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23 March 2007 19:00EST

YouTube's dominance of online video content is about to end after News Corporation and NBC Universal joined forces to announce the world's largest Internet video distribution network.

The leading media giants plan to begin distributing full-length movies, television shows and video clips from at least 12 networks and two major movie studios online by the middle of the year.

The bold venture will allow News Corporation and NBC to control their programming, protecting it from copyright breaches, and attract advertising online.

Popular television shows such as The Simpsons, 24, Heroes, Saturday Night Live, and House will soon be available online for free, and hit movies including Borat, Little Miss Sunshine and The Devil Wears Prada will also be available.

Combined providers AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! will become distribution partners.

YouTube's explosive growth is under fire from Communications giant Viacom Inc who is suing YouTube's owners, Google Inc, in a $US1billion lawsuit, accusing the website of massive international copyright infringement. In the past media companies have demanded YouTube remove unauthorized clips from its site.

News Corporation owns the Fox broadcast network in the US and the Twentieth Century Fox movie and television studio. NBC owns the Universal film studio and cable television channels in America including Bravo. News Corporation is the parent company of News Limited Australia publisher of The Daily Telegraph.

Discussions are underway with other Internet and content providers to join the partnership.

Impact on YouTube

Viacom said it welcomed content-owners taking the lead in protecting their material, and analysts said YouTube was unlikely to be damaged by the move since its users valued the social networking experience it offered as much as the video content available on it.

"There is plenty of room for multiple players," said Richard Greenfield, from Pali Capital. "It is still not clear how user generated content is going to fit in and it's still not clear that all of these companies won't do a deal with Google over time."






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