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MySpace plans new video channels

Social-networking site announces partnerships to run content from National Geographic Society, The New York Times and others. on Tuesday unveiled plans to transform itself into a portal for professional video content through partnerships with the National Geographic Society, The New York Times and others.

The News Corp. social-networking site said it will launch more than a dozen "branded" news and lifestyle-oriented video channels in the coming months as part of a growing push to expand its video offerings.

"We're empowering our partners to customize their own video channels and use them as hubs to create a niche experience for users," Jeff Berman, MySpace's general manager of video, said in a statement.

The move is part of a growing trend toward pairing online-video services with more traditional media outlets. YouTube, for instance, has struck deals with the BBC, the National Basketball Association, CBS, the Sundance Channel and major record companies.

On their channels, The New York Times and Reuters plan to post video on a variety of news and entertainment topics. National Geographic plans to draw short-form videos from its archives and from new TV shows, including episodes of Explorer, The Dog Whisperer and Naked Science.

National Geographic Channel acting general manager Steve Schiffman said his company views the wildly popular social-networking site as "a very important piece of real estate" as it rolls out what he called a very aggressive digital strategy.

"As the sheer variety of information sources continues to proliferate, trusted brands like ours become increasingly important, as do sites that deliver critical masses of community, like MySpace," he told CNET through a spokesman.

Diane McNulty, a New York Times spokeswoman, said in an e-mail interview that MySpace's "sheer reach"--that is, 65 million monthly visitors--prompted the company's partnership decision. She added that the newspaper plans to announce other video-related deals in the coming weeks and months.

Ten additional "lifestyle" channels on MySpace are expected to revolve around music, sports and other entertainment content. Kush TV, for instance, will include coverage of the hard-rock band Korn's Family Values Tour, as well as reality-show footage. Ripe TV, meanwhile, is designed to cater to young adult males with "gorgeous women, breakthrough music, extreme sports, edgy humor and outrageous stunts."

A Young Hollywood channel on MySpace is set to feature exclusive premieres of interviews with celebrities. Expert Village plans to add 10 to 20 how-to videos to its new MySpace channel each week, expanding the site's existing library of more than 16,000 clips, which range from "how to put a door on its hinges" to "how to make jambalaya."

MySpace's announcement arrived just days after it said it had implemented a new feature, called "Take Down Stay Down," which is designed to ensure that content pulled from user profiles at the request of copyright holders cannot be reposted.