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Television drama to debut on AOL

Broadband members will get a sneak preview of "Jack & Bobby" two weeks before the WB show lights up TV sets.

America Online said on Monday it will broadcast a sneak preview of a new television series, "Jack & Bobby," over its high-speed Internet service. It's the first time a media company has debuted a show in its entirety on the Internet.

"Jack & Bobby," starring Christine Lahti, follows the life of a single mother raising two sons, one of whom becomes the President of the United States.

The show, slated to air on the WB Television Network in September, will be made available to AOL for Broadband subscribers about two weeks before its scheduled broadcast date.

AOL is a unit of Time Warner, the world's largest media company, as measured by revenue. Time Warner and Tribune co-own the WB Television Network.

"This initiative with The WB and Warner Bros. Television demonstrates a whole new way for television networks and studios to introduce new shows," Patricia Karpas, vice president and general manager of AOL Television, said in a statement.

Special series shows how the U.S.
can build a broadband network.

The deal is an example of intracompany cooperation, an ambitious goal of the 2001 merger of AOL and Time Warner that was supposed to yield big returns but has had little success amid resistance from division heads.

The merged company's units have slowly managed to strike partnerships. Last year, AOL linked up with Time magazine divisions to make stories available on the Internet service, which helped boost paid magazine subscriptions. Time Warner Cable is also launching a cable music channel, based largely on programming provided by AOL.

AOL, which continues to lose dial-up modem Internet subscribers, is betting that exclusive programming on its high-speed Internet service, AOL for Broadband, will help lure new subscribers.

Story Copyright  © 2004 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.