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AOL, BSkyB in interactive TV alliance

London, Nov. 26 (Reuters): AOL Time Warner and Rupert Murdochís BSkyB say they are joining forces to bring AOLís online service to BSkyBís Sky Digital satellite channels.

The alliance, the first time the media giants have worked together on interactive television programming, will seek to exploit the explosion in email and instant messaging communications.

AOLís internet unit is pushing for adaptation of its proprietary service to new media formats, including interactive television and mobile phones, as its core dial-up access business shows signs of slowing.

Sky Digital is the leading digital cable outfit with six million paying subscribers, while AOL UK has 2 million paying subscribers, making it the biggest UK internet service provider.

Neither company knows how many Sky customers are AOL subscribers, but Sky is viewed as a fertile ground for cross-promoting internet products and services to its gadget-friendly customers.

The success of the alliance hinges on consumersí uptake of AOL instant messaging and email services on Skyís digital set-top box platform. Sky and AOL will share a portion of telephone toll revenues generated by AOL users on the digital service, the companies said on Tuesday.

Sky users are charged at standard telephone rates when they use the Sky digital remote control to tap out an email or instant message and send it to other Sky viewers.

AOL subscribers can get access to their email by signing in through the Sky Active digital service with their user name and password.

An AOL spokesman said AOL and Sky might cross-promote each other's services a few months after Tuesday's launch.

BSkyB was last trading down 0.86 per cent at 634 pence.

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