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ABC: easy as 'net TV

Aunty is bringing her wares to the Internet, with the ABC today announcing a three-channel online video offering that featuring streaming and downloads.

Got a fast Internet connection and a penchant for public broadcasters? Then the ABC wants you to test its spanking new Playback service, a three-channel online video offering set to launch mid-year.

Aunty today announced that 5,000 Australians will participate in the beta trial of Playback, which begins on March 26.

During the beta period, three channels will be available: ABC Catch-up, which features content screened on TV during the previous week; ABC Real, featuring docos and natural history shows; and ABC Shop, which shows programs that can be bought as digital downloads from the integrated ABC Shop Web site.

The ABC's Sandy Culkoff said Shop channel programs will initially be available to buy for around AU$2.95 per episode on a seven-day rental basis. A download-to-own service is set to follow when Playback goes public, along with other channels including a news offering.

The Catch-up channel will feature shows from ABC1 and the digital-only ABC2, including Good Game, The New Inventors and Brat Camp.

Want a piece of Playback action? Head to ABC's Web site and register your interest. A caveat though: to offer your services as a beta guinea pig, you'll need to have a 'net connection of at least 1.1Mbps. If you're not sure what speed you're cruising the tubes at, use our broadband tester to find out.