Claude Nobs, founder and director of Europe's seminal annual jazz event, the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), has signed an agreement with U.K.-based Eagle Vision Worldwide that gives the label all multi

Claude Nobs, founder and director of Europe's seminal annual jazz event, the Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), has signed an agreement with U.K.-based Eagle Vision Worldwide that gives the label all multi-media sales rights to the festival's entire catalog.

Eagle Vision will represent Montreux Sounds, the archives' official owner, to sell the broadcast, DVD, audio and online rights internationally.

Since its inception in 1967, the Swiss festival has attracted the world's leading performers, including David Bowie, R.E.M., Isaac Hayes, ZZ Top, Count Basie, Radiohead and Basement Jaxx. The archive comprises more than 3,500 hours of performances recorded for TV and is worth "tens of millions of dollars," according to Eagle Vision COO Geoff Kempin.

Eagle Vision plans to unveil the first broadcast deals in late March at the MIP-TV trade show in Cannes, followed by the first DVD announcements in July at this year's MJF.

"It is our biggest individual project," Kempin tells Billboard.biz. "We've access to one of the greatest TV archives ever and a fabulous treasure trove."

He admits that the company still faces the challenge of clearing the various rights, such as permission from the artists, their record companies and the music publishers. But, he adds: "Many of the acts are signed to the major record companies, so we consider it to be ideal for us as a neutral independent to operate the rights on a worldwide basis."

Eagle Vision, which had already worked with Montreux Sounds and released "Marvin Gaye: Live at Montreux" on CD and DVD in 2002, says most of the archives have been recorded in High-Definition TV (HDTV) formats.

"Nobs had the foresight in 1991 to start recording many of the artists in High-Definition, which will be incorporated in the next generation of DVD discs. And TV channels are increasingly demanding high-quality short music specials." Kempin declares.

Nobs tells Billboard.biz that he selected Eagle Vision because he was happy with the way they treated the Marvin Gaye release.

"A major computer company offered us huge amounts of money for the archives, but [they] are my life, and my life has no price. I wanted to work with a small team."