Howard Kurtz is reporting that NBC and Microsoft are planning to end their joint participation in MSNBC.
MSNBC was originally formed in 2005 as a joint operation designed to create both a cable news channel and a major online news outlet. Later than year, NBC took over operations of the cable channel, while MSNBC.com remained a joint venture. MSNBC.com used content from the various NBC news operations, but also did its own original reporting as well as aggregating news content from the AP, Reuters, the NY Times and other news outlets. Most of the aggregator content comes through Microsoft's deals with content creators in support of its search engines and various other gateways (like MSNBC.com). Currently about half of MSNBC.com's traffic from Microsoft's MSN networks. While any deal is likely to include some effort from Microsoft to continue to steer users to MSNBC.com, the story doesn't say whether NBC will continue to have access to content created or licensed by Microsoft.
Kurtz reported that NBC executives have been frustrated that it didn't control the online site, and thus didn't have a separate location to promoting the personalities of the cable network. One plan would have MSNBC,com chief Charlie Tillghast would continue to run the site, but that operations would move from its current location on Microsoft's Washington state campus. That plan would also cut the sites staff in half, with no initial indication of new hires once NBC's online news efforts are consolidated. There are also indications that NBC wants to rename and rebrand both the online news site and the cable channel.
Kurtz is reporting that while NBC maintains that no deal is in place, employees of MSNBC.com have already been briefed on the plan and how it will affect them.
Source - NBC, Microsoft Getting Online Divorce, The Daily Beast