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Microsoft sells its half of MSNBC to NBCU

Website rebranded NBCNews.com

NBCUniversal has finalized its long-anticipated acquisition from Microsoft of the 50% of MSNBC Digital Network it doesn’t own, the companies announced Sunday.

MSNBC.com has been rebranded NBCNews.com while a separate website with a more direct connection to the MSNBC TV network will launch next year under MSNBC.com, which has already begun redirecting users to the new URL.

“Today we’re taking on a new name — NBCNews.com,” the website declares. “While our name is changing, our commitment is not.”

MSNBC was first launched as a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft in 1996.

The New York Times estimated the cost of purchasing half of MSNBC.com at $300 million. Negotiations have been underway between the companies for well over a year, a function of dissatisfaction regarding the mismatch between the MSNBC brand on TV, which has become closely associated with its left-leaning primetime anchors, and the website, which has no distinct political leaning.

For its part, Microsoft says it plans to launch its own news brand as an outgrowth of its MSN portal, but also maintain a non-exclusive relationship with NBC News to continue providing content.

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