In the biggest management shakeup in the media industry, GE and Comcast have announced the long rumoured deal that would see Comcast gaining a 51 percent majority stake of the media empire NBC Universal, after GE bought the final 20 percent of its original 80 percent holding of the company from Vivendi. GE will still hold a 49 percent stake.
Comcast will give approximately $6.5 billion to GE for the majority shareholding.
This gives the largest cable television operator in the United States ownership of broadcast network NBC, an array of cable channels including USA Network, MSNBC and Syfy, along with the Universal Pictures movie studio and the one-third stake of Hulu. The new entity will also oversee the running of Comcast’s cable channels – including G4 and E!.
The new deal also gives Comcast a long list of international properties – including the Hallmark Channel, 13th Street and the international variations of the Sci Fi Network. In Australia, Comcast will also own a stake of TV1 and Showtime via NBC Universal.
“This deal is a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform ‘anytime, anywhere’ media that American consumers are demanding,” Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said.
“Today’s announced transaction will increase our capabilities in content and cable networks. At the same time, it will enhance consumer choice and accelerate the development of new digital products and services.”
Terms of the deal include that Comcast will not let its business interest affect NBC News’ programming; and that Comcast and GE have redemption rights that could lead Comcast having 100 percent control of the new company. The new board will comprise of three directors elected by Comcast, with two from GE. Current NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker will remain, but will now report to Comcast COO Steve Burke and not GE.
Its expected that the new company will be a rival to Disney and Viacom – which Comcast previously tried to purchase. Hopefully, this does not become another Time Warner/AOL story.
The deal has already been approved by GE and Comcast’s boards of directors, but needs to be reviewed by the regulatory commissions