Microsoft, NBC to pull the plug on MSNBC.com marriage

Let's face it, other than the PR department of a certain cultish spiritual sect, no one is going to miss Tom and Katie – but what about the digital marriage between Microsoft and America's National Broadcasting Company (NBC), also now reported to be on the rocks?

According to Howard Kurtz over at the Daily Beast, NBC and Microsoft plan to announce their formal separation in the near future, with the television network buying back the remainder of the popular MSNBC.com online news site and rebranding it as NBCNews.com. The current domain name is likely to be retained in some capacity, possibly to promote the cable news channel.

An NBC spokesperson said that the two companies are "absolutely having those conversations," but insisting that "there is no deal" at this stage.

Kurtz's report claims only that "people familiar with the matter" are behind the information leak, with the emerging consensus being that NBC officials have grown increasingly unhappy about the confusion between the straight news reporting and content aggregating MSNBC website, and the broadly left-wing MSNBC television channel, which is home to well-known American liberals like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz.

Details of personnel restructuring have not yet been discussed in great detail, though it is speculated that while Charlie Tillinghast, the chief executive of MSNBC.com, would continue to run the site, it is inevitable that staff based in Redmond, WA would be forced to move out.

Microsoft and NBC entered their corporate marriage back in 1996. NBC re-assumed total control of the TV wing in 2005, with the two business giants remaining equal owners of the digital news portal, which is one of the most visited news websites in the US.