’s No. 1 cabler Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM) plans to acquire all shares of indie distrib and pic producer Asmik Ace Entertainment and make it a wholly owned subsid.

J:COM aims to add original content from Asmik to its program line-up.

Initially, J:COM will buy the 96.6% of Asmik Ace shares owned by the Sumitomo trading house, with the transfer to occur within 30 days, according to Japanese press reports. No price has yet been announced. It will then acquire the remaining shares.

Asmik Ace had a complicated birth, taking its current form in a merger of pic producer Ace Pictures and distrib Asmik in 1998. In 2004, when then co-owner Kadokawa Holdings acquired exclusive rights to distribute DreamWorks pics in Japan, Asmik Ace took charge of publicity and distribution.

In 2010, Sumitomo bought Kadokawa’s 20% stake in Asmik Ace, boosting its share to the current 96.6%.

Among Asmik Ace’s recent releases are “Spy Kids 4D,” “Scream 4″ and “50/50,” as well as the domestic mellers “Bread of Happiness” and “A Yell From Heaven.”

J:COM intends to offer the 270 pics to which Asmik Ace owns the rights on its movie channels. Asmik Ace will also produce five to 10 original dramas annually for J:COM strands, while its pics will be released simultaneously in theaters and on J:COM’s VOD services. Asmik Ace content will be available to mobile device users via J:COM partner KDDI’s Lismo streaming service.

As of January, J:COM had 3.63million cable subscribers, up 6.7% on the same month the previous year. It has 7.14 million subs for its combined cable, Internet and telephony services, up 9.5% on 2011.

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