HONG KONG — ITV Global Entertainment boss Peter Iacono Wednesday unveiled details of Granada TV, the Blighty commercial broadcaster’s first foray into Asian broadcasting.
Moments before he stepped on to the stage at the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia conference in Hong Kong, Iacono signed a major carriage and distribution deal for the channel with India’s New Delhi Television.
The new net will take to the air from Nov. 1 as a single, English-language satellite feed covering Asia and the Middle East. It will be sub-titled as Granada TV picks up carriage deals in individual territories.
Although programming will come from ITV’s English-language film library and 35,000-hour catalog of shows that includes “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Cracker” and “Coronation Street,” Iacono insisted that Granada TV is not a channel for British expatriates, but instead is aimed at households where English is spoken.
“We look at the BBC, which has great production values, but is somewhat restrained, and at AXN and Star World, which are fast-moving and Americanized. We are looking at the ground in between,” he told Variety.
Further, Granada TV will be progressively localized after the first year of operation with locally-made shows and acquired content. However, there are already plans for the first Asia location for reality show “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.”
Net has been trialed in the Middle East since June with Star Select. NDTV’s distribution agreement spans the Indian sub-continent and is expected to be followed by local cable and satellite deals.
ITV has yet to sign carriage deals elsewhere in the region, though net is currently being tested on MediaCorp’s DVB-H mobile service in Singapore and company said that it is close to signing deals in Taiwan and Korea.
Iacono refused to unveil the cost of launch, but said it is an “ongoing commitment with an anticipated deep-water mark.”
He suggested that, based on the Middle East experience, start-up losses would be at their heaviest after the first 12 months and then it would start to repay its investment.
He also said that the new channel has not hampered ITV’s program sales in the region.
“We still have to make money on our syndication business. It’s going to be all about windowing,” Iacono said. “We have a huge catalog, with lots of new content. And we’re going to be focusing on the great stuff that hasn’t aired (in Asia) yet, which will by default be premieres.”