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Report: Microsoft may exit MSNBC
Newspaper says GE's NBC Universal unit and software maker are in talks to give NBC full control.
March 3, 2005: 7:06 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Microsoft and General Electric's NBC Universal unit are in talks that could result in GE buying out the software company's stake in MSNBC cable news network, according to a published report.

The New York Post reported Thursday that under the discussion is a change in the joint partnership that would give NBC Universal full control of the network, while Microsoft (Research) would maintain access to its content.

The paper says that Microsoft invested $250 million in the creation of MSNBC in 1996. The network's ratings continue to trail competitors Fox News, which like the Post is owned by News Corp. (Research), and CNN, which like CNN/Money, is a unit of Time Warner.

Microsoft has already been moving to shed some of its non-core assets, moving away from its media and Internet holdings. It sold its online magazine Slate to the Washington Post Co. (Research) for $20 million earlier this year. It also sold Expedia, its online travel site, in 2002 to IAC/InterActiveCorp (Research).

Meanwhile the N.Y. Post reported that GE (Research) would prefer to fully control MSNBC, especially if it decides to issue a separate issue of stock for its NBC Universal unit. GE owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, while French conglomerate Vivendi (Research), which sold its Universal Studios unit to GE, owns the other 20 percent.

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