Disney buys stake in Russian TV venture


Disney CEO Bob Iger traveled to Moscow for a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (pictured), resulting in announcement of a deal to have Disney buy a 49% stake in Russia’s Seven TV network. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the Interfax news agency put the price tag at $300 million.

The seller of the 49% stake was billionaire Alisher Usamanov’s UTH Russia, which retains 51%, but the deal required an OK from Putin in Russia’s closely-controlled media market.

There is already a Disney Channel on cable in Russia. The new broadcast network, free over the air to viewers, will supplement that and be advertising supported. It will reach some 40 million households throughout the sprawling country.

“We expect the family channel combining the best Disney programming with original Russian TV shows will be of great interest to the audience,” said a statement from Usamanov.

“International expansion is a key strategic priority for our company and Disney Channel has proved to be invaluable in building the Disney brand around the world,” said Iger.

RBR-TVBR observation: We were hoping for a photo of Putin in a cap with Mickey Mouse ears, but no such luck. Let’s hope that Disney has a better experience in the Russian market than News Corporation.