Jetix, the UK TV station that owns the rights to Sonic X, has recently been rebranded by parent company Disney in a bid to improve ratings. The move has resulted in the channel being renamed as ‘Disney XD’ and features a combines real-life Disney drama with cartoons on Jetix’s old schedule such as Pokemon: Battle Dimension.
In the US, 4Kids Entertainment – the anime localisation studio that doubled as a programming block on Fox television until December 2008 – has put itself up for sale according to paidContent.org. The move follows a dismal performance of the business, in which a recent report reveals that the company’s last profitable year was Fiscal Year ending January, 2006. 4Kids are reported to be going through a selective bidding process.
The implications on the animation Sonic X, and the Sonic franchise in general, could be massive. In Europe, Disney has owned the Jetix channel since 2001 – the aforementioned XD channel launch seems merely like an exercise in assimilation. However, Jetix owns the merchandising rights to the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in Europe, following a contract discrepancy with Sega in 2003. With Jetix merged, this opens questions as to whether Disney absorbs those rights or whether the contract defaults back to Sega Europe.
Back in North America, it will be interesting to see who ends up buying 4Kids and thus owning the rights to the Sonic X animation. With Disney’s move in Europe, it would be rather ironic to see the House of Mouse buy the company and complete the set of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons (thus far Disney own the rights to SatAM and Sonic Underground – it is assumed they own Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog too). Far more worrying a prospect is if 4Kids never finds a buyer, but with a portfolio including Pokemon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there’s a slim chance of that happening.
Who would you like to see own 4Kids? Do you think Jetix’s disappearance is good or bad for the future airing of Sonic X? Speak out in the comments section.
Yu-Gi-Oh! & Cabbage Patch Kids U.S. Parent 4Kids Entertainment For Sale – paidContent.org (via Anime News Network) – Thanks Ferno!