AETN announces Chinese sales, acquisitions



CANNES -- A&E Television Networks' international division Tuesday announced sales and acquisitions from mainland China's powerful state-owned national broadcaster, China Central Television.

AETN senior vp international Sean Cohan also promised the network's first high-definition service "somewhere in the region" in 2008 to cater to the high demand for HD in China as well as increased activity in local productions and acquisitions.

As AETN prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of its Asia strategy, the new programming deals include the acquisition of the first China program, CCTV's "Rise of the Great Powers," by AETN All Asia Networks, a joint venture between AETN International and Malaysia's monopoly direct-broadcast platform Astro.

"Great Powers" will air on the History Channel, an AETV outlet, in Southeast Asia.

AETN International also has licensed 37 hours from the History Channel catalog to CCTV's commercial arm, China International Television.

Shows include the 10-hour "Ancient Discoveries," "Nature Tech" and 21 hours of "UFO Files."

The programming deals come in an international market that has cooled significantly on China because of tough restrictions on foreign content.

Cohan avoids being overly optimistic about mainland business prospects. "We have always had a thoughtful approach to China," he said.

He described ambitions of a full channel in China as "damn near impossible" but said that "forging a relationship with CCTV is a start."

Overall, 2007 had been AETN's "year of Asia," Cohan said. "We felt like a lot of things conspired to make the time right for us to strike in a more systematic way."