Sony and Microsoft Sing to Europe

Sony Music Entertainment Europe and Microsoft Corp. plan to serenade European music fans with an online music video channel. The companies said Wednesday that they will collaborate on the European-centered channel that will appear as a link on localized versions of Microsoft's MSN Web site and at Sony music sites.

Come November, users in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Sweden will have first access to music videos streamed over the Web in Windows Media Format. Central European users will receive music in German, while the Scandinavian audience will hear tunes in Swedish. As the project nears completion, the partners plan to customize programming for other European cities.

While high-quality steaming video still proves a challenge to most content providers, Microsoft and Sony claim they will offer "near-VHS" quality videos to customers surfing the Web on either dialup or broadband. Music videos and weekly programming, including interviews or background information on local and international artists, should be part of the channel. The new music Web site does not yet have a name, the companies said.

In related news, Microsoft said that it has 50 new European members in the Windows Media Service Provider Program. Individuals associated with the program specialize in the Microsoft Windows Media Format and help content providers and corporations develop media technologies. The services include encoding, live event production, enterprise deployment of content, and advertising management. New members are in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

Sony Music Entertainment is in New York and can be reached at http://www.sonymusic.com. Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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