Comcast Mum on NBCU in Q3 Earnings Call

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts declines to "comment on rumors" as cable programming unit posts 10% revenue pop
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Comcast Corp.'s top executives declined to talk about their potential acquisition of NBC Universal on a third quarter conference call with analysts Nov. 4. However, CEO Brian Roberts alluded to the possible agreement in an attempt to calm shareholders fears on the prospective deal.

"While we can't comment on rumors, we only look for opportunities that can accelerate growth, make those businesses more profitable and give them the benefits of scale," said Roberts.

Separately, Comcast's programming segment, which includes channels such as E! Entertainment, Style and G4, saw a 10% rise in revenue, to $383 million. The company is poised to move those businesses into a joint venture with General Electric that would give Comcast a controlling interest in NBC Universal's many media assets.

Comcast Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis said advertising is showing some signs of improvement. Revenue was up 3%, to $8.8 billion, and operating income was up 8.5%, to $5.4 billion, compared with the prior period last year. The Philadelphia-based cable operator expects to launch its On Demand Online offering nationally across its footprint in December. The service allows customers to watch cable shows via their PCs for free, though Comcast said it was prepared to invest additional capital if it needed extra bandwidth to cope with demand.

Roberts also said the company is working hard to gain agreements from movie studios to provide day-and-date programming for its VOD service. The company also repurchased 16.1 million common shares for $250 million.

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