Baby TV channels booming

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CANNES -- The baby biz is booming on the Croisette.

Fox International Channels has agreed to acquire a major stake in BabyTV, the world's first TV channel for infants and toddlers under age 3. And in another deal, French cable group CanalSat will give birth next week to 24/7 commercial-free channel Babyfirst.

BabyTV, which began four years ago in Israel, is a commercial-free channel that already boasts carriage deals on 75 platforms in some 50 countries. No financial details of the deal were forthcoming.

Following the acquisition by Fox, BabyTV will grow into a core component in Fox's bouquet, joining Fox, Fox Life, Fox Crime, FX and National Geographic.

Liran Talit, who has led BabyTV's expansion into the international market, will continue to head the nicher as managing director.

Babyfirst, conceived in the U.S. in 2004, airs in 28 countries in more 73 million households. "Our content is tailor-made for the needs of babies," Babyfirst's co-founder and executive vp for marketing and business development Sharon Rechter said.

With continuous programming targeted at children from 6 months to 3 years old, "parents can get us where and when they want," Rechter said. Parents (and gifted tots) can access a special interactive Web guide at babyfirsttv.com.

Shows are limited to between 2-7 minutes to accommodate the short attention span of babies. The commercial-free network is funded by shareholders New Regency, real estate and financial group Kardan N.V. and privately owned Los Angeles-based company Bellco Capital.

A 100% French version of Babyfirst will be available as part of Canalsat's Family Pack as of Oct. 16. "Canalsat is the first broadcaster in France and we're extremely happy and proud," Rechter said.



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