MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) -- Four large media companies and Adobe Systems Inc. have bought part of Netscape Communications Corp., a start-up whose software helps computer users navigate the Internet. Netscape said Friday it has sold preferred stock amounting to 11 percent of the company to Adobe, Hearst Corp., Knight-Ridder Inc., TCI Technology Inc. and Times Mirror Co. Netscape is privately held, and the cost of the transaction was not disclosed. But the San Francisco Chronicle, citing unidentified sources, said the deal is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The move could help the media companies sell news electronically as decreasing numbers of people depend on newspapers for information. Adobe, which has been a pioneer in electronic publishing, is the fourth-biggest producer of personal computer software. ``The growth of the Internet is dramatically changing the world of publishing,'' said Jim Barksdale, Netscape's president and chief executive officer. ``As a key provider of software for online publishing and commerce, we are working closely with leading companies in the publishing and technology industries to better understand our customers' requirements and deliver the solutions for bringing their businesses online,'' he said. Netscape's software helps consumers and businesses use the World Wide Web, an important part of the Internet, the global mesh of computer networks. The Web is a service over which users can exchange visual and audio information as well as text and is believed to have great commercial potential. An estimated 3 million Internet users have access to the Web. Netscape was founded last year by former Silicon Graphics Inc. chairman Jim Clark and Mark Andreesen, who helped create the Web-browsing software. AP-WS-04-07-95 1452EDT This material is copyrighted and may not be republished without permission of the originating newspaper or wire service. NewsHound is a service of the San Jose Mercury News. For more information call 1-800-818-NEWS.