Posts Tagged ‘NBC Universal’

FCC approves $30 Billion NBC – Comcast deal…with many strings attached

Friday, January 21st, 2011
Image Source:

Image Source:

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved a pending $30 billion joint venture which allows Comcast to own 51 percent of NBC Universal. The approval comes 13 months after the two sides announced their plan to merge one of the nation’s largest cable and internet operators with a broadcaster whose assets include NBC and Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Universal Pictures. Comcast controls 24 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and NBC owns 12 percent of what is viewed on television. A match made in heaven? Not so fast… Over the last year this deal was met with heavy opposition from consumer advocate groups who argued consumers would have less influence over the newly formed company while online distributors worried about the possibility of having to pay a premium for NBC’s content, which would be controlled by one of their largest competitors in the distribution space. (Source: LA Times Blog, Entertainment News Buzz, January 2011.)

On paper this looks like an unstoppable combination in the making, and could potentially open the door for similar deals between content providers and cable and online providers. Although some were successful and some flopped, this is not the first time we’ve seen this type of marriage before – CBS/Viacom, AOL/Time Warner, Time Warner/Turner. With Comcast controlling NBC’s network and cable shows as well as their movies, it would seem their 15 million subscription base would be the perfect captive audience to view their content with competing cable and online providers forced to pay a kings ransom for the rights to their shows and movies. The FCC, however, put conditions on the deal to prevent any funny business with the hopes of maintaining as much “net neutrality” as possible.

One of the conditions requires Comcast to make its content available to all rival cable and satellite distributors as well as online distributors, and has to offer it’s content for the same price to everyone. They are also required to sell their internet service as a standalone service – this is significant since online distributors (Netflix) gives you the ability to access content without a cable subscription but requires internet service. The FCC is also asking Comcast to relinquish its day-to-day control of their online site HULU, allowing them to maintain an ownership stake but stripping them of any voting rights or the ability to suddenly make content unavailable from the site. (Source: Reuters, January, 18, 2011.)

So before everybody bows down to this newly formed Media behemoth, let’s remember… a lot has changed over the last 13 months since their initial announcement, and the conditions put on the new merger by the FCC (if enforced) will help neutralize any abuses of power. The consumer now has more options with the rise of online providers (Netflix, Google, and Apple TV) and will ultimately choose their services based on the quality of the entertainment, not the amount of channels offered or where the channel falls on the dial.

The pressure now falls squarely on the shoulders of NBC Universal. Without quality content from NBC, Comcast will quickly begin to wonder why they paid all of that money and went through all of the trouble of diversifying their business. The competition is sure to be fierce between cable and online providers; content providers will continue to fight for better licensing agreements for their content and in the end consumers will also have to ask themselves… is it all worth it?

The PR Intern Who Pitched the Media

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Kion Sanders is a recent communications and public relations graduate from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the former Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) national vice president of chapter development and a current member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Recently, he officially started his career in Cleveland, OH as an account associate for Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations.


As a student, I was fortunate to have internships that provided me with pitching responsibilities. One of the major roles of entry-level PR professionals is building and maintaining relationships with media representatives. My relevant experience made the transition from student to professional that much smoother because I was properly prepared for future responsibilities.

A model from the Nicholas Lindsey Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show

A model from the Nicholas Lindsey Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Show. (Image Rights: Nicholas Lindsey Brand)

 A few weeks ago, I concluded my post-graduation internship with Weber Shandwick – a global public relations agency. As a consumer brands intern, one of my major responsibilities was pitching the media on behalf of clients I represented. I was able to practice everything from writing and distributing pitch e-mails, using social media tools to engage my targeted journalists, the proper way to pitch bloggers and of course, jumping on the phones to tell my client’s story.

This experience prepared me for one of my most challenging roles to date – serving as a PR manager for a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show. Nicholas Lindsey, a brand designer and one of my fellow PRSSA graduates, was in need of last-minute PR support for one of the biggest shows of his life. Immediately, I jumped at the opportunity; it was a great way to help a friend in need and a way to practice what I learned from my internship.

As PR manager for the show, my main responsibility was media relations. On show day, I had journalists present from Essence Magazine, NBC Universal and fashion bloggers from around the country, including an NYC Fashion Examiner. To solidify these high profile media representatives, I used everything I learned from my internship, especially social media for media relations purposes. My wonderful PR agency allowing me to pitch as an intern led to something I am very proud of – my first national magazine placement: NYFW Designer Q/A: Nicholas Clements-Lindsey.

To answer Tressa Robbins’ question, posted on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, “Should PR Interns Pitch the Media?” … YES, they should – I am a living example of how it can prepare interns for the “real world.” In fact, I recently accepted a full-time position with Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations where I … pitch the media on behalf of clients.

Giving the valuable experience interns can learn from pitching, can you think of any reasons why they shouldn’t? 

A Watershed Moment in the Media World: Comcast- NBC Deal Changes TV Forever

Friday, December 4th, 2009


As a kid I remember hearing the voice-over announcement, that would precede NBC color television shows, “The following is brought to you in Living Color on NBC,” and watching the peacock spread its colorful feathers, thinking wow this is pretty cool. 

This week the first step was taken into a new era of television. When Comcast and General Electric (GE) finalize their deal that will give Comcast a controlling 51 percent stake in NBC Universal (NBCU), it will spawn a media behemoth. As reported in the New York Times, Comcast is agreeing to pay GE $6.5 billion in cash and contribute its own cable channels, such as E! and Style, estimated at $7.25 billion for a total of $13.75 Billion. The new joint venture will be headed up by the current head of NBCU, Jeffrey Zucker.

The significance of this deal lies in the potential derived from combining a TV and movie content creator with a media distributor. Comcast will now offer its extensive customer base to cable channels such as Oxygen and Bravo, NBCU’s movie studio Universal Pictures and the NBC Network.

The integration of Comcast’s internet, mobile phones, and cable with their shiny new toy box filled with NBCU’s extensive library of movies and TV shows is unprecedented.

“In the next five years, more people will be seeing ‘The Tonight Show’ online than on their television sets,” says Paul Levinson, a media analyst at Fordham University in New York. “The convergence will be so extensive that in 10 or 15 years, we won’t be talking television screen versus online because they’ll all be the same screens.”

This deal still has several hurdles ahead; a long regulatory review by the FCC and anti-trust regulators is expected. Several unanswered questions remain, particularly “How does Comcast intend to provide their ‘exclusive’ content to its competitors, like Verizon and Dish Network.

How will this deal affect network TV from a consumer standpoint? Will this mark the beginning of the end of “free TV”? While we wait to see, one thing is certain though: the peacock is once again spreading its wings, only this time it’s to an audience of about 45 million Comcast customers.

Please share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Challenges and Successes—“Go Red for Women” Award Winning Campaign

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Flickr Image: jon madison

Establish benchmarks at the beginning of each campaign. Do your research. Show that you have positively changed attitude about or knowledge of an issue.

These were the key points presented by Jennifer Pfahler, executive vice president of Edelman, during her discussion of the award-winning integrated communications campaign, Go Red for Women (American Heart Association), at this year’s PRSA International Conference. (Full disclosure: the American Heart Association (AHA) is a BurrellesLuce client and my grandmother died of heart disease a couple years ago.)

Pfahler outlined the challenges associated with creating a campaign of this type:

  • Not many women know that heart disease is the #1 killer of women.
  • Women have different symptoms of heart disease than men.
  • AHA needed to drive women to its website and move them to take the checkup.
  • Fundraising for education, scientific research, media outreach had to accelerate.

Pfahler said Edelman had worked on the Go Red for Women account for a few years, but was limited to one event in February. They worked to craft an integrated campaign, which included a TV documentary with NBC/Universal, and to find ways to create buzz throughout the 2007 year. In February 2007, they were able to pitch Marie Osmond as their spokesperson, and generate interest in their casting call for the documentary. Out of almost 800  submited stories, eight were picked, verified by Edelman, and used in the documentary. (more…)