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Lion’s Peacock throne

MGM to channel classic pix through CNBC Asia

Further strengthening their links in the TV biz, the Peacock is giving a leg up to the Lion in Asia, this time on the international channels front.

CNBC Asia Pacific has pacted with MGM Networks to launch and market the Hollywood studio’s classic movie channel to subscribers across key markets in Asia, including China.

No money changes hands in the deal between parent companies MGM and NBC.

“What does happen,” says MGM Worldwide TV Distribution chairman Jim Griffiths, “is that we can now collaborate with NBC in a region of the world which we need to further penetrate: CNBC has infrastructure and experience there, and we bring an entire movie library.”

English lingo

The MGM channel will be broadcast in English and will carry Mandarin language subtitling. It will launch later this year and in some cases will be piggybacked in deals that also involve carriage of CNBC.

MGM and CNBC Asia Pacific are already exploring several joint distribution opportunities and cross-promotional opportunities in the region.

“This is the last piece of the world puzzle for us,” MGM Networks exec VP Bruce Tuchman told Daily Variety Thursday. “By leveraging off CNBC’s infrastructure, we will now technically be able to accelerate our presence in the region.”

Lion’s kingdom

The hook-up with CNBC caps two years of growth for the Lion’s foreign channel feeds, which have expanded fourfold to nearly 100 countries around the world.

MGM Networks’ reach today in the region includes channels in South Korea, India and New Zealand as well as joint venture interests in the Star Channel in Japan and Movie Networks in Australia.

The MGM/CNBC alliance will target those Asian markets where MGM Networks is not established, including the China market and Southeast Asia.

MGM and NBC already enjoy a multifaceted set of alliances that the Lion and NBC Enterprises established in the U.S. and abroad several years ago.

These joint initiatives include the companies’ international distribution alliance (in which MGM distributes NBC Studios programming abroad), and their U.S. advertising sales joint venture, the MGM/NBC Media Sales Group.

“The scope and extent of CNBC’s business activities across Asia, combined with the deep experience of its executive team, offers a number of very compelling attractions for us,” Tuchman said.

“In other words, this is the right model, with the right partner, at the right time for expanding our business more widely into Asia,” he added.

Outside interests

MGM Networks channel interests in South Korea, India, New Zealand, Japan and Australia will continue to operate outside of the MGM/CNBC Asia channel alliance.

The MGM Channel in Asia plans to present round-the-clock offerings from the studio’s 4,000-title library, including “West Side Story,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Birdcage,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The Black Stallion.”

CNBC Asia Pacific prexy-CEO Alexander Brown said, “This partnership is the culmination of months of planning and represents the union of two great brands in the entertainment and television industry.”

Headquartered in Singapore, CNBC Asia Pacific reaches 25 million homes in the region. The service belongs to Dow Jones and NBC.