Comcast close to deal with G.E. on NBCU

A deal between General Electric and Comcast on NBC Universal--and thus, video hub Hulu--could come as early as next week with Comcast owning 51 percent of NBCU.

The two Friday hammered out the basics of a tentative agreement in which Comcast would pay several billion in cash and include its array of cable networks in the deal, and G.E.--which owns 80 percent of NBCU--would fund about $12 billion in debt to the new company, reports the New York Times. It’s widely believed that G.E. would eventually sell its stake in NBCU completely. A main sticking point holding up a pact is the interest French firm Vivendi owns in NBCU. Although the company last week said it might sell its share of NBCU through an IPO, analyst say it’s more likely to simply sell it back to G.E., from which it acquired its 20 percent stake in 2004.

The pooling of the entertainment assets of Comcast and G.E. could change the nature of Hulu--which is owned jointly by NBCU, Disney and Fox--as Comcast has been outwardly disdainful of its current business model, giving away shows for which Comcast and other pay-TV distributors spend huge amounts. A deal that puts Comcast in the driver's seat with NBCU could quickly lead to changes in the way Hulu monetizes its own business.

For more:
- see this Times story

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