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Netizens to vote in skating event

Excite and CBS Sports are teaming up to let fans of figure skating vote in a televised skating competition.

The barrier between TV and the Net is skating on thin ice.

In the most recent example of the two media's mutual flirtation, Excite today will announce that it will team up with CBS Sports to let figure skating fans vote in a skating competition Friday night, effectively turning couch and mouse potatoes into judges.

Friday night's skating event is far from the first instance of television-Internet convergence. In another recent example, Talk City announced a televised ad campaign including a "TV Crossover Link" that lets WebTV Plus users access a Web site creation page during the commercial break.

Dubbed "The Great Skate Debate," the CBS skating show will be broadcast live from the Chicago Pavilion at the University of Illinois. The show will be aired from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. It will be live on the East Coast and delayed in other time zones. CBS and Excite have not explained how they will tally votes from the delayed broadcasts.

"For the first time ever on the Internet, we are giving the online community a voice to affect the outcome of a live television show," James Desrosier, Excite's executive vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

Netizens will be able to cast votes on 12 world champion skaters, including Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi. Joining the Net judges will be about 5,000 fans at the actual event judging the skaters via handheld scoring devices.

Skaters will perform an original free program to be judged on a scale of 1 to 10.