Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NCN Makes Some Strides

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NCN Makes Some Strides

Article excerpt

One year after it was formed, New Century Network has named a permanent chief operating officer, altered its mission slightly, and put its prototype national network of local newspaper affiliate Internet sites online.

Lee deBoer, 43, who spent 18 years in assorted executive positions with the cable television company Home Box Office Inc., was named CEO of NCN this week, taking over for Peter Winter, vice president/market development for Cox Newspapers, who had served as interim CEO for the network's first year.

DeBoer's appointment and the unveiling of the NCN prototype took place at a special session just prior to the start of the Newspaper Association of America's annual convention in New York City this week.

DeBoer most recently served as president of Media Futures Inc., a media consulting company. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of HBO and president of HBO International. During his tenure with HBO, deBoer's responsibilities included securing affiliates, developing content, overseeing diversification efforts and international expansion, and supervising HBO Enterprises, HBO's program financing and worldwide distribution arm. One of deBoer's accomplishments at HBO was the successful launch of Cinemax as a separate unit of HBO movies.

NCN is an alliance of nine of the nation's largest newspaper companies, which have each pledged $1 million to support the start up of the network.

NCN board members representing the founding companies - Gannett, Knight-Ridden Advance Publications (Newhouse), Times Mirror Tribune Co., Cox Newspapers, Hearst Corp., Washington Post Co., and New York Times Co. - sat on the dais during the session.

When NCN was formed a year ago, one of its initial goals was to help newspapers around the country develop local online services that would eventually tie in to the network.

With so many newspapers over the past year starting up Internet Web sites on their own, the NCN mission has shifted its focus toward integrating those services, putting the best local content from each online daily via the network and working to facilitate thee creation of specialty or niche content, which can be run in conjunction with targeted advertising.

For example, if five or six of the online sites are located in different ski resort states, special ski-oriented stories and travel information can be put up on each of those local sites and national advertisers can be solicited to run ads targeted to users of those sites. All newspapers involved would share in the ad revenue.

During the prototype period, soft-ware is being developed that will track users through the network in to divide tip the ad revenue based on user traffic.

Nearly 60 local newspapers are participating in the NCN prototype network, which will continue testing until the scheduled full launch in the spring of 1997.

The network is being touted by NCN as "The Net with a hometown point-of-view" and can be accessed at http://www.newcentry.net/.

Eighty percent of the participating newspaper sites are owned by founding companies. The other 20% are affiliate newspapers, primarily members of PAFET, "Partners Affiliated for Exploring Technology." PAFET is a resource consortium of six newspaper publishing companies whose mission is to assist each other in "the development of mechanisms for presentation and marketing information using new technologies. …

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