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New ABC site to dabble in show business

The Disney-owned network is relaunching ABC.com in an attempt to become a purveyor of entertainment information and appeal to a younger audience.

Walt Disney-owned television network ABC is relaunching its ABC.com Web site Thursday in an attempt to become a purveyor of entertainment information.

ABC.com's relaunch underscores an ongoing effort by Disney to sort out its mixture of Internet assets, which were once under the control of a separately run online division. Lately, the online operations of sites such as ESPN.com, ABCNews.com and ABC.com have come back under the control of their respective TV businesses.

The entertainment giant formerly placed its Internet bet on Go.com, a Web portal that was created from its acquisition of search engine Infoseek. Disney then bundled its other name-brand Web assets into a separately traded company called the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG).

Today, WDIG is a shell of its former self, and Disney has shuttered the Go.com portal to focus instead on its "vertical" Web brands.

"We don't want to be a portal; we are about entertainment content," said Harry Lin, vice president of content at ABC.com.

Up until now, ABC.com has mainly served as a promotional vehicle for its parent company's TV programs. Now, as part of the relaunch, ABC.com will continue to promote programs, but will also include general entertainment news and features through Us Weekly magazine. In addition, Disney will fold entertainment site MrShowbiz.com into Us Weekly's Internet programming.

Earlier this year, Disney joined Rolling Stone publisher Wenner Media to create a new publishing company called Us Weekly. As part of the deal, Disney acquired the rights to control the publishing house's online efforts.

Lin said that folding Us Weekly's content into the new site is a move to appeal to a younger audience. Like many other content sites, ABC.com will be supported by advertising revenue.