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NBC Universal Profit Down 49% to $199 Million in Q1

Cable continues to do well, Olympics losses only $223 million 4/16/2010 09:46:03 AM Eastern

NBC
Universal recorded a 49% fall in profit in the first quarter to $199 million,
while revenue was up 23% to $4.3 billion on the year ago period, according to
parent company General Electric which is selling part of the unit to Comcast
Corp.

A
measure of how the economy has hit media companies, NBC Universal's first
quarter revenue just two years ago in the same period was $712 million. In the
same period, 2009, when NBC Universal aired the Super Bowl, profit was $391
million.

On
an earnings call, Friday (April 16), GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said of
the unit, "We think our worst quarter is behind us." GE CFO Keith Sherin noted
that the Olympic Games in Vancouver
was slightly better than GE had first suggested with the loss at $223 million
rather than the predicted $250 million.

The
company also noted that its cable segment saw revenue up 3% to $1.2 billion. On
the positive side, the company noted a 7% increase in profits at CNBC, the
financial news cable channel that had been hit by a dip in financial
advertising during the recession. Other parts of the NBC Universal cable empire
performed well with women's channel Oxygen almost doubling profit in the first
quarter. USA
continued to be the number one cable channel overall, according to the GE
presentation.

GE
is selling a majority stake in NBC Universal to Comcast Corp. and is in the
midst of regulatory filings; the deal is currently in the midst of a comment
period.  GE owns an 80% stake in NBC
Universal with French media company Vivendi holding the balance.

NBC
Universal had a disappointing performance from the film studio, but the company
noted growth in digital ad revenue and strong results from online video play
Hulu.

Sherin
said scatter rates are up 20% in both broadcast and cable, while local ad
revenue was up 15% in the first quarter and 10% in the fourth quarter. He noted
that such figures bode well for the mid-May upfront.

September
October