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NBCU Profit Plummets 30%

Network takes NFL fee hit; Comcast names cable unit president head of merger

NBC Universal’s profit fell 30 percent during the fourth quarter, General Electric reported on Friday. Revenues fell 3.7 percent to $4.27 billion.

NBCU’s operating profit — at $602 million — slid from $865 million in 2008.

The company attributed the decline to increased programming costs and massive fees associated with carrying National Football League games.

For the year, NBCU’s revenues were down about 9 percent.

The numbers, of course, don’t reflect the costs associated with NBC’s settlement with Conan O’Brien. On Thursday, the network agreed to pay the “Tonight Show” host more than $40 million to relinquish the 11:35 p.m. slot to Jay Leno.

Meanwhile, Comcast — which is preparing to take over NBCU once its $30 billion deal is approved by federal regulators — named Neil Smit president of Comcast Cable Communications.

The move means that Smit, who has served as chief executive of Charter Communications since 2005, will take on the duties of Comcast COO Steve Burke so that Burke can focus on Comcast’s pending deal with NBCU.

Federal scrutiny of the merger is set to begin next month, with NBC head Jeff Zucker [pictured] and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts scheduled to appear in Washington on Feb. 4.

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