Disney set to grow in Latin America

Europe more difficult business prospect

LONDON — Disney Channels have targeted Latin America as a growth area as it gets harder to make money in Europe.

This is according to the prexy of Disney Channels Worldwide Rich Ross, who was speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild during a visit to London for the European preem of new Disney Channel movie “Camp Rock.”

“In the next five years Latin America is going to be an economic powerhouse for us,” predicted Ross. “Poland and Australia are other growth markets for us.”

But in the main European territories Ross said a combination of platforms paying less to distribute Disney Channels, a slow advertising market and restrictions on ads for junk food aimed at children was forcing the company to think hard about how it operates its channels business.

“It’s a little chilly out there right now,” said Ross.

However, he was upbeat about the recent soft re-launch of Disney Channel in Spain as a free-to-air web, following a decade as a pay channel, in the run-up to the official bow Sept. 19.

This is the first time Disney has offered any of its channels free-to-air supported by advertising.

Ross said there were no plans to launch Disney XD, due to bow in the U.S. next February, in Europe but did not rule it out in the long term.

Stressing that Disney Channels intended to increase the shift toward more globalized local programming, Ross announced an animation for the U.K. market provisionally entitled “Gwyn” and co-written by “Pirates of the Caribbean” thesp Giles New.

“Our strategy is to seek out the best creative talent from around the world to make shows for Disney Channel,” he said. “The U.K. has incredible heritage in kids’ TV and we’re constantly impressed by the depth of the talent pool here.”

He described “Gwyn,” originally written for BBC Radio, as “Narnia in reverse.”

In the show, co-written by Keiron Self, star of BBC sitcom “My Family,” a child’s life is transformed when a giant elf, the eponymous Gwyn, bursts out of a wardrobe pursued by an angry mob of mythical creatures.