Disney overhauls European operations

LONDON - Disney is restructuring its European media operation, merging the distribution teams that sell its pay TV channels, programming sales and new media services.

The Hollywood studio operates three separate business units in Europe: Disney Channel, which represents its pay TV channels; ESPN, the sports broadcaster in which Disney owns an 80% stake; and its content distribution arm, Disney-ABC International Television. At present, it has separate sales teams for each unit.

The changes take effect from April and will see the new group led by Tom Toumazis, currently executive vice- president & managing director, Disney-ABC International Television EMEA & Canada.

Kids broadcaster Jetix Europe, which is part-owned by Disney, is also in talks with Disney regarding its involvement in the new enlarged European operation. A statement from Disney said: "Both parties hope to be able to announce progress in due course."

Disney currently operates 24 Disney-branded channels and eight ESPN channels in Europe. Jetix Europe, meanwhile, operates 15 channels in the region, while Disney-ABC International Television currently licenses around 30,000 hours of content to 1,300 broadcasters outside of the US.