Granada takes Net lead

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The Independent Online

Granada Media Group, the largest ITV broadcaster and programme maker, whose output includes Coronation Street, yesterday unveiled plans to become the first terrestrial broadcaster to provide access to the internet via conventional television sets.

Granada will invest £13.5m and take a 23.5 per cent stake in the European arm of Powerchannel, a privately owned, internet-based consumer information provider. Using Granada Rentals' 440 retail outlets, Powerchannel will provide subscribers with a free internet set-top box and unlimited free TV-based internet access, with calls charged at local rates.

From July, Granada will make 200,000 set-top boxes available over six months. In return for completing a monthly consumer survey and paying a £30 refundable deposit, users will have access to the Web, including e-mail services. Granada shares rose 15.5p to end at 634p.