The world's two largest record companies Sony BMG and Universal Music Group are fighting for the multi-million dollar rights to release albums from Simon Fuller's hit TV series American Idol.

Fuller's production company 19 Entertainment's contract with Sony BMG has expired, and he is keen to consider other offers to cover releases from future American Idol stars, along with singles and DVDs.

The successful bidder will win the right to release albums by future stars of the hit show, which has forged careers for hit singers Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino among others.

A spokesman for 19 says the US series has been the most lucrative of all the Idol series, raking in "more than $40 million (GBP22 million) at retail level."