Liberty accelerates interactive with ACTV

Livewire, HyperTV to offer 'Net services to industryites

Liberty Media Group will team with ACTV subsid HyperTV to ramp up the company’s Internet production and interactive television services under the Liberty Livewire banner.

Liberty Livewire, through Hyper TV, will offer application hosting, Web authoring services, data management and e-commerce capabilities to clients in the film, TV and musicvideo industries.

“Interactive elements have always been an afterthought,” said Bruce Crowley, president of HyperTV. “It made sense to team with a company that has a broad reach in the entertainment industry.”

AT&T subsid Liberty has acquired three post-production houses in the past six months: Todd-AO, Four Media Co. and Soundelux.

On Friday, Liberty Livewire will build additional facilities to create interactive content in Los Angeles and New York.

Jump-starting the tech

“While providing for the eventual deployment of advanced digital cable set-tops is an important consideration, it is also apparent that a technology is needed to jump-start the process,” said Liberty Media vice president David Beddow. “ACTV’s HyperTV platform has the potential to create a major marketplace for interactive television services right now, prior to the ‘one box one screen’ platform’s broad availability.”

On a day when both the Dow and Nasdaq suffered record one-day point losses, the stock price of both companies fell despite news of the agreement. Shares of Liberty Media fell Friday by 6% to close at $48.63. Shares of ACTV closed at $18.50, an 11% drop.

Separately, at an investor’s meeting in New York Friday, execs with Liberty Media Group said the company is in talks to merge Japan’s Jupiter Telecommunications with rival cable TV operator Titus Communications, a company that as of last week is 60% owned by Microsoft.

Liberty owns 40% of Jupiter, Sumitomo the rest of the shares in the company.

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