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Comcast to Buy 51% of NBC, GE Goes After 49% 258

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-matter-who-wins-the-consumer-loses dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that Comcast and General Electric announced a joint venture yesterday to control NBC Universal, with Comcast coming out with the controlling interest. Comcast's hopes seem to be on succeeding in a marriage of distribution and content, where Time Warner failed. "The deal was approved by the companies' boards, and is subject to regulatory approval. GE said it expects the deal to go through in the third quarter of 2010. Congress has already said it will hold a hearing to investigate whether Comcast will gain 'undue advantages' from the deal that gives it access to programming."
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Comcast to Buy 51% of NBC, GE Goes After 49%

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  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:02PM (#30327182) Homepage Journal

    In other news, comcast announced today that they have a revolutionary way of throtteling high-tv viewers during "primetime" hours. While primetime was not explicitly defined (nor was "high-tv viewer"), they promised that this was in the best interest of their customers in order to ensure that everyone gets their fair share.

    Seriously though, it'll be interesting to see what happens here. Ads for new NBC shows over broadband anyone?

    • Re:In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:07PM (#30327258) Homepage Journal
      This sounds dangerous to me.

      Such a large company in charge of the content AND the delivery channel? What happens when this all consolidates into just a couple of companies with content and channels owned...and then the government has to bail them out, and take control of.....oh wait....

      • Originally NBC was owned by the now defunct RCA. NBC was founded essentially to make content so that RCA could sell more Radios and then Televisions and all the equipment needed to create a radio and tv station. So, not only did RCA own the pipe, they had actually owned the -hardware-. Eventually GE would buy RCA in the early 1980s for the sole purpose of getting NBC. They basically kept NBC, closed RCA, but sold the logo to the French. As an Ex-RCA Employee, I still curse Jack Welch but.... in those days, the merger of RCA and GE which should have been seen as troubling was almost irrelevant as both companies were still selling tubes in the age of the transistor and Sony was really stomping up a storm.

        Bottom line is, yeah, it will be a big company, but there's a lot of other media and a lot of other competition out there.

        [disclosure: I live in the Philly area and, having lost the World Series to the Yankees, the thought of the NBC HQ from NYC to Philly seems like it would be really sweet. They got the team, but we get the TV].

        • They'll need more room on City Line Ave... or they could move into that new huge building that could pretty much block out the sun if they wanted to.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by plague3106 (71849)

          If you're from philly, you know how shitty comcast is, and why old women smash their offices with a hammer.

          Of course this isn't the same now; NBC is a lot more than just NBC, and while NBC broadcast TV and RCA made TVs, they didn't OWN the method of broadcast. Comcast (and cable / sat.) is the ONLY way to receive most channels today. Add in to this that comcast also controls many peoples connection to the internet, and thats where the problelm comes in.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        A year from now, maybe even sooner, you'll no longer be able to watch Comcast-NBC owned channels over the net.

        Goodbye Bravo.com, USA.com, or Syfy.com episodes over the net. Goodbye MSNBC.com or CNBC.com streaming livefeeds. Or else if you can still stream, they'll lock it behind a subscriber wall: free for Comcast account holders and $2 per hour for the rest of us.

        If ever a monopoly needed to be busted, Comcast is it. No more exclusive licenses to supply cable tv to neighborhoods. Let other competitors

        • Goodbye MSNBC.com...

          And nothing of value was lost. [youtube.com]

          • You make the same mistake as those who equate Glenn Beck's or Sean Hannity's views with the views of Fox.

            Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow are merely offering *their* opinions (leaning pro-big-government), not those of the network MSNBC. It says that in the credits if you ever bother to read them. Now if you had linked to this video instead, then you'd have a worthwhile point:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu6cHrU4L4E [youtube.com]

            • by cayenne8 (626475)
              "You make the same mistake as those who equate Glenn Beck's or Sean Hannity's views with the views of Fox."

              I get a little troubled with so many people of late, throwing Glenn Beck in the same crowd as Hannity and O'Reilly. The latter two, are just really blowhards that do nothing but shoutdown anyone they talk with, and very rarely have insightful things to say. Hannity is just so far on the neo-con side, it hurts.

              Beck, on the other hand, I see as someone that is thought provoking, and more on the libert

          • by Delwin (599872) *
            Personally I like watching Saturday Night Live on the net.
        • While I doubt your situation would happen... what is more likley that only Comcast Internet / Cable subscribers would have access to the content. They already use the NHL games on their Versus channel to hold subscribers hostage that would rather switch to DirectTV.

          • by tepples (727027)

            what is more likley that only Comcast Internet / Cable subscribers would have access to the content.

            How can people who live in Time Warner Cable serviced areas become Comcast subscribers?

        • Actually, I'd be more concerned that they'll block or degrade non-NBC sources of Internet video.
        • by Dishevel (1105119) *

          A year from now, maybe even sooner, you'll no longer be able to watch Comcast-NBC owned channels over the net.

          Goodbye Bravo.com, USA.com, or Syfy.com episodes over the net. Goodbye MSNBC.com or CNBC.com streaming livefeeds. Or else if you can still stream, they'll lock it behind a subscriber wall: free for Comcast account holders and $2 per hour for the rest of us.

          If ever a monopoly needed to be busted, Comcast is it. No more exclusive licenses to supply cable tv to neighborhoods. Let other competitors enter.

          So then it is Goodbye Bravo, USA, Syfy (Hate the Name change), MSNBC, and CNBC. Not just the dot coms. They will go away if they hide their content while their competition delivers. So it is all good with me. Let the innovators with foresight grow and get big.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        Not only that, but in the control they will wield is frightening (even more so considering it's Comcast). Media delivery and content control is a powerful combination that can sway millions of people considering the size of this merger.

        A horrible idea. I saw this on the Today show and my first thought was that there was no way this type of merger should be allowed. They then immeidately followed up with comments that they didn't think it would be an issue to get approval for it.

        WTF?

        We just went through a ye

        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          "Chicken Coup"; my thoughts exactly.

          What, exactly, is "too big to fail" about Comcast (a large but certainly not the only large cable company) owning half of NBC (a large but certainly not the only large TV network)? Save your energy for when Comcast buys up Time Warner or one of the other similarly large content/delivery companies. Until then, this is business as usual.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by DJRumpy (1345787)

            I disagree. They are the nations 3rd largest telephone provider in addition to their internet and cable business.

            Back in 2002, Comcast was the largest cable provider int he US reaching 22 million users. I can only imagine how much they've grown since then. They are still the largest cable provider in the US.

            They are NOT a small company. Tie that in with MSNBC's media ties, and it is not a small deal.

            The merger puts Comcast in control of MSNBC (a 24 hour news channel with an enormous impact on public opinion

            • by jeffmeden (135043)

              No one has batted an eye at all the other companies owning swaths of public opinion (News Corp comes to mind). Why start now? Big company deals happen all the time. Aside from the notion that some people hold that "bigger is never better" what is the actual accusation here? That they are going to turn into the next News Corp? Oh wait, News Corp is still News Corp. Nevermind.

              • by DJRumpy (1345787)

                My personal concern is that they will hold key media outlets in business, and forums where public opinion is decided. In addition, I know personally how Comcast treats it's users.

                I don't want or need another Fox news with a Comcast bent. They are a private corporation, and well within their rights to censor anything on their networks.

      • I know a lot of the discussion of the dangers here are about the TV aspect of all of this, but here's something else that concerns me:

        I watched some of Glenn Beck's "coverage" of Net Neutrality on YouTube once, and was shocked at how he pretty much left out what net neutrality actually means, added in a bunch of negative stuff that doesn't have anything to do with neutrality and told some lies that were somewhat related to neutrality. He complains that companies like Google are hypocrites because those
      • IMHO you should be able to own the content, the delivery channel, or the hardware. No two of the prior. If you own the network/channel you can't build the hardware. If you own the content, you can't make hardware (Sony anyone?). If you own the channel, you can't own the content. WTF is so hard about that to restrict and enforce?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      It's funny, I read this yesterday on CNN... And for some reason, not long after I got home, NBC got blocked on my TV.

      Strange.

  • by smurphmeister (1132881) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:06PM (#30327232)
    Starting immediately, CBS and ABC will now only be available as pay per view for all Comcast customers!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Nope. FCC rules require all local stations and "out of market but significantly-viewed" stations be provided free-of-charge in the basic cable package.

      • Nope. FCC rules require all local stations and "out of market but significantly-viewed" stations be provided free-of-charge in the basic cable package.

        A big problem is how they define markets. It's based mostly on political favors and loosely on NTSC propogation characteristics. I'm in Western NH and can't get any stations that cover NH news, because some bureaucrat in Washington put my ZIP code in the Burlington VT "market".

        You know what would be totally crazy? Let people buy what they want. I know, th

    • Don't mod the OP funny, mod Insightful.

      DTV Versus Comcast [wikipedia.org]

  • Congress has already said it will hold a hearing to investigate how much money Comcast will line their pockets with in order to gain "undue advantages" from the deal that gives it access to programming.

    FTFY

  • Dear Mr Leno,

    Consequent to we being acquired by Comcast, our new CEO Heisa I Diot has directed you to remove all Cable Guy coming late, Cable companies forcing you to stay home all day for a 5 minute service jokes from your repertoire. Please remember the number of stattelite receptions breaking off at the most importunate moment will have a bearing when the annual bonuses are discussed. Have a nice day

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I can't believe anyone would imply Jay Leno is an arrogant, overrated network whore whose pedestrian humor wasn't even funny 30 years ago, and who would climb over his mother's dead body for another overinflated paycheck with which to buy another hedonistic toy to add to his vast collection of self-indulgent excess. I just can't believe that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Say what you want about the quality of his work. But the mother's dead body etc are OTT. Ran into him in some high way rest stop. He was riding with a bunch of motor cyclists. Nicest celebrity one would have met. Very down to earth and posed for pictures for all, despite being without make-up and being out in the sun on a hot day with sweat and grime making him look older. Nice guy. He would not have climbed over his mother's dead body even for the original 1895 Daimler.
      • by MaWeiTao (908546)

        can't believe anyone would imply Jay Leno is an arrogant, overrated network whore whose pedestrian humor wasn't even funny 30 years ago, and who would climb over his mother's dead body for another overinflated paycheck with which to buy another hedonistic toy to add to his vast collection of self-indulgent excess. I just can't believe that.

        Sounds like you're describing pretty much all celebrities.

      • for another overinflated paycheck with which to buy another hedonistic toy

        Leno's motto has always been "tell joke, get paycheck." He's never been duplicitous in this regard.

    • Dear Comcast,

      I'm moving to ABC.

      signed,
      Mr.Leno

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:19PM (#30327388)

    As a Time Warner customer, I look forward to losing NBC again this Summer as Time Warner tries to convince me that the evil NBC wants to charge me more money for my tv, and how Time Warner is either forced to raise my rates, or drop NBC coverage. Lame, lame, lame. AT&T, please extend your service about 10 more miles south.

    • Was that NBC, or just your local station demanding more money?

      Also can't you get the station for free with an antenna?

    • AT&T, please extend your service about 10 more miles south.

      So you WANT to be an AT&T customer? You don't hear that every day.

    • by Vancorps (746090)
      You think ATT is any better? What do you do when you have to pick between Company A that will abuse you, Company B that will abuse you, or Company C that will abuse you? You get modern America! We did it! Yay! I have the opposite problem you do, at one of my event sites all I can get is ATT DSL which got slower after they bought out SBC. Comcast needs to extend their cable 1000 feet and I can have cable Internet at my site instead of 3meg DSL! Course Comcast cable sucks there too at something like 15meg whi
  • "Attack of the Show," "X-play" and all the other last lingering remnants of the TechTV glory days are probably going to be replaced with old "Cheers" reruns. They've already started rerunning "Lost" and "Heroes" on G4. Pretty soon the G will stand for "generic."
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Attack of the Show doesn't even deserve to have it's name put anywhere near the name TechTV. AotS is not The Screen Savers. X-Play is the only thing that survived the merger.

  • but good news for GE bond holders. Cash from Comcast should enable them to pay off some of their debts.
  • When TW bought AoL, AoL had chatrooms which were already horribly out of date and irrelevant.
    NBC has Leno. I don't see how this could fail

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Minor nitpick. AOL bought TW, then TW turned around a swallowed AOL. Big miscalculation on the part of Steve Case.
  • by macwhizkid (864124) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:25PM (#30327488)
    Seriously, this was on the front page of every news outlet... almost two days ago. I know that there's a bit of a lag time to get things on Slashdot, but honestly, is it asking that much to post big stories the same day they happen?
  • When are we as a country going to learn? We gave these shitheads municipal monopoly power, and now they want to radically expand their control. What we need is a law that states this: You can own the pipe, or you can deliver through the pipe, but you cannot do both.
    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      What we need is for Americans to value principles more than cheap entertainment. Everyone complains about what they pay and what little they get but the vast majority of people just grin and bear it. More than that, they'd go nuts without their daily fix of American Idol or some other crap tv show. If even half their subscribers canceled all of a sudden I'm pretty sure things would start changing. But then most don't even know or care to know what's going on. There's not much we can do about that.

  • They were the majority owner previously. Way to be a day late AND wrong.

  • Terrible wording (Score:3, Informative)

    by maxume (22995) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:29PM (#30327542)

    GE currently owns a majority stake in NBC Universal (they needed to negotiate with the other owner, Vivendi, before they could proceed with this deal). Under the deal, a new company is being formed, with GE contributing NBC Universal and Comcast contributing some of their content assets and a bunch cash (or cash like assets). Comcast ends up with 51% ownership of the new company, and GE 49%.

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      Wikipedia makes the claim that GE has already bought out Vivendi's stake, so this is effectively just GE selling Comcast 51% stake in NBC Universal. Granted that the way they are doing this is by creating a new company and transferring assets, but that is just a technicality. The only differences that makes is that a new corporate charter will be drafted, and some executives may not inherit an equivalent position in the new company, plus a handful of obscure accounting issues.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:34PM (#30327602)
    into three separate companies:
    1. infrastructure, i.e., the wire and fibre on the poles
    2. ISP and phone services
    3. content provider

    This will allow for competition for those people who are stuck with Comcast being the sole provider.

  • by Labcoat Samurai (1517479) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:34PM (#30327604)
    Wonder what effect this will have on plots in 30 Rock. Is Jack going to gun for CEO of Comcast now? That lacks the same punch.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Given that it is moderately entertaining, it will likely be canceled.

  • by midicase (902333) on Friday December 04, 2009 @03:47PM (#30327774)

    Doesn't NBC partly own Hulu? Isn't Comcast's Cable system in competition with Hulu?

  • Seems like America keeps making the same mistake over and over again. Don't allow a regulated monopoly to be a distributor and the content provider. Failure to follow this inevitably results in corruption and anti-competitive behavior. This applies to:

    - Power production and power distribution
    - Cellular network providers, cellular phone manufacturers, voice service providers
    - Phone companies and voice providers
    - Internet service providers and internet content providers
    - Cable television delivery and cable

    • That would be because the people who make these same bad decisions over and over are not the ones who suffer the consequences. Even if they DID "suffer" from these and never hold a job again, etc. they still have enough money to live more extravagantly than most of us can imagine for the rest of their lives. They have absolutely no reason to not do what makes them the most amount of money right now at any cost. That goes for the owners of the mega -corps and the government bodies "regulating" them. Ther
  • by jj00 (599158) on Friday December 04, 2009 @04:10PM (#30328082)
    First Versus [directv.com], and now this. Directv must feel like they can't win.

    I guess when the time comes I'll cut the lines to my satellite dish and just accept my new cable company overlords.
  • I'm sure the majority of Slashdot remembers TechTV. Then Comcast came along, bought it up, and merged it with G4. Then the good parts of TechTV went away (G4 never had good parts). Then TechTV went away entirely. Then most of G4 went away as well; I don't have it in my cable package (thank goodness), but as I understand it G4 has become Spike2, showing 6 hours of COPS, 6 hours of Wrestling, and late at night they might show some gaming content and a rerun of Screensavers.

    NBC has been lacking, but they s

  • Stock ownership is about two things: financial speculation and power. Why can't consumer interests snap up controlling interests? You know, through user-directed 401k's and coordinated pension funds? Oh right, the Republicans murdered that option with the Taft-Hartley Act after WWII.

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