B4U cancels Australia, New Zealand plans, targets North Africa

B4U Network has cancelled plans to launch operations in Australia and New Zealand and is instead looking to North Africa as its next area of coverage.

After the launch of operations in Canada in September 2001, B4U was hoping to bring Australia and New Zealand under its ambit as well by December but has cancelled on that for the present because "it is still far too small a market to launch in the current scenario," global chief executive officer Ravi Gupta revealed.

Gupta said B4U had already identified the platform on which it would be launching but declined to give details. However, in most foreign markets B4U beams on both direct-to-home (DTH) service and cable systems. Gupta said that it would take another three months before B4U started airing there. The countries being covered are Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Meanwhile, B4U Music which was to go pay in the UK in the beginning of the year has still to do so. Gupta said the modalities were still being worked through but expected it to become effective by March-end. According to reports B4U Music will be offered as a package with Sony Entertainment Television and B4U Movies. The combined pricing of Sony and the two B4U channels has not been decided yet and is being worked out.

Sony and B4U Movies have already entered into a joint pricing agreement in Europe. In the Middle East, B4U is being made available in three bouquets. Star, Zee TV and B4U share a common platform in the Pehla bouquet while only B4U is available in the Alawael network. Mini Pehla carries the music channel.

Once the North Africa feed is launched B4U will have a presence in the UK, US, Canada, Western Europe, Middle East, most of Africa and South Asia, Gupta said.

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