* In the wake of its US$2.5-billion acquisition of King World Productions, CBS says it plans to allow King World to remain a relatively independent production entity. A source at King World says that no personnel changes or disruption of the production slate will occur in the aftermath of the merger. Attracted to the company’s long-term hit franchises, as well as its strong relationships with TV stations as a leading supplier of first-run syndicated product, CBS plans to assist King World in launching new programming in the top 10 U.S. markets. Fox Family Worldwide was also reported to have made a bid for acquisition of King World in March.
* Imax Corporation has signed a six-theater agreement with Italy’s Medusa Films S.p.A., the Fininvest-owned theater chain, to bring Imax theaters to Italy by 2003. The deal represents Imax’s largest international contract to
* Just Toys announced plans to buy novelty sports toys manufacturer 4Kidz Inc. and its wholesale division 4Kidz Worldwide. Though terms of the deal were not released, the NPD Group estimates that 4Kidz grossed between US$5 to US$10 million in U.S. retail sales in 1998. JT Toys CEO and president Barry Shapiro expects the acquisition to boost the company’s revenues by 50%. The deal, which is expected to be finalized by some time in Q2, will allow JT to expand distribution to new mass retail outlets. It’s the first in a number of planned acquisitions Shapiro says the company is hoping to complete. JT currently holds toy licenses for WWF, Louisville Slugger and Spalding. Pending due diligence, JT will shut down 4Kidz Connecticut-based HQs, as well as its offices in Hong Kong.
* Canal + Polska, Poland’s sole pay TV entity, added the children’s thematic channel Minimax to its Cyfra + digital package on April 16.