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Transcript by Newsy****
BY CHRISTINA HARTMAN
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If the headline writers are also soothsayers - NBC’s news operations are in for a big change.
An LA Times article warns, “Culture shock likely as Comcast takes over NBC.” Perhaps -- a timely prediction:
“Today marks the first day of Comcast and NBC Universal uniting as one company to bring you guys the very best news and entertainment programming on the planet.” (E! News)
But media watchers worry NBC’s news operations could change with the merger. Comcast says it won’t mess with NBC’s news division but after the high-profile and abrupt departure of MSNBC star Keith Olbermann last week - analysts suggested otherwise.
ANDERSON COOPER: “Both Comcast and NBC denied that their merger had anything to do with Olbermann's departure. Do you buy that? I heard even last summer, from folks in the industry saying Comcast is not going to put up with this.”
ANALYST: “Everybody agreed that Comcast would be very unlikely to put up with Keith's behavior, let's say, and prima donna activities. I don't think it was coincidentally motivated." (CNN)
And Comcast is definitely aware of the potential perception problem. USA Today reports the company promises it won’t be cutting time for local newscasts at the 10 NBC stations it owns for the next three years. Still - USA Today suggests it’s hard to imagine the merger won’t at least influence news operations.
“Comcast will control the No. 1 evening newscast (Nightly News), morning newscast (The Today Show), and Sunday talk show (Meet the Press). ... The executives have little experience in news... some observers wonder whether Comcast appreciates the nuances of the interests it must balance in the TV news properties it will run.”
And the stakes are high -- at least financially. According to the Pew Research Center, NBC’s news operations generated $1.8 billion in 2009. But local NBC stations like Miami’s WTVJ are promising viewers -- news content won’t change with the merger.
ANCHOR: “As a viewer you can expect the same level of news reporting you have been allowing us to bring into your home every day. But it was surely very exciting.
ANCHOR 2: “Yes indeed.”
But some observers aren’t so convinced. American Public Media spoke with a Hollywood Reporter editor -- who suggests Comcast could shift money spent on news somewhere deemed more profitable.
MATTHEW BELLONI: “Maybe they're going to go for sports, try to put big sporting events on their Versus network, so they can try to build that up and create a competitor to ESPN.”
In a statement distributed to NBC employees Thursday -- Comcast said, “We take our business seriously, but do not take ourselves too seriously."
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