Comcast Canceling Asian-Targeted AZN

Comcast is closing down AZN Network as of April 9, stating the it is no longer financially viable.

The Asian-American network has 13.9 million subscribers, mostly among Comcast-owned systems. AZN is part of International Networks LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast. Comcast acquired the network from Liberty Media in 2004.

Jennifer Khoury, senior director of corporate and consumer communications for Comcast said there is little interest in advertising on AZN, or potential for distribution growth beyond Comcast’s own systems.

AZN’s prospects were subjected to a third-party review, she said, adding that firm came to the same dire conclusion about the network.

She said Comcast carries 13 other services targeting ethnic minorities, as well as video-on-demand content for Asian-Americans.

Comcast intends to talk to Asian-American community leaders to determine what programming they would like to fill the AZN void.

AZN’s marquee programming event, the Asian Excellence Awards, will be moved to E!, Khoury said.

AZN has about 15 employees, Khoury said. Those employees can seek jobs in other Comcast business units, she said.

Local systems will decide how to fill the programming hole left when AZN goes dark, she added.

One other option in the genre is independent network ImaginAsian TV, which just received a boost in funding and content via a deal with Japan-based Fuji Television Network subsidiary Fujisankei Communications International.

Fujisankei will make an undisclosed financial investment in ImaginAsian Entertainment and its 4 million-subscriber cable network. Fujisankei also will provide ImaginAsian news and entertainment programming, including popular Japanese dramas and variety shows from Fuji Television.

Last August Korean-based entertainment company Sidus invested $20 million in ImaginAsian and its U.S. basic cable, video-on-demand and theatrical operations.

About a year ago, MTV Networks shut down MTV World, its three-channel digital suite targeting Asian-Americans, amid a large corporate restructuring at the Viacom-owned programming stable.