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Thursday, May 05, 2005, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

Record label delays iTunes Australia launch

An unsigned agreement with one major record company has halted the launch of Apple's iTunes music download service in Australia.

A source told The Courier-Mail yesterday Apple had planned to launch an Australian version of its iTunes music store last Thursday, but the launch was thwarted by one unnamed major record company that refused to sign an agreement in time.

"The hurdle reportedly forced Apple to cancel radio advertisements ordered for the date, and it is expected to delay iTunes's launch by days, or possibly weeks, as song and album prices and payments are negotiated with the holdout label," the publication said.

For a short time last week, several eager iTunes users were able to forced their way into a work-in-progress version of the Australian iTunes store; some even managed to create an account with their credit cards, but later saw these accounts terminated by Apple.

According to several members of AppleTalk, an Australian-based Macintosh news and community website, the average price of a tune was listed at $1.69 Australian. Meanwhile, album prices varied from $11.35 to $16.99.

The iTunes Music Store Australia was expected to headline a new wave of music stores that were to be announced on April 28th, the two year anniversary of the service launch. Other locations planned for the same launch include Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norwary, Denmark, and very likely New Zealand.

Apple reportedly declined to comment on the issue.