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MGM beams to India

Studio pacts with Zee for cable showcase

MGM has inked a deal with India’s Zee Telefilms to establish a branded round-the-clock movie channel to showcase the Lion’s film library in the South Asian region.

The joint venture with Zee marks the 11th channel in foreign markets in which MGM holds an equity stake, including webs in Australia, Japan, Israel and Latin America.

An earlier MGM channel experiment in Asia, dubbed MGM Gold, lost an estimated $40 million in the mid-’90s and was disbanded by the studio.

Expected to launch in the third quarter this year, the new channel — to be co-branded Zee-MGM — will be carried on basic cable, including Zee’s own systems, which reach more than 15 million homes across India.

Web will be immediately available to more than 10 million subs in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Maldives.

Deal was put together by MGM Networks prexy Jules Haimovitz and Zee TV USA head Dheeraj Kapuria.

“This is an unbeatable combination, blending the world’s most recognizable symbol of Hollywood, MGM’s roaring lion, and the world’s largest and most modern library with Zee’s proven distribution and programming strengths,” Haimovitz said.

MGM’s library boasts some 4,100 titles, including “Thelma and Louise,” “Rain Man” and “Midnight Cowboy” as well as the James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky franchises.

Zee Telefilms operates 17 satellite webs in South Asia and elsewhere.

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