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Court TV Buys The Smoking Gun

1/14/2001 7:00 PM Eastern

Eyeing them as programming resources, Courtroom Television Network has acquired two leading crime-and-justice niche Web sites, The Smoking Gun (thesmokinggun.com) and The Crime Library (crimelibrary.com), officials said last week.

Both sites will remain as stand-alone destinations, but will also be integrated into Court TV Online (courttv.com), the cable network's own site. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Court TV plans to draw on material from the two acquired sites to develop original TV programming, said chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff.

"With these acquisitions, we are able to bring existing and substantial new content under the Court TV Online banner that will strengthen our position as the destination for consumers interested in this genre in both television and the digital environment," Schleiff said in a statement.

Court TV officials said both thesmokinggun.com and crimelibrary.com have crime-and-justice video, audio and text resources that will complement Court TV.

"The opportunity to develop content for the network-be it a show, or parts of shows, or material for our daytime programming-is all there," said Art Bell, Court TV's executive vice president of programming and marketing.

He added that the thesmokinggun.com name will soon be appearing on the network, alongside content derived from the site.

Despite the fact that thesmokinggun.com was "leanly staffed," with only three people running it, "they have done a terrific job establishing themselves in a niche," Bell said. "They have become a brand name in digging up information."

Cited by Entertainment Weekly
as one of the 30 "most entertaining URLs in the world," thesmokinggun.com offers access to actual legal documents obtained from the government and law enforcement sources through Freedom of Information Act requests and court files from throughout the United States.

The site made headlines last year when it published the restraining order against Rick Rockwell, the participant in the controversial reality show Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire.
Most recently, the site garnered attention when it carried a video of President-elect George W. Bush acting up at a wedding.

The other site Court TV is acquiring, crimelibrary.com, only has two staffers and was ranked by PC Data Online as one of the Top 200 "stickiest" sites on the Web. It draws on writers with legal expertise to create feature stories about major crimes and trials.

Galen Jones, Court TV's senior vice president of research-market development and general manager for Court TV Online, will oversee all three Web sites.

Although a lot of dot-coms have come on hard times and are laying off staffers, Bell said Court TV will probably add staff to its new Web sites. Court TV Online itself has 20 employees.

 

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