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iCAST Launches; AOL Blocks iCAST Instant Messaging Functions

iCAST (http://www.icast.com), the streaming media company created by CMGI officially launched last week. It also released a preview of its iCASTER player, which integrates a variety of features like instant messaging, a media player and web radio player.

The iCAST site features original multimedia interviews, music, short film and animation content as well as news, reviews and features. It also includes free personal broadcasting tools.

"iCAST is all about access: offering our members the best and richest selection of multimedia content, broadcasting and communication tools," said Margaret Heffernan, president and COO of iCAST. "This rare blend of multimedia, personal broadcasting and community is at the heart of iCAST."

The iCASTER uses PowWow's instant messaging technology from Tribal Voice (another CMGI company) to connect to other IM communities like America Online's. But just a day after the iCASTER's release, AOL blocked iCAST from accessing its instant messaging community.

Naturally, iCASTER was disappointed and announced they were contacting AOL to further discuss the issue. iCAST said in a statement that consumers "should be able to enjoy the immense benefits of interoperable instant messaging. iCAST believes that the Web is all about open communication and should be free of barriers."

Both iCAST and AOL were unavailable for comment as of press time.

The fight for instant messaging standards seems to be headed to Congress. Eight companies, including Microsoft and CMGI presented a letter to congress last week for a review of AOL's actions.

The iCASTER uses the AOL Instant Messenger protocols that AOL made publicly available in 1998.

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