DreamWorks talking to distributors about family channel

LOS ANGELES, July 31 Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:16pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, July 31 (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation , the studio behind the "Shrek" and "Madagascar" franchises, is talking with distributors about a new cable TV channel it may create with "Casper the Friendly Ghost," "Bullwinkle" and other characters it recently acquired.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said on Tuesday his company was in "aggressive exploration" to start a family-oriented channel after its recent purchase of Classic Media, owner of "Casper," "Rocky and Bullwinkle," "Lassie" and other franchises.

"It is something we are actively talking about" with possible distributors, Katzenberg told analysts on a conference call as the company released quarterly earnings.

The cable channel could be part of the new deal Dreamworks is seeking to distribute its movies to take the place of its expiring distribution agreement with Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.

Katzenberg said it was too soon to say it if the channel would be cable or digital, or in what part of the world it would debut.

Last week, DreamWorks said it would pay $155 million in cash for Classic Media, owned by Boomerang Media Holdings I LLC, a portfolio company of private-equity firm GTCR LLC.

When the deal closes, DreamWorks would get rights to over 450 titles and more than 6,500 animated and live action episodes that have been distributed in over 170 international markets, the company said in a press release.

Among the characters are "Richie Rich," "The Lone Ranger," "Lassie" as well as the Christmas classics "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

Dreamworks was already in talks with Hollywood studios about a new film distribution agreement to replace its expiring agreement with Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc .

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