NBC Profit Plunges

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Operating profit dropped dramatically for the broadcasting side of NBC Universal during the second quarter. In an earnings report Friday, parent company General Electric didn’t disclose a lot of detail but said that operating profit at NBC’s primetime, station and TV-production units plunged 45% from the same period last year. NBC has been hammered in the ratings, and its audience has shrunk 30% over the past two years. Ad sales at the network and its stations have followed suit.

NBC’s problems were enough to offset the strong results at its sibling cable-network and movie divisions and cut profits for GE’s whole NBC Universal division 10% to $882 million. NBC U’s revenues were flat at $3.8 billion. In a conference call with investors, GE CFO Keith Sherin said NBC U’s performance is just where the company had forecast. Although the third quarter should be just as bad, Sherin predicts a turnaround during the fourth quarter, partly because NBC will start airing NFL games in primetime in the fall.

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