AXN set to enter Pakistan next month

The ongoing political stand-off between India and its neighbour has put paid to Sony Entertainment Television's plans to launch in Pakistan for the foreseeable future. But the launch of action channel AXN is very much on the cards.

Shantonu Aditya, senior vice president, franchise channels and distribution, SET India Ltd, said the English language action channel from Sony Pictures, which is part of the Sony Entertainment bouquet, is launching in Pakistan next month. Queried about the status of SET's launch plans, Aditya said it was tied to political temperatures between the two neighbours cooling down.

As per the original schedule, the Hindi language entertainment channel was to launch in Pakistan in December 2001. Distribution was being handled by Lahore-based Leo Communications for which the Sony was to be paid a minimum guaranteed amount aside from a revenue sharing arrangement that had been worked out.

Aditya said the distribution of set top boxes had been completed and as and when the air clears up, SET could star beaming with a a very short lag time. Aditya has been quoted as saying there are 6,000 headends in Pakistan and eight million cable and satellite homes.

Though Pakistan is not happening for the moment, SET's newest area of operations is Indonesia. SET began airing in the South East Asian country last month and is being distributed through a local company called Cabelvision. Plans for launch in the Philippines and Fiji are also on the anvil for which talks are still going on, Aditya said. 

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