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African-American site gets big four backing

Funding from industry heavyweights for new service

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Microsoft, USA Networks, News Corporation and AT&T have all dug deep into their pockets to help fund an online service for black Americans. The corporate giants have raised $35 million to fund BET.com which will be launched on 1 November. According to the New York Times, it will replace the existing marriage between Microsoft and BET Holdings, a cable media company that broadcasts content for a predominantly black audience. By providing news, email, e-shopping, and chat the companies behind the initiative hope that BET.com will help create new community on the Web. "Until now, African-Americans have found the Internet hard to use, expensive and at the end of the day they said 'There's nothing here for me,'" said Robert L Johnson, chairman and majority owner of BET. "We're going to change that," he told the NYT. ®

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