TV internet channel goes on air in U.K.

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LONDON -- NetChannel Inc, a San Francisco-based company that offers an Internet service via domestic TV sets, is to make its debut in the U.K. this summer, followed by a U.S. launch in the fall and a roll-out across Europe. Details of European expansion will be announced at the end of August.

NetChannel U.K. has not yet decided on an ad agency to run its national advertising program. Similarly, potential advertisers on the Internet channel have still to be finalized, says Spokeswoman Sharon Baverstock. However, San Francisco-based Asylum has been appointed in the U.S.

The NetChannel service is available via a set-top box, or NetStation, to anyone who owns a regular TV set and a telephone line. NetStations, controlled by an infra-red handset or a mini keyboard, cost $502 and a subscription to NetChannel is $25 a month. NetStations are manufactured by Cambridge- based NetProducts.

NetChannel is launching its service to capitalize on consumers who do not want the cost or complexity of investing in a PC, but who would like access to the Internet.

Available from this week in London and the south east of the country, NetChannel will launch across the U.K. on October 1, with specially formatted and personalized information gathered from the Internet. It is currently finalizing deals with media and programming companies such as Associated Newspapers' U.K. Plus, Conde Nast and Emap, to provide customized content for the channel.

However, WebTV Networks Inc, a rival service now owned by Microsoft, has already launched in the U.S. and is planning to enter the U.K.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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