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Murdoch's Star TV Goes on the Air in Japan

Asia: The launch marks the start of a possible flood of programming, which is targeting viewers in the world's second-largest economy.

April 02, 1996|DAVID HOLLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Star TV, which started Monday with one channel but plans six 24-hour channels within two years, will spend about $4 million annually per channel just for dubbing and subtitles, McBride said. It will initially be carried by 35 cable television companies with 400,000 viewers, and aims for 1.2 million cable viewers within a year and 3.5 million cable subscribers by 2000, he said.

The initial channel offers a wide variety of programming. Star TV plans to add five more specialty channels: a "learning" channel mainly devoted to English and computer study for children and families; a pay movie channel; the Fox Sports Channel; Fox animation; and an Asian music video channel.

"Some programs like dramas and comedies will be translated into Japanese--otherwise most of the audience can't follow them," said Okamura, the media professor. "But programs like music, sports, even some of the information programs like travel programs, while it's better for them to be translated into Japanese, they still make sense for the Japanese audience even if they're in English."

McBride said he believes Star TV's greatest cultural impact will come from its Asian programming, which will include movies and other shows from China, Hong Kong and South Korea.

"There's not much interest [in Japan] in Asian programming, and I think that's basically a prejudice toward Asia--that 'these countries around us couldn't possibly put together programming of interest to us,' " McBride said. "That's a prejudice, and I really hope we can change that prejudice. I think the Japanese will be very surprised to see how good and interesting the programming from Asia is."

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