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News Publishers Launch Joint Venture Targeting Digital Content Distribution

Five major magazine publishers today announced the creation of a joint venture to develop standards for a digital content storefront and viewing on portable devices.

Cond Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. today jointly announced that they have entered into an independent venture to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology that will allow consumers to enjoy their favorite media content on portable digital devices.

Rumors of collaboration among major magazine publishers looking to prepare for Apple's much-rumored entrance into the tablet market have been circulating in recent months, with word of the specific joint venture appearing late last month.

While today's press release provides little specific information on plans for the new venture, it offers four goals for creating a flexible and robust framework to allow magazine publishers to offer their content and advertising on a variety of portable devices.

The goal of this digital initiative is fourfold, to create: a highly featured common reading application capable of rendering the distinctive look and feel of each publication; a robust publishing platform optimized for multiple devices, operating systems and screen sizes; a consumer storefront offering an extensive selection of reading options; and a rich array of innovative advertising opportunities.

With a growing number of devices capable of accessing media content, from the iPhone and other smartphones to dedicated e-readers to Apple's forthcoming tablet, publishers have recognized the potential for new revenue streams as well as the need to streamline the process for offering content for this wide variety of devices.