“NBC and Microsoft plan to announce a deal to finally part company, with the network buying back the remainder of their hugely popular MSNBC website from the software giant, say people familiar with the matter,” Howard Kurtz reports for The Daily Beast. “Under the plan, officials will rebrand MSNBC.com, which consistently ranks among the top three in online news sites, as NBCNews.com.”

Kurtz reports, “The cable channel MSNBC was originally a joint venture between the broadcast network and Bill Gates’ company—hence the initials in the name—but the television partnership was dissolved in 2005. The companies, however, remained 50-50 partners in the website.”

“NBC executives have grown frustrated at not having sole control of the MSNBC website, which does original reporting as well as aggregating content from the AP, Reuters, New York Times and elsewhere,” Kurtz reports. “At the same time, as the MSNBC channel has forged a separate identity as the liberal home of Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and others, the company has worried about the brand confusion caused by its straight-news site bearing the same name. And the cable channel has lacked a site solely devoted to pushing its personalities.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It was a stupid idea to begin with and the network’s and the website’s tech, tech reviews, and business reporting, at the very least, were always suspect because of Microsoft’s involvement and the idiotic branding.

We’d say exactly the same thing if it were AppleNBC, not that Apple, even in the dark days before Jobs’ second coming, would have ever been so stupid and hubristic as to enter into such a deal.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mike D.” for the heads up.]