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Marianne Paskowski



Nyet, I Say, to Russian Disney Channel

December 17, 2008 11:21 AM

Have to admit I shook my head in disbelief when I read that the Walt Disney Co. is trying to launch a version of the Disney Channel in Russia, pending final regulatory approval.

Hannah Montana

Disney, working with Media-One Holdings Ltd., a Russian broadcaster that runs 30 TV stations, will create a separate joint-venture company. Disney will get a 49% stake in that new company and provide cash, programming and marketing.

The new Russian Disney Channel will run staples such as “Hannah Montana” and “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” as well as programming created in Russia.

On the surface this all sounds dandy. Russia remains one of the world’s last untapped TV markets. But Russia is hardly a bastion of security. Since this past fall, the Russian stock market seemed closed every other day and the value of its stock market is down anywhere from 70% to 80%.

I can’t tell you the value of a ruble today, but I have seen plenty of coverage about how Russian citizens don’t trust their country’s government and refuse to keep money in Russian banks.

So what does Disney know about Russia that its own citizens don’t? I say nyet.

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Comments (12)

Bill:

Given the number of recent Playboy Playmates hailing from Russia and other former Soviet countries, a little Miley Cyrus won't hurt anyone.

Besides, have you run the numbers on the value of the Dow since January 1?

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Bill,

I was thinking a little differently about this. First, and I kinda forgot to mention this, that U.S./Russian relationships are shaky to say the least, well quite strained from a geopolitic viewpoint.

Second, it's the money thing. And Bill, yes, I know the U.S. stock market is down about 40 percent, not nearly as much as the R in the BRIC nations.

U.S. companies tend to do well overseas when the dollar is down, and the buck has been in a free fall this week. So maybe that explains some of Disney's rationale here.

Thanks for letting my readers known about the Russian Playmates. Learn something new every day.

Dasvidania,
Marianne

Jeff Mulligan:

Marianne,

You leave behind lots of unanswered questions, such as who Disney's new partner is. If politically well-connected, don't fret the stability thing. The Disney brand proves hot everywhere it goes around the world, so how much financial exposure and risk does Disney face recycling Hannah and the gang to Russian teens? The deal seems to have lots of upside for Disney, with minimal downside if it has the right partner.

Jeff

Cruiser:

Yo, Blondie --

Some programming adjustments might be in order, starting with political correctness for Comrade Hannah, Dacha Duck, Lilo & Snitch, and Beauty and the Bureaucrat.

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Jeff,

Doing business with Russia and China is quite dicey,especially now.I believe it's called Communism. Different strokes for different folks.

And that's so even if you're Wal-Mart, the king of distribution and price setting, let alone Disney.

Here we're talking about an entertainment company that has even more regulatory hurdles to straddle.There are rules about local content.Can you imagine what it's like in Russia if it's hard to syndicate a US show in the UK or Europe?

Good luck, I say.....mp

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Cruiser,

Don't worry about Comrade Hannah. Disney behaves like a feral feline, in protecting its brands.

I couldn't think of a safer, PC brand to go to Russia, but trust me, the Russian government will screw this up big time.

Awhile ago, I looked at Russian media companies,as a potential investment. Clear as mud. Not sure if I checked out Disney's new partner, but you just don't know what you're buying into, except hope on a wing. I passed.

Not bruising, just responding......m

Andy S.:

If Russian kids really want their Hannah Svetlana, I say let 'em have her, as long as MY cable rates don't go up!

Marianne Paskowski:

Andy,
Your cable bill will go up no matter what happens. Comcast is getting sneaky about it though. It moved MSNBC to a digital tier, forcing viewers to rent the darn box!

Wonder what Hannah sounds like with a Russian accent?

m

Earlier this week Disney's film financing partner Kingdom Films sued Disney for breaching their contract guaranteeing Kingdom profits from two theatrical releases based on Disney Channel properties: "High School Musical 3" and "Hannah Montana: The Movie."

If Disney executives can't keep their domestic partners happy and out of court, what makes them think they'll appease the Russians? I'd hate to see this deal further erode the state of US/Russian relations. Worse than that, however, I'd hate to see this be the deal that spoils Anne Sweeney's otherwise sterling reputation.

Marianne Paskowski:

Cory,
Amen, someone finally gets my drift!

Merry Christmas,
Marianne

Joe:

Please. Come on folks this is Disney. Sounds like the first stage of marketing for Disneyland Moscow.

Marianne Paskowski:

Not in our lifetime, Joe. Russia is a broken economy and it isn't going to improve anytime soon, from what I read.

Happy New Year,
Marianne

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