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It tapes a village

Warner Bros., Roadshow forge video pact

SYDNEY — Warner Bros. and Australia’s Village Roadshow have extended their complex partnership with a new Australian homevideo sales banner.

Warren Lieberfarb, president of Warner Home Video, and Graham Burke, group managing director of Village Roadshow, announced the formation of jointly owned Warner Roadshow Home Entertainment in Sydney on Wednesday.

“Australia continues as one of the strongest rental video territories per capita in the world, and retail sales continue to grow,” Burke said. “The partnership will benefit the DVD and video markets by sharing the administration costs of supporting a sales force and enjoying the efficiencies gained from a central distribution point.”

Burke, who noted that there would be no layoffs stemming from the new co-venture, told Daily Variety, “This is about growing the business and encouraging people to rent and buy more DVDs and videos. With the flowering of our production co-venture with Warner Bros., we’re extending the relationship with people who are family.”

Lieberfarb, the primary architect of the global DVD business, said, “Warner Roadshow Home Entertainment is a new strategic alliance and a continuance of the multinational, multidivisional partnership between Time Warner and Village Roadshow. The expansion of this relationship into video shows our commitment to this partnership and to the growing future of home entertainment.”

Warner and Village are already allied in a number of businesses, including U.S. film production, exhibition and Australian theme parks.

The joint venture will be co-chaired by Roadshow Entertainment managing director Chris Chard and WHV Australia managing director Marc Gareton. It will deploy a national rental and sell-through sales force, supported by a telemarketing group and customer service center in Sydney. Marketing will continue to be handled individually by WHV and Roadshow Home Entertainment.

Warner’s system of managing market accounts through such services as vendor-managed inventory, product customization and category management will apply to both companies’ product.

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