Indie net American Desi, a US diginet for South Asian viewers, anticipates launching the first week of ’06 via EchoStar as an ad-supported premium net, available for $4.99/mo. Desi went down the DBS path 1st because EchoStar "has the most South Asian subs anywhere," chmn/CEO Vimal Verma told CableFAX. "It’s the first platform you want to go." Cable op deals will be pursued post-launch, and a National Show appearance is possible. About 90% of the net’s content will be made up of in-house productions originating from NY or NJ, including news/talk shows, Bollywood coverage and cricket. Desi’s management team includes former FX/ESPN exec producer Rickie Gaffney (svp, programming) and PAX vp Kenneth Gelb (svp, sales). Wachovia contributed funding to the service, which is aimed at some 2.5mln South Asian HHs. — Simon Applebaum — Muslim startup Bridges TV won its 1st carriage deal, launching in Comcast’s 22mln-sub SE MI (Detroit) system. — International Channel signed licensing agreements with Mirovision for 9 Korean films and Central Park Media for 7 anime titles, all of which are to be slotted in the net’s primetime "Asia Street" block. The programs will also be part of IC’s VOD package.

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