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Rhapsody spin-off

RHAPSODY IN RED: RealNetworks and MTV Networks have decided to spin off Rhapsody. Real, which owns 51% of the equity in the long-struggling streaming service, and MTV, which owns 49%, will reduce their stakes so that each holds an equal stake of less than 50% of the company. The remainder will be made available to "one or more minority stockholders." Real will throw $18 million at the spun-off entity, part of it earmarked for the repurchase of the international radio business it previously contributed to Rhapsody, while MTV has committed to providing $33 million in advertising. The two companies will each receive two seats on a new Rhapsody board, which will also include an independent director. "Separating Rhapsody into its own independent company is a significant first step in making RealNetworks a more focused and profitable company," said Real President and acting CEO (succeeding Rob Glaser) Robert Kimball. "Rhapsody will be the largest pure play digital music service in the market. We have provided Rhapsody with the right team, and financial and intellectual property assets to succeed in the competitive market for digital music." (2/10a)

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