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Fuji Television Network Inc., Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. and Asahi National Broadcasting Co. (TV Asahi) said Tuesday they have agreed to tie up in distributing TV programs over high-speed broadband Internet lines.

The three broadcasting companies will set up a preparatory committee in July with a view to establishing a joint venture next spring. Other firms in the telecommunications and manufacturing sectors will be invited to participate, the broadcasters said in a joint statement.

A company source said the joint venture will be capitalized at several billion yen, with each of the three broadcasters taking an equal stake.

The move to cooperate in distribution is an unusual one for rivals in TV broadcasting. Broadband broadcasting allows viewers to watch programs on the Internet as clearly as on television.

Fuji, TBS and TV Asahi said they plan to produce programs in several genres, such as drama, sports and music, which will be jointly distributed for a fee on high-speed Internet lines such as fiber-optic and digital subscriber lines.

“We hope to make the fees reasonable to attract subscribers,” an official at one of the three companies said.

While the broadband broadcasting business is expected to grow rapidly in the future, there are currently too few companies providing content to make it profitable.

The companies plan to provide the programs initially in Tokyo and other major cities but are eyeing nationwide distribution if broadband use becomes more widespread, the companies said.

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