Judge Threatens To Hold Up NBCU-Comcast Merger

By | Thursday July 28, 2011 @ 11:27am PDT

Sounds like Judge Richard Leon of the DC federal court is sabre rattling, but you have to pay attention when someone in a position like his even hints that he may try to undo a deal as big as Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. Leon says he’s “not sure I’m going to sign” a court review of the Justice Department’s settlement terms that are enforceable for seven years, The Wall Street Journal reports. His reason? The provision that calls for an arbitrator to resolve disputes between Comcast and online content distributors who want NBCU programming is ”not in the public interest,” Leon reportedly said. The arbitration provision applies to a condition that would require Comcast not to discriminate against competing video services that want to license NBCU shows. The judge, who was appointed George W. Bush, says that courts might do a better job of protecting the public than an arbitrator would, for example by requiring annual reviews to ensure that the judgment is being upheld. But those who favor arbitration, including many public-interest advocates, say it helps to level the playing field: Companies challenging Comcast in court could run out of cash while the media giant appeals decisions it doesn’t like. As it is, the government’s conditions for Comcast enable challengers to take their cases to the Justice Department, where decisions are final, or the FCC, where they can be appealed. Read More »

Comments (3)

Comcast Chooses Ad Agencies SMG And Maxus For Its $1B+ Account

This may look like a boring corporate announcement, but it’s pretty important. Lots of ad agencies were eager to win Comcast’s business — wrapping its image-making up with NBCUniversal’s — even though the assignment is monstrously complicated and risky. Comcast … Read More »

Comments (2)

Is Comcast Ignoring The FCC To Help CNBC Stay Ahead Of Bloomberg TV?

I’d be stunned if Comcast and Bloomberg TV don’t settle their spat about Bloomberg’s channel position on Comcast cable systems before the FCC has to step in. But for now their saber-rattling makes for entertaining theater about an interesting … Read More »

Comments (4)

Comcast Will Spend $300M More This Year On NBC Primetime & Cable While Admitting Universal “Has To Make Better Films”

This morning, the top Comcast execs in an earnings conference call admitted to Wall Street that NBCUniversal, which the company just purchased, is a fixer-upper and, in the short term, a money pit. NBCU chief Steve Burke says the company plans to spend $200 million more this year on NBC’s primetime schedule than General Electric did last year when it owned the network. (Burke is looking at 21 pilots, about the same number NBC ordered in 2010.) Comcast considers the turnaround to be a long-term project, but Burke says that simply lifting NBC to third place from fourth would mean “hundreds of millions” in improvement in the company’s cash flow. Meanwhile, Burke also says he plans to spend $100 million more this year on programming NBCU’s cable networks. He expects a “very strong” upfront ad sales season.

As for Universal’s film business, where 1Q revenues and operating cash flow declined, Burke says that “we have to make better films,” although the size of its current slate is “about right.” He attributed some of the woes to the fact that the company had to include a lot of marketing costs for Hop and Fast Five in the latest quarterly report even though most of the revenues from those recently released films will show up on Comcast’s next earnings statement.

Both Burke and Roberts mentioned the “S” word — synergy — which hasn’t been used by Big Media since the days of AOL Time Warner. And we all know how that turned out. Read More »

Comments 23

Telemundo President Don Browne To Retire

By | Tuesday April 12, 2011 @ 9:51am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Don Browne is the latest veteran NBC Universal executive to take his leave since the Comcast takeover. NBCUniversal announced his retirement today after 30 years with the company, effective June 3. Following an extensive career with NBC News in New York and Miami, Browne has served since 2005 as president … Read More »

Comments (1)

NBCU EVP Diversity Paula Madison Exits

By | Monday April 11, 2011 @ 9:56pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Another long-time NBC executive is leaving the company following the merger with Comcast. Paula Madison, NBCUniversal’s EVP diversity, said today that she will retire from the company May 20, after the first Joint Diversity Advisory Council in Philadelphia with Comcast … Read More »

Comments (11)

WGAW: Comcast Aims “To Destroy Unions”

WGAW Board Members Chip Johannessen and Patric Verrone have issued a strongly worded message of support the Comcast writers wanting WGA representation:

To Our Fellow Members,

“If the Writers Guild didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it.” — Legendary Hollywood executive Sid Sheinberg said that back in 1988

Read More »

Comments 53

Post-Merger NBC Sports Group Unveils Executive Team

Nellie Andreeva

With Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal completed, the newly formed NBC Sports Group – which consists of NBC Sports, Golf Channel, VERSUS and 11 Comcast regional sports networks – this morning unveiled its executive structure under chairman Dick Ebersol. Turner veteran Mark Lazarus, who has long been rumored to take run the new group’s cable properties, is the only outsider on the team, while NBC Sports execs are being given the reins of Comcast’s Versus and Golf Channel. Here is a rundown of the new exec hierarchy: Read More »

Comments (6)

MERGER GIVEWAY: NBCU Employees Get Comcast Shares, Universal Studios Passes

Nellie Andreeva

Going to work this morning, NBC Universal employees found all the company’s old signs replaced overnight with new ones. They feature the company’s new logo and new name, which is the same as the old one sans a space between … Read More »

Comments (17)

UPDATE: Comcast-NBC Brass Talk Synergy, Layoffs & The Future At Town Hall Meetings

By | Thursday January 27, 2011 @ 9:40am PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Comcast today held town hall meetings for NBC Universal employees in NBCU’s main outposts, New York and Los Angeles, and Comcast’s hometown Philadelphia, with remotes from Miami and London. Comcast officially unveiled the new logo for NBCUniversal (all one … Read More »

Comments 42

Vivendi Sells Off Its Remaining NBCU Stake

By | Wednesday January 26, 2011 @ 8:01am PST

Vivendi has officially divested itself from NBC Universal, selling the remaining portion of its 20% stake in the company back to General Electric before the merger with Comcast is officially complete on Friday. The price: Vivendi received a total of $5.8 billion for the 20% stake. In a statement, Vivendi CEO … Read More »

Comments (0)

How Comcast Zeroed In On FCC’s Mignon Clyburn To Seal NBCU Deal

A Philadelphia Inquirer report recounts how the Comcast team locked in on FCC Democrat Mignon Clyburn, who joined the commission in 2009 and who was one of the five who eventually decided if Comcast should get NBC Universal. Comcast strategists studied the members of … Read More »

Comments (8)

NEW DETAILS: “MSNBC And Keith Olbermann Have Ended Their Contract”; Lefty MSNBC About To Make Right Turn?

2ND UPDATE, SATURDAY AM: An MSNBC insider told this to Deadline today about Keith Olbermann’s departure Friday:  

“This was all Keith’s choice. He has several times over the years said that he wants out of his contract. He never

Read More »

Comments 1,424

Jeff Zucker’s Farewell Note To NBCU Staff

Nellie Andreeva

It was a memo like any other released by a CEO of a public company on the day the company’s quarterly earnings report is out. But this morning’s message by outgoing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker about the company’s … Read More »

Comments 33

NBC-Universal Sees Stronger Q4 Results

While the Comcast-NBC Universal deal is supposed to close next week now that it has received FCC approval, NBCU’s fourth quarter revenue rose to $4.8 billion (up 12%), and profit saw a 38% gain to $830 million powered by a Big … Read More »

Comments (0)

BREAKING: Angela Bromstad To Leave NBC

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: In the first executive fallout from the pending post-merger restructuring at NBC, Angela Bromstad, primetime entertainment president for the network and sister studio UMS, will be leaving. She told her staff about her departure this … Read More »

Comments 64

More Reaction To FCC Ok Of Comcast-NBCU Deal

UPDATED: Here’s the WGA, West’s statement on the Comcast-NBCU merger, approved yesterday:

“After a thorough review of yesterday’s announcements by the FCC and DOJ, the WGAW disagrees with their decisions approving the Comcast-NBCU merger. Even with the conditions placed on the merger by the FCC and the DOJ, we believe this merger is anti-competitive and is not in the public interest or the interests of our members. The WGAW remains committed to joining with other organizations and individuals to continue the fight for an open Internet, independent production, and diversity of voices in all media.” 

Here’s yesterday’s WGA, East’s statement:

“The Writers Guild of America, East is disappointed by the FCC’s approval of the joint venture between Comcast and NBC Universal. We consistently have opposed this action because entertainment and news media already are too consolidated; too few multinational mega-corporations control what people watch on television and in movie theaters. The Comcast/NBCU deal is particularly frightening because it brings together one of the largest internet service and cable TV providers with one of the largest content providers.  Without strong and meaningful safeguards, the economics of the deal virtually mandate that Comcast/NBCU will discriminate in favor of its own content and leave writers and other independent members of the creative community out in the cold. This will impact not only entertainment programming but the diversity of news and public affairs voices so vital to a democracy.

Read More »

Comments (16)

FCC Approves Comcast-NBCU Merger Deal

UPDATE: In a 4-1 vote, the FCC has approved Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal. Democrat commissioner Michael Copps cast the lone dissenting opinion, saying that ”it confers too much power in one company’s hands.” The deal should close by the end of January.

Of course, there are plenty of conditions set forth … Read More »

Comments (18)

TCA: No NBC Executive Session

Nellie Andreeva

With the end date for the Comcast-NBC Universal merger still uncertain, NBC has opted to forgo an executive session at its portion of TV Critics Assn.’s winter press tour. With only a week left before the NBCU day of TCA … Read More »

Comments (3)
More Deadline | Hollywood »