Music giant Universal , whose suit against MP3.com is still outstanding, is gearing up for broadband music-distribution.

The company’s latest initiative involves creating original programmes for broadband transmission. These include "The Viewing Lounge", where music fans will choose their favourite music, "I-View", which will be a series of mini-documentaries on individual artists, and some music parodies of late-night infomercials.

Net investment Universal continues its heavy investment in Internet technology, independent-music Web site Popwire.com, itself recently chosen by Apple to become one of its QuickTime TV channels, is supported by Universal.

Universal has teamed up with Akamai, Apple’s streaming partner, to broadcast the transmissions. The company said it would explore "various business models for the initiative, such as content syndication, licensing and distribution relationships, sponsorships and community-building features".

Wed advance Webnoize analyst Ric Dube said: "This is significant because it means music companies are looking to promote the Internet, as well as make money on syndication and licensing deals."

Meanfiddler.com executive Maurice Power told Macworld: "The music business has come to realize that it must come to terms with the Internet. It cannot ignore the needs of millions of Napster users."

Major labels, including Sony, have settled the lawsuit with MP3.com in recent weeks.

Three major streaming-media formats now stand ready to compete for business from the forthcoming boom, Apple’s QuickTime, Real, and Windows Media.