News Column

Comcast: Rate Hike Likely to Pay for Programming

Feb. 13, 2013

Bob Fernandez

comcast nbc

Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts says the company's gambit in the 1990 and early 2000s to assemble a national cable-TV distribution system is paying dividends for shareholders and that Comcast now has to learn how to make the telecommunications network and NBCUniversal work together.

The goal going forward, Roberts said, is make legacy TV distributor an exciting place for young people seeking a career. "This is a company in the crosshairs of media and technology," he said.

Roberts spoke in response to a Wall Street analyst question on his vision during a conference call Wednesday morning, a day after Comcast announced it was rapidly accelerating its plan to acquire 100 percent of NBCUniversal. The company is purchasing the 49 percent in NBC Univerasl it doesn't own from General Electric for $16.7 billion. Comcast also will buy the NBC studios and offices at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhatten, along with CNBC's offices and studios in New Jersey, for $1.4 billion.

The deal values NBCUniversal at about $39 billion and is expected to boost earnings per share in 2013.

Comcast shares were up about 6 percent in early trading, to $41.40 a share.

Comcast executives warned analysts in the call that TV programming costs could increase in the "low double digits" in 2013 -- inflation that likely will passed to Comcast's TV customers -- after increasing about 7 percent in 2012.

The company's growth engines of Internet customers and business services remain strong and Comcast intends to invest heavily into NBCUniversal businesses in 2013. Comcast vice chairman Michael Angelakis and NBCUniversal head Steve Burke said they expect to grow organically as opposed to seeking an international acquisition.

Source: (c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by MCT Information Services

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