- The future of the troubled internet venture, LineOne, has been secured after its remaining two partners this week committted themselves to a £12 million programme of investment in the company.
The move by United News & Media and BT comes two weeks after their joint partner, News International, pulled out of the free web service. Last week, NI launched its own dedicated service, Currantbun.com.
Industry observers had speculated that LineOne might well be closed as it first made staff redundant, then went from a paid-for to a free service, and finally lost NI, which co-founded the service with BT two years ago.
Andrew Burke, the managing director of LineOne, said: "The £12 million is to take us from where we are now to being one of the top free internet services in the country. We have 150,000 subscribers and, unlike other free services, we have 1.8 million pages of content."
NI has hired both LineOne marketing director, Susan Boster, and its product director, Christopher Lloyd, as co-directors of its newly launched internet division, News International Digital Publishing.
Boster has been replaced at LineOne by Rene Moolenaar, who has been appointed as sales and marketing director. He joins from the United New Media unit, where he held the same post.
LineOne will use the investment to overhaul the service employing a concept Burke calls 'mothering', whereby LineOne will provide internet access for other brands such as the Express or United's TV companies, including Meridian and Anglia enabling them to draw on the services LineOne offers, such as community, chat and personalisation.
LineOne will launch an integrated campaign to promote the overhaul through OgilvyOne, the agency appointed in the wake of Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy's resignation earlier this year.
Although both the Sun and the News of the World have pulled out of LineOne, their NI stablemates, the Times and the Sunday Times, are still under contract.