Jeff Horwich: There are reports this morning that NBC is in talks to buy back Microsoft’s chunk of MSNBC.com. Originally the two companies went in together on both the telvision news network and the website of the same name. But this would be essentially the end of that relationship.
Rick Edmonds is media business analyst at the Poynter Institute. Thanks for joining us, Rick.
Rick Edmonds: Good to be with you.
Horwich: First a little history for us: when MSNBC launched in 1996, I guess it was, how was the Microsoft-NBC partnership supposed to work?
Edmonds: Well I think the root of it was back then NBC didn’t have particular expertise in building and managing a website, so going with the biggest company in that field made sense. At the same time, Microsoft was trying a lot of different options for expansion and they thought having some media of their own would be one good possibility.
Horwich: Like a lot of people, I guess, I thought Microsoft and NBC were still in this whole thing together. I mean the website and the TV network, they are still called M-S-N-B-C, but the TV thing has been over for a while?
Edmonds: That’s correct, so this would complete it with the website.
Horwich: What happened with the dissolution of the partnership on the TV side?
Edmonds: Well, I think as time has gone on and its been a big success for NBC — they operate their three news networks in a kind of interlocking way: CNBC of course very very successful with a niche business audience, NBC remains the flagship network, and then MSNBC is one of the three top cable news sources. So I guess they want to bring them under one tent.
Horwich: What do you think Microsoft’s interest is in all this? Have they sort of lost interest in the whole enterprise?
Edmonds: Yeah, I don’t think it brings much to Microsoft and it really has evolved in a way to kind of move past its roots. I mean, I’m sure they do contribute to the technology part of it, but that may not be as essential as it was back 17 years ago.
Horwich: Well, Rick Edmonds, media business analyst with the Poynter Institute, thank you very much.
Edmonds: Ok, good to talk to you.