Warner signs two mobile content deals

By Kate Holton
Wednesday, February 14, 2007; 12:38 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Warner Music Group (WMG.N) announced on Wednesday new deals with two leading mobile operators to deliver its mobile music content across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

The New York-based group announced content deals with Egypt's Orascom Telecom (ORTE.CA) to deliver its catalog of mobile products such as ringtones and full track downloads in countries including Algeria, Bangladesh, Italy, Pakistan, Tunisia and Egypt.

Under the second deal, Warner will work with Norwegian telecom group Telenor (TEL.OL) to offer its content via nine of Telenor's 13 mobile operators in countries such as Norway, Sweden, Ukraine and Hungary.

Music companies are constantly looking to increase revenues from legal digital downloads and mobile streams to make up for the loss of revenues from declining CD sales.

Warner has been among the more aggressive of music companies to court new customers on the Internet and mobile phones, becoming the first music company to negotiate a deal with the controversial video sharing site YouTube, now owned by Internet search leader Google Inc. (GOOG.O).

The latest announcements from Warner, the world's fourth largest music company, follow previous mobile deals with groups in Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and Latin America.

A spokesman for the group said the deals would open Warner's content up to 60 million of Orascom's subscribers. As of the third quarter of 2006, Telenor's total mobile customer base from the 13 operators was 105 million.

"(Orascom's) scale, ambition and commitment to promoting legitimate, pan-regional mobile music services make them the ideal partner for us as we develop our presence in the Middle East and North Africa," Warner Chairman and CEO, Edgar Bronfman Jr, said in a statement.

Alex Zubillaga, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at Warner, said the sheer scale and reach of Telenor's mobile network would take Warner's ability to deliver mobile content to a "whole new level."

"This agreement highlights our commitment to responding to regional variations in the ways consumers access music and to developing digital music opportunities around the world," he said.

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