Comcast Buys Majority Stake in NBCUniversal
Comcast is one of the largest media company in the United States. In 2011, it gained the ownership of NBCUniversal studio. The deal saw Comcast own 51% stake in the NBCUniversal company. Comcast announced its intention to acquire a majority stake in the media conglomerate NBCUniversal in December 2009. Although the decision of Comcast was subject to scrutiny from government officials and activists, the deal did go through on January 18, 2011.
As stated earlier, the interest of acquisition started as early as March 2009. Comcast won the competition from other interested companies such as News Corporation and time Warner. By September of 2009, Comcast had negotiated the purchase of the company’s stake from GE. Vivendi held up the overall discussions for the sale of its 20% state to GE. The deal to the full acquisition of the NBCUniversal company was structured as follows; the sale of the Vivendi’s stake in the company to GE for an estimated amount of $ 5.8 billion followed by Comcast paying $6.5 billion dollars for the NBCUniversal stake. As a part of the deal, NBCUniversal contributed its existing media properties worth 7.25 billion dollars to the buyer, Comcast. The whole deal valued the NBCUniversal media company at $ 30 billion. Additionally, the deal included another option from the GE Company to sell further stakes in the company to Comcast over seven years period or Comcast to buy the stakes at specified times.
After the acquisition, Jeff Zucker was to remain as the CEO of NBCUniversal and its headquarters were to remain New York and it was to report to Comcast. According to the Comcast CEO, Brian L. Roberts, the deal was a perfect one to either side. In fact, he described it as a perfect fit for his company. He said that Comcast will be able to bolster its role as creators and distributors of content to the American people. Also, the deal would see the Comcast media company add its cable channels to the existing suite of NBCUniversal cable networks. The merging of the network cables by the two companies is estimated to contribute up to 82% of the total revenue collected by the mega-company. Comcast also promised to remain focused to over the air broadcasting. It promised to increase the amount local news, Spanish language and children programming across different platforms. Jeffrey R. Immelt, GE’s CEO, hailed the whole merging process.
The merging off the two media companies was subject to the approval by U.S Federal Communications Commission, FCC, because of its magnitude. The commission placed Comcast under high-level scrutiny to ensure no fraud practices would occur and that the merging was just and fair.
The acquisition was not an easy exercise. The processed was faced with a lot of opposition from some media activists especially those against vertical integration. Some saw the deal as a way to suppress the young media companies. For instance, The Free Press argued that Comcast would control the competition. The argument was that Comcast would charge high rates to TV providers for accessing content owned by the NBC network and passing the charges to consumers. The affiliates owners of NBCUniversal asked FCC to ensure that Comcast had to maintain the NBC programming on over the air TV and not to single line it exclusively to cable. Some competing television and internet providers went ahead to request FCC to institute conditions on Comcast for the deal to be approved. The intents were to make Comcast stick to the principles of net neutrality and to offer wholesale access to its broadband service. AOL requested FCC to enforce its program access rule for the online videos for Comcast Media Company. Despite the opposition, the deal went through now Comcast boasts of providing content that its customers demanded. Most of the activists’ argument was that Comcast was just looking for media supremacy. To them, this is a move that will change the direction of media in U.S. They argued monopoly due to lack of stiff competition would result to fraudulence in the industry.
The merging left Comcast as one of the biggest media conglomerates in the United States. It was not the first time that Comcast had tried to merge with accompanies. Earlier on, before merging with the NBC Universal, it tried to merge with Walt Disney Company for a reported deal of $41 billion.