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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Culture

Don't cry for me MSNBC

Employees at MSNBC are singing a different tune this holiday season: songs from "Greetings from Asbury Park".

Instead of "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas", the saccharine sound of "Don't cry for me Argentina" is wafting through the DuBaud household this Christmas season. Vermel is positively delirious with Evita fever; the CD is one play away from meltdown. Now he's become an authority on Mrs. Peron and is begging for a trip to Buenos Aires.

"Madonna is OK," he says, turning his nose up at the Material Girl's performance. "Give me Patti LuPone any day." Give me Burl Ives singing "Frosty the Snowman"; I'm a fuddy-duddy.

Employees at MSNBC are singing a different tune this holiday season: songs from "Greetings from Asbury Park". I hear the network has decided to move MSNBC's online sports team from Redmond, Washington, to New Jersey, where much of the TV team lives. Could this be a portent that more of the MSNBC Net team, most of whom are in Redmond, will be called back to Jersey where the NBC side of MSNBC can keep a closer eye on them?

Microsoft wants to zap MSNBC news to users whatever way it can. The latest scheme was to deliver the service to users of the Microsoft News Viewer, a PointCast-style application that was mistakenly posted to the Internet in early December. Now, I hear from the lucky few who managed to download News Viewer that the program may be gone from the Net but MSNBC is still broadcasting to it. Hmmm. Maybe Microsoft isn't canning the application after all. (Incidentally, I would be in hot water if I didn't mention that the NEWS.COM crew broke the story first.)

How about that News Viewer anyway? It was just too coincidental that the program "accidentally" appeared on Microsoft's FTP servers the week before the company cut a big deal with PointCast. Net conspiracy theorists, including me, think that the posting of News Viewer had to be a not-so-subtle message from Bill Gates to PointCast CEO Chris Hasset. The Redmondians may have wanted to show the PointCasters that it could just as easily do "push" broadcasting with its own content partners and technology.

Two companies that may want to partner--or just consider a friendly conversation--are America Online and Teleport, one of the largest ISPs in the Pacific Northwest. My spies tell me that users of AOL's new client software, which includes a custom version of Explorer 3.0, can't access Web pages on Teleport's servers. The problem appears to be a technical glitch, not AOL blocking out smutty Web pages. I don't want to know about smutty Web pages, but I do want your smutty and less-than-smutty rumors. Email them to me pronto.