Bertlesmann and German telephone company Viag Interkom have been given the go ahead by the European Commission for a joint venture to sell games on the Internet.
The European Commission said that the venture, dubbed Games Channel, does not threaten fair competition in the European Union markets. The European Commission can block ventures between companies if their combined sales are five billion Euros globally or more than 250 million Euros per company in EU markets.
Games Channel will enable consumers to download games and try them out for a limited period free. After the trial they can then buy them over the Internet and download them.
Bertlesmman is supplying the games and Viag, British Telecom and Norway's Telenor are providing the network over which to sell them.
Bertlesmann and Viag are hoping to piggy back sales on top of the rapid explosion of Internet users forecast in Europe. UK market research company Datamonitor estimates that European Internet users will hit 88 million by 2005.
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