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Yahoo on Content Collision Course?

Internet giant Yahoo's decision to create original news material may eventually change the way users look at the portal.

But for now the strongest looks are coming from concerned content partners keeping a close eye on how their own content is faring on the site, say analysts.

As an early entrant in the Internet portal space, Yahoo was among the first to license and aggregate content from a host of media partners. But a recent push by the Sunnyvale, Calif., company to create original material has some of those same providers wondering if their work won't suffer against a home-field advantage.

"Yahoo is trying to find meaningful directions that will give it some legs," said Shel Israel, an industry analyst and author of the upcoming book "Naked Conversations, How Blogs are Changing Business Talk with Customers."

"On one level, there really isn't a desperate need, because advertising is up," he said.

Yahoo has denied it is attempting to become a news gathering organization and said it is not planning to compete with its content partners, which provide the portal with the majority of its news, finance and entertainment content.

"We have no intention of duplicating those efforts," Yahoo spokesman Brian Nelson said. "We get incredible content from our partners, but in this case, we are covering largely under-reported stories and bringing them to our audience."

An example is last month's launch of Yahoo's first original news content with multimedia reports from conflict areas around the world, featuring veteran correspondent Kevin Sites.

Although moves like that may not concern most content partners, last month's launch of a series of exclusive financial columns from authors, economists and financial advisers may have, said Rafat Ali, editor and publisher of PaidContent.org.

It must have especially caught the attention of partners like Forbes.com and MarketWatch.com, said Ali.

Rafat did concede that, as the entertainment portal expanded use of its own content, it might concern some longtime partners who may worry Yahoo's material is going to receive preferential treatment.

Representatives from Forbes.com and MarketWatch.com were not immediately available for comment.

Although the approximately $30,000 a month content partners often pay Yahoo to display and link to their material may seem a scant sum in the Internet business, dividends can be great.

Poor positioning, or harder-to-locate links, could translate into reduced traffic for the content partners and ultimately lower advertising revenue on their own sites, Ali said.

This year, Yahoo has pushed hard to get involved in community-based content, created by and shared among individuals, with its Yahoo 360 blogging service and the Flickr photo-sharing service.