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MSNBC.com and its affiliated sites ranked as the Internet’s fourth most popular site for general news in the U.S., with nearly 50 million visitors in June, up 5 percent from last year, according to the research firm comScore Inc.

Yahoo’s recently formed alliance with ABC News topped the charts with 81 million visitors, followed by AOL/Huffington Post, and CNN.

As part of its online restructuring, NBC News plans to create a new online destination for the MSNBC cable channel’s personalities next year.

Although it will be based in New York, NBCNews.com will retain a significant staff in the Seattle area, according to Schiller. About 170 of MSNBC.com’s 300 employees worked in the Seattle area.

Microsoft is letting NBCNews.com remain in its Redmond office while it looks for a new location in the area.