Disney pulls plug on U.K.'s ABC1


LONDON -- Walt Disney Television is axing its general entertainment channel ABC1 and refocusing its energies on Disney-branded children's channels, the company's European executive vp and managing editor John Hardie said Friday.

ABC1, which airs such library titles as "Home Improvement" and "8 Simple Rules," was available in 19 million U.K. homes, including 8 million homes on free-to-air digital platform Freeview. But the channel never achieved primetime distribution on Freeview.

As one of only a handful of commercial entertainment channels airing on the digital platform, ABC1 had hoped to capitalize on a strong market position that it believed would deliver major advertising revenue. But the failure to achieve primetime distribution on Freeview meant that ABC1 was unable to sell key demographics to advertisers.

"While ABC1 successfully found a strong audience in daytime through introduction of day-long fiction, the inability to get access to a Freeview primetime spectrum, together with our focus on the Disney brand, led us to the conclusion that it was best to move on," Hardie said.

"Since we launched ABC1 in 2005, we have re-focused sharply on the development of the Disney brand, in particular the Disney Channel and the growth in U.K. and Europe," he added.