The .tv top level domain is the country code extension assigned to the small island nation of Tuvalu. Every country gets a top level domain, even countries that have almost no phone or networking infrastructure. Tuvalu decided that they simply did not need their TLD, since their entire country only has 400 phone lines, and only has a single 56K connection to the rest of the internet. So they sold their domain to the .tv Corporation for 50 million dollars to be paid over a period of several years. That works out to around $5000 for each resident of the island. They used part of their first payment to join the United Nations, and they are now using the money to help build their infrastructure.
The .tv Corporation did not make the huge profits that they were counting on. Because no one wants a .tv domain name any more than they want any of the other alternative TLDs. This situation was made even worse by the fact that .tv names have a multi-layered pricing structure that makes the "good" names fairly expensive, while the odd names remain cheap. I checked out the .tv pricing structure as soon as they went live. I was hoping to get my first name as a domain name. I saw that www.paige.tv was available, but for $1000 per year. That name is still available today, they have cut the price on it to $500 now, but I am still not going to buy it at that price. Most dictionary words use that same high level pricing that is driving away most of the customers.
There are a few words that you cannot use in a .tv domain name. I know what you are thinking; shit, pussy, fart, and other words like that are blocked. But no, those words are available. What .tv blocks is the two dirtiest words in the english language, AOL and Compuserve. You cannot register a name with the word Compuserve in it, nor can you register a name with the string AOL in it. You can't have emmaolsen.tv, themasterofaol.tv, thaoliphant.tv, thecompuserverycool.tv, gaol.tv, or even sldhbfgsidbfaoldklhfbvb.tv. I am fairly certain that AOL paid someone off for this blockage, although it doesn't seem to be mentioned or explained anywhere on their official web site.
The .tv Corporation was eventually bought out by Verisign. The domain names are still available, although the pricing structure is still outrageous for any name you would actually want to use. Visit www.tv for details.
I checked the registration website again in Spring of 2003, and found that the AOL and Compuserve block had been lifted, and that Compuserve.tv was available for registration.