America Online Inc. Monday took to the
airwaves with the launch its interactive television services for the
masses, dubbed AOLTV.

AOLTV viewers can watch television using their existing broadcast signals
and choose from a variety of popular AOL features including e-mail, instant
messaging, chat and a built-in programming guide. The service is connected
through a set-top box and comes with a wireless
keyboard or universal remote control.

The launch of AOLTV is the latest jewel in America Online’s “AOL Anywhere” marketing crown. In addition to AOL’s wireless
initiatives, the service provider is intent on bringing one of its branded
Internet services to online consumers anywhere, anytime through a range of
wired and wireless devices.

The service will first be offered in eight selected markets including
Phoenix, Ariz., Sacramento, Calif. and Baltimore. AOLTV will then be rolled
out to its American Online’s 23 million members nationwide, just in time
for the holiday sales surge.

AOLTV initially will be available through a set-top box from Philips Electronics Inc. , and will be
sold at Circuit City Stores Inc.
locations for just under $250 before the summer is through. In addition to
traditional bricks-and-mortar sales, AOL will sell the set-top box at its
AOLTV portal on the Web.

Basic AOLTV service costs $14.95 each month and can be added to AOL members
$22 monthly Internet services fees. Non-member access is provided for $25 a
month, in addition to separate Internet service fees.

Bob Pittman, AOL president and chief operating officer, said AOLTV adds new
and exciting dimensions to an activity most people do for several hours a day.

“AOLTV makes the TV experience even more valuable and creates an incredible
opportunity for television programmers to reach audiences in creative and
powerful new ways,” Pittman said. We look forward to working with many
partners just as we have on the AOL service to make this a win-win for
consumers and those in the television industry.”

AOL teamed up with a variety of broadcasting companies to provide content
for AOLTV. Deals with E! Entertainment
, Oxygen Media, Starz Encore Group, and others
comprise the current core of AOLTV content.

Barry Schuler, AOL president of interactive services, said AOLTV makes it
easy for American’s to combine two passions, watching television and the Web.

“Our members tell us they are online and watching TV together more and
more,” Schuler said. “AOLTV will make it easier for them to combine these
two important activities into one, even more rewarding experience.”

“For those who want to be able to access their online accounts from another
point in the home, this allows two people to be online on their AOL account
from different devices at the same time,” Schuler added. “We know our
members are excited about that as their time spent online increases, and
more people take advantage of the opportunity to have up to seven screen
names per account.”

The set-top box for the AOLTV service is easy to install and use, and comes
with videotape explaining the setup process. The specially designed
wireless keyboard and universal remote control are configured with special
function keys that provide one-step access to key features such as the
AOLTV Program Guide, e-mail, or the Buddy List service.

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