The Encyclopaedia Britannica, afraid of becoming just a dusty relic of the pre-computer age, said it is making its 32-volume set available for free on the Internet. The Rolls-Royce of encyclopedias will be available on the company's retooled Web site, www.britannica.com. Britannica sales have dropped sharply and its work force has shrunk since encyclopedias became available on compact discs.

Qwest Communications faces a $2 million fine after switching consumers' long-distance providers based on "authorizations" from a dead dog and other disputed sources, the Federal Communications Commission said. The FCC proposed a $2.08 million fine after finding 22 alleged cases of falsified authorization for a long-distance service change and eight cases of inadequate authorization--a practice known as "slamming."

The FCC tomorrow will take the first steps toward digital radio broadcasting, a move that eventually could benefit companies such as Lucent Technologies and cost radio stations $30,000 to $200,000 each for new equipment. After seven decades of analog broadcasting, government and industry are ready to move to a new format that allows new product and service opportunities. The FCC will consider a draft proposal outlining criteria and goals for this transition.

Republic New York said it delayed a shareholder vote on the bank's proposed $10.3 billion takeover by HSBC Holdings as it investigates its involvement in a client's alleged $1 billion fraud. Martin Armstrong, chairman of Princeton Economics International, an investment adviser, was indicted last month by a federal grand jury for allegedly defrauding Japanese corporate investors of almost $1 billion with the help of a Republic executive.

EARNINGS

Computer Associates, the nation's fourth-largest software maker, said its fiscal second-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $334.5 million, as more businesses bought its corporate software and consulting services.

Excite At Home, which provides high-speed Internet access, said its third-quarter loss widened, matching expectations, as revenue nearly doubled and the company added 220,000 new subscribers. The net loss rose to $498.6 million from $23.3 million a year earlier.

Johnson & Johnson said third-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $1.1 billion, as it sold more drugs, such as the anemia treatment Procrit, and more medical devices.

Pfizer said third-quarter profit from continuing operations rose to $906 million from $667 million in the year-earlier period as it sold more drugs for depression and heart conditions as well as its anti-impotence pill, Viagra. Pfizer took a charge of $205 million on inventories of the antibiotic Trovan. That made net income $701 million.

Philip Morris said its third-quarter profit rose 2 percent, to $2.1 billion, as its Kraft food unit boosted sales with new products and cut costs.

Reynolds Metals said third-quarter profit fell to $36 million after taking a charge of $9 million for expenses related to its proposed merger with Alcoa. In the year-ago quarter Richmond-based Reynolds had a gain of $201 million from selling its North American can business and a charge of $60 million to retire debt. The items made net income $202 million.

Texas Instruments' third-quarter profit rose almost 150 percent, to $383 million, driven by strong demand for semiconductors used in cell phones, modems and other communications devices. The company had $37 million in excluding one-time expenses and gains in the recent period, and $9 million in one-time factors in the 1998 quarter.

LOCAL BUSINESS

Carlyle Group, a District investment firm, agreed to buy Panolam Industries Holding from Gemstar Capital Partners II through a subsidiary for about $402 million. Panolam is a maker of laminates.