France's Canal Plus brings internet sites together

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PARIS--Top French cable TV network Canal+ has completed a radicaloverhaul of its presence on the Web, converting its institutional Internetsite into a portal offering coverage of cable TV, cinema and sport as well as chat rooms and video games.

The overhaul, directed by new programming director Alain Le Diberder, wholaunched Canal+ into the Internet Age in 1995, also includes a name change.

The overhaul comes one month after the cable network formed a new division to manage and promote multi-media activities worldwide. Canal New Media ischarged with creating synergies between Web sites run in France as well asthose run by Canal+ subsidiaries across Europe.

Canal+, which is owned by French corporate titan Vivendi, has announced plans to realize synergies between TV operations and the Internet through the new division. Vivendi controls 55% of AOL France through its holdings in Canal+ and telecommunications operator Cegetel.

The new Web site, which promoters describe as thoroughly 'European,' fallssquarely into these international plans. Content on the Canal+ cinema sitewill range from new film releases to information on film distribution viavideo and DVD and gossip on the worldwide cinema industry.

The sport site aims to be 'the biggest football portal in Europe,' as well as offering coverage on six other sports: basketball, golf, Formula One autoracing, handball, rugby and volleyball.

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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