TOKYO -- Time Warner Inc., U S West Inc., and two Japanese companies announced yesterday that they would invest a total of $400 million to enter the relatively undeveloped cable television business in Japan.
Time Warner, the second-largest cable company in the United States, and U S West, a regional Bell telephone company, will be teaming with the Toshiba Corp., the computer and electronics company, and the Itochu Corp., a major trading company.
The companies already are partners in Time Warner Entertainment, the Time Warner division that owns the company's cable systems in the United States, as well as Home Box Office and Warner Brothers. U S West owns 25 percent of Time Warner Entertainment, while Itochu and Toshiba each own 5.6 percent.
The partners plan to form a new company, the Titus Communications Corp., that would start cable television operations in 10 or more areas of Japan, each with 150,000 to 200,000 households.
The new company eventually plans to serve about two million households, or about 5 percent of the total in Japan, and to offer a variety of services, including telephone service.
Development of cable television in Japan has been hamstrung by various regulations, with a result that a very low percentage of households receive cable service, compared with about 60 percent in the United States.