The ACP stable of magazines will be the first focus for the Microsoft-Packer Internet joint venture NineMSN as it moves into the New Zealand market.
Although Television New Zealand has registered the Internet domain onemsn.co.nz, both parties are adamant that a joint venture between NineMSN and TVNZ is some way off, if it happens at all.
ACP New Zealand, which, like Channel Nine, is part of Kerry Packer's PBL Group, recently registered a swath of domain names, including several for its "trader" group of magazines, such as tradermags.co.nz, boat-trader.co.nz, buysellexchange.co.nz and collectable.co.nz.
NineMSN spokesman Aaron Pederson says the joint venture already works with ACP's print stable in Australia and says ACP's New Zealand publications - which include Metro, North and South and Woman's Day - "will form the core content of anything we do in New Zealand."
TVNZ's new media chief Reg Russ, whose registration of onemsn.co.nz was completed on Tuesday, says it's "no secret that we’ve been talking to Microsoft for a long time, and it would make a lot of sense for Microsoft and TVNZ to work together. Just how we're going to do that is still up in the air, but one of the options is to join forces with the MSN brand.
"It made sense to reserve the domain, but there's nothing definite at all."
Pederson acknowledges that NineMSN "has the mandate to be the online business" for its two partners, PBL and Microsoft, in Australia and New Zealand, and is thus free to act more entrepreneurially than Microsoft itself would.
He says he has had discussion with Telecom Xtra, National Business Review, TVNZ, TAB Sports and NZ City over content for the New Zealand MSN Web portal, which launches early next month, but won't be drawn on whether NineMSN will employ local editorial staff.
"The next step (after launch) is going to be seeing very quickly how we can leverage relevant NineMSN content in there, just as we'll continue to seek to add more New Zealand content. Then it'll be a matter of a strategic decision on the approach for Microsoft, NineMSN and ACP in New Zealand.
"We're very focused on New Zealand. We think it's an important market for us and we will be very active in it."