WTVJ.TV Offered for Sale at 38 Times Purchase Price

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New owner Mike James has decided to sell WTVJ.TV, which the Florida TV veteran bought at last week's auction attended by CBS Broadcasting, Allbritton Communications, Nexstar Broadcasting, LIN TV, and Hubbard Broadcasting, according to an exclusive AndyPurdy.com follow-up report released today.

Andy Purdy (AndyPurdy.com)

New owner Mike James has decided to sell WTVJ.TV, which the Florida TV veteran bought at last week's auction attended by CBS Broadcasting, Allbritton Communications, Nexstar Broadcasting, LIN TV, and Hubbard Broadcasting, according to an exclusive AndyPurdy.com follow-up report released today.

James also won at auction WKMG.TV -- which uses the famous Post-Newsweek call letters that stand for Katherine Meyer Graham, the late Washington Post publisher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

In total, James purchased 36 of the 279 TV station domains at GoDaddy's landmark web domain auction held July 19-23. James, who operates the popular broadcasting industry gossip website, NewsBlues.com, has listed on his site all 36 domains for sale at prices ranging from 25 to 87 times what he paid for them.

Among them are the 4-letter callsign domains for some of the most prominent TV stations in the U.S., which he was able to purchase for as low as $5 each. They include the TV domains for WCAU-TV Philadelphia, owned and operated by NBC Universal; WGCL-TV Atlanta, the CBS station owned by Meredith; WOIO-TV Cleveland, the CBS station owned by Raycom Media; WXIN-TV Indianapolis, the Fox station owned by Tribune; WKRN-TV Nashville, the ABC station owned by Young Broadcasting; and WTVF-TV Nashville, the CBS station owned by Landmark Communications.

James' first success was in an early auction session when he captured the domain for WTVJ-TV, the NBC station in Miami, recently sold by NBC Universal to Post-Newsweek for $205 million.

"NewsBlues regularly reports on each of the television stations corresponding to domain names I purchased," James wrote in an email to AndyPurdy.com.

"Station call letters are decreasingly part of a web domain," he explained. "Today, U.S. TV stations rarely refer to themselves by their station call letters. The value of a dot.TV domain is reduced to little more than a domain forward and, as a result, the value is extremely diminished."

An Internet services expert at LIN TV disagreed, saying, "We have over 600 brands to protect including our callsigns, and stations may end up using their call letters more and more instead of their channel numbers."

At the GoDaddy auction, LIN TV purchased 8 TV station domains representing 8 of its stations, including WUPW-TV Toledo, WOGC-TV Grand Rapids, and WWLP-TV, which stands for William L. Putnam, founder of the Springfield, Massachusetts NBC station. The domain for WIVB-TV, LIN's CBS station in Buffalo, was bid up to $1,105 and was the biggest performer of the auction.

"We can't afford to let these domains fall into the wrong hands," said LIN's technical contact, who preferred not to be named. He pointed out that WUPW.TV was still parked at GoDaddy, as it had been all year, and was displaying pay-per-click ads for Toledo Mud Hens Tickets and 6 other Toledo businesses.

Although they brought no advertising revenue to the station, the ads were automatically placed on the website by Google's ad syndication engine, which determined that WUPW-TV was a broadcaster in Toledo. Visitors were also directed to related searches for the Toledo Blade and the CBS station in Toledo, one of WUPW-TV's competitors.

In the Internet world of machine-readable text, where online documents can be automatically searched, indexed, sorted, and ranked, television callsigns can serve as highly efficient search terms. There are over 400,000 possible 4-letter combinations, but only a tiny fraction of them spell out words in any known language. Thus, including a station's callsign in a query can produce the highest percentage of search results that relate to the station. This has value in searches, for instance, for news articles, job listings, or local programs and events.

In "The Domain Name Industry Brief," released in June, 2007, VeriSign observed that the explosion of online video has given great opportunity for the dot-TV top-level domain, and the number of dot-TV registrations has increased more than 100% year after year. The report notes that "the power of the .tv extension is, in part, that 'TV' means the same thing to people in China as it does to people in Spain or the United States."

Although dot-TV domains are still not as well-known as dot-com domains, a Google search earlier today for any dot-TV web pages generated 67.5 million search results. Some networks, such as TNT.TV and WE.TV, heavily promote their dot-TV brands. Other broadcasters in the future may use their dot-TV domains to deliver device-specific content, much like dot-mobi is currently used to deliver content optimized for mobile devices.

"Flem" Lemond, head of DNAV Inc., another active buyer at the GoDaddy auction, suggested that the dot-tv device could be similar to the Internet appliance provided by NetFlix for online movie rentals. "You turn it on and overnight it downloads television programs from the TV station," he said.

Lemond bought 25 of the TV station domains at auction. When interviewed by AndyPurdy.com, he claimed that he was not aware of any relationship between the domains he purchased and existing television stations, and that he is instead driven by a deep conviction that the Internet will one day become a supranatural sentient organism. Nonetheless, he gave his assurance that he is not out to annoy the broadcast industry, and can easily be reached to amicably resolve any dispute with a station.

The TV callsign domain auction was the largest ever of its kind, and came as a result of the expiration of the domains when they were not renewed several weeks ago by the original domain registrant, a Florida resident with no apparent ties to the broadcasting industry.

The auction was not advertised or promoted by either GoDaddy or the registrant, but according to the service agreement between them, GoDaddy had the right to put the domains up for auction and allow anyone on the Internet to place anonymous bids online for any or all of them.

Window to the World Communications acquired the domain for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago that launched the hit show, "Siskel and Ebert."

The domain for WKBW-TV, the ABC station in Buffalo, owned by Granite Broadcasting, was sold to NABET-CWA Local 51025. Members of NABET 25 are currently engaged in a protest campaign against WKBW-TV.

Along with LIN TV, several other media giants were successful bidders at the GoDaddy auction. Nexstar Broadcasting managed to win multiple auctions that closed within seconds of one another, and snapped up almost all the domains related to its stations. However, for WBRE-TV Wilkes-Barre, Nexstar was outbid by Mike James of NewsBlues.

Hubbard Broadcasting captured the domain for its NBC station in Albany, WNYT-TV.

Allbritton Communications used the services of Irides, an Internet solution provider in Northern Virginia, to purchase all the domains related to its stations. Chief among them were WBMA-TV, the ABC station in Birmingham, Alabama, and WHTM-TV, the ABC station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Also up for auction were the domains for 3 CBS owned-and-operated stations: KPIX-TV San Francisco, KTVT-TV Dallas/Ft. Worth, and KCCO-TV Minneapolis/St. Paul. For these, CBS Broadcasting used the services of MarkMonitor, which successfully purchased all three and immediately transferred them to CBS. MarkMonitor specializes in protection against "brandjacking" for many Fortune 100 companies. On its home page, MarkMonitor states, "Cybersquatting is the
most common form of brand defamation totaling over $1B annually."

For a complete list of auction results and successful bidders, visit AndyPurdy.com/alert.

Andy Purdy, publisher of AndyPurdy.com, served as the U.S. "Cyber Czar" for two years in his role heading the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division/US-CERT. Before joining DHS in 2003, Mr. Purdy served as a member of the White House staff and helped to draft The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. Yesterday, he returned from Durban, South Africa, where he urged governments to partner with the private sector in fighting cybercrime worldwide.

Related stories:

Internet Domain Auction Threatens 285 U.S. TV Stations

Public-Private Partnering Urged in Global War on Cyber Crime

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