Friday, June 01, 2007

GE's NBC Universal Unit: Is It Fixed Yet?

Last week, I wrote this post regarding GE's status as a discounted, closed-ended fund.

Within it, I referred to CEO Jeff Immelt's remarks last week on the turnaround at NBC Universal. He assured the CNBC audience that he personally approved of the new slate of television programs and films. That everything was fixed, and good times were at hand for the media unit of the ailing conglomerate he oversees.

Then came an article in the Wall Street Journal this past Tuesday. It announced the firing of programming chief Kevin Reilly, "as ratings slide."

Wow! That was quick! And I thought Jeff had it all under control. Buttoned down. In the bag.

Guess not.

According to the article,

"NBC Universal's timing indicates it doesn't have much faith Mr. Reilly's new slate contains the type of hit that could lift the network out of the ratings basement.....Mr. Reilly's successor will need to move quickly to put his stamp on the shows for fall, build morale at the network and learn GE's corporate culture."

According to Nielsen ratings, NBC "ranks a distant fourth behind Fox, CBS and ABC."

Maybe Jeff should hope to get a call from Rupert Murdoch, offering to take the struggling GE media property off his hands while it still has some value.

In any case, it sure makes you wonder what kind of conglomerate Immelt is running. Last week, he assures investors that his network unit is in great shape, and the progamming lineup is fixed. This week, they fire the chief programmer, amid word that the slate is in trouble.

Is this why GE, and its shareholders, 'enjoy' continued mediocre performance?

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