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Paul Robinson to oversee Kartoon Channel! Worldwide for Genius Brands Int’l

Genius Brands International (GBI)’s acquisition of a minority stake in Your Family Entertainment (YFE) will see kids’ TV veteran Paul Robinson join the US-based company.

Paul Robinson

GBI and YFE announced yesterday that GBI will be initially taking a 28.6% stake in Munich-based YFE for a €6m (US$6.8m), to be followed by a mandatory tender offer for the outstanding shares of YFE.

GBI has also said it will be investing up to €7m in YFE to support the expansion of its digital and linear channels and programming, while YFE is also set to be renamed Genius Family Entertainment, subject to approval from the German company’s shareholders.

London-based Paul Robinson, former MD of Walt Disney Television International and senior VP of Disney Channel Worldwide, will join GBI as MD of Kartoon Channel! Worldwide and oversee the growth of Global Kartoon Channel! from the existing YFE channel system.

It reunites Robinson, who has had links with YFE since 2014 and recently served as executive VP at Toonz Media Group, with GBI chairman and CEO Andy Heyward after the two previously worked together at A Squared Entertainment, which merged with GBI in 2013.

Lou Fazio, a former director of Walt Disney Television acquisitions and programming, will oversee the programming of the international channels, supporting Robinson on the development and rollout of the Kartoon Channel! content, as he currently does for GBI in the US.

The rollout of consumer products based on the channel’s content will be supervised by Kerry Phelan, GBI’s general manager and executive VP of global franchise management.

Stefan Piëch

YFE will maintain its independent listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and will be run by the current management board of its CEO, Dr Stefan Piëch, and Bernd Wendeln. Piëch will also join GBI’s board of directors in the US.

The YFE deal comes after GBI recently acquired Canada-based WOW! Unlimited Media for around US$53m in cash and stock.

GBI’s programming includes Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Shaq’s Garage, starring Shaquille O’Neal, for its Kartoon Channel!. It also makes Rainbow Rangers for Nick Jr and Llama Llama for Netflix.

YFE owns series such as Enid Blyton, Fix & Foxi and Altair and operates pay TV channel Fix&Foxi TV as well as free-to-air channel RiC TV and its international pay TV version

Heyward said: “We believe the strategic transaction with Germany’s YFE, added to the IP assets and earnings of Canada’s WOW! Unlimited Media, will present us with additional growth opportunities in furtherance of our goal of becoming the leading provider of quality and responsible children’s entertainment in the world today, and for years to come.”


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