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Surfing a world of television

September 12, 2005|By: Andrew Edwards

Anyone who has wondered what Cuban television is like can find out on

a new website.

Wi-Fi TV Inc., headquartered in Lido Marina Village, introduced

the site, o7www.wi-fitv.comf7, in August. It offers free access to

200 channels around the world, including two from Fidel Castro's

island nation.

"Freedom of speech trumps all these international political

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things," said Alex Kanakaris, Wi-Fi TV's president.

The business model, Kanakaris said, is an updated version of the

classic broadcasters' strategy. Viewers can watch programming for

free, and advertisers foot the bills.

Visitors to the website can select channels by country of origin

or programming topic, allowing advertisers to target viewers by area

of interest.

Topics include news, finance and music videos. A religion

category, added after the site launched, includes Costa Mesa-based

Trinity Broadcasting Network as well as channels from faraway places

such as Estonia and Israel.

Wi-Fi TV's international selections include channels from China,

Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. And one of the globe's smallest

countries is represented -- the site offers a live feed from Vatican

City.

Kanakaris described the Vatican's programming, which is available

for only part of the day, as "one of the coolest things on here."

Wi-Fi TV's American channels range from C-SPAN to a live camera

showing images of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's shark tank. Listings

also include American programming aimed at Cuba.

The company that became Wi-Fi TV was founded in 1995, Kanakaris

said. Developing the website, he said, took "forever."

The finished product, Kanakaris said jokingly, required "years of

toiling in the field -- and blood."

Kanakaris wants to add more channels and possibly delve into the

pay-per-view business. He thinks Internet-based video-on-demand would

be a far better way to watch movies than renting flicks at stores

that can run out of copies.

In the company's early days, Kanakaris wanted to make music, books

and video available over the Internet. He now wants to concentrate on

video.

"We've been working on movies and TV on the Internet, and we want

to be No. 1 in the world in one of those categories," he said.

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