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Sony may launch Teuton net

Co. also to provide VOD content

BERLIN — Following the leads of other Hollywood majors, Sony is planning to launch its own TV channel in Germany and eyeing Deutsche Telekom’s upcoming video-on-demand service.

“We want to establish our own channel in the German market,” Sony Pictures TV Intl. prexy Michael Grindon told German financial newspaper Handelsblatt. “I am confident that there are good opportunities for a cable or satellite channel.”

A likely possibility for Sony would be an outlet on the multichannel digital pay platform Premiere, which has 2.7 million subscribers. Premiere chief Georg Kofler has said he would welcome a Sony channel on the service, which already includes two Universal nets, MGM, Disney and Fox Kids and Discovery. U is gearing up to launch its third outlet, Sci Fi Channel, later this year.

Grindon added that Sony was carefully observing the development of the cable and broadband market in Germany before making a final decision.

Premiere is recovering from a near-insolvency last year, and cable upgrades here have been piecemeal and slower than originally anticipated.

Yet Deutsche Telekom’s Internet division T-Online is set to launch a new VOD service this fall and has been in negotiations with other majors, including Disney and MGM, for content.

Pointing to Sony’s focus on hardware, Internet and videogames, Grindon said possibilities in broadband would be of great strategic importance to the group. Sony, which operates 36 cable and satellite channels worldwide, has a stake in U.S. video-on-demand service Movielink.

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