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MSNBC expands business, travel

The media company is beefing up its Net business and travel offerings using NBC's news know-how and Microsoft's content properties.

Aiming to capitalize on the boom in business and travel sites, MSNBC is expanding sections in those two areas on its Web site.

The media company, a joint venture between broadcast giant NBC and tech behemoth Microsoft, announced today that it is expanding its travel, traffic, and business sections, which will offer selected features from the Wall Street Journal.

In expanding the specialized areas, MSNBC joins several other companies that already have made forays into those areas, such as CNN and ABC News. MSNBC is using the pull of NBC as a news organization and Microsoft's established content sites to beef up its offerings on MSNBC online.

Finance has been a very lucrative area because it attracts people who have money to spend and invest and who are willing to do so online. In the past, sites offered free stock quotes that were delayed to bring in traffic, and featured real-time stocks for a fee. With so many sites competing to be portals to the Net, however, real-time stock quotes have become free on many sites as a draw.

The expanded business section will feature more content from MSNBC's sister company, CNBC, a 24-hour financial news cable network, and the Wall Street Journal, which charges a subscription fee for its content. MSNBC will only run selected stories.

"Now with the new relationship with the Wall Street Journal and the expanded relationship with CNBC, we're going to be able to provide the best business news on the Internet," said Michael Silberman, executive editor of MSNBC.

The business section also will include an "MSNBC Investment Toolkit" from Microsoft Investor for tracking and assessing financial information.

Netizens also have shown time and again that they are willing to bring their travel dollars online. Analysts have long felt that people are more willing to use the Net to buy products that are standard in nature--such as airline tickets, books, and computers--than they are to buy specialized forms of merchandise, such as furniture, toys, and art.

The larger MSNBC travel section essentially will leverage content from another Microsoft property, Expedia.

The traffic section will feature localized commuter traffic information, courtesy of Microsoft-owned local content site Sidewalk.