German media giant Bertlsmann AG and German telephone company, Viag Interkom, are to launch an online games service through a joint-venture company called Game Channel. The 50-50 venture between Viag and 100%-owned Bertelsmann subsidiary, Bertelsmann Interactive Studios (BIS), will launch in April and will offer a large number of computer, CD Rom and multiplayer games, the companies said yesterday in a joint statement. BIS will provide the content, while Viag Interkom – which is owned by German conglomerate, Viag AG and British Telecommunications Plc – will be responsible for delivering the service. Bertelsmann said it partnered with Viag for its networking infrastructure and payment technologies as well as its marketing skills. The web site, www.gameschannel.de, will also serve as an online shop and offer chat room facilities, Bertelsmann said. Bernd Schiphorst, president of Bertelsmann New Media, said the partnership did not prevent either company from working with other telecommunications companies and that he expected the new company to break even in two or three years. Players will be charged on a Gaming-by-Call basis on their phone bill, with rates to be announced in April. Dr Ulrich Neuert, managing director of the new company, said he expects the client base to reach 25,000 within the first year.