Ascent Media Group to launch online marketplace

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Ascent Media Group is launching a business-to-business content marketplace online with the intent to generate commerce in new markets worldwide.

The Ascent Global Media Exchange, or GMX, is expected to be unveiled in late 2008. It will serve as a platform for rights holders to sell and distribute TV, film and other video assets to customers including Web publishers and cable outlets.

Content sellers would be able to publish inventory, list licensing terms publicly if they choose or offer content in blind auctions. Buyers would negotiate licensing terms and then choose from a variety of delivery formats, including DVD and mobile. Sales and delivery are executed online.

Stephen Lyons, who spent more than a decade leading sales, business development and strategic distribution efforts at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, will serve as senior vp of business development and lead efforts to build GMX.

Jose Royo, CEO of Ascent, acknowledged that other ventures such as ReelPlay have tired a similar model in the past; he feels Ascent's is better positioned. "We have spent 12 months and several million dollars building this platform, building IP that is unique and filing for patent protection," he said. "And we have the fullfillment capabilities to make it work."

GMX will also have the muscle of Ascent parent company Discovery Holding Co., whose CEO, John Malone, is also chairman of Liberty Media Corp., the company's controlling shareholder. Some Liberty-owned entities are expected to participate.

Ascent has not announced any partners yet for GMX, but is expected to do so as it moves closer to launch date. "We will likely start with independent film companies (that do not have the global distribution sales networks)," Lyons explained, adding that Ascent is beginning to talk with potential participants. Smaller-tier broadcasters are also viewed as early targets.
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