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Web publishers bond for bucks

Web publishers are extending olive branches to their would-be competitors in print and television in a bid to expand and eventually turn a profit.

Web publishers increasingly are extending olive branches to their would-be competitors in the print and television media in a bid to expand and eventually turn a profit.

In a deal announced today, Digital City launched an affiliate program with newspapers and other local media to drive traffic their way through its channels on America Online. In addition, Digital City will supply supplemental content to the newspaper's online sites as well as share revenues from national ads.

Such alliances are becoming more common both in print and television. Warner Bros., for example, recently launched CityWeb, which helps local TV affiliates build Web sites and grabs a share of the online revenues they generate.

"The program presents an opportunity for local organizations to ally with a national network that already has an established subscriber base of more than 8 million," said Digital City chief executive Paul DeBenedictis, referring to AOL's subscriber base.

Newspapers have other options, however. The New Century Network is an affiliation of metro newspapers that want to build their online presence. In April, NCN will launch a redesigned Web page that lets papers such as the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times link to each other's online content. It also lets them share the money gathered from national online ads.

The Web publishing market is getting crowded, too, with big players such as Microsoft and Yahoo expanding in this area. Both of these companies are offering localized content in news and entertainment, including city directories.

The deciding factor for many, analysts say, will be the quality of content that they can offer time-conscious consumers. Teaming up with the print industry is a more cost-effective way for online companies such as Digital City to build out its network into new cities, a company spokeswoman said.

Digital City made its announcement at the Editor & Publisher's Interactive Newspapers '97 conference being held in Houston, Texas, this week.