Thursday, December 3, 2009

Comcast Purchases NBC Universal

After months of negotiations, it appears as though Comcast has finally reached a deal with G.E. and will be purchasing NBC Universal.
The agreement will create a joint venture, with Comcast owning 51 percent and G.E. owning 49 percent. Comcast will contribute to the joint venture its stable of cable channels, which includes Versus, the Golf Channel and E Entertainment, worth about $7.25 billion, and will pay G.E. about $6.5 billion in cash, for a total of $13.75 billion. For now, the network will remain NBC Universal, but ultimately Comcast could decide to change the name.
For the time being, NBC's headquarters will remain in New York and the current head of NBC, Jeff Zucker, will be staying on board with NBC as the chief executive (though he will apparently be reporting to the chief operating officer of Comcast). The overall tones of the announcement also don't give any clues as to whether or not there will be any change in programing philosophy in the immediate future. Since part of the reason that G.E. wanted to sell was the poor ratings and lowered advertising rates, however, I wouldn't be too surprised if we eventually heard about some changes being made in regards to programing.

What will be interesting to watch is what, if any, impact this deal has on the news coverage that is presented on NBC. After all, CNBC and MSNBC are also included in this deal. During its time as the owner of NBC, G.E. always claimed that it stayed out of impacted the news that was reported and there are some people who want to take the Company for its word in that regard. According to various reports, however, it's become clear that that isn't always the case as GE officials have apparently taken steps to influence news coverage on NBC and its affiliates. It will therefore be interesting to see how Comcast attempts to strike a balance between its own corporate interests and NBC's responsibility to provide viewers with information about current events.

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