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Listen.com inks another broadband deal

In its latest agreement with a broadband provider, the online music service will offer songs to Charter Communications' cable modem subscribers.

Listen.com on Wednesday announced an agreement to sell its online music service to Charter Communications' broadband subscribers.

It is the latest deal that the Internet start-up has established with a broadband provider. In July, Listen struck partnerships with Hughes Electronics' DirecTV Broadband and AOL Time Warner's Road Runner high-speed Internet services.

Like the DirecTV and Road Runner deals, Wednesday's agreement will allow the St. Louis-based cable giant to sell subscriptions of Listen's Rhapsody service to its broadband subscribers. Listen is partnering with broadband providers in hopes of luring more high-speed Internet users to Rhapsody.

People who sign up for Rhapsody pay $9.95 a month to access a library of 210,000 tracks and 16,000 albums that can be streamed to them via their PCs. Rhapsody also allows a limited number of tracks to be burned onto CDs.

San Francisco-based Listen is one of the few online music start-ups left standing.

On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked Napster from being sold to German media company Bertelsmann, which will likely result in the liquidation of the assets of the controversial file-sharing service. At one point, Napster had driven a stake into heart of the music business. But the major record labels succeeded in suing the service for copyright violation. As a result, online music companies have been forced to play by the rules and to negotiate copyright agreements with the labels.

Listen was the first start-up to license the online libraries for all Big Five record labels, although the selection of songs available on the Internet remains spotty. There are still many tracks that cannot be cleared because of the complexities related to recording, publishing and artist rights.