Comcast Corp struck a deal to buy a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co, creating a media superpower that would control not just how TV shows and movies are made, but how they are delivered to the home.
The deal has been discussed for months and brought to light deep divisions within the media business over its future, with some lauding Comcast Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts as a visionary and others calling it the most foolhardy acquisition since AOL bought Time Warner Inc in 2001.
In a world where the Internet has disrupted traditional media, Comcast — the largest US cable service provider — wants NBC Universal so it can have programming it can deliver to audiences however they may want it, whether through TV sets, personal computers, or mobile devices.
Critics, including some of Comcast’s own shareholders, suggest there is too little overlap between the businesses to draw out meaningful savings, and that competition regulators are bound to burden it with restrictions.
Moreover, big media deals rarely work, they add, pointing to Time Warner Inc’s breakup for example.