Disney lands Time Warner Cable deal

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NEW YORK - Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Cable Inc. reached comprehensive distribution agreements that will include the launch of new Disney high-definition channels on the No. 2 U.S. cable operator.

The two companies said on Wednesday Time Warner Cable will carry sports channels ESPN2 HD and ESPNU later this year. Some systems will also offer Disney Channel on Demand and ESPN Desportes.

Time Warner Cable, which has 13.4 million subscribers, also agreed to carry three new high-definition channels -- ABC Family HD, Disney Channel HD and ESPNEWS HD -- in 2008.

As part of the deal, the two companies extended their retransmission pact for Disney's ABC-owned broadcast television station on Time Warner Cable systems.

Retransmission discussions between cable operators and broadcasters have become strained in recent months as broadcasters started to demand that cable operators pay for the right to carry the 'free-to-air' stations.

Media companies like Disney, which owns broadcasters alongside cable channels and movie studios, typically reach agreements with operators by bartering channel carriage and advertising for retransmission of the broadcast stations.

Last November Disney hammered out a similar agreement, worth $1 billion with the U.S. No.1 cable company, Comcast Corp., after protracted discussions.

Financial terms of the agreements between Disney and Time Warner Cable were not furnished.

Disney shows will also be offered on Time Warner Cable's "Start Over" service, which lets viewers start a show from the beginning at any point during a broadcast in progress.

Disney will also provide content to Time Warner Cable's Quick Clips platform. Quick Clips are 2- to 10-minute clips of extra content relevant to certain network shows and at no additional cost to Time Warner Cable digital subscribers.
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