Los Angeles-based Parasol Group is offering a 10-channel
digital package of U.S. channels to European cable and satellite players.
Nathan Sassover, Parasol's CEO, said last week that he
also intends to seek a London stock market listing for the company, the channels of which
operate under the 'Applause/TV10' brands.
The programming that Parasol is taking to Europe -- which
ranges from two-hour blocks to 12-hour-per-day channels -- includes services Edge TV, Omni
Channel, Longevity, Inhabit, Applause, Playground Kids Net, Rocket TV, Teen Net, Groove
40s, Cinevue and Cinevue New Wave.
Sassover said he expects Deutsche Telekom to be the first
to take the channels, as part of its 'hyperband' cable service, and he expects
to sign a memorandum of understanding with the German company within 'a few
weeks.' Transmissions there could start as soon as May, although Sassover considered
late 1998 as more likely.
Sassover believes that his channels will also be attractive
to British operators, which are struggling over control of programming in the United
Kingdom, because 'we are not infrastructure-builders. We are not adversarial, and we
are not here to set up any sort of rival platform to BSkyB [British Sky Broadcasting],
Granada [Sky Broadcasting] or anyone else. We see ourselves as a natural ally to their own
Sassover declined to be specific about ongoing carriage
discussions in Britain, but he claimed that U.K. cable operators 'had been
particularly responsive.' Sassover said his TV10 package can be profitable even if
ratings for the niche services fall below 0.5 percent, 'because we do not have huge
start-up costs because of our library.'
The programming for the channels is drawn from
Parasol's library of 5,600 hours. An additional 6,300 hours of programming from
outside sources are being added to the channels, including 4,800 hours devoted to what the
company calls 'classic films.' Parasol has formed program alliances with
Franco-German cultural channel Arte and Japan's PerfecTV, and it is in discussions
with Star TV, Sassover said.
Parasol was formed in 1983 by Sassover and Reiner Walch, a
Munich, Germany-based entertainment lawyer. Sassover said he expects to sell 25 percent of
Parasol's equity in April, and the current market value of Parasol's film and
program library was estimated at between $30 million and $40 million. He hopes to follow
the London listing with a dual NASDAQ or American Stock Exchange listing.