NBC brings the news to PC’s

NBC is bringing its news programs to your office computer.

The network is teaming up with IBM and NuMedia Corp. to provide its NBC News and CNBC cablecast on personal computers. NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., will conduct the experiment, dubbed Desktop News, with a feed of daily programming to corporate customers via satellite, though it can also be shipped on cable and fiber-optic wire. The six-month trial begins next year.

“We’re going to have industry-tailored video newswire, using the news staff and vertical publications,” said Michael Wheeler, a NBC consultant and former president of Financial News Network, the predecessor to CNBC, now charged with overseeing the project. “As technology develops this well be another alternative in which people will get information.”

Wheeler anticipates hooking up with a number of publications focused on an industry, which would provide additional news material.

The first industry to be targeted will be drug manufacturers in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.

The system will work on any IBM-compatible PC, equipped with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows or IBM’s own OS/2 operating system. News will be stored on a server, or large central computer, and distributed to a network of PC’s. NuMedia’s software will coordinate the retrieval process. The video program is compressed and decompressed using a $ 1,400 computer card, called digital video interactive, from Intel Corp., and plays back at 30 frames per second. A slower version will also be available.

NBC “has been the only network to push the concept of digital technology,” said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Research Intl. Inc. in Santa Clara. “They’ve been thinking about how to deliver the news module and eventually how to store this later.” For the moment, corporate customers would review the latest news on demand with related text from industry magazines. The typical feed would be no longer than two minutes and will be continuously updated. By clicking an on-screen menu item, the video would appear in the corner of the monitor.

Bajarin noted that this technology will easily migrate into the home TV set, with viewers being able to capture programs on computer hard drives or optical discs, much like videotape recorders are used today.

No price has yet been set for the service.

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