The U.S. Department of Justice has requested information from Sony BMG and Universal Music Group about their talks to launch an online music subscription service, said a record company executive on Thursday.

The person, who wished to remain unnamed, said both record companies had received letters from the Justice Department asking questions about their plans for a site to be called Total Music, which would help the labels reduce the leverage that Apple Inc wields in the digital music market with its popular iTunes service.

A spokesman for Sony BMG, a joint venture between Sony Corp and Bertelsmann AG , was unavailable to comment. While Universal, owned by French media giant Vivendi, declined comment.