3 mil homes to get more music, SonicNet

NEW YORK — Cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. will give its affiliated TCI Music a boost by adding the division’s music video channel the Box to 3 million households over the next few years, the Box announced in a release.

In addition, the Box will take advantage of another corporate synergy by running music news produced by another TCI Music-owned company, SonicNet, a music information Internet network.

TCI already provides the Box with 1.3 of its roughly 5 million cable subscribers, and the cable operator will add at least 500,000 more households this year. The Box also reaches some 20 million households via distribution through low-power TV stations.

Subscriber growth has been the Box’s main Achilles heel. The dominant music video channel, MTV, has 63 million subscribers, and MTV’s sister service VH1 is nearing 60 million homes.

SonicNet’s Music news will appear every hour in a 90-second video presentation with voiceover, music, graphics and text with the latest music information from SonicNet’s editor-in-chief Michael Goldberg and his staff. Briefs will be updated three to six times a day. The news items will also appear on the Box’s Web site.

The Box/SonicNet arrangement marks the first time that companies owned under the TCI Music umbrella have worked together. TCI’s programming arm Liberty Media Corp. owns the majority of the publicly traded TCI Music.

TCI Music and Cablevision Systems’ programming company, Rainbow Programming, have been in talks about merging Rainbow’s music channel, Much Music, into the Box. Much Music, the dominant music channel in Canada, is distributed in the U.S. by Rainbow. The domestic Much Music is a 50/50 joint venture between Rainbow and Much Music’s founder, Chum Ltd.

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