New kids channel in play

Corus, DIC content feed launch

Canadian broadcaster Corus Entertainment said Tuesday that it is joining with Britain's Sparrowhawk Media and kids producer DIC Entertainment to launch a multiplatform global kids TV channel.

Tagged KidsCo, the channel is set to launch in Central and Eastern Europe in the fall and will eventually reach 40 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region by 2009.

Content will come from Corus — whose Nelvana cartoon library includes "Babar," "Franklin" and "The Adventures of Tintin" — and DIC, best known for its "Inspector Gadget," "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Care Bears" series.

The collaboration will "deliver on our shared mission of entertaining children and families around the globe," Corus president and CEO John Cassaday said.

DIC CEO Andy Heyward said he first discussed helping launch a branded kids channel with Sparrowhawk CEO David Hulbert when both did business under the Walt Disney Co. umbrella.

Those discussions deepened a year ago at MIPTV, soon after Hulbert moved over from Walt Disney International Television to help launch Sparrowhawk, which will transmit the KidsCo satellite feed from its Denver-based broadcast facility.

Heyward said the biggest opportunities for KidsCo are in Europe, especially Eastern Europe and other developing markets in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Separately, strong broadcasting revenue helped Corus on Tuesday post a profit of CAN$19.5 million ($16.6 million) for the three months ending Feb. 28, compared with a year-ago loss of CAN$65.7 million. Corus' second quarter included a pretax debt refinancing loss of CAN$131.9 million ($112.8 million).

Revenue for the quarter came to CAN$174.7 million ($149.6 million), up 6% from a year ago. TV revenue rose 8% to CAN$100.2 million ($85.5 million) on strong cable channel advertising and subscriber growth.

Corus radio revenue contributed another CAN$58.8 million ($50.4 million), up 2% from a year ago. The Nelvana studio posted CAN$17.3 million ($14.7 million), up 14.6% from last year.