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October 23, 2000
Matsushita, Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi to Jointly Establish
New "e-Platform" Business Development Company
to Promote Interactive Broadcasting and Datacasting Services in Japan
Tokyo, Japan (October 23, 2000)-Four major electronics companies-Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic), Toshiba Corporation, Sony Corporation and Hitachi, Ltd. -together announced today that they have agreed to establish the "ePF Network Corporation", a joint endeavor dedicated to standardizing the "e-Platform" -which will enable interactive broadcasting and storage-type datacasting services for Japan's digital TV broadcasting -as well as promoting new business and services using home set top box (STB) terminals based on the "e-Platform" standard.
The new company will be established on November 15 with initial capital of 200 million yen. The above four major shareholders together will have a 70% share in the new venture, and will be joined by ten other participating companies(*1), each holding a 3% share. As efforts progress, additional companies will be invited to participate to advance "e-Platform" businesses into the future.
In addition to running its own business and services, the ePF Network Corporation will work on 1) standardizing "e-Platform"-compatible STB specifications, 2) outlining specifications for "e-Platform" service operations, and 3) developing and promoting new businesses and services.
Chosaku Toda, a 35-year veteran of Matsushita's overseas marketing and TV business, will take the helm as president of the new corporation. Mr. Toda and five other executives from the four companies will form the executive board. Ownership of the four companies is 25% each for Matsushita and Toshiba, and 10% for Sony and Hitachi, respectively.
The concept of the "e-Platform" was first proposed and announced in July this year by three companies: Matsushita, Toshiba, and Sony. Eleven other companies soon joined to form a consortium to work on its standardization. This consortium will dissolve as the new company take over its functions.
To promote and support the "e-Platform" concept, a new broadcast content venture named "e-Port Channel Corporation" is being planned by nine of the companies in the "e-Platform" consortium. This support will include developing digital content for broadcasting using 110-degree (east longitude) CS satellite communications, as well as developing and providing new advanced services using the "e-Platform." With initial capital of 80 million yen, this venture is now applying for its license and plans to be in business as soon as the license is granted, possibly by January 2001. The nine companies (and stock shares of each) are: Matsushita (38.75%), Toshiba (38.75%), Sony (4.5%), Hitachi (4.5%), Japan Satellite/WOWOW (4.5%), SKY Perfect (3%), Dentsu (3%), Sumitomo (2%), and Tohokushinsha Film (1%). Four executives, two each from Matsushita and Toshiba, will form the executive board, with Mr. Toda set to become president of this company as well.
(*1) The ten participating companies are: Asahi National Broadcasting Co., Ltd., Dentsu Inc., Fuji Television Network, Inc., Japan Satellite Broadcasting, Inc. (WOWOW), Nippon Television Network Corporation, SKY Perfect Communications Inc., Sumitomo Corporation, Television Tokyo Channel 12, Ltd., Tokyo Broadcasting Systems, Inc., and Tohokushinsha Film Corporation.