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NBC News ends JV with Microsoft for MSNBC.com; rebrands as NBCNews.com

NBC News has acquired full control of MSNBC.com

NBC News has acquired full control of MSNBC.com
and its digital network from Microsoft Corp. and has immediately rebranded the
site as NBCNews.com. The financial terms of the arrangement weren’t disclosed.

In the short term, MSNBC.com will reflect
the homepage of NBCNews.com. Eventually, it will become the address of MSNBC
TV, giving MSNBC TV its own dedicated address and ending an arrangement under
which the news site shared the MSNBC name with an increasingly
commentary-driven channel.

The deal ends 16 years of a 50-50 joint
venture between Microsoft and NBCUniversal, which is now majority-owned by
Comcast Corp. Under the joint venture, NBC News was the exclusive news provider
for MSN.com, which now will be able to negotiate partnerships with other news
organizations in order to appeal to the widest possible audience.

The arrangement married NBC News’ exclusive
news and video content with Microsoft’s technological expertise. The ties are
deep, and untangling them will take at least two years, the network said. During
that time — and perhaps beyond — NBCNews.com will continue to provide news for
MSN.com, Microsoft’s Web portal, which will contribute traffic back to the
network, said Meghan Pianta, a spokeswoman for NBC News.

Microsoft also will continue to sell
NBCNews.com’s advertising inventory for an undisclosed period, which Capus said
should minimize disruption in ad revenue.

NBC News President Steve Capus said the
site — one of the news industry’s earliest and most successful online
operations — would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by
Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public
Radio. Schiller joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.

“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,” she said.

Charlie Tillinghast, the site’s president and
publisher, said NBC News would benefit from “proper brand alignment
between the TV properties and their Web counterparts — NBC News and
NBCNews.com, MSNBC cable and msnbc.com and TODAY show and TODAY.com.”

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