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Disney launches interactive site for mums

While Eisner invests in web content studio

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Disney is launching a new website, Disney Family, aimed specifically at mums. The media giant says the site will host user generated articles, and will eventually form a "Parent Pedia", with information on hundreds of subjects of interest to mums and dads.

The move is seen as something of a departure for the firm, which has so far kept its distance from the web. Although it has vigourously defended its trademarks and copyrights, and used the web to promote its own products, this is its first foray into the world of interactive webbery.

The site will go live later this week, but will be in beta until the summer.

Forrester Research principal analyst Josh Bernoff said the launch was "uncharacteristic" of Disney, noting that the firm tends to prefer to be completely in control.

"To get community right, you need to have the right mix between homegrown content plus the ability to loop in people and content from outside. That takes guts because you don't really know what users are going to say," he told Associated Press.

Disney Online executive vice president Paul Yanover said the company was responding to consumer demand. Parents want openness, he said, along with content from Disney as well.

Yanover is clear that it will not all be a Disney promotion: the site will feature Disney content, and will promote Disney products, but it will also carry other advertising to pay its way, and maybe make a bit of extra cash.

In this context, he says, Disney doesn't just mean Disney products, it is all about being a trusted brand.

In related news, ex-Disney CEO Michael Eisner has also launched a new venture this week. His VC firm is backing a startup studio, Vuguru, that produces film content for the net, portable media devices and mobile phones.

Its first project is a series called Prom Queen, a mystery set in the final two weeks of high school. Each of the 80 episodes is just 90 seconds long, and can be accessed from 2 April via YouTube, PromQueen.tv, and ElleGirl.com. ®

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