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Agents tuning in to get training and information

There's the Disney Channel, the Playboy Channel, even the History Channel.

Now add the real estate channel.

Actually, make that real estate channels.

As realty continues to mesh with technology, at least two companies have started beaming education programs to real estate agents nationwide via satellite.

California's Real Estate Television Network began transmitting programing to Realtor subscribers nationwide in January. Meanwhile, Re/Max International, the giant Colorado company, has started its own satellite network for Re/Max agents who subscribe.

Both systems deliver training about everything from sales techniques to real estate law. The companies use satellite partly because that type of transmission allows some programs to be interactive, so viewers can not only watch the programing but also participate in it. Satellite also allows the companies to connect directly with viewers and deliver information almost instantly.

"Before, our agents had to learn something out of a box or travel somewhere for a class," said Bruce Benham, vice president for information services for Re/Max International. "Now they can do it all on the satellite network."

And just as the number of consumer television channels has blossomed from a few to a few hundred, real estate programing is growing, too.

A Seattle company is planning to roll out its version of real estate programing this year. And the National Association of Realtors is getting in the game: This fall it plans to introduce its own Realtor television network for members who pay to subscribe.

"It's just an alternative way to deliver training and information," said Realtors association spokesman Jeff Lubar. "It's not going to be the only way; it's just another way."

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