Cable TV network CNBC and Quote.com have held talks that could lead to an investment or even a buyout of the Internet firm, sources say.
People close to the matter cautioned, however, that talks were at a sensitive stage and that no agreement had been reached. Any deal would focus on providing financial news and related information to consumers on TV and the Web, a growing market and another example of the much-touted convergence of television and the Internet.
"I can neither confirm nor deny reports or rumors of business transactions," said George Jamison, vice president of media relations for CNBC, citing corporate policy. A spokesman for Quote.com also declined comment.
Quote.com, founded in 1993, is among a rising number of companies that provide financial information on the Internet. It provides real-time news and stock quotes and creates financial Web sites for banks, brokerage firms, and media companies. One such partner is Charles Schwab.
The Mountain View, California-based company's investors include Sequoia Capital (which also funded Yahoo), Highland Capital, Shawmut Capital, and Barra.
CNBC, owned by NBC, provides business news and programming during the day and, at night, news and entertainment programming. It is available in more than 130 million households. NBC, CNBC, Dow Jones, and MSNBC--a partnership of Microsoft and NBC--have teamed up to offer business news on MSNBC's Web site.
Sources said that CNBC has explored deals with other financial Web sites but that Quote.com was a leading candidate, at least for now.
The major television networks are expanding their presence on the Web to boost revenue and retain customer loyalty. They face competition from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and Time Warner, which are pursuing similar online strategies.
Business news has consistently been a hot market, especially with the growth of the Internet. Time Warner, for example, offers a financial news Web site dubbed CNNFn. CBS has a site dubbed CBS MarketWatch.
(NBC is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network, which publishes News.com.)