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CLEAR CHANNEL PLANS FREE WEB CONCERTS

Clear Channel, the nation's largest owner of radio stations, is preparing to launch an ambitious program of made-for-the-Web concerts, with Rob Thomas, formerly of Matchbox 20, slated as the first performer, according to the New York Daily News.

The shows will be free on Clear Channel Communications' 1,000 station Web sites beginning in May.

The project has been organized by Evan Harrison, who joined Clear Channel's Internet unit last year after overseeing America Online's AOL Music.

The concerts, which will be recorded live, will include John Legend, Gavin DeGraw and Jesse McCartney. The shows will have promotional value for the artists' CD sales, the News reported, so none of the artists will be paid.

The broadcaster hopes to have a national and a local advertiser sponsoring each online show.

Gmail from Google?

Last year, Google Inc. introduced its free e-mail service, Gmail, on April 1. Some of the initial reaction was skeptical. A gigabyte of storage? Free? No way! But it turned out to be true. Now there is some speculation about what the king of search may have to up its servers this year.

Philipp Lenssen (http://blog.outer-court.com/google-blog.html), who writes Google Blogoscoped, is among those who say the suspense is building. One of his readers suggests there are two possibilities: Gmail (finally) comes out of beta test, and Google introduces its own instant messenger service.

"If GIM (Google IM) goes live," Lenssen responded, "there will likely be a new round of privacy discussions. After all, Google would display its context ads based on what you chat about.

Free note storage

A pair of Web sites debuted recently to give people a place to store digital content, including notes, articles, letters, audio recordings and even home movies.

J.D. Lasica, a writer, and Marc Canter, founder of the company that became Macromedia, are behind Ourmedia.org. It provides free storage thanks to an agreement with Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive. They see the site as "a resource and global registry to bring freely shareable media to the desktop so users can create image albums, slide shows, jukeboxes and media libraries."

The other site, NowPublic.com, is based in Vancouver, B.C. Its founder, Michael Tippett, said people can be their own news reporter, producer and even presenter.

"Technology has broken the corporate news monopoly. Digital cameras, camera phones, blogs and RSS put the tools of the news trade into the hands of the public, and now real news comes from real people everywhere," Tippett wrote on the site.

The idea is people can request stories about topics or events, and others can carry them out. "It's kind of a clearinghouse for news media," he told the Mercury News.

Blog ads increase

Blogads.com, a service that matches independently published Web logs with advertisers, reports it distributed 1,685 ads last month. That's a huge increase from the 28 in September 2002, according to Henry Copeland, the firm's founder.

Such big advertisers as Audi and Nike have experimented with marketing through blogs. John Cate, vice president and national media director for Carat Interactive, an online ad agency, told the Wall Street Journal that advertisers are most comfortable spending their money through blog networks "with known publishers." Two of the biggest are Gawker Media, which publishes 11 blogs, and Weblogs Inc., whose stable includes 76 publications.

-- MarketWatch

Interactive TV guide

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- OpenTV Corp. has entered into an agreement with a unit of Gemstar-TV Guide International to integrate its software with the media and publishing company's new interactive program guide.

Under the agreement, TV Guide Interactive Inc. will use OpenTV's middleware in itsi-Guide interactive program guide. Middleware is software that translates information between two or more types of software. OpenTV said that the combined package will allow network operators to offer more subscriber applications and services and will work under a broader range of set top boxes including those made by Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta.

MLB games expand

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jamdat Mobile, a developer of mobile phone applications, has expanded its partnership with the interactive media arm of Major League Baseball to publish baseball simulation games for wireless devices.

Under the expanded partnership, Jamdat gets exclusive rights to publish baseball simulation games, along with non-exclusive game rights for fantasy, trivia and manager games, for all 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

The games will be marketed through Jamdat's wireless carrier distribution network.

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