Freemans, the catalogue shop-ping arm of retail group Sears, has confirmed it is to launch an Internet site in November. The move comes despite a downturn in its home shopping revenue and overall profits reported in its half-year accounts last week.

A survey of Website develop-ment costs in the US has revealed a large disparity on quoted costs by Website developers and ad-vertising agencies. NetMark-eting’s Web Price Index showed the average quote for developing a small Website was $26,000 (17,000), but quotes varied from $2,800 to $200,000 (2,000 to 130,000). Quotes for medium-sized Websites ranged from just over $10,000 (6,500) to just under $1m (650,000).

The BBC has confirmed plans to develop a commercial Internet access service with computer company ICL. It is due to launch next spring. But BBC World-wide insists that the service, provisionally titled BBC Online, will use no funds from TV licence payers to develop the site.

CyberAtlas, the Internet research company, has released figures this month which show a total of 600 sites selling advertising, up more than 300 per cent on the results of a similar survey nine months ago. The company, part of the I/PRO Internet research and consultancy group, also sug-gested the male bias of the Inter-net is weakening, with a sixfold increase in female Web users over the past two years.

Netscape, the Web browsing software system, is fighting to maintain its market leading position against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The company is demanding that recommended “hot sites” featured in its upgraded “Destinations” listings must feature a downloading logo for the latest version of its Netscape 3.0 browsing system.

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