Web Wallowing at 'CCO

AFTER MONTHS OF dragging their feet, execs at CBS recently announced that the network itself would stay out of the national online broadcast-news fray, but would push its affiliates online. This winter, it will launch CBSnow, a hybrid of local and national news, which will have the network building and hosting sites for 130 or so of its affiliates. And although WCCO's Channel 4000 has been up and running for some time, the site will nonetheless be bound by the new rules: All sites have to use a "customized template" designed and maintained in a CBS "authoring center" and must include a link to a news page with national CBS content. Despite this parental supervision, Channel 4000 General Manager R.T. Rybak insists the site will retain editorial autonomy. He says that the CBS proposal is basically the same as the deal Channel 4000 struck with local publishing moguls Vance and Dwight Opperman this summer. "We'll get additional content," he maintains. "The biggest difference is that there will be more stories of national significance with a local news peg."

But will mandatory content from the network create an editorial crunch among Channel 4000's other partners, like the Oppermans, who bought into the site for additional local exposure? "Opperman is one of many investors," bristles Rybak. "We determine the editorial content, and we'll continue to focus on local news."

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