PBS Enterprises, a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, is being created by the Public Broadcasting Service, PBS said Wednesday. And it said a joint venture of International Business Machines and Merrill Lynch have signed on as a major customer.
The IBM-Merrill Lynch joint venture, known as International MarketNet, or IMNET, plans to deliver stock market and business news to an area that includes 96% of the U.S. population via a portion of the PBS video signal, known as the vertical blanking interval, not seen on standard receivers.
Part of this space is now used to transmit closed captioning, a system of subtitles that can be decoded to appear on the screen for use by the hearing impaired.
IMNET would transmit the data to PBS, which would send it out via satellite to stations for delivery over the air. It would be picked up on specially built receivers hooked into an office-automation system based on IBM personal-computer technology.
IMNET hopes to begin marketing a data-delivery and office-automation system based on over-the-air delivery later this year.
It cannot start until stations agree to broadcast the IMNET signal.
The service is primarily designed for the financial-services industry, but Joseph P. Castellano, chief executive of IMNET, said the low cost would allow the company to broaden its market to include such areas as the individual investor with a home computer.