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Sony to launch Net-based video channel

Mega Channel dry run for PlayStation 2 digital content services

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Sony will launch an Internet-based video service in October, in what's essentially a trial run of the kind of broadband digital content delivery services it's planning to put in place next year.

The Japanese service, called Mega Channel, will provide streamed video from 30 companies, from magazine publishers to financial services operations and travel agencies. The Channel will employ Sony's broadband wireless network, currently being rolled out in various Japanese cities.

Sony said today it had not yet decided how much it will charge content providers or customers, but it did state it expects Mega Channel to generate ¥1 billion ($9.21 million) during its first year of operation.

The consumer electronics giant didn't explicitly link Mega Channel to its Net-based digital content delivery schemes, for which its PlayStation 2 console acts as a gateway between such services and the home, but it's clear that that's how the company is thinking.

"We're planning to launch the service, looking at the future when a larger number of people will be able to enjoy high-capacity content services,'' a Sony spokesman told Reuters.

That ties into Sony's plan to offer home-oriented Web-based digital content services in the Spring of 2001. Since outlining this plan, Sony has been building networks of its own and working with infrastructure partners to create the broadband links needed to allow consumers to begin receiving high quality digital content via the Net.

Sony president Nobuyuki Idei last year said he wants Sony to become a "department store on the Web", though given the company's broadband moves, 'shopping channel on the Web' might be a better description. ®

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