Museum World, a fledgling digital network that hopes to
launch in late 1999, is close to landing its first large investment, officials said last
The channel, which would provide news, education,
entertainment and special-event programming focused on museums around the world, expects
to receive about half of the $35 million to $40 million it needs to launch from an
undisclosed Japanese media conglomerate later this month.
Museum World, which originally called itself M1, was formed
about two years ago by Olivier de Courson, president of International Creative Exchange, a
Valencia, Calif., film and television program distributor, and Mits Kataoka, a professor
of graphic arts at UCLA. De Courson had previously served as vice president of The Disney
Most recently, the company signed on Henry Hopkins,
director of the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, as its co-chairman.
The addition of Hopkins was a key move, according to Larry
Namer, president of Comspan Communications, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based media consultant
and an adviser to Museum World. Namer's claim to fame in the cable industry is starting Movietime
in 1990, the movie-trailer service that became E! Entertainment Television after
its original format failed.
Namer said the addition of Hopkins, who is well respected
in the museum arena, gives the channel the ability to "mobilize the museum
community," to provide programming, promotional and cross-promotional assistance to
While the Japanese money will help, Museum World will still
need additional funding to get off the ground. Namer said the company is in the final
stages of hiring a financial adviser who will help close the Japanese deal and find
additional investors, perhaps even foreign and domestic MSOs.
Without the backing of cable operators, launching the
network will be difficult. However, Namer does not believe it will be impossible.
He said the channel has tremendous appeal for the
international market -- one of the reasons the Japanese company is investing is to
maintain Asian distribution -- as well as domestically.
Initially, the channel will be available via satellite, and
Museum World has been talking to TVRO companies as well as TCI's Headend in the Sky,
although it has no commitments. Namer believes that once cable systems expand their
digital offerings, they will need all the programming they can get to fill the additional
"In the digital world, at the end of the day the cable
operators have to deliver something new to the consumer," Namer said.