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China Mobile Inks Deal with News Corp
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US media giant News Corp on Saturday clinched a deal with China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, to jointly tap into China's mobile music market.

The two firms will launch a wireless platform to enable music fans to upload their own music onto a website.

China Mobile will launch a service in its mobile Internet that enables mobile phone users to download the songs and vote for their favourites.

The name and address of the website were not released.

Channel [V] and Star TV, operated by News Corp, will produce music videos for the best songs as voted by Chinese Internet users and music professionals.

The deal marks a significant step for News Corp, which has been working hard to crack China's lucrative entertainment market. Expansion in the past few years has been slow largely due to regulatory hurdles.

News Corp earlier sold a 19.9 percent stake in Phoenix Satellite Television, a China-focused broadcaster, to the State parent of Hong Kong-listed China Mobile Ltd.

Industry observers say News Corp, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, is taking a new approach to the Chinese market.

The firm earlier this month said it was seeking to form a joint venture in China to launch a version of its popular MySpace social networking site.

Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, who was born in China, is said to be leading the efforts.

And rumours have been swirling that News Corp is in talks to buy wireless service providers (SPs) in China.

Murdoch and China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou attended a launch ceremony for the wireless music platform, but could not be reached for comment.

The deal with News Corp also marks an increasing penetration into the music production market for China Mobile.

The firm in July launched a music club, partnering with major record companies such as Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony BMG, to offer a one-stop service to China Mobile subscribers including copyrighted music downloads and sharing.

Gao Nianshu, an official in charge of China Mobile's data services, said the alliance with News Corp will help China Mobile develop more music offerings, considered key to wooing young customers.

China's traditional music market was worth 1.65 billion yuan (US$209 million) last year, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

Shanghai-based iResearch estimated the mobile music market in China was worth 2.6 billion yuan (US$325 million) last year, compared to 1.58 billion yuan (US$198 million) in 2004.

(China Daily November 13, 2006)


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