HSN, SUMITOMO HOOK UP FOR TV SHOPPING IN JAPAN

Byline: Tsukasa Furukawa

TOKYO — Home Shopping Network and Sumitomo Corp., one of Japan’s largest trading companies, are joining forces to start a television shopping business in Japan.
Sumitomo said the project is part of an agreement with Tele-Communications Inc., which has a controlling interest in HSN.
HSN, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., in November named Barry Diller chairman and chief executive officer. Diller helped establish home shopping during his tenure at HSN-rival QVC. He was chairman and ceo of QVC from 1993 until he resigned this year.
After testing the new venture since last February, HSN and Sumitomo have decided to launch home shopping with 30-minute programs on stations in Tokyo, Osaka and neighboring areas at the beginning of next year, Sumitomo said. A gradual expansion is planned to other regions of Japan.
Toward the end of 1996, Sumitomo said, it expects to form a 50-50 joint venture with HSN to manage and develop the project.
“Eventually we plan nationwide operations comprising cable TV stations,” Sumitomo said. “For the present, we will introduce merchandise from HSN Direct [HSN’s infomercial unit].”
HSN Direct, he said, is popular with Japanese viewers who live in the United States.
Sumitomo emphasized that in the future the company plans to introduce popular merchandise from all over the world to Japanese shoppers. The company will start with videotaped shopping programs from the U.S.
Live programs are planned for the future.

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