The US broadcaster CBS is to launch six TV channels in the UK in a 50/50 joint venture deal with Chellomedia. The newly branded CBS channels will replace six of Chello Zone’s existing portfolio of TV channels in the UK, namely Zone Romantica, Zone Thriller, Zone Horror and Zone Reality, Zone Horror+1 and Zone Reality+1.
The themed channels, which will be re-branded later this year, will have access to programming from CBS’s catalogue of more than 70,000 hours of programming, including Dynasty and the original re-mastered series of Star Trek. Programming from CBS will also include the catalogue of the Paramount studios.
The advertiser-supported free-to-air Chello Zone channels collectively reach more than 13 million homes throughout the UK via the Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat platforms. They will continue to be operated by Chello Zone, with a new board being formed with representatives from CBS and Chello Zone to guide strategy and direction for the new venture.
Chellomedia president and Liberty Global chief strategy officer Shane O’Neill said in a statement: “The JV with CBS will significantly enhance our UK channel portfolio, create a clear proposition for advertisers, and above all create essential TV destinations where British viewers will enjoy a rich choice of popular programming from CBS.”
The venture is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory and other approvals. It is not yet clear how and if the European versions of the Chellomedia channels will be affected by the deal, but the announcement mentions only the establishment of UK channels.
Chello Zone was created after Chellomedia, the international programming arm of Liberty Global, acquired a majority interest of 87.5% in Zonevision in 2005. Chello acquired the remaining shares in the company in 2007. Zonevision was founded in 1991 by Chris Wronski.