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www.com Forms European Venture with Carlton

[May 25] Music Application Service Provider (ASP) WWW.COM has formed a European joint venture with Carlton Communications, the U.K's largest independent television broadcaster.

As part of the deal, Carlton will put a total of $25.6 million into WWW.COM, of which $11.6 million in cash will go to the Los Angeles-based parent company. $14 million will go directly into creating WWW.COM EUROPE.

The substantial investment earns Carlton a seat on WWW.COM's Board of Directors.

The two firms are clearly working closely together, as another aspect of the deal is for WWW.COM's subsidiary CODEC.COM to provide encoding services, storage and streaming of Carlton's extensive audio assets and film library.

Scott Purcell, president and founder of WWW.COM, said he and his team had built WWW.COM into the world's largest music ASP and second most popular radio site.

"With Carlton's access to mass audiences, knowledge of the U.K. entertainment market, and understanding of the rapidly developing Internet market, they are the right partner to expand WWW.COM overseas and allow us to continue building a true global brand," said Purcell.

Michael Green, chairman of Carlton Communications, described WWW.COM as being a 'category killer' in online music. He said it would be a tremendous addition to Carlton's entertainment portal, carlton.com.

In December last year, Carlton formed a joint venture called @lliance with top French TV broadcaster TF1 to acquire and develop Internet businesses in Europe. It, too, will have the opportunity to take part in WWW.COM EUROPE, according to reports.

WWW.COM protects co-branded music sites from litigation by operating under signed copyright agreements which ensure artists get paid. It currently broadcasts over 230 originally-programmed stations.