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Viacom models Panama hat for Yahoo!

Semel to Google: Ha! Ha! Ha!

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Viacom has handed Yahoo! the right to sell advertising on its popular Comedy Central, MTV, and other web properties.

Yahoo!'s nascent Panama platform will provide contextual advertising on 33 Viacom flagship "broadband sites", with the possibility of expanding to cover a further 140 sites worldwide. Added together, Viacom reckons its properties rank at 11 in the most popular places to visit online.

Details of the financial carve-up between the two giants were not given, but the deal comes as little surprise given the bad blood over copyright infringement between Viacom and Google. Yahoo! is the only other contextual ads operation with the muscle to serve the likes of MTV, which claimed more than 25 million visitors in March.

Since Viacom began piling pressure on YouTube to swiftly remove copyright content uploaded by users, it has ramped up development of its own video sites, with their own embeddable player.

Trumpeting today's deal, Yahoo! CEO and entertainment industry veteran Terry Semel indulged in some ill-disguised needle aimed at Google over Viacom's $1bn lawsuit against YouTube: "Viacom is a global leader in entertainment that shares Yahoo!'s commitment to connecting users to the content, products and services for which they are looking while respecting copyrights and other intellectual property rights at the same time."

Despite winning the contract almost by default, the news is a coup for Yahoo! after it lost out to Google in the battle to serve ads to MySpace, and then failed to capture huge traffic vortex Facebook in acquisition talks.

Viacom's press release is here. ®

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