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HIT licenses Barney format to Korea

The UK's HIT Entertainment has licensed the format to Lyrick Studio's purple dinosaur show Barney to Korean state broadcaster KBS.

Korean producer K Best is producing 130 half-hour episodes for KBS and plans to start transmitting the first episodes in late September. KBS will strip the series five days a week.

Korean licensing agency R J Wood, HIT's all-rights Barney partner in Korea, was {very instrumental in putting the deal together,{ according to John Morris, svp of international TV & home entertainment at HIT.

{They pay a rights fee for the format and they give us guarantees against licensing and merchandising and video cassette. That's key for us because if it works in Korea it will really help us in the Japanese market.{

Dentsu in Japan has also licensed format rights to Barney and has just completed a pilot. It's not clear at this stage whether it will go to series.

Israel was the first territory to license the Barney format, and has produced 52 half-hours. It has aired twice a week in Hebrew on commercial broadcaster Channel 2 and on The Children's Channel. The format rights expire at the end of 2002.

Meanwhile, HIT has been commissioned by stateside public network PBS to produce a further 40 half-hours of the kids' show, which will be delivered by the end of 2002.

The UK producer-distributor is also negotiating with Australia's Southern Star to gain control of all the many existing Barney episodes, which were sold to the Australian distributor long before Lyrick's acquisition by HIT earlier this year.

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