PCCW Plans Japan Launch for NOW in mid-2001

Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW), one of Asia's largest Internet companies, said Tuesday it plans to launch its Network of the World (NOW) interactive television service in Japan by mid-2001.

To launch NOW in Japan, PCCW has inked a 4.2 billion yen ($US38.7 million) deal with Sony PCL Inc. to construct a studio for the service in Tokyo. Sony is PLCa video and audio production unit of Sony and a partner of PCCW in Japan.

The deal between the two companies is subject to the signing of an legally binding contract.

Tuesday's announcement comes less than two weeks after PCCW unveiled its game plan for the Japan market. The company said it will acquire Jaleco Ltd., a struggling Japanese entertainment software producer, and use the company as a vehicle to gain a stock market listing for its Japan unit, Pacific Century CyberWorks Japan Ltd. [See "PCCW Makes First Japan Broadband Play," August 10.]PCCW also will work with three other partners -- advertising agency Dentsu Inc., financial services company Orix Corp. and Japanese publisher and entertainment ticket agency Pia -- to bring NOW to Japanese viewers.

Speaking two weeks ago, Francis Yuen, deputy chairman of PCCW, said Japan is a very important market for PCCW. "This is the first in a series of steps to building a powerful business in Japan," he said at a Hong Kong press conference to announce the Japanese acquisition. The company also plans to begin a Chinese-language version of the service in early 2001.

Launched from a studio complex in London in late June, NOW is PCCW's attempt to create the first global interactive television and Internet service that ties together a video stream, offered via satellite and cable, with on demand interactive content through the company's Web site at http://www.now.com/.

PCCW Japan, in Tokyo, can be contacted at +81-3-5475-2400 or online at http://www.pcg-group.com.

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