Japan phone giant takes NTV stake

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TOKYO -- Nippon Television Network and telephone giant NTT DoCoMo have cemented their business partnership with the Japanese mobile phone company's purchase of a 3% stake in the broadcaster.

In April, the two companies set up the D. N. Dream Partners joint venture to provide digital television services for mobile phones, but the telecommunications firm is hoping to take advantage of NTV's content for next-generation handsets.

DoCoMo paid ¥13.3 billion ($111 million) for 760,550 shares in NTV, according to the broadcaster, which is looking to expand its reach beyond TV. It produced four feature-length films last year, including "Death Note" and its sequel, taking ¥7.5 billion ($63.2 million) at the boxoffice.

"We are investing in each other and we see NTT DoCoMo as an important partner," NTV said in a statement. "We believe we can merge our abilities in the future and push ahead with cooperative operations."

The deal makes DoCoMo the sixth-largest shareholder in NTV, although it also has acquired a 2.6% stake in Fuji Television Network Inc., Japan's largest private broadcaster.

Mobile phone operators are actively seeking partners in Japan's broadcasting industry to give themselves an advantage ahead of the liberalization of rules on switching carriers in October.
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