BBC Worldwide will bring a host of UK household names to audiences in Asia with the launch of a new, wholly owned BBC channel.
BBC Prime will introduce viewers in Asia to British grown TV stars, from Jack Davenport to Robson Green, from Caroline Aherne to Amanda Burton and from Ann Robinson to Ruby Wax.
The new channel is a specially created version of BBC Worldwide's international entertainment channel, BBC Prime, currently distributed in Europe, Middle East and Africa. It will go live in Asia on 1 December 2004.
BBC Prime will offer viewers in Asia a varied range of entertainment programming, including; classic and recent comedy, from Yes Minister to My Hero; drama such as The Lost Prince, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Doctors; lifestyle series, featuring the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Charlie Dimmock; game shows including The Weakest Link; talk shows such as Ruby Wax Meets, documentaries; and Top Of The Pops, the longest running TV chart show in the world.
The same team that established the successful European and African versions of BBC Prime has developed the channel for Asia.
Headed up by Wayne Dunsford, BBC Worldwide Director of Channels, Europe, Middle East, India & Africa, the team will manage and oversee the channel with the support of BBC Worldwide Asia Pacific's Hong Kong-based team.
Wayne Dunsford commented: "BBC Prime is heading for Asia at the right time. The multi-channel household is a powerful growth market in Asia and platforms are looking for high-quality additions to their current line-ups. By offering the best of BBC entertainment, much of it subtitled for major markets, we can meet that demand. BBC Prime has been a channel waiting to happen in Asia."
David Vine, BBC Worldwide Managing Director Asia Pacific, added: "Asian audiences are aware of the BBC as a name that equates to quality. BBC Prime exemplifies this reputation. In addition, the channel will provide a window on British culture, as well as an opportunity for viewers to learn or improve English language understanding in an entertaining way."
BBC Prime was launched in 1995 and in Europe offers subtitles in English, Hebrew, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian and Italian. The channel recently reached a milestone of 20 million subscriber homes.
In South Africa, where the channel carries advertising, it is now established as the most watched international channel and over the last financial year posted a 65 per cent increase in advertising revenue.