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Hearst, Cisneros Group Plan All-Animation Channel for Latin America

July 30, 1996 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ The cartoon characters Flash Gordon, Krazy Kat and Prince Valiant will be among the star attractions on a new television channel being developed for Latin America by The Hearst Corp.

In its biggest programing network venture outside the U.S., Hearst announced Tuesday it was teaming up with Venezuela’s Cisneros Group of Companies to launch a TV channel this fall featuring nothing but cartoons around the clock.

The service called Locomotion will be delivered via satellite to subscribers in 23 Latin American and Caribbean countries in Spanish, Portuguese and English.


Hearst officials said it is likely the channel eventually will be made available to viewers in the United States.

The new channel will compete for viewers and advertising with The Cartoon Network, a cable channel from Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

The Cartoon Network, started in October 1992, already has 28 million subscribers in the United States and about 6.1 million in Latin America.

Locomotion’s program cornerstone will be Hearst’s 600-episode library of animated series such as ``Popeye,″ ``Krazy Kat,″ ``Phantom 2040″ and ``The Legend of Prince Valiant.″

Also included will be the action cartoons ``G-Force,″ ``Galaxy Rangers″ and ``Defenders of the Earth″ as well as the new ``Flash Gordon″ series set to debut this fall.

Hearst also intends to buy rights to additional animated shows for the service and will produce more cartoon programs on its own.

Cisneros Group is providing the distribution network. It is an investor in Galaxy Latin America, a venture that delivers multiple TV channels via satellite to Latin America. The Cartoon Network is among the channels.

But Carlos Cisneros, managing director of the Cisneros Group, said Locomotion is being designed to be hipper than Turner’s Cartoon Network.

Hearst and Cisneros Group are equal partners in the Locomotion channel service. The companies declined to say how much they were investing, although it was believed to exceed $10 million.

In a telephone interview from London, Hearst Entertainment president Bruce Paisner said chances were ``excellent to inevitable″ that the new service would one day be carried into the United States. He declined to say how soon.

But he said it was likely that it would first be delivered in Spanish over Spanish-language television in the United States. Cisneros owns a stake in Univision, the largest Spanish language TV network in the United States.

``Our thinking is that it will be such a good channel that it will work in any language,″ he said.

He said Hearst moved to launch it first in Latin America because it offered a unique business opportunity. Satellite TV service there is in its infancy, it needs programming and Cisneros was a strong partner.

In the U.S., Hearst owns 20 percent of the cable sports channel ESPN, 50 percent of the Lifetime cable network and 37.5 percent of the A&E network and The History Channel.

New York-based Hearst is privately held and also has interests in newspapers, magazines and books.