NBC gets bigger stake in MSNBC

NBC Universal is taking a controlling interest in MSNBC and may buy the news channel from Microsoft within two years.

Microsoft Corp. is stepping back from the MSNBC cable news channel that the software giant and NBC Universal Inc. have jointly operated for nearly ten years. On Friday, the two companies announced a new agreement that will see NBC taking a controlling interest in the news channel. NBC also has an option to acquire the property outright from Microsoft within two years.

The restructuring will allow NBC to "fully integrate the channel into our News operations and our overall cable platform," said NBC News president Steve Capus in a statement released Friday. Details of the deal were not released.

Launched in 1996 as a joint venture that would integrate the interactive qualities of the Internet with television, MSNBC also operates the MSNBC.com Web site, which attracted more than 22 million visitors last month, according to MSNBC.

Last year, Microsoft walked away completely from another of its Internet-era ventures. In late December 2004, it sold Slate Magazine, which was also founded in 1996, to The Washington Post Co.

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