Corus roosts with Sparrowhawk, DIC

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TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment said Tuesday that it is joining with Britain's Sparrowhawk Media and kids producer DIC Entertainment to launch a multiplatform global kids TV channel.

Tagged KidsCo, the channel is set to launch in Central and Eastern Europe in the fall and will eventually reach 40 counties across Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region by 2009.

Content for the new channel will come from Corus -- whose Nelvana cartoon library includes "Babar," "Franklin" and "The Adventures of Tintin" -- and DIC, best known for its "Inspector Gadget," "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Care Bears" series.

The collaboration will "deliver on our shared mission of entertaining children and families around the globe," Corus president and CEO John Cassaday said in a statement.

DIC CEO Andy Heyward said he first talked about helping launch a branded kids channel with Sparrowhawk CEO David Hulbert when both did business under the Walt Disney umbrella.

Those discussions deepened at MIPTV a year ago, soon after Hulbert moved over from Walt Disney International Television to help launch Sparrowhawk Media, which will transmit the KidsCo satellite feed from its Denver-based broadcast facility.

Heyward said the biggest opportunities for KidsCo are in Europe, especially Eastern Europe and other developing markets in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Separately, strong broadcasting revenue helped Corus on Tuesday post a profit of CAN$19.5 million ($16.6 million) for the three months ending Feb. 28, compared with a year-earlier loss of CAN$65.7 million. Corus' second quarter of 2006 included a pretax debt refinancing loss of CAN$131.9 million ($112.8 million).

Revenue for the quarter came to CAN$174.7 million ($149.6 million), up 6% from a year-earlier $164.4 million. TV revenue rose 8% to CAN$100.2 million ($85.5 million), from CAN$92.9 million in 2006, on strong cable channel advertising and subscriber revenue growth.

Corus radio revenue contributed another CAN$58.8 million ($50.4 million), up 2% from a year-earlier CAN$57.8 million. While Corus' Nelvana animation studio posted CAN$17.3 million ($14.7 million), up sharply from CAN$15.1 million last year.
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