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Sundance Channel extends int’l reach

Robert Redford delivers upbeat view of TV's future

CANNES — The Sundance Channel is increasing its European footprint — and its founder Robert Redford has joined the growing number of industry voices to declare that TV’s halcyon days are here again.

At a Mipcom lunch Wednesday, held to celebrate the first anniversary of the web’s debut in Europe — Sundance bowed in France and Belgium a year ago — the web’s owners Rainbow Media said the channel is to be rolled out on France’s SFR (its third French platform), the Netherlands’ Caiway and South Korea’s KT, formerly Korea Telecom.

Beginning Oct. 21, subscribers to SFR’s neufbox can access Sundance Channel in both high and standard definition as part of the Bouquet Grand Spectacle EXB.

The web’s launch on Caiway marks its first distribution in the Netherlands.

Caiway provides digital television, Internet and telephony services via fiber delivery to several Dutch markets. Caiway subscribers can watch Sundance Channel as part of the operator’s HD pack.

KT, a Korean teleco, further expands Sundance Channel’s reach in South Korea, where it is also carried by Skylife.

KT will offer Sundance Channel in high definition as part of its QOOK TV service.

At the lunch Redford recalled how as a penniless wannabe artist he had slept rough in Cannes — returning 16 years later as a movie actor with a suite at the Carlton, where Sundance hosted today’s press event.

He said: “My vision for Sundance Channel is driven by a desire that it continues to entertain, to provoke thought and to nurture free artistic expression.

“It’s especially gratifying to watch that vision play out on a growing international stage via this distribution expansion.”

“TV creativity has grown enormously and maybe even beyond the film industry in some areas. I think this is a good time for TV.”

Redford continued: “The film biz is having a very difficult time just now — this creates opportunities for us today.”

As for his own take on Redford the screen hero, he explained: “I am still an actor. I started as an actor and I still act.

“Being able to perform is the most satisfying thing for me. Some things are on the horizon but I am superstitious so I won’t talk about it.

“Sundance has taken more time in my career than I expected.”

The web also announced that zeitgeist show “Mad Men,” whose cast members Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss have been a high-profile presence at Mipcom, would make its French HD bow on the Sundance Channel starting in February.

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