e-Business death was VNU decision

Did anyone notice this dotcom disappearance?

Those not diligently keeping tabs on the ever-diminishing British online news market may have missed the silent death of

A couple of months ago discreetly informed readers that it had decided to "merge" the UK site with its US news service "to provide more comprehensive news coverage", and disappeared.

There was no official announcement, no press release, and no mention of Dutch publisher VNU.

The site started life as a joint venture between US giant (now renamed INTMedia Group) and VNU during the dotcom hysteria of mid-1999.

Which should come as no surprise really - according to sources, was subject to market changes and the mood swings of its two owners throughout its short life.

But whose decision was it to shut down the site?

Management of changed hands several times - at the end of last year VNU decided it wanted out, and it shifted control to

From November 2000 the site was run by with the help of a couple of UK editorial staff and news siphoned off the US site.

But VNU once again became interested in a few month's ago. According to INTMedia president and COO Chris Cardell, it quietly bought the UK site from in May 2001.

Just weeks after taking control of, VNU decided to shut it down. "It was VNU's decision to pull the plug," Alan Meckler, INTMedia CEO told The Register.

INTMedia claims the UK site had between 10,000 and 20,000 page views per day. No readership figures were given, but Meckler said the email newsletter had around eight thousand subscribers.

INTMedia did not try and rekindle another UK version, and its British readers are now fed through the US-based site.

Meanwhile, the company has embarked on a general cull of its news sites around the world. Over the last year it has chopped its sites from 22 to seven - it is currently in Germany, Asia, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Korea, and Turkey (all using the name). The latter three are licensed out to other parties, while Japan and Germany are joint ventures.

No-one was available for comment today at VNU. ®

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