Disney Launches Internet Guide

From Associated Press

Walt Disney Co. is continuing its campaign to become a major presence on the Internet with the launch of a new Web directory and search tool that caters to children and their parents.

The Disney Internet Guide (http://www.dig.com), which became operational Wednesday, joins several other Disney sites, such as Disney.com (http://www.disney.com), ESPN SportsZone (http://ESPN.SportsZone.com) and ABC.com (http://www.abc.com).

Last week, Disney announced it was buying a 43% stake in Infoseek Corp., the nation's seventh-largest Internet search and directory service.

"We have, in some sense, the leading family and kids Internet site on the Web. Our goal is to broaden that to become the family gateway on the Web. We're going to do whatever it takes to get there," said Richard Wolpert, president of Disney Online.

The importance of the Internet in Disney's long-term strategy was highlighted by the creation last year of Buena Vista Internet Group, which gave the various Internet operations the same status in the Disney organization as its bread-and-butter operations such as movies and theme parks.

Buena Vista Internet chief Jake Weinbaum reports directly to Disney Chairman Michael Eisner.

"The Walt Disney Co. has said the Internet is strategically important to us. We're moving it up to the highest level," Wolpert said.

The group oversees Disney Online as well as the Internet ventures launched by ABC and ESPN, acquired in Disney's 1996 purchase of Capital Cities/ABC. It also manages Disney's highly successful online subscription service for children, Disney Daily Blast.

Disney hopes the directory's search engine will become the Internet tool of choice for families because sites available through it are reviewed to ensure "kid-safe" content.

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