NBC: Local ads bad, Silverman fine, and Rainbow is no-go

September 26, 2008

zucker1.jpgGeneral Electric’s problems — it warned yesterday that turmoil in the global credit markets could drive profit down as much as 12 percent — have once more put the spotlight on its media unit, NBC Universal.

Forever, it seems, media observers and Wall Street bankers have been talking about whether or not NBC should be sold by majority-owner GE. For its part, GE and its leadership — most notably CEO Jeff Immelt — repeatedly respond that NBC isn’t going anywhere.

As The Hollywood Reporter points out, GE’s latest troubles have nothing to do with NBC.  The article reports that Immelt called NBC a “great media franchise” during his rounds yesterday.

During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Immelt was asked three times if he would spin off GE Capital, prompting him to quip later on CNBC: “At least it took over from, ‘Are we going to spin out NBC?’ “

That’s not to say that NBC isn’t facing challenges of its own.  NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker told a conference on Friday that local TV stations have been profoundly impacted by the economic downturn, according to Reuters.

“We haven’t seen an advertising slowdown on a national level yet in the United States but obviously we’re concerned about it, and I think if you’re not concerned about it you’re in denial,” he added.

Reuters later spoke to Zucker on the sidelines and came up with these tidbits…

  1.  Zucker isn’t interested in Rainbow Media
  2.  He’s “pleased” with NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman
  3.  And he’s still not into “wanton spending on pilots.”

Keep an eye on:

  • Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Thursday he still sees a “certain buoyancy” among technology and telecommunications customers worldwide, despite recent U.S. economic woes (Reuters)
  • Cablevision’s largest shareholder yesterday ratcheted up the pressure on the controlling Dolan family (NY Post)

(Photo: Reuters)

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