Leading Indian news channel Zee News has been added to the list of an internet television service that will let broadband users watch 13 foreign business and news channels and seven lifestyle channels for free on their computers.
New Zealand's Triangle TV channel Stratos will also be part of the mix.
Among the channels that will be streamed online are Zee News, business channel Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, EuroNews, Russia Today and Spain's TVE.
Visitors to www.ziln.co.nz will be able to watch locally made programmes relating to travel, shopping, interior design, outdoor activities and aviation.
The advertising-funded service has been developed by Auckland firm E-Cast, which provides an educational TV channel for universities and schools, and partner Netside TV, at a cost of more than $1 million.
An online "film festival" this month airs 11 Kiwi flicks including Goodbye Pork Pie and Rain.
E-Cast online director Gresham Bradley told reporters paid online television could follow, but Ziln was not trying to compete with Sky Television. Instead, it hoped to provide a cheap means for programme- makers to get niche material in front of small audiences.
"Up till now, unless you get Television New Zealand or TV3 behind you with New Zealand on Air money, it has been very hard to get a production funded and to get revenue. Ziln makes that possible."
TelstraClear is backing the service through a marketing partnership. Spokesman Chris Mirams said it believed Ziln might have "the right idea at the right time". TelstraClear would wait for six months to see how Ziln fared and would then consider whether to "zero-rate" the television service, which could mean its 400,000 customers would be able to watch without eating into their broadband data allowances.
Ziln will show programmes at four different screen- resolutions to match viewers' broadband speeds and data caps.
Sky TV shelved its internet TV service last month, but TVNZ said its service, OnDemand, was being well- patronised by viewers, who were mostly using it to catch up on soaps they had missed on television.
- Indian Weekender / Stuff