International deals roll in ahead of NATPE

Prices said to be slipping because of recession

LAS VEGAS -- Despite fewer attendees from abroad and thinner wallets in tow, Hollywood players unveiled programming deals with international clients on the eve of the NATPE programming market here.

Warner Bros. has licensed 550 hours of movies and TV series to Liberty Global's multichannel operator Chello Zone, which in turn will divvy them up among its three U.K. thematic feeds -- Zone Romantica, Zone Thriller and Zone Horror. Movies in the package include the "Bourne" franchise and several John Grisham thrillers as well as series ranging from "The Thorn Birds" to "Stephen King's It."

Chello senior vp Steve Cole and Warner Bros. International TV president Jeffrey Schlesinger unveiled the deal Monday.

"We're delighted to be working with Warner Bros. to secure top programming for our many, differently themed channels. It is always a challenge to acquire the right programming that can appeal to our broad range of viewers, and having access to the expansive slate on offer from Warner Bros. gives a huge boost to our schedules," Cole said.

In other news from the convention, Comcast's E! Entertainment offshoot the Style Network has just sealed channel launches in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lithuania and Portugal. Those carriage deals mean the women's lifestyle network is now available in 10 million homes internationally.

"The Style Network is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing networks and lifestyle driven brands globally," said Brad Wald, a managing director for Comcast International Media Group. Among the new shows to premiere abroad on Style outlets are "Ruby" and "Running in Heels."

Over in the News Corp. fold, Fox International Channels has just picked up Connection III Entertainment's syndicated newsmag "Made in Hollywood" for its cable offshoot in Turkey. Under the agreement, the series that focuses on how movies are made in Tinseltown has been renewed for Season 2 with a niche network called FoxLife in Turkey.

" 'Made in Hollywood' is generating incredible interest with international markets," said Cleveland O'Neal, president and CEO of Connection III Entertainment. The show reaches 80 million homes in the U.S.

Finally, 4KidsEntertainment has licensed its animated series "Chaotic," which airs stateside on the CW kids block on Saturdays, to RTL 2 in Germany and to Digiturk in Turkey. Second seasons of the show have just been picked up by Oz's Ten Network, MBC in the Mideast and Rede TV in Brazil.

No financial details were made available for any of these deals, but most pundits here think prices are beginning to slip because of the global recession.

The annual NATPE market runs through Thursday.
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