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CompuServe gets into TV

Couch potatoes may turn to being mouse potatoes as CompuServe and American Interactive Media, a set-top box company, join to provide Net TV.

American Interactive Media today signed a deal with CompuServe to provide couch potatoes-cum-Net-surfers with an Internet access package that includes a set-top box.

Following other vendors, such as WebTV and ViewCall, Interactive Media is developing a family of low-cost set-top boxes that turn ordinary television sets into Net access terminals.

The company hopes that its deal with CompuServe, the veteran Internet access provider and second-largest online service, will help ease the pain of connecting novice users to the Net. CompuServe says it already has more than 5 million members.

The set-top boxes are expected to be introduced this holiday season and will be sold at starting prices below $400. They will feature a specialized remote control and keyboard for surfing Web sites, sending and receiving email, and joining Internet chat groups.

CompuServe will provide Net access to users of American Interactive Media products through its Sprynet Internet access service.

Pricing for the service has not been announced. Sprynet now charges users $19.95 per month for unlimited access and $9.95 per month for seven hours plus $1.95 each additional hour.

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