WILL COMCAST AND NBC MERGE?
After initially expressing skepticism about a report that originated with Sharon Waxman's TheWrap.com, prominent business news media on Thursday confirmed from their own sources that General Electric, the principal owner of NBC Universal and Comcast, the nation's largest cable dealer, were in talks that would result in Comcast acquiring a majority stake in NBC Universal. CNBC's David Faber, one of the original skeptics (he originally commented "An entertainment gossip site -- this is where we are in journalism today -- started a great deal of speculation on whether Comcast would buy or take control of NBC Universal -- that is not the case.") reported that the deal would involve GE spinning off NBC into a new company in which Comcast would own 51 percent and GE, 49 percent. Faber, whose own cable network would be included in the deal, said that Comcast would likely contribute $7 billion in cash to the deal while GE would buy out Vivendi's 20 percent stake in NBC Universal for about $12 billion and package that amount as debt in the deal with Comcast. Today's (Friday) Wall Street Journal reported that the deal would include "mechanisms" to allow GE to sell its entire stake in the company eventually. The New York Times observed that the deal could take up to a month to complete and faces numerous regulatory hurdles. Meanwhile, reports of the deal may signal other media conglomerates that NBC is in play. "Time Warner is certainly out there," former NBC Universal chairman Bob Wright told the Times. In a message to staff Thursday, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said that while "it is our longstanding policy not to comment on rumors," some "exciting possibilities" now face the company. "I do appreciate that these stories often cause anxiety. But, really, the only thing for each of us to do is to do our jobs with the same focus we always have." Doing his job as host of NBC's Jay Leno Show Thursday night, Leno commented, "The big cable system operator, Comcast, is now in talks with GE to buy NBC. Gee, I thought that cash for clunkers program was over."
LETTERMAN ADMITS HE WAS BLACKMAILED OVER SEX WITH STAFFERS
With his studio audience unsure whether he was joking, David Letterman disclosed Thursday that earlier in the day he had testified before a grand jury about a plot to blackmail him. He said that during the inquiry he was asked whether he had had sexual relationships with members of his staff. "My response to that is, yes I have," Letterman said. "Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would -- especially for the women. But that's a decision for them to make if they want to talk about the relationship ... what you don't want is for a guy to say, 'Oh, I know he had sex with women so I'd like $2 million dollars or I'm going to make trouble for you.'" Upon hearing laughter at one point during his comments, he seemed ruffled and remarked, "Now why is that funny?" CBS said later that the man who had attempted the extortion was a producer for the crime magazine show 48 Hours and that he had been arrested earlier in the day. Letterman's revelation came during the same week that Nielsen reported that he had posted his biggest win over the Tonight showin more than 15 years (when his lead-in was the Winter Olympics).
CONSUMERS NOT ENTHRALLED WITH 3D AT HOME
The next big thing in home entertainment may not be 3D television after all, according to a survey conducted by Scottsdale, AZ-based In-Stat. The survey found that only 43 percent of consumers would be willing to spend an amount less than $200 for a 3D television set. The report also indicated that even fewer people would be willing to purchase a new Blu-ray disc high definition player. Of the persons who said that they would likely take home a Blu-ray player, just 31 percent said that they would be willing to pay extra for one that would play 3D videos.
THE END OF JON, KATE, AND THE KIDS?
In a move that is likely to shut down TLC's hit Jon & Kate Plus 8 television series, Jon Gosselin said that he will go to court to prevent his children from participating further in it. "The reason I don't think it's healthy for them is that we're going through a divorce right now, and I don't think it should be televised and I think my kids should be taken off the show," Gosselin said in an interview with CNN's Larry King Thursday. A lawyer for Gosselin, Mark J. Heller, said that the reality series, which TLC said this week would be renamed Kate Plus 8, would not likely continue because no court "would subject the children to the show if the father believes it's detrimental." In a statement sent to the King show, TLC noted that Gosselin had taped the show with the children only last Friday and called his comments on the King show "clearly opportunistic." It said, however, that it had halted "direct filming of the children." for the time being. A lawyer for Kate Gosselin said that Jon had signed agreement that the party with physical custody of the children will decide whether they will appear on the show.