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TV networks may form anti-YouTube cabal

Fox, Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal are talking about creating a video site to compete with YouTube, source confirms.

Four major TV networks are considering creating a jointly owned Web site to offer their programming online rather than have to chase down pirated clips on YouTube, a source close to the talks confirmed Monday.

Fox, Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal have been in talks over the last few months, according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous. "We are approaching it seriously," the source said. "They are ongoing and preliminary discussions... Everybody wants to figure out the right (online business) model."

Spokespeople from the four networks either did not return calls seeking comment or declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported Saturday by The Wall Street Journal.

The talks deal with complicated matters for the networks--how to put programming on the Internet without cannibalizing TV efforts; how to do that quickly enough to prevent YouTube from profiting; and how to avoid ceding control or branding to partners. ABC parent Walt Disney is not participating in the talks, preferring to go it alone, while the group snubbed a proposal from News Corp., which also owns Fox, to use its MySpace social-networking site as the host of the video, the source said.

NBC, owned by General Electric, struck a deal with Google's popular YouTube in June that allows the video sharing site to host promotional video clips of some NBC shows and CBS inked its own deal with YouTube in October.