India’s Richest Man Backs Start-Up Channel Epic TV
India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is backing Epic TV, a new Indian start-up channel. Due to start broadcasting next month, the high-def channel will have content based on the nation’s history, folklore and mythology in a contemporary format, Indian press reported. Former Walt Disney India managing director Mahesh Samat is leading the channel. Ambani, who is the chairman of Reliance Industries, has taken a more than 25% stake in the group via his Reliance Ports & Terminals. This is his second broadcasting venture; he already owns a stake in the Network18 Group. Ambani is the brother of Anil Ambani, who heads DreamWorks partner Reliance Entertainment.
Portion Of France’s Anti-Piracy Law Overturned
A section of anti-piracy law that France spent millions on developing has been overturned. The controversial Hadopi legislation was introduced in 2009 as a three-strikes program that would begin with warning letters sent to suspected online pirates and end with the suspension of their Internet access. But the Culture and Communications Ministry said today that the last leg has been overturned and French judges no longer will be able to impose suspensions. Rather, people who illegally download copyrighted content will be faced with fines that could increase gradually. This is the first measure adopted following a comprehensive report that was led by former Canal Plus chief Pierre Lescure. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti tweeted her support, saying, “Cutting off Internet is over. Change is now. We will fight relentlessly against sites that make money on the backs of creators.”
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Hasbro Studios & Clear Vision Ink Distribution Deal
UK-based Clear Vision has acquired HV distribution rights for the first and second seasons of Hasbro Studios’ My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Under the multi-territory deal, Clear Vision will distribute the hit kids’ show in the UK, France, Italy, the Nordic countries and the Middle East. Produced and distributed globally by Hasbro Studios, the series follows young unicorn Twilight Sparkle and five other pony friends through funny, offbeat experiences, lessons in friendship and exciting, enchanted adventures. Read More »
Hasbro Studios today laid off the three staffers in its Game & Reality Show Production & Development department under VP Kevin Belinkoff. Belinkoff will continue to oversee the studio’s game show efforts, including current series Family Game Night for sibling HUB network as Hasbro remains committed to the genre. But its game show/reality projects will be handled on a consultant basis. That is the model Hasbro Studios uses on the animation side, where it has produced 850 half-hours with an in-house senior executive working with outside creative consultants.
Looks like a lot of kids — OK, their parents — are snapping up the toys and games represented on shows such as Transformers Prime, Clue, and My Little Pony that they see on The Hub. Hasbro COO David D. R. Hargreaves says these sales are soaring even though initial ratings following the channel’s October 2010 launch were at “the lower end of our expectations.” His comments were part of Hasbro’s day-long presentation to investors — including several who were skeptical about its $300M investment in April 2009 for 50% of Discovery Kids. Hargreaves says that last month’s ratings among kids between 2 and 11 were the best yet for The Hub, although he warned that the numbers “probably won’t grow each week, month, or quarter.” Cable and satellite company efforts to promote the channel “spike viewership which may fall back in the following period.” Still, the exec says Hasbro’s on track with its five-year business plan. ”If The Hub network can be half the size of Cartoon Network” in five years then “that would be a success,” he says. Hasbro’s investment enabled the company to turn Hasbro Studios into a major TV production operation. It accounts for 50% of the Hub’s programming from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM, as well as sales in 142 countries. Hasbro says it only expects to have to spend about $80M a year on channel-related expenses, lower than the $100M it anticipated. The company’s agreement with Discovery requires it to spend … Read More »
Hasbro Studios, whose kids programming appears mostly on the Hasbro-Discovery channel The Hub in the U.S., is expanding its portfolio overseas, announcing several deals for its brands today in key territories. The pacts include My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Transformers Prime to a pair of Lagardere channels in France; The Adventures Of Chuck And Friends to Super RTL in Germany, which also will get My Little Pony and Transformers via Nickelodeon; My Little Pony, Transformers and Pound Puppies to Nickelodeon in the Netherlands; and My Little Pony, Pound Puppies, Transformers and GI Joe Renegades to a pair of VTM Belgium channels in Belgium. The deals follow the success of My Little Pony in the UK on The Cartoon Network, where it’s been a top-five show since debuting in July, and of Transformers in Spain.
With its input growing, Hasbro Studios, the production and distribution division of Hasbro, Inc., has reconfigured its boys/action and girls/preschool creative teams into series development and current programming groups under Hasbro Studios president Stephen Davis. Mike Vogel has been promoted from executive director, boys and action programming, to VP development. Linda Steiner, who had served as SVP, girls and preschool programming, has taken on a new role as SVP, current programming.
Former WME agent Mike Eisner has joined Hasbro Studios as SVP legal and business affairs. Eisner left WME in December after a nine-year stint as VP and literary agent at the agency and WMA before that. He oversaw a number of film and TV deals and helped negotiate client Hasbro Studios’ multi-picture pact with Universal Pictures. From 1992-01, Eisner served as VP business affairs and literary agent, at ICM. Earlier in his career, Eisner worked as counsel for Carolco Pictures.