A&E eyes new strategy in Asia

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A&E Television Networks is planning a two-channel bouquet consisting of History Channel and Crime and Investigation in Asia, according to industry sources.

An official announcement regarding the new Asia strategy could come as early as next week at MIPTV in Cannes.

The two channels could launch before the middle of the year. A third channel — the Biography Channel — is likely to follow, cable sources say.

AETN declined comment on the new strategy, but cable operators contacted said that Mark Glazier, former CFO of MTV Networks Asia Pacific, is consulting on the project for Alan Hodges, managing director, AETN Asia Pacific. Glazier is based in Singapore.

Sources also say the channels will be rolled out in a joint venture with Malaysia's monopoly direct-broadcast satellite operator Astro, which is listed on the Malaysian Stock Exchange.

Details of the joint venture were not available at press time.

In addition to more than 2 million subscribers in Malaysia, Astro has significant interests in an Indonesian direct-broadcast platform, which has about 60,000 subscribers.

Earlier this month, Astro announced the $166 million acquisition of a 20% stake in Indian direct-broadcast platform Sun Direct TV Private Ltd., which is owned by the politically well-connected Maran group in Southern India.

Astro said the proposed joint venture in India was consistent with its "strategy to expand its footprint into large and growing markets with low digital pay television penetration."

Astro also has ambitions of becoming a major content and channel provider both in its domestic market and across the region.

In a separate move that also increases its presence on the ground in Asia, A&E Television Networks' international division said Monday that it has appointed Ling Sze Gan as content sales executive for Asia.

Based in Singapore, Gan will be responsible for AETN International's syndicated program sales throughout Asia to both standard and nonstandard television platforms, including related digital media rights, the company said.

Gan was most recently regional business director for Group M in Singapore. She has also worked for Discovery Networks Asia and for BBC Worldwide Asia.
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