HBO plans expansion of TV channels in Asia

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Monday, April 4, 2005 U.S. media giant Time Warner plans to increase the international reach of its HBO television empire with an expansion of television offerings in Asia. The channels will be available via both wired cable services and by satellite, which is more popular in Asia than it is in the United States.

"Cable operators throughout Asia are preparing to dramatically expand channel capacity on many of their systems through digital technology," Jonathan Spink, CEO of HBO Asia said in a World Screen News report. He said HBO plans to be one of the first programmers to take advantage of increased channel capacity.

The first new channel HBO plans to launch in Asia is HBO Signature, which is targeted to women. It is planned to debut in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau and Sri Lanka by the end of the year. According to reports, HBO already has struck deals for carriage in all of those countries except Macau.

In addition to programming HBO Signature to women, the company said it plans on two other genre-based channels, but did not disclose what niches they would market toward. A clue could be to look to the U.S. where HBO's niche channels include HBO Family for children-friendly programming and the self-explanatory HBO Comedy channel. Like the parent HBO Asia channel, along with limited original programming, the new genre channels are expected to offer top Hollywood fare dubbed into local languages.

This is the largest expansion of HBO Asia, which has been operating in Asia since 1992 and serves 25 countries, since the launch of Cinemax Asia in 1996.