Sarah Ellison and Dennis K. Berman are reporting in the Wall Street Journal (a Dow Jones publication) that in recent weeks General Electric and Microsoft were in discussions about offering an alternative bid to News Corp’s proposed acquisition of Dow Jones from the controlling Bancroft family. Apparently GE and Microsoft couldn’t reach an agreement and GE may look for another partner to make a bid. It isn’t really clear what part Microsoft would have played in the deal other than providing a fat wallet and experience in partnering with GE in MSNBC.com and the MSNBC TV cable channel.
NBC Universal announced today that it has reached a deal to acquire majority control of MSNBC, the 24-hour cable television news network, from Microsoft.
The transaction could be the first step in ending a nine-year partnership between the companies, and puts NBC squarely in control of the network, which has lagged behind the Fox News Channel and CNN in the ratings race for years. NBC said it has an option to acquire 100 percent of the cable channel within two years.
The deal comes after nearly a year of negotiations to undo the partnership, in which each side was increasingly frustrated with the other.
But the companies said msnbc.com will be unaffected by the transaction and Microsoft and NBC, which is 80 percent owned by General Electric, will continue to equally own the Internet site.
As I mentioned on Monday, MSNBC TV and MSNBC.com are separate and distinct. No financial terms were announced.
Update: From bizjournals.com:
NBC Universal increased its 50 percent stake in MSNBC’ cable channel to 82 percent in the all cash deal. Under the new deal, NBC Universal will have the option to buy Microsoft’s remaining share of MSNBC to take 100 percent ownership within two years.
MSNBC (the TV network) and MSNBC.com (they are separate) get rather short shrift in discussions of Microsoft since these ventures into the content business fell rather flat. However, things should be looking up at MSNBC.com with the resurgence of the Web advertising business. In any case, MSNBC.com Selects HouseValues as the Network’s Exclusive Home Buying and Selling Service:
HouseValues Inc. (NasdaqNM:SOLD) today announced the company has signed a two-year strategic partnership with MSNBC.com, a top Internet news site, that designates HomePages(TM) as its exclusive home buying and selling service.
Under the terms of the deal, real estate related content and services from HouseValues and the company’s new home buying and selling service, www.HomePages.com, will be featured throughout MSNBC.com, which features content from NBC’s “Dateline NBC,” “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” and others. HomePages also will be the exclusive sponsors of the real estate classified section on MSNBC.com.
As part of the arrangement, HomePages will have a dedicated placement on MSNBC.com.
More details by following the link.