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HBO plans Russian expansion, reports say

Time Warner involved in link with Amedia

MOSCOW — HBO is set to bow in Russia, according to local media reports.

The U.S. cabler, which has already expanded in European markets with a regional HQ in Budapest and a string of locally produced hits including “Game of Thrones,” which was shot in Northern Ireland, Malta and Croatia, is reportedly teaming up with Moscow-based Amedia to launch a Russian service by the end of the year.

HBO in the U.S. declined comment.

The companies will invest “tens of millions of dollars” in the project, a source at Access Industries, parent company of Amedia, was quoted as saying by Russian business daily Vedomosti.

Access Industries is owned by Leonard Blavatnik, one of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen, whose interests range from a stake in TNK — the troubled Russian joint venture with British Petroleum — to industry and media.

Citing cable and satellite sources in Moscow, Vedomosti said the HBO venture, involving parent company Time Warner, would create a service that aired HBO content as well as series and films purchased from U.S. and Russia.

The service would likely be offered across cable and satellite services including Gazprom Media’s NTV Plus package, Vedomosti said.

Locally produced content could include hit shows produced by Amedia, such as Russian adaptations of “Ugly Betty” and “Poor Nastya.”

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