Localizing content enables Disney to do two important things: celebrate local cultures and build unique programming for our networks. Disney Studios, ABC, Disney Channel, Radio Disney, ESPN and ABC-owned television stations produce original local content in a number of major international and domestic markets, reflecting our belief that the relevance and popularity of movies and shows can only become stronger if they are rooted in local cultures.
Over the past two years, the Walt Disney Studios have produced acclaimed local-language theatrical films in such diverse markets as China, India, Argentina and Mexico. These films have the basic DNA of a Disney film, but are firmly rooted in local culture. The Secret of the Magic Gourd, a 2007 release in Mandarin Chinese, was based on a beloved Chinese short story and featured an all-local cast in the story of a young boy and the lessons he learns from a mischievous gourd. Roadside Romeo, a Hindi-language animated film produced jointly with Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai, premiered in October 2008 and became the top-grossing Disney animated movie ever in India.
Our television networks are similarly focused on localization. One example is how Disney Channel has adapted High School Musical in its local markets. In India, we enlisted local artists to record the soundtrack in Hindi and added Indian instruments. Across Europe and parts of Southeast Asia, songs from the movie were re-recorded in local languages featuring a wide range of popular young stars. In Latin America, we presented two locally produced reality TV series themed to the movie that served as casting calls for two local feature films. In addition, ABC produces separate versions of its hit Desperate Housewives for the Argentine, Brazilian, Mexican and U.S. Hispanic market. Finally, ESPN's SportsCenter is localized in 14 markets. The U.S. version is distributed nationally, and there are 13 other versions around the world. The content varies for each channel and often has local content.
In coming years, Disney expects to expand this approach and, so far, has announced plans for the production of new feature films in Russia and the Gulf States and new TV series in the U.K. and Japan.
Camp Rock-ing Around the World
Seventeen renditions of songs from the hit Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock, have been recorded in local languages by recording artists around the world. This initiative is part of Disney Channel's mission to connect with children and families locally and globally with great stories, characters and music that are relevant and entertaining. The music videos were debuted on 27 Disney Channels leading up to the movie's launch in Europe and Asia in the fall of 2008.
Local Content Driving On-the-Ground Change
In good times and bad, the 10 ABC-owned stations in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Houston; Raleigh-Durham; North Carolina; Fresno, California; Flint, Michigan; and Toledo, Ohio, are trusted partners in their communities and recognized as news leaders industry-wide. The stations regularly average 1,600 hours of local news annually in each market. In addition, ABC-owned stations reach out to their communities with thousands of public service announcements on behalf of local and national organizations and offer numerous other initiatives on air and off.
The strength of their local commitment contributes to the stations' consistently high performance in the ratings. Eight ABC-owned stations, for example, ranked No. 1 from sign-on to sign-off in their respective markets during the major ratings periods of the 2007-2008 season.
With its extraordinary around-the-clock news coverage during Hurricane Ike and after it swept through the Houston area in September 2008, KTRK-TV lived up to the outstanding reputation for public service shared by all ABC-owned television stations. Even as power outages blacked out most television sets, KTRK-TV overcame its own hurricane damage to remain on air and on the Web as a lifeline for viewers with battery-operated TVs or emergency generators, and as a first-hand news source for those watching the station's local telecasts worldwide on the Internet.
Elsewhere, Flint anchor Bill Harris' prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery brought a personal perspective to WJRT-TV's outreach campaign on that health issue. The campaign included special broadcasts, online information and a free screening clinic. Colorectal cancer was a major focus at WTVG-TV in Toledo and included a live phone bank with local medical professionals answering viewer questions. WABC-TV New York's Protect Our Children campaign, in its 11th year, continued to alert viewers about the need to protect children from the threat of abduction and child abuse.
Violence against schoolchildren and women was explored in a series of specials aired by WLS-TV Chicago, taking news anchors from studio discussion to some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. Chicago high school students were featured in public service announcements offering anti-violence messages. For 16 consecutive years, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia has worked with local firefighters to heighten awareness about ways to prevent deadly fires and to provide nearly a half-million smoke alarms to families throughout its service area.
For more discussion about our ABC-owned stations' commitment to community service, please see the Community section.