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eBay TV on hold

People who want to hear the stories behind the items traded on the online auction site will have to wait till next year, says one of the television show's developers.

Television viewers will have to wait to get a taste of the "eBay TV" show.

Sony Pictures Television, which is developing the program with eBay, has pushed back the show's debut until sometime in 2003. Announced last year, it was originally scheduled to begin airing this fall.

Pitched last year as a way of telling the stories behind the items traded on the popular online auction site, "eBay TV" is still in development, said Robert Pietranton, a spokesman for Sony Pictures Television.

"(Sony Pictures Television and eBay) wanted to develop the show and not take it out to the marketplace until they have a show they want to present," Pietranton said.

eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment on "eBay TV."

eBay announced "eBay TV" with much fanfare last August. The show was seen as a way of marketing eBay and expanding Sony Pictures Television's syndicated programming.

Although online companies spent millions of dollars on television advertising during the dot-com boom, "eBay TV" marks one of the first efforts by an e-commerce company to develop its own television programming. Buy.com recently said that it is working on its own television project, which it plans to unveil this quarter.

Sony Pictures Television has not yet shot a pilot of "eBay TV," and the companies have not yet decided on a format for the show, a source close to the "eBay TV" project said. Sony Pictures Television has discussed the project with station groups and cable networks, but where the show would run is also still "up in the air," said the source, who asked not to be named.

"This is a property that (Sony Pictures Television) is very high on," the source said. "They want to have the right show in hand when they take it to the marketplace--and when the marketplace is ready for the show."

As part of the original agreement, LMNO Productions, which produces the show "Celebrity Boot Camp," was slated to produce "eBay TV." Although LMNO will still receive a production credit on the show, it will no longer have a day-to-day role in the project, the source said. Instead, Sony Pictures Television will both produce and distribute the show, the source said.

After helping develop the show, LMNO sold "eBay TV" to Sony Pictures Television, which took over the project about a year ago, said Eric Schotz, LMNO's chief executive officer. Schotz did not know the status of the project.

"They opted not to produce it with us," he said.

Sony Pictures Television's Pietranton declined to comment.

"eBay TV" is the second eBay project the online auction company has delayed in recent months. Earlier this month, the auction giant held back the launch of a planned insurance program for users who make their living selling goods on its site. Originally scheduled to launch this month, the program is now expected to debut in January.