Warner Music cues vid content unit

WMI buys indie producer the Rights Company

LONDON — Warner Music Intl. has launched a video content division, Warner Music Entertainment, by acquiring London-based producer the Rights Co. and merging it with WMI’s existing DVD arm, Warner Vision.

Conrad Withey, founder and chief exec of the Rights Co., has been named prexy of Warner Music Entertainment. He reports to John Reid, WMI vice chairman for music, marketing and content.

New division will be WMI’s central hub to develop, produce and distribute product for all platforms that utilize video content.

“The explosion of new distribution platforms has created an unprecedented opportunity for us to significantly enhance the menu of multimedia content that we deliver,” said WMI chief exec Patrick Vien.

Although Warner Music Entertainment’s aim will be to maximize the presence of Warner artists and material on all platforms, it also will continue to expand upon the Rights Co.’s business of non-music programming.

Founded in 2003 by Withey, the former Polygram, Universal and Momentum exec, the Rights Co. produces and distributes “Ibiza Rocks,” a series of rock concerts broadcast on the U.K.’s Channel 4. It also has produced interactive DVD spinoffs from comedy quizzer “QI” and car show “Top Gear,” as well as a wide range of sports, health and fitness titles.

Warner Vision previously concentrated on picking up rights to music-related programming from outside producers. The new WME will continue this effort, but the Rights Co. also will bring fresh expertise to originate programming inhouse.

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