NBC News is negotiating to buy Microsoft's portion of MSNBC.com, potentially severing a joint venture that began nearly 17 years ago. An NBC News spokeswoman said by email that "conversations are taking place," but "there is no deal." Microsoft declined to comment. (At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz writes that an announcement is imminent and that MSNBC.com will be rebranded as NBCNews.com.)
The deal would break up a venture first announced in 1995. Back then, Microsoft said it would invest $220 million for a 50% stake in the MSNBC cable channel and its website. The TV partnership dissolved in 2005, and NBC acquired a majority stake. But the sides continued to share ownership of MSNBC.com, a popular news website. Although the MSNBC TV channel has become known as a left-leaning counterpart to Fox News, the website offers more straightforward news from various sources.