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Ticketmaster Online to change identity

USA Networks chief Barry Diller says the name of the company's local guide network, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, will be shortened to simply CitySearch.

In a move to underscore its focus on attracting local advertising and e-commerce revenues, USA Networks chief Barry Diller said the name of the company's local guide network, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, will be shortened to simply CitySearch.

Diller indicated the change this morning during a conference call with journalists after his company reported second-quarter results. USA Networks today said its second-quarter loss narrowed, fueled by greater ad sales for World Wrestling Federation programming and strong ticket sales to Bruce Springsteen concerts.

Despite the name change, sources said the newly branded CitySearch would retain extensive branding from Ticketmaster Online throughout the site. One possible scenario is to call the new service the "CitySearch Network," given its spate of acquisitions and partnerships this year, according to a source close to the company.

USA Networks is looking to beef up local services with its 60 percent ownership of Tickemaster Online-CitySearch. Earlier this month, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch acquired the local guide services of MSN Sidewalk for $240 million in stock.

The acquisition will boost CitySearch's network from its current 33 cities to 77 worldwide. Microsoft will receive a 9 percent stake in the company and will create a channel on its MSN portal to feature CitySearch content.

Diller noted that the deal with Microsoft will become a national distribution platform for Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, meaning MSN's audience will boost the local guide's own audience. He said the Microsoft deal effectively replaces the distribution he was looking for with his failed bid for Web directory Lycos, and that more collaboration with the software giant is likely.

"We had discussions with [Microsoft] on a wide-ranging group of ideas," Diller said. "Some will happen, some won't. We expect we will do more things with them with their national Microsoft site."