Disney to sell MovieBeam

Disney is trying to shed most of its interest in the ambitious over-the-air MovieBeam video-on-demand service that it shut down last spring, according to a recent federal securities filing reported by CNET News.

The company announced in April that the service was being temporarily interrupted in the three cities where it was being tested, but that it would ultimately be restored after an upgrade.

In financial documents filed last month, the company said that it is still seeking to refinance the business and ultimately hoped to relinquish most of its interest. The company said it had concluded that the refinancing would not be enough to cover its investment in MovieBeam.

The MovieBeam service was the most high-profile of several experiments taking advantage of unused portions of the television spectrum to beam content to homes.

In Disney’s case, subscribers would pay $8.99 a month to rent a device that would periodically be automatically refilled with up to 100 movies that could be watched any time for about the price of renting a movie. The service was operating until April in Jacksonville, FL.; Spokane, WA; and Salt Lake City.

The company said in its filing that recent negotiations with a financial investor had persuaded it that it would not recover its investment in MovieBeam, and that it had decided to take a $24 million charge related to the service in the third fiscal quarter of 2005.

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