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Free online service to debut next month

PointCast a Cupertino, California, company is expected to launch a new advertiser-supported online service that will be free to users. An official announcement will be made next month.

PointCast is expected to launch a new advertiser-supported online service that will be free to users.

The new service will provide users with customizable content, an element that could make the undertaking viable, said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications, a market research firm based in Bethesda, Maryland. "Anything that really targets customers should attract advertisers," said Arlen.

Code-named PCN, the new service will allow users to predetermine the content they receive by, for instance, choosing which stocks will appear in the ticker window and which topics they'd like to see in the news.

PointCast is the developer of the Journalist 3.0 personal information agent software available to CompuServe and Prodigy subscribers. The success of that software illustrates the demand for customizable content, said Arlen. "The ability to customize content is something people want," he added.

PointCast officials declined to comment.