Super Channel to expand in Asia

NBC Super Channel, the US-owned international cable and satellite television channel, is to launch an Asian service next month, out of Hong Kong.

The company has hired 100 journalists to prepare its local news coverage and will take in feeds from NBC and the American broadcaster's successful business news channel, CNBC.

Initially, the service will be coupled with programming from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Launched 18 months ago following the rescue by NBC of the ailing Superchannel, the company has grown quickly in Europe, offering a mix of US entertainment programming from its parent NBC, one of the top three US networks, and local and international business news.

"We don't believe in mono-thematic stations," Paul Maglione, head of marketing, said. "Our target audience of executives likes a mix of news, business and entertainment."

In Britain, the channel is available on cable and satellite. It produces two hours of live business news a day in co-operation with Financial Times Television. Mr Maglione said the Asian service would be introduced in two phases. A CNBC all-business channel would begin broadcasting 24 a hours a day in June. Soon after, the full NBC Super Channel service would be introduced.

The service will be broadcast on the Palapa B2P satellite, which reaches 15 countries in Asia.

NBC Super Channel has been experimenting recently with subtitled programming in local languages, first in Germany and later in the Netherlands. Mr Maglione said there were plans to introduce subtitles in France later this year.

NBC has been one of the most active US networks overseas. Last week, it signed an agreement with Microsoft to supply programming on the planned Microsoft Network, a dedicated multimedia service aimed at residential users.

NBC Super Channel has also reached an agreement with Tenfore, a Swiss multimedia company, to supply real-time financial information and general news via cable.

Users will be able to link their personal computers via cable to receive data and images, including NBC Super Channel programming.