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UK tabloid papers launch Web access for the masses

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CurrantBun.com may sound like a Web site for bakers, but it is the latest attempt by the UK’s leading tabloid to offer free Internet access. Cockney rhyming slang for The Sun, CurrantBun was launched yesterday along with The Mirror’s announcement that it will launch its own portal site on 30 April. The Mirror’s site will be called ic24.co.uk – as in "I see 24 hours a day" – but as yet this URL appears to be dead. Britain’s two biggest Red Tops could bring the Internet into mainstream culture while trying to cash in on the on-line boom. The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International (which also owns The Times and the New York Post), aims to bridge the gap between geeks and glamour girls. Yesterday it was offering special deals on new PCs and software, help with "netiquette" and "geek speak" and even listed stars’ email addresses. Editor of The Sun David Yelland labelled the venture "the people’s portal", saying: "CurrantBun will complement the paper in many ways and will offer opportunities and content that are not in the paper and vice versa." The Mirror has teamed up with Cable & Wireless, Microsoft and Compaq to become Britain’s leading Internet portal with a four-year deal and £50 million investment. ®

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