Comcast Hems and Haws on Vivendi

New York—When bids for Vivendi Universal Entertainment come in this week, they won't include Comcast but may well include Liberty Media. Comcast declared that it won't bid on Vivendi Universal Entertainment, then abruptly—and confusingly—backtracked by then announcing discussion to combine its cable networks with VUE's. Liberty Media President Dobb Bennett then told analysts that Liberty will "continue to be involved" in the VUE process, though wouldn't actually acknowledge that he's putting in a bid.

Comcast started nosing around the U.S. entertainment assets of Vivendi three weeks ago, armed with a $3 billion or so in expected after-tax proceeds from the sale of its half of QVC to Liberty Media.

General Electric is seen as the front runner, proposing more of merger than the cash purchase Vivendi seeks. GE wants to combine VUE with its NBC network and stations, giving Vivendi a minority stake, but putting in very little cash and leaving all VUE's debt in the venture.

The remaining cash bidder, an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., is also balking at the price, but insiders said he will be submitting an offer Monday.

NBC Finds Grass Greener

New York—NBC has purchased $5 million worth of Thomson grass Valley production equipment for use at a number of its owned-and-operated stations. The stations include WMAQ-TV Chicago, Ill., KXAS-TV Dallas, KNSD-TV San Diego and, KNBC-TV Los Angeles.

NBC properties like CNBC and other stations are already using multiple networked Profile XP Media Platform servers, NewsEdit XT nonlinear editing systems and a multi-channel Grass Valley Open SAN shared storage digital infrastructure that connects various NBC facilities throughout the country.