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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sony Eyes Expansion With Fuji TV Deal

TOKYO -- Sony Corp. said Monday it is thinking of tying up with a conventional television broadcaster, possibly Fuji Television Network Inc., to beef up its presence in the digital television business.

Sony is seeking this kind of deal because it would enable it to maximize the use of its rich music, game and movie content, while expanding its digital broadcasting equipment business.

A Sony spokesman said the firm wants to provide interactive television services via the Internet and terrestrial digital television broadcasting, which is scheduled to start in Japan in 2003.

"We are in talks with various broadcasters including Fuji Television," he said. "We are considering how we can expand our networking business by connecting the Internet and television and how we can expand our digital broadcasting business," he said.

But he said talks with other firms were not necessarily targeting a capital alliance and could not say how long it would take Sony to agree to an alliance.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun financial daily reported Monday that Sony was in the final stages of acquiring a 10 percent stake in Fuji Television, aiming to complete a final agreement by the end of May. Sony has no stake in Fuji at present.

With an estimated investment of more than 100 billion yen ($945 million), Sony would be the second largest shareholder in Fuji Television, after Nippon Broadcasting System Inc., which has 34.1 percent, the newspaper said.

Fuji took the same line as Sony on Monday, saying it was thinking about tie-ups with various industries but had decided nothing yet.

A Sony-Fuji Television alliance would set the stage for more alliances or mergers in Japan's long-protected commercial television networks, which are due to launch digital satellite-television services in December this year at huge costs and probably for meager short-term rewards, analysts said.

"It's too early to judge how big an impact this move will have for both companies, but it is definitely another incentive for the market to focus on content providers," said Toshihiko Matsuno, investment advisory manager at Sakura Friend Securities.

Fuji Television is among Japan's five biggest commercial television networks, all of which last year set up broadcast satellite operations.

The four other networks are Nippon Television Network Corp., Tokyo Broadcasting System, unlisted Asahi National Broadcasting and Television Tokyo.