BBC grows reach in Africa

Four channels will reach 30 countries

LONDON -- Continuing its global channel expansion program, BBC Worldwide said Tuesday that it will launch four localized channels to 1.4 million satellite homes across Africa in September via a deal with the MultiChoice platform.

The pubcaster's commercial arm will launch BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and Cbeebies to 30 African countries, including 1 million homes in South Africa.

The new portfolio of channels will replace the existing BBC Food and BBC Prime channels that broadcast in the territory and will lead to investment in local programming, according to BBC Worldwide senior vp Dean Possenniskie.

"The new channels are created specifically for an African audience, and we will buy a lot more programs for the local market. We believe it will be a real boost to local production," he said.

BBC Worldwide plans to launch nine more channels globally this year and about eight channels in 2009, but will target such major European markets as Germany, Spain and Italy until its success is proven elsewhere.

"I'm not in a rush to get into major markets where we don't yet have a presence. I want to build and prove our success before we target them," Possenniskie said.