Sony Buys Stakes in Israeli Telenovela Channels

Tie-up also includes Indonesian channel for toddlers operated by Dori Media.

Sony Pictures Television agreed to buy a 50% interest in two Israeli telenovela cable television channels called Viva and Via Plus as well as a related digital business from Dori Media Group, the companies said on Tuesday.

Financial details were not disclosed in what is Sony’s first foray into the Israeli market. Sony Pictures Television, a unit of Sony Entertainment, also bought 50% stakes in Dori’s Baby TV operations in Indonesia and in Dori Media Ot, which provides technical services such as dubbing, subtitling and closed caption.

The two companies will operate all the holdings through a new joint venture called Dori TLV.

“This acquisition builds on our strategy to capitalize on channels opportunities around the world, which includes entering new markets,” said Andy Kaplan, president of Sony Pictures Television’s worldwide networks.

The acquisition is the second major one for Sony Pictures Television this year after it agreed in June to acquire the UK’s CSC Media Group. Dori, which is owned by Tamar Mozes Borovitz and CEO Nadav Palti, operates in Switzerland and Argentina as well. With a library of some 5,500 hours of TV programming, including video clips and webisodes, it sells in 100 countries to other media outlets.

Viva and Viva Plus and their fare of Spanish-language soap operas are highly popular in Israel. The digital version that Sony is buying a stake in, called Viva Walla, is operated as a joint venture with the Walla.co.il website.

Baby TV, Indonesia’s first-ever channel targeting toddlers ages three and younger, airs commercial free on the region’s leading pay-television platform Indovision. Baby TV would complement Sony Pictures Television’s presence in Indonesea, where it offers five channels.

The deal announced Tuesday marks an expansion of ties between the two companies. Dori Media formed a partnership with Sony Pictures Television in Indonesia 18 months ago.

“Sony Pictures Television’s decision to expand our working relationship in Indonesia and, for the first time, in Israel, reflects the strength of our positions in these two outstanding markets,” Palti said.