Microsoft Sells Its Stake In MSNBC To Comcast

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Comcast, the US telecoms giant, has bought the half of MSNBC that belonged to Microsoft for a reported £192m

Comcast, the US telecoms giant, bought half of the msnbc.com news website that belonged to Microsoft for a reported $300 million (£192m) on Monday.

The website, rebranded as NBCNews.com, will become a part of Comcast’s new digital division. Prior to the deal, NBC was the exclusive news provider to the Microsoft’s MSN portal. Despite the separation, NBCNews.com will still be a part of and receive traffic from MSN.com.

However, Microsoft has already begun hiring for a fresh news operation that will launch in autumn, Reuters reported.

No more news by Microsoft?

MSNBC was created by NBC and Microsoft in 1996, as a platform to experiment with emerging Internet technology. It consisted of a cable TV channel and a news website.

“The idea behind it – two major powers in complementary businesses joining to create a sum larger than its parts – was probably a good one. But in this case, the partnership born in the brash early days of the Internet prior to the bursting of the IT bubble simply ran out of steam,” said Chris Preimesberger from eweek.com.

The TV channel was sold to NBC in 2005, whilst the website continued to be jointly owned by Microsoft and NBC Universal, which, in turn, is now majority-owned by Comcast.

Even though the website has never publicly reported revenue figures, according to NBC itself, independent industry studies have called it the most profitable news website in the United States.

“Some really talented journalists have passed through the doorway of msnbc.com and taken us to the point where we have something that is an outstanding set of properties, and we value them to such a degree that we decided that we wanted to own them outright,” said Vivian Schiller, chief of the new NBC News Digital division.

For a while, users won’t notice any changes other than the new name and URL address. Jennifer Sizemore, editor-in-chief of NBCNews.com, has said that the full separation of two companies will take at least two years. By the end of this transition period, NBCNews.com will become the online address of MSNBC TV, and two separate brands will become one.

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