Germany's EM.TV & Merchandising has signed a three-year co-production pact with First Asia Entertainment Productions Ltd (FAE) to collaborate on at least eight animation series with a programme volume of at least 208 half-hours of programming from EM.TV's portfolio until November 2004.

The deal grants FAE free-TV, pay TV and home video rights and satellite licence for the territories of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. In addition, FAE will have the marketing rights to the series for the next 12 years in these five major Asian territories.

Commenting on the deal, which includes an option to extend the co-production arrangement beyond 2004, Shao Tze Khoo, FAE's CEO, declared that his company "aims to become the top independent co-producer and distributor of top quality animation in Asia. The strong increase in population in these five territories and the high proportion of children have led to major demand for cartoon programmes. With the assistance of EM.TV, we intend to offer high-quality animation series and cartoons which will meet the huge industry potential in Asia".

This heightening of EM.TV's profile in the lucrative Asian market comes in the wake of a number of deals recently concluded by the German company for its Junior library of children's programming.

A package of 685 half-hour programmes including such series as The Hoobs, Tabaluga, Muppet Babies and Blinky Bill was sold last week to the leading Greek private children's channel Star Channel, and a parallel agreement was concluded with Greek publisher Modern Times for books and publications related to the series. In addition, EM.TV signed a contract with Nextworks S.A. for a selection of titles for the home video market.

In Canada, meanwhile, private broadcaster YTV/Treehouse bought more than 100 half-hour Junior programmes for the English-speaking part of the country, and agreement is imminent on the sale of a further 200 half-hours to the new stations Book TV and Space which are part of the recently launched digital bouquet in Canada.