Warner Bros. signs over pay-TV rights in Middle East

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LONDON -- Warner Bros. International Television has signed up to a multi-year pay-TV output deal with Orbit Satellite Television and Radio Network in the Middle East.

The deal includes both film and television output and gives Warner Bros. the option to buy an equity stake in Orbit's 24 hour movie service Super Movies.

Orbit's America Plus channel (American comedy, drama and action adventure) will have pay-TV broadcast rights to several television series in the Warner Bros. stable, which includes "Friends," "ER" and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." Orbit-ESPN Sports channel will have the license for HBO Boxing's "After Dark" series of fights, and Orbit's Fun Channel, tailored for children in the Middle East and North Africa, will show Warner Bros. cartoons such as Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny and Sylvester and Tweety. "Warner's support further reinforces Orbit's position as the most successful, popular and most widely viewed pay-TV service in the Middle East," says Alexander B. Zilo, Orbit's president and CEO.

Orbit, which launched in May 1994, broadcasts 27 television and 26 radio services in Arabic, English and French to 23 territories in the Middle East and North Africa. It has alliances with Star TV and Disney, exclusively carrying the Disney Channel - Middle East.

In May last year, Orbit launched what it claims was the first home shopping service for the Arab world - the Orbit Express Shop.

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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