news digest


Star adds five to Dish lineup

Star, the Asian media and entertainment company owned by News Corp., has struck a deal with Dish Network to launch five Asian television channels, representing the biggest U.S. distribution pact to date for Star. Starting March 19, Dish Network's suite of international programming will include Star India Plus, Star India One, Star Chinese Channel and Star Chinese Movies 2. Music-centric Channel [V] Taiwan will be added March 26.

Crown Media, DirecTV renew distrib'n pact

Crown Media Holdings, owner and operator of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, has renewed its distribution agreement for Hallmark Channel with DirecTV for a multiyear term. Additionally, DirecTV will have the right to distribute the standard-definition and high-definition versions of Hallmark Movie Channel. DirecTV distributes Hallmark Channel to nearly 15 million homes.

Das Vierte adds 250 features

COLOGNE, Germany — NBC Universal has spruced up its programming with a series of deals encompassing about 250 feature films including "Jurassic Park III," "The Wedding Planner" and "Schindler's List." Das Vierte acquired the films through separate licensing agreements with MGM and Universal as well as from German rights groups Kinowelt, SevenOne International, Telepool, Kineos and CLT-UFA. Other top titles include Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet," Robert Rodriguez's "From Dusk Till Dawn" and the German miniseries "A Light in Dark Places."

Pusan shifts staff in fest prep

SEOUL — The Pusan International Film Festival, the largest movie festival in Asia, announced Wednesday a reshuffling of many of its programmers and staff. Cho Young-jung is moving from oversight of Korean films to become a world cinema programmer with responsibility for Latin American and African films. Additionally, Kim Seon-yeop will serve as programmer of the recently introduced Flash Forward section, and Ok Mi-na becomes the Asia special program coordinator. The 2008 festival is set for Oct. 2-10 in Busan, South Korea.

WrestleMania adds guest stars

NEW YORK — Snoop Dogg, John Legend and Raven-Symone will be involved in World Wrestling Entertainment's annual WrestleMania XXIV as it continues to attract celebrities in guest roles. The March 30 PPV event at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando also will feature boxer Floyd Mayweather in a match with 7-foot, 399-pound wrestler Big Show.

SK lands stake in TR Music

NEW YORK — SK Telecom, South Korea's biggest mobile carrier, said Wednesday that it has acquired a 42.2% stake in Chinese record label Beijing Taihe Rye Music (TR Music) as part of its plans to expand across Asia. SK said it will jointly operate the label with TR Music parent company Taihe Media, which following the deal also has a 42.2% stake in TR Music. Seoul-based SK would not confirm the sale price, but sources at the telecom said the deal is worth more than $10 million.