Digital City tries affiliate model

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Local online service network Digital City, a partnership of America Online and Tribune Co., is changing its business model in an effort to sign up more local content providers. Instead of making local newspapers, magazines and TV stations subsume their brand name to the Digital City online name, the company will now seek affiliates under a looser relationship.

The move comes in response to fears expressed by local media outlets that their brands and existing Web presence would be lost in the Digital City network, which currently consists of 13 cities.

"This was developed as a direct response to some of the fears expressed by newspapers and other media organizations that partnering with Digital City or another local content provider would subvert their own brand," a Digital City spokeswoman said. The move also saves money for Digital City.

Digital City is currently available through America Online and will expand to the Web.

Other local content ventures, such as Warner Bros.' CityWeb project, work in a similar fashion. CityWeb, marketed to TV stations, lets partners keep their brand name and image prominent, though it does require them to use a variety of templates to upload news and information to the Web.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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