Four Japanese cable TV companies unite

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TOKYO--Japan's cable TV market is about to undergo its second major consolidation this year as four cable TV companies are set to forge an alliance that would result in the second largest cable company in the country.

The four plan to form a holding company by the end of the year in an alliance reaching 2 million households in the Tokyo region, according to industry sources.

Japan's cable TV market is highly fragmented, with hundreds of operators serving small market segments. The government is pressuring cable companies to digitalize their operations. Rather than face those costs, some smaller firms are shutting down while others are seeking partners to help with the investment to upgrade.

The four companies are electronics giant Fujitsu, trading house Marubeni Corp., security company Secom Co. and utility Tokyo Electric Power Co., which each operate cable TV companies in the Tokyo metropolitan region.

The companies operate about 20 stations and plan to cooperate on digital transmission technologies and on establishing broadband networks over their lines.

Earlier this year, Japan's largest cable company was formed when Jupiter Telecommunications Co. and Titus Communications Corp. announced plans to merge in a stock for stock exchange in which Titus will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Jupiter. The stock exchange took effect last Friday.

Copyright September 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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