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AOL will not jump on freebie bandwagon

Says it is still picking up subscribers

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AOL -- the UK's largest Online Service Provider -- has confirmed it has no intentions to follow the lead of LineOne and scrap its subscription charges despite facing growing pressure from the subscription-free Internet service providers. A spokeswoman for AOL said that unlike LineOne, AOL was "steadily acquiring members" and actively promoting its service both in the press and as part of a national TV advertising campaign. Nonetheless, AOL cannot ignore the impact the "Freeserve phenomenon" has had on the UK Internet access market. Indeed it is this which has reportedly prompted News International, BT and United News & Media -- the major players behind LineOne -- to scrap the £9.99 subscription for the UK-based online information service in an attempt to compete on an equal footing. Executives at LineOne has been caught on the hop by today's Financial Times report. A spokeswoman confirmed that the story was "more or less" accurate although a formal announcement would be made later this week. She did confirm, however, that the subscription fee would be scrapped "imminently". The Times added that up to six million readers of the The Express, The Sun and The Sunday Times will be offered free CDs next month giving them the opportunity to access the Internet for free though LineOne. Speculation that the companies behind LineOne would "leverage their media assets" has been circulating for some weeks now although no one has been prepared to confirm the rumours. An announcement is expected this week about a possible partnership between Cable and Wireless Communications and The Mirror newspaper concerning its launch of a subscription-free Internet service. ®

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