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Tech Industry

MSNBC tech show off the air

The Site, the one-hour TV show on computing and the digital world produced by Ziff-Davis for MSNBC, goes dark.

The Site has gone dark.

The one-hour TV show on computing and the digital world produced by Ziff-Davis for MSNBC has gone off the air, for all intents and purposes.

Ziff-Davis has not made an official announcement declaring the show dead. But according to several people connected with the program, ZD management has been vague about the show's status and future. These sources said all they were told was to stop work and not produce any more stories.

"Everyone is in a limbo," one source said.

Ziff-Davis representatives could not be reached for comment this evening. A notice on the show's Web site read: "MSNBC is preempting The Site until Friday for television coverage of Princess Diana's death...We'll be back on Saturday, 9/13."

However, a security guard who answered a call at The Site's San Francisco studio said the show was off the air, adding that no one had been to the studio since yesterday.

The Site has been on the air for about a year but was unable to build a substantial audience despite its prime-time slot, according to reports. Earlier this summer, there were reports that the show was going to be cut back to half an hour.

Launched in July of 1996, The Site employs some 65 employees and includes a two-person New York bureau. With connections to NBC News and Ziff-Davis's popular technology magazines, The Site was able to draw on impressive resources. Its anchorwoman, Soledad O'Brien, and ZDTV vice president and general manager Richard Fisher both had established careers in television.

But with dozens of competing TV shows, including four produced by CNET, the field for televised technology news was nearly saturated. While advertisers are attracted to such shows, pulling in enough viewers to make them profitable has been a major challenge.

Still, that has not deterred Ziff-Davis from pursuing plans to air a 24-hour cable TV network dedicated to computers, technology, and the Internet. Earlier today, Larry Wangberg was appointed chief executive officer of ZDTV: Your Computer Channel.

Wangberg, former chairman and CEO of Times Mirror Cable Television and chairman and CEO of StarSight Telecast, will help launch Ziff-Davis's cable TV network. Interim CEO Richard Fisher will continue to run ZDNet Television Production and will be executive vice president of ZDTV, according to the company.