Comcast

COMCAST Loses IP Theft Case to TiVo

Comcast, the telecom giant that owns NBC and MSNBC, has lost a case that alleged the company deliberately stole intellectual property from TiVo for its cable boxes. The case, one of three brought by TiVo against Comcast before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), was decided last Thursday. Another case was won by TiVo before the U.S. Court of Appeals earlier in the year. In its determination, the ITC ruled that Comcast must face “(1) a limited exclusion order prohibiting the entry of infringing digital video receivers and related hardware and software components; and (2) cease and desist orders directed to respondents.” The latest ITC legal setback for Comcast will hit the telecom giant’s customers, as it means they will lose a valuable feature of their viewing experience. Comcast has been forced by the courts to remove valuable search features from its products, at a time during a pandemic when more customers are using their product than ever before. Despite having now lost two out of three cases bought by TiVo, Comcast does not appear to be changing course. Comcast might be betting on the fact that companies like TiVo might not have the stomach to see this fight through to the end – but in TiVo’s case, they just need to win one more case. Comcast-owned broadcasters are known for their liberal bias. Earlier this year, President Trump derided MSNBC as “MSDNC,” and called NBC “worse than CNN.” “And Comcast, a company that spends millions and millions of dollars on their image… I’ll do everything possible to destroy their image because they are terrible. They are terrible. They’re a terrible group of people,” said the president at a rally in February. Last month Andrew Surabian, the former special assistant to the President, praised the crackdown on Comcast’s IP violations in a column for Fox Business. “Far from merely putting the writing on the wall for Comcast’s other future IP decisions, the federal court’s opinion also represents a significant economic victory for all U.S. workers and innovators,” Surabian said. “It will ensure that no company can deliberately jump through hoops to avoid IP law, which almost assuredly would have become a recurring trend should Comcast been allowed to set the precedent.”

COMCAST Fires Employee Targeted Over Reported Ties to Hate Group

COMCAST on Wednesday fired Andrew Kovalic, a 10-year employee who earlier this week became the target of a viral petition alleging that he is a member of a hate group. The petition that called for Kovalic’s termination, which had garnered 373 signatures by Wednesday morning, was created and sponsored by the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Media Mobilizing Project, which often scrutinizes media and telecommunications companies like COMCAST. The petition directly addressed COMCAST CEO Brian Roberts: “Employing Andrew Kovalic, a member of the hate group the Proud Boys, is an embarrassment and an insult to the communities of Philadelphia and the country. […] Comcast should terminate his employment immediately, and state clearly and publicly that it will not tolerate racist and fascist speech, organizing and actions from its employees.” In a statement to Philadelphia magazine, COMCAST said, “There’s no place for disrespectful, offensive behavior in our culture. The individual is no longer employed by COMCAST.” When asked how COMCAST made its determination to fire Kovalic and what specific behavior led to the company’s decision, a spokesperson said they could not comment on the situation beyond the statement. Calls made to a cell phone number associated with Kovalic, whose since-deleted LinkedIn profile said he had been working for Comcast as a communications technician since 2008, were not immediately returned.

COMCAST has, of course, the right to hire and fire anyone it wants.  It’s a private company.  And, we don’t condone any organization, like Proud Boys,  that supports violence.  That being said..  There are certainly some First Amendment freedom of assembly eyebrow-raising questions that need to be asked.  After all, Black Lives Matter calls for violence against cops.  Just Google some YouTube videos if you don’t believe that.  And, I’m sure there are BLM members that work at COMCAST.  Would they be fired if they were identified by the Media Mobilizing Project, or some other liberal rabble-rousing activist group?  Probably not.  And, that’s where COMCAST could potentially find itself in a sticky legal situation.  We’ll keep an eye on this developing story..  For more, click on the text above.

Comcast tops Fox with $38.8 billion offer for Sky

The battle for ownership of British broadcaster Sky ended on Saturday with Comcast outbidding 21st Century Fox with a $38.8 billion bid through a U.K. auction. Comcast’s offer of about £17.28 per share beat Fox’s highest bid of £15.67 in a three round bidding battle that began on Friday. The results were announced by The Takeover Panel. Following the auction 21st Century Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, said they are “considering options” regarding their share. “We note the increased cash offer for the fully diluted share capital of Sky by Comcast, and that it has been recommended by the Independent Committee of Sky,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement. “Sky is a remarkable story and we are proud to have played such a significant role in building the incredible value reflected today in Comcast’s offer.” It is unusual for an auction to be used for a corporate deal and is rare for settling a takeover of a public company the size of Sky, which has a market capitalization of more than $35 billion. The auction pitted Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which owns 39% of Sky, against Comcast and CEO Brian Roberts. The Walt Disney company is buying Fox’s entertainment assets for $71 billion. 21st Century Fox is the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News.

Comcast outage brings down internet, TV service across US

Comcast said Friday it was restoring cable services after a widespread outage impacted customers across the U.S. The outage, triggered by cut fiber lines, brought down internet, television and phone service for Comcast XFINITY customers in markets including New York and Philadelphia. DownDetector.com Opens a New Window. , a website that follows outages, also tracked large outages in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Dallas, Denver and Seattle. In a statement, Comcast said its engineers were restoring service to residential and business customers. “We identified two, separate and unrelated fiber cuts to our network backbone providers,” the Philadelphia-based company said. “Our engineers worked to address the issue immediately and services are now being restored to business and residential internet, video and voice customers. We again apologize to anyone who was impacted.” Comcast directed customers on Twitter to contact the company if they continued to experience service disruptions.

Comcast bids $65 billion for 21st Century Fox assets, topping Disney

Comcast announced a $65 billion bid for Twenty-First Century Fox units that are currently in an agreement to be acquired by Disney. The bid, announced Wednesday, represents a 19 percent premium to Disney’s offer. Comcast, the parent of CNBC, offered $35 a share in cash. Disney agreed in December to buy the majority of Fox for $52.4 billion in stock. The deal included Fox’s movie studios, networks National Geographic and FX, Star TV, and stakes in Sky, Endemol Shine Group and Hulu, as well as regional sports networks. The assets would increase Comcast’s international footprint and boost its entertainment portfolio at a time when it’s facing pressure in its video business as more consumers cut the cord and turn to internet-delivered video services like Netflix. “These are highly strategic and complementary businesses, and we are in our minds the right buyer,” Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts said on a call with investors. In a letter to Fox’s board and members of the Murdoch family released earlier, Roberts said, “We were disappointed when [Fox] decided to enter into a transaction with The Walt Disney Company, even though we had offered a meaningfully higher price.” He went on to say, “We are pleased to present a new, all-cash proposal that fully addresses the Board’s stated concerns with our prior proposal.” Comcast is planning for an increased bid from Disney that may include a cash component, according to people familiar with the matter. Comcast believes it is better suited to offer cash because the market allows for a higher leverage ratio from a cable company with strong cash flows than a media company like Disney, which is accustomed to carrying lower leverage ratios, the people said. A Disney bid with cash will also diminish the tax benefits for the Murdoch family, which controls Fox. The long-awaited bid comes a day after a federal judge cleared AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner, a deal the government had tried to block on competition grounds. AT&T’s win in the court case is expected to usher in a wave of big mergers as companies look for new ways to combine. Comcast feels confident of its chances to get a deal passed by U.S. regulators after AT&T’s deal was approved yesterday, according to people familiar with the matter. Comcast is willing to divest Fox’s regional sports networks and even Fox’s portion of Hulu, if necessary, the people said. While Comcast would like to keep the Fox stake in Hulu if possible, and thinks it should be able to, it would consider dropping down closer to 50 percent if necessary, one of the people said. Comcast, Fox and Disney all own 30 percent of Hulu. Time Warner owns the other 10 percent. Asked about Hulu on the investor call, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said, “We think that’s a very important part of this deal,” adding that Comcast would be interested in investing in and growing the streaming service in the future. Comcast also pledged to offer the same $2.5 billion reverse termination fee Disney already agreed to and has offered to reimburse the $1.525 billion break-up fee that Disney would have to pay if it doesn’t complete its deal. In the media world, cable and telecommunications giants like Comcast are looking to add capabilities in creating the content they distribute across their networks. Viacom and CBS have also been dancing around a deal that would marry cable networks and the Paramount Pictures film studio with CBS’s networks and local television stations.

Comcast hopes for a TV windfall from Super Bowl, Olympics

Comcast’s NBC is airing both the Super Bowl and the Olympics in February, a double-whammy sports extravaganza that the company expects to yield $1.4 billion in ad sales, helping it justify the hefty price it’s paying for both events. NBC is banking heavily on these sports events since traditional TV ratings have slumped in recent years. Live sports are marquee TV events that draw most of the largest TV audiences, but even those ratings have declined. More Americans are dumping their cable packages — Comcast lost 33,000 video customers in the fourth quarter and 151,000 for all of 2017 — and advertisers are following consumers to their phones. Spending on U.S. TV ads is expected to grow an anemic 0.4 percent this year, according to eMarketer. In the October-December quarter, NBCUniversal’s broadcast TV ad revenue fell 6.5 percent, after a boost in 2016 from election ads. As it adapts to a slowing TV market, NBC is continuing some digital efforts from Rio and expanding others to meet viewers wherever they are — whether in front of a TV or not. The Super Bowl reaches more than 100 million people in the U.S., outstripping every other TV event. It’s the most expensive ad time on TV. This year’s Super Bowl is Feb. 4 and follows a two-year slump in regular-season NFL ratings, according to ESPN . But NBC has said it is not worried about a lack of interest. The game is an event that “transcends sport and even the game itself,” Dan Lovinger, an NBC Sports ad-sales executive, said in January, about three weeks before the game. NBC said then that it had nearly sold out Super Bowl ad spots and that on average, companies are paying more than $5 million for 30-second ads during the game. Kantar Media expects rates slightly higher than last year’s $5.05 million. Fox aired the Super Bowl in 2017, and said it had $500 million in ad revenues for the day. NBC has predicted about $500 million for the game and associated events this year. NBC also makes money from ads during events before and after the game and a special episode that day of its hit drama, “This is Us.” For the first time, it’s selling ads for the game that will only appear on its app or website. NBC is paying $963 million for the broadcast rights to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which follow a Summer Olympics in Rio two years ago that disappointed in some ways. NBC ruled the airwaves during the Rio Games, besting other networks, and raked in $250 million in profit. But ratings for the prime-time broadcast declined compared to the London Olympics in 2012, so NBC had to give advertisers some extra ad slots to make up for it. This time around, NBC will sell ads for this Olympics based on total viewership, counting cable and digital viewers as well as those who tune into NBC proper. That gives them more leverage with advertisers, said Brian Wieser, an ad analyst for Pivotal Research Group. NBC expects to sell more than $900 million worth of ads for the Olympics, which it says would be the highest ever for a Winter Games. (Summer Games are more popular.) The company is offering more hours of programming this year, both on TV and online, than it did for the Sochi Games in 2014. Past Olympics have been criticized by fans for tape-delayed events. This year, NBC will air its nightly prime-time broadcast simultaneously across the country. That means the West Coast evening broadcast will start early, at 5 p.m.

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Tucker Carlson: NBC News President Should Resign or Be Fired Immediately

Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson ripped NBC News head Noah Oppenheim for the claim his organization “encouraged” Ronan Farrow to report out the sexual harassment allegations aimed at Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Carlson explained why NBC News was “lying” about two facets of its claim, noting Farrow’s remarks explaining why he took the story to The New Yorker magazine instead of having had NBC News run it. “So let’s be clear – NBC is lying,” Carlson said. “Yesterday, news division head Noah Oppenheim claimed NBC, quote ‘encouraged Farrow to report that story.” The opposite is true. They pressured him to drop it. Oppenheim says, quote ‘NBC gave him resources to report the story over many, many months.’ Maybe except for a camera crew when Farrow tried to interview an alleged rape victim. Oppenheim says, quote ‘Farrow’s story was not the story we were looking at when we made our judgment.’ Yet another lie. As Farrow told Rachel Maddow two nights ago, he finished the bulk of his reporting on Weinstein when he went to The New Yorker. That is why the magazine accepted his piece in the first place.” After playing highlights from Farrow’s appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” earlier this week, Carlson went on to point out Oppenheim had not been upfront about any possible business relationship he had with Weinstein, which may have impacted his editorial decisionmaking regarding the story. “We’d bet money that her employer didn’t want Rachel Maddow to do that segment, but she did it anyway. Good for her. So, why did a purported news organization kill a blockbuster news story? Well, presumably we will find out at some point. This is a scandal, and the truth has a way of emerging from those in the end. One possible explanation is Noah Oppenheim. In addition to being the head of NBC News, Oppenheim is a Hollywood screenwriter with deep ties to the movie business and the Democratic Party establishment. Could it be that Oppenheim had a business relationship with Harvey Weinstein or Weinstein’s Company? It is not a far-fetched possibility at all. And yet, as of earlier today, Oppenheim and NBC when asked directly refused to say. Noah Oppenheim ought to resign immediately, and if he doesn’t, he ought to be fired immediately by NBC’s parent company, Comcast. News executives are not allowed to tell lies. They are not allowed to participate in cover-ups. They ought to answer straightforward questions straightforwardly when they don’t, you know they are corrupt. And that is exactly what NBC News is.”

Agreed!  This is a follow-up to a story we posted earlier today (scroll down about 6 articles) about what’s going on over at NBC News.  Bottom line.. It’s time for Noah to go.  He should do the right thing and resign.  But, if he won’t, then Comcast should fire him immediately.  NBC News is unbelievably liberal.  We already knew that.  But, now it is corrupt and discredited.

NBCUniversal to Acquire DreamWorks Animation in $3.8B Deal

Comcast’s NBCUniversal made things official on Thursday, unveiling a deal to acquire DreamWorks Animation in a deal that puts an equity value of $3.8 billion on the studio. The agreement marks an end of DWA’s long search for a buyer. One of the last remaining publicly traded independent studios, it was founded by and has been led by CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. In recent years, it had held talks with the likes of Japan’s SoftBank and toy giant Hasbro, among others, but a deal never materialized. Katzenberg, who was standing to get a payout of about $21.9 million if the studio was sold in a deal that would see him leave, will not be running the studio he founded. He will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media, comprising the company’s ownership interests in Awesomeness TV and NOVA, when the deal closes, and also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal. The studio will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango, and NBCUniversal Brand Development and which is led by chairman Jeff Shell. Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri, whose company has been behind hit franchise Despicable Me/Minions, will “help guide the growth of the DreamWorks Animation business in the future,” the company said. “DreamWorks Animation is a great addition to NBCUniversal,” said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. “Jeffrey Katzenberg and the DreamWorks organization have created a dynamic film brand and a deep library of intellectual property. DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come. We have enjoyed extraordinary success over the last six years in animation with the emergence of Illumination Entertainment and its brilliant team at Illumination Mac Guff studio. The prospects for our future together are tremendous.” Katzenberg said: “Having spent the past two decades working together with our team to build DreamWorks Animation into one of the world’s most beloved brands, I am proud to say that NBCUniversal is the perfect home for our company; a home that will embrace the legacy of our storytelling and grow our businesses to their fullest potential.” He added that the deal “not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal’s growing family entertainment business.” Comcast’s Universal Pictures studio has had much success in recent years with such animated franchises as Despicable Me and Minions, but the DWA deal is set to boost its animation and family entertainment credentials. Observers have said that the combination of NBCU and DWA will create a stronger player in the family content space. NBCUniversal said the deal will give it “broader reach to a host of new audiences in the highly competitive kids and family entertainment space, in both TV and film.” It also touted such DWA franchises as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. Film franchises have been a big focus for Burke and his team. Asked on Comcast’s earnings conference call on Wednesday if franchises were an important part of the studio’s strategy, he said “absolutely.” Burke said that “five years ago, we had one franchise,” namely Fast and Furious, but “today, we have eight franchises, and we are hard at work trying to build more.” He added that “we spend a lot of time trying to figure out where films are in the arc of their franchise.” NBCUniversal on Thursday also touted DWA’s “successful” consumer products business, its “thriving TV operation that is a significant supplier of family programming,” and DreamWorks Classics, which includes such classic characters as Where’s Waldo and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which it said “will become part of the NBCUniversal portfolio.” Under terms of the acquisition, DreamWorks Animation shareholders will receive $41 per share in cash. The companies said that this “implies a $3.8 billion equity value based on a fully-diluted share count.” In a regulatory filing, Comcast said the price also implies “a $4.1 billion enterprise value, inclusive of the assumption of debt.” Comcast’s regulatory filing said: “Including reasonable expectations for additional revenue opportunities and operating efficiencies, which will be realized over time, Comcast believes that the acquisition price represents a high single-digit operating cash flow multiple – a fair price for an iconic business, with great assets, low capital intensity and future growth.” The deal is expected to close by the end of 2016. If it fails to get regulatory approval, DWA is entitled to a $200 million break-up fee, according to a regulatory filing. What approvals are required to close the transaction? “The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will need to determine between themselves as to which agency reviews the transaction from an antitrust perspective,” Comcast said. “This transaction does not require FCC approval. In addition to the U.S., merger control filings will also be required in certain foreign jurisdictions. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of DreamWorks Animation and Comcast, and the controlling shareholder of DreamWorks Animation has approved the agreement by written consent.”

Senators and consumer groups question Comcast-Time Warner merger

Senators and consumer groups question Comcast-Time Warner merger

Definitely something to keep an eye on..  As a Comcast customer, myself, I have a vested interest in this issue.  But, if this merger goes through, it’ll effect virtually everyone in America (aside from maybe those in extreme rural areas) on some level.