EC approves News Corp.-NBC Uni online venture

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BRUSSELS -- The European Commission gave the online video content venture between Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and NBC Universal the go-ahead Thursday.

The $100 million service, scheduled to launch in September, is set to offer streaming videos from more than a dozen TV networks and two film studios. These include Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, television stations CNBC, Telemundo, Fox and British Sky Broadcasting.

The online partners for the new business include Yahoo, Time Warner's AOL, Microsoft Corp's MSN, News Corp's MySpace and Comcast.

The Commission -- the European Union's antitrust authority -- cleared the venture under its streamlined procedure as there were no objections from any potential rivals, nor were there any obvious competition concerns.

Under terms of the deals, each of the entertainment concerns will supply original content to the new site on a nonexclusive basis. The site's Internet media player will be embedded on partner sites. Included in the deal are the Sundance Channel, TV Guide, Fuel TV, Oxygen, and Speed.

The as-yet-unnamed joint venture, announced in March, aims to offer a copyright-protected and ad-supported alternative to YouTube, which has recently become embroiled with studios over its hosting of unauthorized TV and film content. In February, Viacom, the parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, demanded that YouTube remove more than 100,000 copyrighted clips of its programming, placed on the site by its users.
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