Universal Music Australia and multicultural free-to-air radio and TV network SBS have teamed up to create a music label, SBS Music.

The deal, initially for three years, will see Universal manufacture, market and distribute SBS-associated concept and artist albums. SBS programs represent 68 different languages, and the label will source from Universal's local talent in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

"Universal has always been the most aggressive of companies with its local A&R and we have a large repertoire to choose from," UMA's Sydney-based managing director George Ash tells Billboard.biz.

SBS Music is expected to handle 50 releases in the first 12 months, says UMA's GM of commercial affairs Rod Cameron. He tells Billboard.biz this will include concept albums. One such example will build around the Tour de France, for which the label will produce a set featuring tracks from countries that the annual bicycle race visits.

The first products through SBS Music will be a CD and DVD from SBS' broadcast of the New Year's Concert 2008 in Vienna, and a CD and DVD accompanying the Jan 4 airing of the Buddy Holly "Definitive History" documentary.

Product will be released through SBS and Universal Web sites, through SBS' existing distribution arrangements with CD and electronic chain JB Hi-Fi and Dymock Books, plus music stores supplied by UMA.

"This is a physical and digital deal, so we're very excited about the new marketing possibilities it offers," says Cameron, who co-ordinated UMA's successful tender and manages the major's external business partnerships.

Corinne Schmitt, SBS products manager, will manage the operations and marketing for all SBS music/DVD products within UMA.

"Universal delivered a comprehensive and compelling business plan for SBS Music," said SBS director of commercial affairs Richard Finlayson in a statement. "They are the industry leader and we are delighted to be working with them. SBS Music is a key component to the expansion of our consumer products program that has already delivered great results in the DVD business and will, together with SBS Books, further contribute to content funding for SBS programming."

Last year, Universal and SBS teamed up for the "World Games" compilation of music used during SBS' coverage of the soccer world cup, and with a competition to find a theme song for Australia's "Socceroos" team.