MSNBC spreads its news overseas

Worldwide deals tied to U.S. election coverage

NEW YORK -- MSNBC is expanding its international portfolio with a series of deals with channels around the world tied to the cable network's coverage of politics and the November presidential election.

It has struck deals with NDTV, a news channel in New Delhi, India; Free2View, a broadcast TV network in southern Africa; Channel 4 in London; TransTV in Indonesia; and TVB in Hong Kong. The arrangements call for the channels to carry, either live or on tape delay, MSNBC's coverage of the presidential debates and Nov. 4 general election.

"We've been looking at expanding the global footprint of NBC News and MSNBC for quite some time," said Jeff Gralnick, special consultant to the president of NBC News for global business development.

The election season emerged as a great way to do that.

"We identified 31 hours that we could look at as a unit and offer for license around the world," he said. "They could either buy the whole thing, or they may just want the debates." Another package of profiles of John McCain and Barack Obama, by Peacock Prods., has been licensed in Portugal, Spain, Norway and elsewhere.

Some of the deals, including the one with Free2View, began with coverage of the primaries. Nielsen Media Research estimated that more than a million viewers saw MSNBC's coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries from Kenya to Nigeria on Free2View. Channel News Asia, based in Singapore and serving 25 countries, took portions of the primary coverage and will take the Nov. 4 telecast as well.

The deals allow the network to access their partners' newsgathering resources. NBC News already has a partnership, for instance, with Channel 7 in Australia that has just been extended for another five years. Channel 7 carries two hours of "Today" as well as "NBC Nightly News" and "Meet the Press."

"We're building a bigger footprint, looking for partnerships and relationships that we can develop with large networks, country by country, region by region," he said.