Venture The Public Broadcasting Service, in its biggest effort to bolster revenue lost to shrinking federal funds, have agreed to join with International Business Machines and Merrill Lynch to deliver financial data and news to personal computer subscribers over a little-used portion of the network's TV signal, the New York Times reported.

PBS executives said they thought the venture could bring in tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue to the nation's public broadcasting system, which has suffered severe cutbacks in federal aid, the Times reported.

If successful, industry experts said, the venture also could create a new use for personal computers, combining television and computer technology, according to the Times.

The special signal would not be visible on ordinary television screens but would appear as text on the video display screens of personal computers equipped with special decoders.

PBS said this effort was different because it would be directed not only at users of personal computers but also at brokerage houses and money managers across the country. Moreover, PBS executives said, the affiliation with IBM and Merrill Lynch enhanced the likelihood for success. Individual PBS stations around the country -- which will receive an undisclosed sum from the IBM-Merrill Lynch joint venture if they agree to carry the signal -- will have to do nothing special to maintain the service, Mahrer said.