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Wink and Comcast ink interactive TV deal

Wink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WINK) and Comcast Cable Communications Inc. said Tuesday that they have signed a deal to include Wink's interactive TV services with the cable company's digital services.

Shares of the Wink closed yesterday's session up 1.44 to 9.38. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSK), the parent of Comcast Cable, gained 0.81 to 38.

The deal, which covers the delivery of Wink Enhanced Broadcasting and the use of the Wink Response Network, is expected to allow these interactive TV services to reach 1.5 million digital cable customers over the next three years.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wink's interactive services allow viewers to access program-related information, get product information from advertisers, and make purchases while watching an TV, through options available by remote control. The new deal greatly expands the reach of Wink's interactive services, which have been to cable and satellite viewers in the U.S. since June 1998.

In other interactive TV news, Liberate Technologies (Nasdaq: LBRT) today announced the creation of a $50 million corporate venture fund dedicated to the development and funding of promising interactive TV companies. Liberate said that Two Way TV, an interactive gaming and enhanced TV company, will receive a $7 million investment from the fund.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown analyst Peter Ausnit also initiated coverage of three enhanced TV companies. Gemstar International Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: GMST) were given a "strong buy" rating, while TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and Wink Communications were initiated with a "market perform" rating. Ausnit had already covered Liberate among others.