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As Deal Closes, NBCU’s 4Q Profit Jumps

1/24/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

NBC Universal’s profit soared 38% in the
fourth quarter, the last period that the media conglomerate
will be part of General Electric.

The acquisition of a majority stake in NBCU by cable
giant Comcast was approved earlier this week by
the Federal Communications Commission, which imposed
conditions on the deal. The deal is expected to
close by Jan. 28.

Driven by its cable networks, NBCU’s profit was $830
million, up from $602 million as revenues rose 12% to
$4.8 billion in the quarter.

In a note to staffers, NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker — set to
be replaced after the deal closes by Comcast chief operating
offi cer Steve Burke — noted that the company was
in “extremely good shape” as it approaches the end of a
lengthy transition period.

Zucker said “our cable networks continued to hit it out
of the park,” with double-digit growth in operating profit.
Among other highlights, CNBC had a record financial
performance.

“Jeff Zucker and the team had a great fourth quarter,”
said GE chief financial officer Keith Sherins during the
company’s earnings call with analysts. “The results were
broad-based. Cable continues to deliver terrific performance.”
He said cable revenues were $1.5 billion, up
15%, and profits were up 16% to $740 million fueled by
“great strength in the entertainment properties.”

Broadcast revenue was up 11% to $1.8 billion.

In its earnings materials, GE noted that Bravo and Oxygen
had their best years ever in both ratings and profits.
At the NBC broadcast network, GE noted that ratings
were bolstered by football, but there were “no break-out
shows from fall schedule.” Local ads were up double digits
on strong political spending, the company said.


Jon Lafayette is business editor of Broadcasting & Cable.
September