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‘Price’ right on ‘Net

Gamer to Web after Pearson's strong year

LONDON — Pearson TV has decided to unleash its biggest gameshow, “The Price Is Right,” onto the Internet.

The British company is developing a Web site, ThePriceIsRight.com, which will combine traditional game play with online shopping.

Pearson has been experimenting with putting its gamers on the Web through its relationship with U.S. venture Uproar.com, in which Pearson has an 8% stake. But until now, the company was holding back its most valuable property.

Uproar is having great success with an online version of Pearson’s “Family Feud” and will be involved in creating the “Price Is Right” site.

Pearson TV, which produces soaps and gameshows around the world and holds a 29% stake in the U.K.’s Channel 5, reported a 3% rise in sales to £355 million ($561 million) for the year ended Dec. 31.

Operating profit grew 11% to $107 million, thanks largely to strong progress toward breakeven at Channel 5. Pearson’s one-quarter share of the web’s losses halved to $11 million for the year.

Pearson TV registered strong growth in its German production partnership with CLT/Ufa. In the U.S., the conventional TV version of “Family Feud” was relaunched and became the highest-rated new gameshow in syndication.

Yet this solid performance from the TV arm was outshone by Pearson’s other three divisions — Pearson Education, the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group — which all advanced strongly last year.

Overall, Pearson posted a 39% rise in sales to $5.27 billion, largely attributable to the acquisition of publisher Simon & Schuster. Pretax profit grew 15% to $635 million.

Company has also unveiled details of several Internet ventures, including a preliminary agreement with America Online that could establish Pearson as the preferred supplier of educational content to the Web giant.

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