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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Web world prepares for top awards
The Webby Awards
The ceremony will be attended by 3,000 people
Some of the dot.com gloom could be lifted when the best of the world's websites are honoured on Wednesday night.

The Webby Awards, which have become the most prestigious internet awards since their birth in 1996, will hand out 60 prizes to sites dedicated to topics as diverse as news, games, humour and spirituality.

A number of winners were announced on Tuesday ahead of the main ceremony, including BBC World Service, which the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences named best site in the radio category.

BBC News Online has been nominated in the news category, which will be presented on Wednesday.

Big show

Organisers promise that the ceremony at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, will treat the 3,000 attendees to films, animations, installation art and performances.

The show will be presented by Scottish actor Alan Cumming, and is set to include a new short film by Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations.

The BBC World Service team with their award
The BBC World Service team won an award
Among the sites nominated are Fray, up for three awards, and Teenwire, ChickClick and ESPN, up for two each.

And sites which have gone under during the last year are also among the nominations.

"It's certainly a bittersweet thing," said Marc Hedlund, whose Popularpower.com is nominated in the Technical Achievement category, but which went out of business four months ago.

"Winning the award would be an honour, but I'm sure I will be thinking about what might have been."

'Cancelled'

At least 25 of last year's 135 nominees have shut down - but organisers say they are using the ceremony to emphasise the positive.

"There have been TV shows that have been cancelled that have won Emmys and movies that haven't done well at the box office that have won Oscars," said Tiffany Shlain, co-founder of the awards.

"Things got a little out of control during the last two years, but what we have always been trying to do is say 'Good job!' in a fun, creative way."

Among other award categories are Activism, Commerce, Community, Education, Games and Weird.

The BBC World Service picked up its award on Tuesday, 17 July, with boss Chris Westcott sticking to the rule that acceptance speeches can only be five words long.

Public's choice

"Shukran, Shie-Shie, Spaseeba, Gracias, Thanks," he said - meaning thank you in the service's five main languages.

Two awards will be handed out for each of the 30 categories - one voted for by the public and one chosen for by the 350-strong Academy's membership.

Members include director Francis Ford Coppola, singer Bjork, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Oracle chairman Larry Ellison.

The first Webbys were held in 1997, when 15 gongs were given to winners at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco.

This year's ceremony starts at 2000 PST (0400 BST).

See also:

18 Jul 01 | New Media
BBC nets radio Webby
26 Apr 01 | New Media
Awards set to honour websites
19 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Webbies' Website wonders
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