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Media deal aimed at PC-TV marriage

Major media firms ink deals to expand the content available on interactive, on-demand broadband network Intertainer.

The computing and television industries took another step toward converging today, with major media firms inking deals to expand the content available on interactive, on-demand broadband network Intertainer.

Columbia TriStar Television Group, Warner Bros., and entertainment and education firm Cinar have agreed to license some of their content to Intertainer, a service that will offer movies, music, TV, shopping, and information programming to consumers on PCs or television sets using high-speed cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) connections.

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When worlds collide With the agreements, titles such as Lethal Weapon IV, Godzilla, City of Angels, and The Busy World of Richard Scarry will be added to Intertainer's roster. In addition, Columbia TriStar and Warner Bros. said they will collaborate with Intertainer to create programming specifically for the service, while Cinar is looking to work with the firm on interactive educational programming, the firms said.

The Intertainer service includes the interface, programming, network management, and set-top technology. Subscribers get Intertainer as their start-up interface when they sign up for access that includes the service, which is conducting trials in Denver and Philadelphia suburb Willow Grove, according to an Intertainer spokesperson.

To watch films, for example, Intertainer subscribers will buy the right to watch new releases for $3.95 and classics for $1.95. The price will allow a 24-hour period to watch the film as often as the user wants, with the ability to fast-forward, rewind, or pause as if on a VCR, according to the company's Web site.

The agreements are another marker in the road toward both broadband access and computer-television convergence. As high-speed Internet connections become a reality in more markets and electronic devices take on each other's characteristics, firms such as Intertainer are working to put all the pieces together. Content deals are especially important, because eventually fast access may become available from a number of players through cable, copper phone lines, or satellites.

"As a partner and content provider, Columbia TriStar Television Group continues to see a strategic fit with Intertainer. Their vision and ability to be at the forefront of convergence is phenomenal," Andy Kaplan, executive vice president of Columbia TriStar Television Group, said in a statement.

Columbia TriStar Television Group is also an investor in Intertainer, along with Comcast, Intel, US West, and NBC.