CLOSE-UP: GLOBAL BRIEF; MSNBC gets off to a bad start

Holly Moore looks into the launch of Microsoft’s and NBC’s joint media venture

Holly Moore looks into the launch of Microsoft’s and NBC’s joint media


Though the advertising promised that ‘the revolution begins here’, the

US launch of the television and Internet joint media venture between NBC

and Microsoft was met with mixed reviews last week.

The MSNBC online news service was plagued by Internet glitches: people

attempting to check out its Website ( were turned away as it

became overloaded. Meanwhile, the MSNBC cable TV channel spent most of

its opening telecast talking about the ‘news’ it was making.

Later in the week, however, the news service earned praise by flexing

its media muscle as it set out to cover two of the biggest news events

of the year - the crash of TWA flight 800 over Long Island and the kick-

off of the Olympic Games in Atlanta. The fledgling operation beat CNN in

airing news of the crash and its follow-up coverage was impressive -

drawing on NBC’s stable of high-profile news talent and resources.

The Website, which was up and running the day after its ill-fated debut,

features multimedia information that is updated daily. News of the TWA

crash pulled together reports from MSNBC and NBC journalists as well as

audio and video clips that, with the right software, could be heard and


The network can already be seen in 22.5 million homes in the US and

hopes to launch in Europe and Asia next year. Despite this, the media-

buying community believes it is premature to sing its praises.

‘I think we’re dealing with a promise, rather than fact,’ Allen Banks,

the executive media director of Saatchi and Saatchi North America, says.

While he believes the joint venture has potential, he is reserving

judgment, stating: ‘None of this stuff is a ‘must buy’.’

Holly Moore is an associate editor of Adweek in New York