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Yahoo bolsters news content with ABC partnership

The pact kicked off today with the companies airing "Good Morning America." Is this a small step toward Yahoo regaining some of its past glory?

NEW YORK--Yahoo and ABC News announced a news distribution pact here today, with some bonus teamwork thrown into the mix.

Diane Sawyer, ABC News anchor, stands between Ross Levinsohn (left), executive vice president of the Americas at Yahoo, and ABC News President Ben Sherwood. Greg Sandoval/CNET

ABC News will distribute some of its content via Yahoo News, and the deal kicked off today with the airing of "Good Morning America." While that may sound ho-hum at first, the companies said they will blend their news-gathering divisions in several ways.

According to Ross Levinsohn, executive vice president of the Americas at Yahoo, the news departments from each organization will work together on developing content for Yahoo as well as for ABC News sites. ABC will be the premier news provider on Yahoo and will develop original Web series around ABC's news anchors, such as Christiane Amanpour. Levinsohn said Yahoo will continue to create its own content as well.

For Disney, ABC's parent company, managers there may get a chance to tap into Yahoo's audience, which is still significant at 100 million. For Yahoo, it can strengthen its own news team with ABC content. Both companies will retain control of their own Web sites.

Yahoo just canned its CEO, and the company appears to be becoming less relevant every day--it is obviously desperate for some positive news. Yahoo may also be preparing for a sale.

While I'm skeptical that the partnership with ABC might mean very much, I can see the sense.

Once upon a time a marquee Web portal, Yahoo seems to be focusing again on what it does well: distributing news.

Perhaps the best example of this is Yahoo Sports, which has over the past few years developed into a serious competitor to ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and others. Yahoo reporters broke one of the biggest stories in college sports this year by exposing massive NCAA rules violations at the University of Miami. The story showed that a school booster provided players with cash, prostitutes, and cars.

Every day, Yahoo can deliver news to the millions of people who use Yahoo e-mail or its instant message service. Levinsohn and ABC News President Ben Sherwood said that the combined news organizations, with their deep bench of ABC on-air talent and Yahoo's large audience, will attract plenty of advertising.

Levinsohn asked rhetorically: "What advertiser doesn't want to be associated with this team?"