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Verizon in Talks With Media Companies to Subsidize Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc. is holding talks with media companies that could end up paying for some of the data users consume watching television shows on mobile devices such as smartphones.

“We are very actively exploring those opportunities and looking at every way to build value for our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mead said this week at an investor conference sponsored by Jefferies Group.

An advertiser or content provider could contribute to the cost of delivering videos, Mead said. That would ensure consumers don’t run up their wireless bill by watching their favorite content, removing an obstacle to the growth of both mobile usage and the delivery of entertainment to devices.

“With the activity that we see in the overall industry and certainly our industry, I don’t think it is going to be too long” before a deal is announced, Mead said.

Mead cited a partnership between Inc.’s payment transmission costs of books delivered to its Kindle reader as an early model for such agreements. Verizon, based in New York, is considering more than one way to structure programs and isn’t ready to make an announcement, Mead said.

ESPN, Walt Disney Co.’s sports cable network, has had discussions with at least one major carrier, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the situation. Amy Phillips, a spokeswoman for the network, said she couldn’t comment.

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