Fuji TV Takes Further Step Onto 'Net

TOKYO (07/03/2000) - Japan's Fuji Television Network Inc., a major national commercial broadcaster, took a further step into the new digital media world on Friday when it announced plans to acquire almost all of a medium-sized Internet service provider.

The deal, which was announced at a televised press conference, will see Fuji TV boost its ownership of People World from 20 percent to just over 95 percent by purchasing stakes in the company currently held by IBM Japan Ltd., Mitsubishi Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. The remaining stake will be held by IBM Japan whom Fuji TV wants onboard to help work on digital media projects.

After taking control of the provider, Fuji TV said it plans to make available online content related to its television programming, which frequently ranks among the most popular in Japan.

The move is another step into the world of digital media for Fuji TV. The company has primarily been active in the satellite TV area as one of the largest shareholders in Japan Digital Broadcasting Services Inc., which operates the multichannel digital satellite broadcasting service SkyPerfecTV.

It also operates several channels on the service and is planning to launch a second digital direct-to-home satellite service in December this year.

People World was established in 1994 as a proprietary online service, before widespread access to the Internet became available in Japan. Despite backing from some big name players, it never managed to achieve a critical mass of users in the face of heavy competition from online services operated by Fujitsu Ltd. and NEC Corp.

Fuji Television Network, in Tokyo, is online at http://www.fujitv.co.jp/.

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