DIC spearheads kids’ channel

KidsCo to debut in Europe

LONDON — A new international children’s TV channel that aims to be the fourth force in tyke TV after Disney, Viacom and Warner Bros. was announced Tuesday.

KidsCo, backed by Los Angeles-based animation specialist DIC Entertainment, Sparrowhawk Media Group and Corus Entertainment, will bow in Eastern and Central Europe this year and extend to 40 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific by 2009.

But KidsCo has ruled out a U.S. launch because DIC, which is investing $4 million in the web over two years, already has an arrangement with CBS.

It’s also unlikely to bow in the hyper-competitive U.K., where more than 20 channels slug it out for audiences.

“This alliance draws on the collective expertise of the best in the business, and the libraries of our content partners contain some of the world’s most popular children’s programming,” said Sparrowhawk CEO David Hulbert, a former prexy of Walt Disney Intl. Television. “The combined experience within the KidsCo organization has enabled us to develop this concept based on an innovative business model from which we all benefit.”

He added: “Sparrowhawk’s global commercial and technical distribution networks manage the successful operation of the Hallmark Channel across more than 150 countries. It is this unique combination of assets that enable us to deliver KidsCo in an environment designed to reassure parents, at a price that platforms will find very refreshing.”

KidsCo will feature around 3,000 hours of fare from the combined catalogs of DIC and Corus’ Nelvana network. This includes “Babar,” “Inspector Gadget” and “The Adventures of Tintin.”

More content deals are expected to be announced at the Mip TV mart later this month.

Original programs also will be commissioned from DIC, Nelvana and external suppliers.

Sparrowhawk will use its Denver base to distribute and run the web.

Disney Channel, meanwhile, announced plans to roll out in Turkey following a multiyear deal with local platform DigiTurk.

The web will bow in Turkey April 29 and follows recent launches for the Disney Channel in Poland and South Africa.

Initiative will be managed by Giorgio Stock, senior VP and managing director, Disney Channel Italy.