Shares in General Electric dropped $1.43, or 8.2 percent, to $15.96 on Thursday as the company admitted facing numerous challenges in its GE Capital and NBC Universal units. The stock is down 57 percent year to date. On Tuesday, GE chief Jeffrey Immelt told investors in New York that in just three years -- from 2005 to 2008 -- NBC's earnings have plunged from $1.4 billion a year to just $400 million. At the same time, earnings from NBC's cable networks saw their income climb from $1.3 billion in 2005 to $2.1 billion this year.
TELEMUNDO SOARS, OTHER NETWORKS RETREAT
While many broadcast and cable networks have experienced a significant audience exodus, NBC-owned Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish language network in the U.S., has seen its audience rise 13 percent from last year. Univision, the leading Spanish-language broadcaster saw a 2 percent rise. NBC itself saw a 10-percent increase this year, most of it due to its coverage of the Summer Olympics. Fox also saw a 2-percent gain. But ABC, CBS, The CW, and the Spanish-language Telefutura, owned by Univision, all registered declines in total viewers.
FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL SUES TREASURY DEPARTMENT
Claiming that the Treasury Department has been less than transparent in providing details about how it intends to bail out troubled financial institutions, Fox Business Network has sued Treasury in hopes of forcing it to release the information. The News Corp-owned cable network said that it had originally filed an expedited request for the information under the Freedom of Information Act last November 25, then again on December 1, but both requests were ignored, Kevin Magee, executive vice president of Fox Business Network, said in a statement. "In a critical time like this, amidst mounting corruptions and an economic crisis, we as a news organization feel it's more important than ever to hold the government accountable."
FIRED PRODUCER REHIRED
In an unusual turnabout, a producer who was fired from a series by network executives, is being rehired by new network executives who replaced the ones who fired him. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Tom Fontana will return as executive producer/showrunner for The Philanthropist, replacing David Eick. Fontana was fired after reportedly insisting that the show, about a wealthy do-gooder, focus on hot-topic social issues. Network programmers, the Reporter said, were "looking for a more escapist and fantastical approach." The decision to return Fontana to the series-- only a pilot has been filmed so far -- was reportedly made by Angela Bromsted, recently appointed NBC's president of scripted programing.
SUMMER OLYMPICS: THE RERUN
The major drawback of NBC's highest-rated programming this year -- the Summer Olympics -- is that there appeared to be little-to-no chance of repeating it, analysts observed at the time. But they apparently did not take into account the opening ceremony which set audience records when it aired from Beijing in August. On Thursday NBC announced that it will air an edited version of the ceremony ("TV Event of the Year") as a two-hour special beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 27, hosted by Bob Costas and Matt Lauer. The original telecast was directed by famed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou. The special will also include the Games' "greatest moments," including, of course, the performance of Michael Phelps in the swimming competition.