BBC Worldwide Ltd., the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corp., and digital data broadcaster Japan MediArk Co., launched BBC Japan on Wednesday.

It is the first BBC wholly owned entertainment channel developed for audiences in Japan.

BBC Japan offers TV viewers nationwide a mix of comedy, drama, factual entertainment, educational and children’s programs as well as talk shows and documentaries. Most of the programs are subtitled in Japanese.

Japan MediArk, owned by seven companies, including Kyodo News, is in charge of marketing BBC Japan to subscribers and cable operators, as well as selling advertising and sponsorships for the channel.

Japan MediArk was established in 2000 by Kyodo News, Jiji Press, Dentsu Inc., NTT DoCoMo Inc., NTT Data Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

Dai Nippon Printing Co. joined as the seventh shareholder earlier this year. The company extended its data broadcasting license to television broadcasting in May to become the distributor of BBC Japan.

BBC Worldwide and Japan MediArk said earlier they hoped to attract 100,000 subscribers in the first year. The potential CS 110 subscriber base in Japan is estimated at 2.5 million, according to the two groups.

The 24-hour channel costs 735 yen per month. It will be broadcast on channel 025 of Sky PerfecTV 110 on the CS 110 degree satellite. Subscriptions will be handled by Sky Perfect Communications Inc.

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