Navarre vet to build new company's staff.

Steve Pritchitt, former senior VP/GM of Navarre Entertainment Media, has been hired as GM of Fontana Distribution, Universal Music Group's new independent firm, according to sources.

Pritchitt will be based in Los Angeles and will report to Universal Music & Video Distribution president Jim Urie, who declined comment.

Pritchitt had been head of music distribution for New Hope, Minn.-based Navarre since April 2001; he exited the company Aug. 20, only a week after it announced wide-ranging changes in its sales staff. He joined Navarre in early 2000 as the head of its now-defunct online distribution platform eSplice.

Pritchitt will be charged with building a staff for Fontana, founded this year as a conduit for independently distributed product from within the Universal system and from third-party indie labels. Fontana joins the ranks of major-operated indie distributorships that include RED (Sony BMG), Caroline (EMI) and ADA (Warner). The company will initially employ about two dozen people, including a dedicated sales staff.

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