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Disney, Media-One team on venture

Duo to bow free-to-air channel in Russia

Disney is rolling into Russia.

On Tuesday the Mouse House unveiled plans to bow the Disney Channel across the country in a joint venture with local biz Media-One, which owns and operates 30 stations.

“Russia is an extremely important market for Disney, and this new Disney channel is a great way for us to expand our brand and business,” said Disney prexy-CEO Robert Iger.

The Russian channel will be anchored by Disney shows but will also air original, locally made content.

Disney will take a 49% stake in the joint venture and provide programming and marketing expertise and content acquisition support.

Media-One, with 51%, will provide its knowledge and experience in the Russian market, its local broadcast station portfolio and its advertising sales expertise.

Launch is slated for 2009, pending regulatory approval. By law, foreign companies must have Russian partners to operate in the country.

It will be Disney’s second free-to-air web after the Disney Channel Spain, which jumped from pay TV in July, relaunching as a free, advertising-funded net on the country’s digital terrestrial TV platform.

Disney, already well known in Russia via its distribution, retail and licensing businesses, has identified Russia, India and China as key areas for expansion.

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