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Thursday, November 09, 2006, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Apple and Fox Entertainment resume iTunes movie talks

News Corp., the media conglomerate that owns the Fox Entertainment movie studio, is once again engrossed in talks with Apple Computer about a deal to sell its films on Apple's ubiquitous iTunes Store, reports CNN.

Peter Chernin, News Corp.'s president and chief operating officer, reportedly disclosed the ongoing discussions with the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker during a conference call with analysts and reporters following the release of the firm's fiscal first-quarter results Wednesday.

"Chernin would not give a time frame as to when Fox movies might be available, if ever, on iTunes," said CNN. "He did say though that News Corp. and Apple were having 'positive talks,' but that several details still needed to be worked out."

This isn't the first time the two companies have converged on the prospect of making films from the Fox movie studio available to the millions of customers who shop the iTunes Store each day.

Prior to the launch of Apple's movie download service in Sept., it was reported that the Fox Entertainment Group was one of just three studios which expressed the most interest in joining the service during the early going. But like independent Lions Gate Entertainment, its involvement was said to be contingent on other major studios joining the iTunes bandwagon.

Apple launched the iTunes movie service on Sept. 12 with just one studio, Walt Disney. During its first week of operation, Apple said the service sold over 125,000 of Disney's flicks, generating over $1 million in sales. Since then, the company has not provided any additional sales results.

Quibbles over movie licensing fees have so far been the major factor in preventing other studios from joining the iTunes service. Although it's widely expected by industry watchers that all of the major film studios will eventually find a home in iTunes, it's been reported that the studios are eager to put off any escalation of the pricing battle until after the important holiday sales season for DVD sales.

Meanwhile, Apple is hoping to come to terms with several of the studios in time for the launch of its iTV device in early 2007, which will provide one of the first direct-to-television movie download experiences for consumers.

In a surprise announcement earlier this week, Redmond, Wash.-based rival Microsoft Corp. said it would offer a similar experience through its Xbox Live gaming service later this month.