Fox Kids has announced plans for a 1999 digital satellite launch of a new channel in Italy. Francesco Nespega, who is consulting with Fox on the project, will serve as managing director of the fledgling Italian channel, which will face stiff competition from U.S. conquistadors Disney and Cartoon Network, as well as from Italy’s RAI (fortified with programming from Nickelodeon).
The Italian launch will follow close behind a Spanish joint venture with Sogecable subsidiary CITSA, resulting in the December 4 introduction of a new channel that will broadcast 16 hours daily to 500,000 pay TV subscribers in Spain via Canal Satèlite Digital under the Fox Kids brand. The channel will also be distributed by cable through Cableuropa systems and will replace Fox’s former six-hour branded block on Minimax. The 100% Spanish-language station is the ninth fully-dedicated children’s channel Fox has launched in Europe since January 1997, and marks an expansion trend to be continued by Ynon Kreiz, the new president of Fox Kids Europe.
‘The priority remains to expand distribution and set up local operation in countries where we are not present,’ says Kreiz, ‘and at the same time, strengthen our position in each country where we currently operate.’
Kreiz says his strategy will be to continue to expand through locally-managed acquisitions or joint ventures. Once a channel is established, it primarily airs dubbed programming from Saban’s extensive library, with local elements anchoring the channel’s on-air package. The staff and management are hired locally, and Kreiz and newly appointed director of programming and channel development Christophe Erbes, who was formerly with Nickelodeon Germany, will coordinate the operations.
Fox’s latest channel will be headed by new managing director Jesus Perezagua, who will be responsible for tailoring the channel’s schedule to the Spanish market. Programs already chosen include Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Peter Pan & the Pirates and Huckleberry Finn.
In other Fox news, as of December 19, Channel 10 in the Netherlands will be taken over by the U.S. network with Hans Bloem serving as managing director.