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Sun-AOL strengthen hand via interactive TV alliance

Large queue of investors join the Odd Couple in OpenTV

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The AOL-Sun alliance seems to have chalked up another win in the interactive TV arena. Sun-backed software developer OpenTV has won investment from a clutch of broadcasting heavyweights, and at the same time has struck a software development deal with AOL. OpenTV was jointly owned by Sun and pay-TV outfit Myriad International Holdings, but has now added AOL, General Instrument, Liberty Digital, News Corporation and Time Warner to the shareholder roster. Sun also increased its shareholding, but MIH remains the majority shareholder. OpenTV's software uses Sun PersonalJava, as you might expect, and the company has deployed it on 13 networks worldwide. It has also licensed the software to 20 set-top box manufacturers. The new investment, which amounts to $31.25 million, will be used to fund further interactive TV application development. Via the AOL agreement OpenTV and AOL will implement AOL applications, including email and instant messaging, on OpenTV's platform. That furthers AOL's 'AOL Anywhere' goals, and at the same time may help the company to get its services accepted by broadcasting companies. Meanwhile, as AOL attempts to bridge the gap between Web and TV, Time Warner seems to be doing likewise from the other direction. Time Warner's Warner Bros. And Turner Broadcasting have also formed a software development alliance with OpenTV, the objective of this one being to develop and market interactive TV applications that add interactive information and e-commerce services to conventional TV programmes. ®

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