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Japanese Fans - and Sony Executives - Won’t See Michael Jackson Video

November 14, 1991

TOKYO (AP) _ Sony executives in Japan who footed the bill for Michael Jackson’s new music video didn’t get a sneak preview.

That’s because Jackson’s 11-minute ″Black or White″ video, from his upcoming ″Dangerous″ album, was not available in Japan ahead of its debut Thursday night in United States and 26 other countries.

That Japanese executives were unable to see the video ahead of its release is a sign of the freedom Sony Corp. has granted its U.S. entertainment subsidiaries, CBS Records and Columbia Pictures, which produced the video.

″We haven’t even received a master tape,″ said Naohiro Kondo, an official at Epic-Sony Records, Jackson’s label in Japan. ″We don’t know when it will be scheduled here.″

Sony bought CBS Records in 1988 for $2 billion, and Columbia Pictures a year later for $3.4 billion.

The company renegotiated Jackson’s contract for a reported $50 million in the spring and some analysts say the amount overestimates Jackson’s continued potential.

As a result, Sony needs ″Dangerous″ to be a major hit - on the order of Jackson’s ″Thriller,″ the world’s largest selling album, or his ″Bad″ - to avoid a dangerous financial loss and weather the slumping U.S. record market, the analysts say.

″Dangerous,″ Jackson’s first album in four years, is being released Nov. 26 in the United States.

Analysts say the album’s success is important for Sony’s record labels, just as the vastly expensive upcoming movie ″Hook,″ a remake of Peter Pan directed by Steven Spielberg, will be crucial for Columbia Pictures.

″When Sony took over the two properties, they had to pay a premium over their actual worth which they’re repaying out of earnings each year,″ said Darrel Whitten, director of Japanese research for Prudential Securities. ″As a result, when the revenue growth slows down, it begins to hurt.″

Weak economic conditions have cut into record sales in the United States, and also hurt profits in Sony’s main product line, audio-visual equipment.

″But they’re in it for the long haul, even if it’s painful,″ Whitten said.

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