Disney launching Russian channel

Disney has formed a joint venture with a local broadcast group and will launch a Disney-branded channel throughout Russia. The US media company has teamed with its Russian counterpart Media One, which owns thirty regional TV stations. Together they will launch a family-skewed entertainment channel that will carry the Disney branding.

The channel will air a number of Disney’s kids series such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Hannah Montana as well as acquired titles. It also aims to produce a number of local Russian series following its launch.

Disney will have a 49% stake in the venture. As the majority investor, Media One will appoint most of the board of the JV. The new channel, which will be carried free-to-air in most regions, will launch in 2009. Russian regulators need to give it the necessary approvals before it can roll out.

Disney becomes the second US media conglomerate to launch in Russia; Viacom licenses its MTV and VH1 brands to Russian media outfit Prof Media.

However, it will not likely air a number of its ABC Studios produced dramas such as Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters after its international distribution arm Disney ABC ESPN Television inked a multi-year licensing deal with free-to-air network CTC Media earlier this year.