THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY AND MEDIA-ONE FORM JOINT VENTURE TO LAUNCH DISNEY-BRANDED FREE-TO-AIR TELEVISION CHANNEL IN RUSSIA
Moscow and Burbank, Calif, December 16, 2008 – The Walt Disney Company (NYSE
IS), through one of its subsidiaries, and Media-One Holdings Limited, a broadcaster operating assets in the regions of Russia, are forming a joint venture to launch a Disney-branded television channel in Russia.
The joint venture plans to launch the new family-oriented entertainment channel on 30 stations throughout Russia currently owned and operated by Media-One. Anchored by Disney programming for kids and family, the channel also plans to air original Russian programming. In addition to programming the TV channel with acquired content, the joint venture also has plans to produce its own programs which will occupy more of the schedule as the company matures.
The launch of the predominately free-to-air national network is slated for 2009, pending regulatory approval from Russian government authorities.
In return for a 49% stake in the joint venture company, Disney will invest cash and provide programming and marketing expertise and content acquisition support. Media-One will provide its knowledge and operational experience in the Russian market, its local broadcast station portfolio and its advertising sales expertise. Media-One will be the majority shareholder and will appoint a majority of the joint venture company's board of directors.
"We are delighted to sign this landmark deal with the world's leading multinational media company for the Russian television market," said Ivan Tavrin, CEO of Media-One. "We believe that the combination of Disney's unparalleled media experience and content capabilities and our knowledge of the local television market will enable us to create a unique channel that is predestined for success. We set ourselves the goal not only to become a popular kids and family focused free-to-air television channel in the country, but also to produce attractive financial results in a relatively short time frame."
"Russia is an extremely important market for Disney and this new Disney channel is a great way for us to expand our brand and business," said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. "We are incredibly excited about bringing great Disney family entertainment and locally-produced content into the homes of millions of Russians."
"We're extremely honored to be able to launch Disney Channel in Russia together with such a reliable and capable local partner as Media-One," says Marina Jigalova-Ozkan, Managing Director for The Walt Disney Company CIS. "This is one the most significant steps for the development of the Disney brand in Russia and we strongly believe that the Russian audience will enjoy the high-quality family entertainment that Disney is known for."