Is Comcast on the prowl for Big Media ?

August 17, 2009

Comcast made a bold $54 billion bid for Walt Disney Co. in 2004. It failed — but there are those who wonder today if the cable provider might be considering a play for another media giant.

Reuters’ Yinka Adegoke takes a look at this idea in a story that recounts the speculation about Comcast’s desire to be a major player in Big Media.

Stockholders, who have watched the value of Comcast shares shrink to historical lows, might not be so thrilled about such a move.

Investors worry that Comcast might use growing cash reserves to go after names such as Viacom Inc, owner of MTV Networks and Paramount film studio, or Time Warner Inc, which owns CNN, HBO and Warner Bros despite little evidence of such a move, said analysts.

But then again, the man who fended off Roberts’ move for Disney back in ’04, Michael Eisner, still thinks there’s a chance Comcast is interested in owning content. The former Disney chief told trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable last week:

Comcast won’t just be sitting there; they may want to recapture their dreams of going after Disney, but not with Disney specifically.

Does Eisner know something we don’t? He says he has “zero information”.

In the meantime Comcast could, of course, use its free cash for anything from a share buyback to a healthy boost of its dividend. Sound economic strategy for sure, just not nearly as juicy as a mega merger.

Keep an eye on:

  • Readers Digest may file for Chap. 11 bankruptcy (Reuters)
  • The Financial Times is adding paid-content and its rivals are following suit (New York Times)
  • Universal Pictures’ chiefs Linde and Shmuger may be under fire for not delivering summer hits (Los Angeles Times)
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