Four of the world's largest record companies and Ticketmaster on Monday announced they are forming a rival music-video channel to challenge MTV and VH-1.
Warner Music Group of the United States, EMI Music, PolyGram Holding Inc. of Europe and Sony Software Corp. of Japan, with Ticketmaster Corp. hope to have the new channel on the air by fall.
Late last year, the four launched the music-video channel VIVA that's already in 90 percent of Germany's 13 million cable homes.
The record companies account for about 80 percent of sales in the recorded music business.
"The obvious thing is it levels the playing field," said Richard Schmidt of Restless Records, a major independent label. He said MTV exerts too much influence in the market and hopes the new channel would open up the medium, especially for independents.
One person familiar with the plans said the new network may also eventually get into selling merchandise. That could partly explain the involvement of Ticketmaster, which has considerable experience and capacity for handling phone orders.
Youth-oriented MTV reaches more than 57 million homes in the United States while VH-1, for older viewers, is available in about 49 million homes, MTV officials said.