MGM Networks has signed a deal with broadband cable operatorLiberty Global's European division chellomedia to launch the MGM Channel andDTH (direct-to-home satellite) systems in local languages throughout centraland Eastern Europe.

The 50-50 joint venture aims to launch the MGM Channel in theCzech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary by the fourth quarter of this year.

Plans are in the pipeline to roll out the service in Romania andSlovenia by spring 2007. As usual, the MGM Channel will be customised into thelocal languages of each of these regions.

Representatives of MGMincluding chairman and CEO Harry Sloan and MGM Networks executive vicepresident Bruce Tuchman and of Liberty Global are scheduled to meet withmembers of the press tomorrow (Thursday) in Prague, where MGM's Bond film CasinoRoyale is currently shooting.

"By partnering with chellomedia and Liberty Global, we are inthe unique and advantageous position of being aligned with the largestbroadband cable and DTH operator in the region by far," said Tuchman.

"This joint venture represents a unique opportunity tostrengthen our programming activities in central and Eastern Europe,"Shane O'Neill, chellomedia president and chief strategy officer of LibertyGlobal, added.

"This deal will add to chellomedia's portfolio of channelsand builds on the strength in channel distribution that we have, while it alsorecognises our play-out capabilities to clients in this part of Europe."

In a separate development, Tuchman said the MGM Channel will rollout in India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Starting this month, the channel will be available on Zee's DishTV platform in India, Sky Cable in the Philippines, and Ho Chi Minh CityTelevision and Phnom Penh Municipal Cable and Optical Television in Vietnam andCambodia respectively.

"We are very excited to begin our newest chapter in thebooming Indian market with this launch," Tuchman said.

"Having previously seeded demand in India through a co-owned,co-branded channel with Zee TV, we are now launching a wholly MGM-owned,exclusively MGM-branded network in order to more fully mine the opportunitiesabounding in this dynamic market.

"Over the last five years, MGM has increased its channelinterests from approximately 25 countries and territories in a handful ofregions to over 110 across Europe, Latin American, Africa, and Asia and thePacific Rim."