RUPE INTO ASIAN POP

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has formed TK News, a joint venture with Japan’s leading recording artist and producer, Tetsuya Komuro, that will initially market music in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

The pact is a further expansion of Murdoch’s slight music holdings, which have included interests in a trio of independent labels.

At a press conference held Friday at the Four Seasons Hotel, Komuro, who is known by the initials T.K., said he plans to develop repertoire by Asian artists, whose works might be exposed to U.S. audiences as the venture expands.

For News Corp., the pact adds to the company’s 50% interest in Australia’s Mushroom Records and its ownership of Festival Records.

News Corp. also has a developing interest in Rawkus Entertainment, a New York-based mail order firm run by James Murdoch, the 23-year-old son of the News Corp. chairman. Rawkus distributes music from a handful of labels trading mainly in urban music.

Execs at the company have said that they prefer developing ventures on a country-by-country basis, rather than through a splashy and expensive acquisition.

In addition to producing albums, TK News would create music-related TV shows to tout its artists, eventually on a worldwide basis as News Corp.’s satellite service expands.

News Corp. becomes the latest firm to tap the Asian marketplace.

Former Warner Music Group chairman Robert Morgado has established a TV and music foothold in China, while Richard Branson’s V2 label has been examining potential joint venture arrangements in Japan with an eye toward developing local repertoire.

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