Lisa Napoli
October 06, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Honorable Ionatana Ionatana, prime minister of the tiny Polynesian nation of Tuvalu — a group of islands — never had much reason to think about television or the Internet. After all, many of Tuvalu’s 10,800 residents never had electric power. That’s changing, thanks to the Web domain name assigned to Tuvalu in 1994: .tv. This year, a group of enterprising Internet types saw a business opportunity and struck a $50 million, 10-year deal with Tuvalu to license the name. The Emmys bit in August, locating their official site at Emmys.tv. Others are quickly grabbing up desirable .tv domains. If you want a site called Free.tv, you’re too late: It’s already gone to one Cedric Johnson, who recently paid a hundred grand for it. ”Saudi Arabians were lucky enough to live in a place where there was all that oil,” says Lou Kerner, CEO of dotTV, which sells the rights to .tv. ”Tuvalu got an even better prize: the right domain name.”

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