European Commission approves News Corp & NBC YouTube rival

The European Commission has approved News Corp and NBC's proposed rival to YouTube, in a major step towards the formation of a new video sharing website.

The, as yet, unnamed venture, which was first announced in March, has been cleared by the European Commission over possible anti-trust violations after NBC and News Corp's project did not receive any complaints about the venture.

It is understood that NBC and News Corp plan to create a video portal featuring thousands of hours of programming, movies and clips from the two media owner's substantial catalogue of broadcast programming.

Contributors already signed up for the portal include AOL, Yahoo!, Microsoft and News Corp-owned MySpace. Among the programmes likely to be on offer are 'The Simpsons', 'Battlestar Galactica', '24' and 'American Idol'.

According to NBC and News Corp, the site, which could launch before the autumn, would differ from YouTube's user generated content remit, and focus more on clips and full-length versions of broadcast content.

The companies said that advertising deals had already been agreed with major blue-chip clients including Intel, General Motors, Cadbury Schweppes and Cisco for advertising, and expected to agree further content deals with distributors in the future.

YouTube has come under fire from numerous broadcasters and media owners since Google acquired it last year for $1.65bn over file sharing violations.

Critics have included Viacom, which is suing Google for more than $1bn, News Corp-owned Fox Media, which has objected to episodes of '24' appearing on YouTube, and Jeff Zucker, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, who questioned whether Google "had the will" to stop copyright violations on YouTube.

When the project was launched back in March, Peter Chemin, president and chief operating officer at News Corp, said: "We'll have access to nearly 100% of the US internet audience at launch. For the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live, all for free."

Meanwhile, News Corp-owned MySpace is reportedly being offered in exchange for a 25% stake in Yahoo!, making the social networking portal worth around $12.3bn -- more than 24 times the price News Corp paid for it in 2005.

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