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MySpace launches YouTube rival

MySpace is to take on YouTube's status as the world's leading video-sharing website by renaming and relaunching its own service as MySpaceTV. The video section of MySpace will be given its own web presence, www.myspacetv.com, and built up as a destination in its own right. Despite being the second biggest video-sharing website behind YouTube, MySpace's offering has not secured the same sort of profile."We have seen explosive growth of uploading and sharing of video," said the MySpace general manager for video, Jeff Berman. "It has become a bigger and bigger part of the way MySpace users consume culture. We want to make it easier to use and more appealing."

The new standalone website will also incorporate more professionally created content. "User generated videos are enormously popular but so are professionally created clips," said Mr Berman. "We want to create a destination for casual consumers who want to watch say one or two videos and film-makers who may want to be the next Steven Spielberg."Mr Berman said MySpace would continue innovative promotions such as My Movie Mash Up, a competition that allows budding film-makers in Britain to submit content in the hope of winning a £1m-plus budget. Judges include actress Sienna Miller.

Last week MySpace signed a deal with Sony for its "minisodes" - five-minute clips of 80s comedies such as Silver Spoons and Diff'rent Strokes.MySpace TV is also likely to be a distribution channel for programming from the online video joint venture under development by NBC Universal and Fox, part of News Corporation.The new website will tie in to the profiles created by MySpace users, as well as being accessible to a general online audience.MySpaceTV is being launched tailored to 15 international territories, which parallel YouTube's country-specific versions of its video-sharing website.