Sony Corp, Toshiba Corp and Matsushita Electric are teaming up to develop interactive services for digital satellite TV. The three partners are also recruiting other companies, including Hitachi and the Tokyo Broadcasting Network, to join the alliance.
The three electronics giants plan to launch a company this autumn to develop payment and security systems for interactive digital broadcasts, including shopping, game and pay-per-view services. Starting in December, eight broadcasters, including public station NHK and five stations backed by Japan's commercial networks, plan to offer Hi-Vision and other new digital services.
Hitachi is reportedly being recruited to set up an open e-business platform which would link broadcasting services to the internet, giving viewers web access through set-top boxes.
The three manufacturers, who joined forces last month to develop a standard format for set-top boxes, will also jointly market a digital TV set.
Meanwhile, in a separate move, Sony Corp and Tokyu Corporation subsidiary Tokyu Cable Television have agreed to jointly develop a broadband internet service business, with Sony taking a 10% stake in the cable TV operator.
Using Tokyu Cable's cable network as a base, the partners intend to not only provide new broadband services, but link with other cable TV operators to expand the network into new service areas.
The partners expect their new internet business to boost the bottom line of the AII (Advanced Internet Integration) Planning Company that Sony, Tokyu and Toyota Motor launched in April to provide internet services via broadband cable TV (Screendaily, March 13). The company is scheduled to begin operations this October.
Tokyu Corporation operates a major private railway in the Tokyo area and has extensive interests in real estate and information services. Subsidiary Tokyu Cable is a leading cable TV provider, serving more than 882,000 households.