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Microsoft Said to Seek TV Executive to Develop Xbox Shows

Microsoft Corp. is seeking to hire a television executive to develop original shows as part of a drive to expand its Xbox Live game and video service, according to people with knowledge of the company’s plans.

Microsoft has hired Tom Schneider, a partner at Stratis LLC, to conduct the search, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Two former NBC executives, Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin, have been approached, they said.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, is trying to turn the Xbox console into an entertainment hub, rather than mostly a game machine. The company, the world’s largest software producer, is introducing a TV service with programs from almost 40 TV and entertainment suppliers to draw more users to the Web-enabled product.

Original programming would help Microsoft differentiate the service from those offered by competitors including Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Some of the Xbox’s top-selling games were created by Microsoft and the company is looking to replicate that success with program it develops.

The TV service will include content from partners like Time Warner Inc.’s HBO, Sony Corp.’s Crackle and the BBC.

Microsoft is only interested in making a hire if it can find the right person and it’s possible no one will be chosen for the job, one of the people said.

Gaspin was chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment. He stepped down after Comcast Corp. took control of NBC in January. Graboff, president of west coast business operations for NBC Entertainment, announced plans to leave last month.

David Dennis, a Microsoft spokesman, declined to comment. Schneider didn’t respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment.

Microsoft rose 1.2 percent to $25.70 at 4 p.m. New York time. The stock has declined 7.9 percent this year.

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