Comcast Corp to buy rest of NBC Universal from General Electronics in $16.7 bn deal
While Comcast held the title of the nation's leading cable operator by a wide margin, its status as a content player was always second tier, with middling networks such as E!, G4 and Golf forming the basis of its channel portfolio.
A source familiar with the situation said talks accelerated in July 2012 when NBC Universal sold its stake in A&E Television Networks for $3 billion. Comcast and GE were debating how to use the proceeds, with Comcast wanting to keep the cash in the company while GE wanted a dividend.
When it first bought NBC Universal, Comcast tread lightly, in part to smooth the way for regulatory approval. Among the concessions it offered to help seal the original deal was to adopt a hands-off policy towards the news division to ensure its independence, ensure diversity by agreeing to carry networks aimed at minority audiences and remove itself from management decisions regarding online video site Hulu. Comcast owns a passive stake in Hulu, with News Corp and Disney controlling the website's management.
Comcast also agreed to 'net neutrality' provisions to ensure traffic to competitor websites was not interfered with and to make NBC's programming available to other cable and satellite TV distributors on equal terms.
Because the Justice Department looked at the 2011 transaction, this one would not need to be
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