New York -- Hearst Corp. is expected to enter the
international women's programming market with plans to launch a pay TV channel based
on its Cosmopolitan women's lifestyle and fashion magazine, people familiar
with the project said.
Hearst executives wouldn't comment on the plans,
although sources indicated an official announcement could come over the next week or two.
"At this point it's still a development
project," said Stanley Sagner, director of program service development at Hearst
Entertainment & Syndication, the Hearst unit that is likely to oversee the Cosmo
channel. "No decision has been made."
It is unclear if the Cosmo channel would include any
programming from Lifetime Television, the U.S. women's channel that is 50
percent-owned by Hearst.
The Cosmo project, based in Miami, is headed by
Cynthia Hudson Fernandez, a former programming executive with U.S. Spanish-language
broadcasters Univision Communications Inc. and Telemundo Group Inc., as well as United
Family Communications, a Latin American pay TV programmer.
The channel would target young women in international
markets, with the first launch seen sometime early next year, a source said. It will be
Hearst's first channel launch following the 1996 bow of Locomotion, an animation
channel transmitted in Latin America, Spain and Portugal that it operates with the
Cisneros Television Group (CTG).
Hearst could benefit from Cosmo's huge
international distribution, which includes more than 100 markets and many local-language
Hearst denied printed reports that the company had agreed
to joint venture with CTG on the Cosmo channel. CTG declined to comment.