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BET Plans Online Portal

The company that operates cable's BET channel aims to create a major destination for blacks on the Internet.

The new BET.com site is the latest effort to narrow what's been referred to as a "digital divide" between whites and minority groups, who have tended not to use the Internet as much or have the same access to computers.

BET Holdings says the venture will receive $35 million in backing from four partners, including Microsoft.

The new site will debut in November and will offer a variety of news, entertainment, finance and free messaging services. It also will sell items aimed at black buyers including clothing, books, music and gifts.

BET's chairman and founder Robert Johnson calls the new venture a "unique social and economic opportunity for African Americans."