Zucker: Cable networks are NBC's 'backbone'

All those people concerned about how Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) will control an over-the-air broadcast network when it acquires NBC Universal might want to refocus their attention a bit. The big value--as Comcast execs have hinted--is not the broadcast network, it's the cable networks like Bravo and USA that NBC has nurtured.

"The backbone of this company is our cable networks. If we didn't have the NBC (broadcast) network people would think we were the best entertainment company," said Jeffrey Zucker, NBCU's president and CEO, speaking to students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in Comcast's Philadelphia hometown, when he extolled the value of content and the threat that upstarts like Hulu and Netflix pose to NBC's current model.

"It's about balance," he said. "We need to experiment but we also need to protect the foundational models on which NBC was built."

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