Turner launches toon production, movie channel in India

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CANNES -- Turner International on Thursday significantly upped its grab for a larger part of India's $12.8 billion entertainment industry, launching its first international animation theatrical production business and a Hollywood movie channel with sister company Warner Bros.

Turner's animated film production unit, which is expected to be based in Mumbai and produce at least two animated features a year, will expand the company's output of original live-action TV for kids, the company said.

It is Turner's maiden venture of its kind internationally and comes amid an Indian gold rush, which has seen NBC Universal and the Walt Disney Co. recently pour millions of dollars into local partnerships and ventures.

The Turner movie channel launch date has not been announced and financial details were not disclosed. Turner said only that the venture involved the establishment of a multimillion-dollar business unit.

Steve Marcopoto, president of Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, said expanding the scope of the company's activities in India was a "strategic imperative," calling India "the biggest market in the region this year, surpassing Japan."

PricewaterhouseCoopers' March 2008 report on the India's entertainment and media industry projects 22% growth during the next five years. This means the overall television industry will be worth $15 billion in 2012, up from $5.6 billion in 2007.

Turner also recently acquired a minority stake in Indian content production house Miditech and announced the launch of a Hindi-language general entertainment partnership with Miditech's owner the Alva Brothers.

Turner's existing channels and ventures in India include Cartoon Network, India-specific kids channel POGO, CNN and CNN-IBN, HBO India, and the joint-venture distribution platform, Zee Turner.

Nyay Bhushan in New Delhi and Reuters contributed to this report.
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