Disney's UK entertainment channel ABC1 to roll in September

MUMBAI: Walt Disney has scheduled the UK launch of its entertainment channel ABC1 for 27 September. ABC1 network will be a localised version of Disney's ABC Television network in the US.

The launch will mark Disney's full-fledged foray into mainstream UK broadcasting. The Little Big Mouse currently has a 25 per cent stake in British commercial breakfast TV station GMTV. Disney had first revealed its ABC1 plans last year.

As regards ABC1, it is worth noting that among the three channels Disney is planning to launch in India in the first half of 2005 is also a localised version ABC Television network.

German business daily Handelsblatt in a recent report quoted David Hulbert, president of the Disney unit of Walt Disney Television International, as saying that the launch of the three channels (the other two being The Disney Channel and Playhouse) would definitely happen within a year.

Managing the show out here is Rajat Jain, who took charge on 1 August as vice-president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company (India) and Walt Disney Television International (India). Jain operates out of offices that Disney took up recently in Mumbai's Lower Parel suburb.

Coming back to ABC1, the channel will initially be available only on Freeview, a popular digital television service sans subscription fees. The channel has expansion plans targeting other pay-TV services however. To begin with ABC1 will be running in a 12-hour schedule that will in due course become 24-hour schedule.

The channel is expected to release its full programme schedule at the end of August. For a few months from now on ABC1 will be without advertisements. Disney's other services operating in the UK, including the Disney Channel, depend on subscription revenues.

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