Citing costs, HOT drops BBC Prime [p. 7]

Move sure to upset fans of droll English comedies and cranky London game show hosts.

The year 2007 is already shaping up to be a good one for Israelis looking to work on their Georgian and Chinese. Fans of BBC series The Weakest Link and Eastenders, however, should prepare to be disappointed. In a move sure to upset fans of droll English comedies and cranky London game show hosts, Israel's HOT cable provider has announced plans to drop BBC Prime and several other foreign language channels from its television package. HOT CEO David Kamenitz cited the need to cut costs as the reason for the decision, which takes effect in February. The Adventure 1 and Eurosport News channels will also be eliminated from HOT's cable offerings. To compensate viewers upset about the decision, HOT is adding several new channels, broadcasting programming from Georgia, China and Ethiopia. The cable provider will also pick up a new "erotic channel" called Amateur Babes. An additional network, France 24, has already been added to HOT's premium cable offerings. The move to drop BBC Prime is certain to dismay a segment of HOT's English-speaking subscribers, some of whom launched an informal campaign during the summer to protest a BBC Prime decision reducing the number of weekly airings of prime time soap opera Eastenders. For now, it appears, they'll have to make do with the four BBC programs being added to HOT's Video on Demand package, among them Coupling and Footballers' Wives. Three American channels - Hallmark, National Geographic and Fox Sports - successfully renegotiated their contracts with HOT and will remain part of its cable package. HOT officials praised those channels for their "long-term vision and understanding" of the cable provider's cutbacks, saying they ultimately hope to reduce costs by as much as 40 percent.