Apple's TV subscription project makes some progress

NEW YORK - Apple's attempt to develop a monthly TV subscription package has drawn CBS and Disney into talks, but News Corporation, Viacom and Discovery appear unconvinced, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal claims Apple has been wooing TV networks with various proposals for the evolution of iTunes, which already sells single episodes, ahead of the launch of its much-anticipated tablet device.

An initial proposal was for Apple to deliver a package of advertising-free shows dubbed "the best of television" to consumers for $30 (£18.73) per month.

However, the WSJ's sources say this may be changing after feedback from the networks.

Some network executives are concerned that selling their channels to Apple could damage their business with cable TV companies, while others are worried Apple is considering excluding advertising.

But Apple's proposals have resulted in early stage talks with CBS and Disney, which was the first company to sell single TV episodes on iTunes and has Apple boss Steve Jobs as a board member and shareholder

CBS may do a deal for shows from its CBS and CW networks, such as popular iTunes purchases 'Gossip Girl' and 'Vampire Diaries'.

Disney is considering including shows from its ABC, Disney Channel and ABC Family channels.

Those in the doubters' camp including News Corp, Viacom, Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Communications, says the WSJ, which adds NBC Universal's position is unclear.

The US cable industry is facing competition from an increasing number of companies working on subscription offerings, including Hulu, the online TV service owned by News Corp, NBC Universal (in which cable company Comcast is buying a controlling stake) and Disney.

YouTube has stated its interest in launching a subscription service. Last week it emerged that BSkyB had broken off exploratory talks about making full-length content available via subscription on the Google-owned site.

Today the UK took another step towards the convergence of broadcast and online TV delivery as the BBC Trust provisionally approved the BBC's participation in Project Canvas, its internet-connected Freeview box venture with ITV, BT, Channel 4, Five and Carphone Warehouse.


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