Sky Sports (Japan), J-Sports to launch new sports channels

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TOKYO--News Corp. Limited Japan's sports channel partnership in Japan, Sky Entertainment Corp., will merge with J-Sports Inc. into a single new sports service.

Management and the brand names for the channels will be decided prior to the scheduled launch on April 1, 2000.

The partnership will provide multiple sports programming services, such as Japanese Professional Baseball, J-League Soccer, English Premier LeagueFootball, Italian Series A Football and international and Japanese rugby throughout Japan via direct-to-home and cable transmission.

News Corp.'s representative in Japan, John McBride, says "the benefits of combining forces will include integration of management resources to add strength and experience to the new channels. Further efficiencies will be achieved in consolidation of programming and operations. This is an important step in achieving much needed consolidation and rationalization in the Japanese multi-channel broadcasting industry."

As part of the consolidation of the Sky Sports and J-Sports channels, J-Sports Inc. will take a 43% share holding in Sky Entertainment Corp. The remaining shares will continue to be held by Sky Entertainment's existing shareholders: News Corp., Fuji Television, Sony Corp. and Softbank Corp.

J-Sports Inc. is owned 66.6% by Jupiter Programming Co. Ltd. and 33.3% by Liberty Sports. Sumitomo Corp. and Liberty Media International have equal ownership of Jupiter Programming Co. Ltd.

Copyright October 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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