Sony wants to take a stake in News Corp.'s JSkyB

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TOKYO -- As a first major step toward entering the digital satellite broadcasting business, Sony has agreed with News Corp. and Soft Bank, the owners of JSkyB, to become a partner in JSkyB. Sony is proposing that about one third of shares of JSkyB will be owned by Sony.

JSkyB was established last month to start digital satellite multi-channel services from this April in Japan. Its backers are News Corp. and Soft Bank, Japan's main publisher of computer magazines and operator of the trade show COMDEX.

PerfecTV, in which Sony is also a shareholder, already started digital satellite service last fall. A third digital satellite player is DirecTV, in which Sony's major competitor Matsushita is a 10% shareholder. DirecTV plans to begin its services in Japan from this fall.

Mr. Nobuyuki Idei, president of Sony, met with Mr. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, this month and discussed a capital investment in JSkyB as well as supply of Sony's movie/music software and broadcasting hardware.

Sony will set up a new company from Sony Picture Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment for the venture by March 1997. Sony Computer Entertainment may also support the project.

Separately, Sony plans to own several TV and music channels on JSkyB using the consumer electronic company's entertaiment assets from Hollywood. Sony is also a major supplier of the set top boxes, tuners and dishes used in digital satellite TV.

Sony also plans to fully own an advertising agency for this project. Industry sources say the company is in discussions with the Tokyu Agency, whose subsidiary Tokyu Agency International is already 25%-owned by Sony.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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