Disney Channel to turn free-to-air in Germany
Jörn Krieger | 17-04-2013

US media company Walt Disney will turn Disney Channel in Germany from a pay-TV service into an advertising-financed free-to-air channel on 1 January 2014.

The 24-hour family channel will take over the transmission slots currently occupied by entertainment channel – Das Vierte which Disney acquired in autumn 2012 – on cable, satellite and DTT.

Disney will remain present in the German pay-TV market, with its channels Disney Cinemagic, Disney Junior and Disney XD. Following the transition into a free-to-air service, Disney Channel will continue to mainly show TV series, cartoons and movies from the Disney library. The schedule will also comprise programmes from third-party suppliers and original productions for the German audience. While the daytime programmes will target children, the prime time evening hours will focus on all family members.

The new family channel will be headed by Lars Wagner, general manager Disney Channels. The programme line-up of Das Vierte will remain unchanged until the end of 2013. With the takeover of the distribution slots by Disney Channel in January 2014, the channel name Das Vierte will expire on German TV screens.

In the German free-to-air TV market, Disney also holds stakes in general interest service RTL II and family channel Super RTL. With Disney Channel going free-to-air, the channel will compete head-on with Super RTL. Nevertheless, Disney wants to keep its 50% stake in Super RTL. "This is a good model for both sides,"