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News Corp. takes majority stake in Jamba

Media giant is beefing up its mobile presence with the addition of Jamba, creator of the Crazy Frog ring-tone sensation.

News Corp. has struck a $188 million deal to buy a majority stake in VeriSign's ring-tone subsidiary Jamba, creator of the Crazy Frog ring tone. The merger will give News Corp. one of the largest mobile entertainment businesses in the world.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will integrate Jamba--which develops and distributes ring tones, wallpapers and other mobile entertainment content throughout the world--with Fox Mobile's entertainment assets, which include the first ad-sponsored video series, called mobisodes. The new mobile entertainment company could reach more than 1 billion mobile subscribers, News Corp. said.

News Corp. intends to retain the Jamster brand in the U.S. and the Jamba brand worldwide.

News Corp. has been aggressive in its strategy to take its Fox Entertainment products mobile. The company started with American Idol text voting in 2001 and has since launched its mobisodes series and Mobizzo, which sells mobile content direct to consumers on all carrier networks.

"This is an important step in News Corp.'s strategy of becoming the world's leading digital media company," Peter Chernin, News Corp. president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We're the most powerful media company on the Web with Fox Interactive Media; our aggressive digital content deals have given consumers access to News Corp. programming on every conceivable platform, and we have already demonstrated innovation in this emerging space."

Jamba, founded in 2000, is a leader in delivering mobile content that is not available directly from a mobile operator. Jamba has partnerships with record labels, including Universal Music Group and Warner Music. The new Jamba unit is expected to draw from not only top Fox divisions, but other News Corp. companies as well.