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Amazon's new London center to focus on TV, film

The Web retail giant has chosen London as a new base for developing and expanding its on-demand television and film services.

Online retail giant Amazon is to open an international design and development center in London.

Amazon has rented an eight-story, 47,000-square-foot office situated near Barbican station. The new center will be situated near London's technology hub, Shoreditch -- an area known as "TechCity" or "Silicon Roundabout."

The center will house employees including software engineers, Web site specialists and graphic designers, all dedicated to the design and development of new products and services.

Staff on-site will be working on creating interactive digital services for TVs, game consoles, smartphones and PCs; improving customer experience on Amazon Web sites around the world; and developing digital media services and APIs, Amazon said.

Paula Byrne, the center's managing director, told The Telegraph that London was "the obvious choice" for the media development center. "When you look at the specialist skills that are available here, it is the obvious place to come," she added.

Amazon is facing mounting pressure in the U.K. from rival on-demand services including the U.S.'s Netflix and BSkyB's newly launched NowTV.

The Seattle-based company's current film and TV on-demand services, LoveFilm and Pushbutton, were both founded in London, and staff from both of these U.K. subsidiaries will be moved into the new office.

Amazon acquired Lovefilm, a subscription-only on-demand video-streaming service for the U.K., Germany and Scandinavia for an estimated 200 million pounds ($312 million) 18 months ago -- having bought 42 percent of the company in 2008. Pushbutton, a developer of interactive television and gaming technology, was also bought out last year.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "I am thrilled to welcome Amazon's fantastic new international digital center to London," calling it "a splendid feather in our cap".

The Digital Media Development Centre in Glasshouse Yard is due to open in the coming months.