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Views on Comcast: NBC Universal from media execs
December 4, 2009 / 12:17 AM / 8 years ago

Views on Comcast: NBC Universal from media execs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) announced on Thursday a deal to buy a controlling stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co (GE.N), a move that could redraw the media landscape.

Here are comments on the proposed deal, and Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts, from speakers at the 2009 Reuters Global Media Summit this week:

BARRY DILLER, CEO OF IAC/INTERACTIVECORP IACI.O

“First of all, they’ll announce it, then there’ll be a period of regulatory review, clearly lengthy, probably combustible. Let’s presume a year later it’s done, it’s going to have a very large effect, I think.”

“Brian Roberts is the real deal. As an executive, he is both young enough and smart enough and ambitious enough and interesting enough that he can play a profound role in how this is going to change and evolve.”

“This is not expansionism a la conglomerates of the past in media. This is not how Warner (TWX.N) was assembled, this is certainly not the way Vivendi (VIV.PA) did it.”

“This is a very disciplined, very smart group with huge resource in their cable, telephony, data businesses that is doing this with an absolute sense of strategy and that is really different than anybody else has done in putting these assets together.”

“I think that GE getting out of it is for GE really smart, because you really have to be in the spirit of it and really be forward and full-throttle and for whatever reason they weren‘t.”

GLENN BRITT, CEO OF TIME WARNER CABLE TWC.N

“What we found over the years was that there are very few synergies in being vertically integrated. And in fact, the rules and regulations that control how this industry behaves are such that anything that people might be tempted to do in a vertically integrated company is pretty much prohibited; there’s also some anti-discrimination rules and access rules and things like that.”

“What people do at Warner Bros. every day is very different than what I do; it’s just operationally, the businesses are different. So you really can’t operate them together.” “I suppose you could make the argument that even if there aren’t any synergies, if you pay the right price for something, then that’s okay.”

GEORGE BODENHEIMER, PRESIDENT OF DISNEY‘S (DIS.N) ESPN

“I guess the biggest headline for me is that once again it speaks to the value of content. And how content will continue to increase in value over the years.”

On whether Comcast could create a potential rival to ESPN:

“I am in a very competitive environment, even though in many ways people don’t really recognize that...competing with everybody in the sports business, everybody -- all the leagues, the distributors, the traditional broadcast networks, the cable networks, the new media friends we have. So regardless of whether the Comcast-NBCU deal happens, I expect our business will continue to be very competitive.”

ANNE SWEENEY, PRESIDENT OF DISNEY/ABC GROUP

“If anything, the reported merger really underscores the value of content really more than anything.”

“They’ve been great partners to us for many years. And it’s going to be very interesting to see what they do with all of that content.”

DAVID ZASLAV, CEO OF DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS (DISCA.O)

“Brian and Steve (Comcast COO Stephen Burke) did a great job with Comcast. They are very strong operating leaders. And I‘m sure they will do a great job with NBC Universal.”

“From our perspective, I think it really reinforces the value of cable programming channels. I am a little biased, because I helped build a lot of those channels over at NBC Universal, but they have (NBC) great cable assets and represent a big part of that business and a big part of the cash flow in that business. And I think the deal just reinforces the value of the dual-revenue-stream cable business.”

MARK GREENBERG, CEO OF EPIX

“I think that the Comcast guys are seeing what the rest of us are seeing, that the world has changed. I think that the reason why our venture in Epix was created is because we see windows changing, access changing and no one has a crystal ball, has all the answers.”

“Universal has had its share of successes over the years, both on movies and television, and then let’s mention USA and SyFy as well as CNBC and MSNBC. They bring a lot of assets to bear in a lot of different places, and I think any time that you bring new management to something, fresh thinking, fresh perspectives...that will have an impact on the business.”

“Although NBC certainly has fallen on a tougher time, it’s a great time to buy something, you have nowhere to go but up.”

NIKESH ARORA, PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL SALES AT GOOGLE (GOOG.O)

“I don’t think YouTube is going to be the only player in the online video space, and you already have a bunch of other players. So if you can have a few strong players in the market and you can see multiple instances of success, it actually will encourage more advertisers to play in that space and it probably will encourage more online content out there, faster.”

Reporting by Tiffany Wu, Alex Dobuzinskis, Paul Thomasch and Anupreeta Das; editing by Carol Bishopric

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