Universal Studios is tying up with Japanese companies including Hitachi and the Asahi media group to enter the communications satellite (CS) broadcasting business in Japan.

The partners will launch a joint venture company in April to provide broadcasting services starting from autumn 2001. They plan to use the Universal film library and Hitachi technology to provide a near-video-on-demand service. Universal will also supply music programming, while CNN and UK broadcaster the BBC will provide news services. The partners also plan to add interactive internet-based services to the mix.

Hitachi and the Asahi group, including the TV Asahi network, will each hold a 25% stake in the new company, while Toppan Printing, Matsushita and Sony Corp are also expected to invest.