Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Comcast and General Electric Complete NBC Universal Deal

Posted on | January 31, 2011 | No Comments

Comcast has now completed it’s acquisition of NBC Universal. Marguerite Reardon reports that the new company will retain the NBC Universal name but Comcast now owns 51 percent while General Electric will retain 49 percent. The deal comes after The US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission recently allowed the joint venture to continue, although it imposed several conditions on the media corporation that is now valued at $37 billion. The conditions were meant to keep the new conglomerate from stifling competition, particularly in the online video distribution business.

Susan CrawfordSusan Crawford, a recent Special Assistant to President Obama for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, gave a talk at NYU last November on the implications of the deal.

The new firm will combine Comcast’s 23 million cable subscribers and nearly 17 million Internet broadband users with GE’s cable channels, including Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, SyFy, and USA, its NBC broadcast TV stations, NBC-affiliated stations, Spanish-speaking Telemundo and mun2, plus Universal Studios and related international theme parks. (I’ve been to the one in Japan)

The FCC voted 4-1 for the approval, with Democratic commissioner, Michael J. Copps, opposing the deal and warning about the power of the new conglomerate:

    “The Comcast-NBCU joint venture opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet. The potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, access fees to reach end users, and a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real.”

PBS did a good analysis early on in the process.

A former NBC employee now in the Senate, Al Franken weighs in on the merger.

Avoiding being just an empty pipe has been one of Comcast’s major concerns. It now boasts on its website that the combination gives them “a world-class cable network portfolio”, one of the world’s most successful movie production studios, and “an Emmy Award-winning television production studio”.

One of the big things to look for with the merger is a serious bid to challenge ESPN in the sports arena.



Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications.


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    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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