Surf’s up for Par

10 stations to link with Internet supplier

In an effort to snare and retain the attention of Internet surfers, Paramount Stations Group struck a deal Thursday with online content packager Planet Direct, calling for the Internet company to provide its broad range of information to the new PSG sites.

“We’re doing it to provide much richer information and content than what we had done in the past,” said Anthony Cassara, president of PSG, which is a unit of Viacom Inc.

Planet Direct has agreements with content providers all over the Internet, such as daily newspapers, and aggregates the various information sources in ways that are easily navigable for Web surfers. They also provide community-specific information for some 150 cities in the country — accessible to all Web surfers.

Previously, the PSG sites had contained primarily promotional information about the network’s television programming. Under the initial agreement, the Planet Direct online services will be linked to the Web sites of 10 of PSG’s 15 stations, but talks are under way to add the remaining stations.

Among the types of services that Planet Direct will bring to the PSG sites are news, stock quotes, weather, maps and driving directions and personalized Yellow Pages. Planet Direct’s online service will be available to Internet surfers through the Web sites of the local UPN affiliates, or through PSG’s main Web page, located on the Internet at http://www.paramountstations.com.

One of PSG’s business goals is the use of the Internet for cross-promotional purposes with other organizations, particularly other Viacom divisions, Cassara said.

Planet Direct is a wholly owned subsidiary of CMG Information Services, which also owns Lycos, a well-known Internet search engine.

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