News Corp, Sony, Fuji TV and Softbank are forming a joint venture company - Nihon Eiga Eisei Hoso (Japanese Movie Satellite Broadcasting) - to create a cable and satellite movie channel specialising in Japanese films.

The partners aim to build the country's leading Japanese film channel with the co-operation of Japan's top film companies. To set it on its way, the new company will take over management of two Japanese film channels currently offered by Sky Entertainment.

Set to begin operations this April, the new company will launch with Y400m ($3.7m) in start-up capital, with each of the four shareholders contributing 25%. Fuji TV managing director Koichi Murakami will be president. The three other shareholders will also contribute one board member each to the new outfit.

On April 1, Sky Entertainment will merge with sports channel J Sports to form a combined entity specialising in sports broadcasting. Prior to the merger, Sky will turn over management of its Japanese Movie Channel and Samurai Drama Channel to Nihon Eiga Eisei Hoso.

Both channels are carried by the SKY PerfecTV platform in which Fuji TV, Sony, Softbank and News Corp are major shareholders. There will be no immediate change in the programming or monthly fees of the two channels. At the end of January, Japanese Movie Channel had 344,000 subscribers and Samurai Drama Channel, 302,000.