The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Entertainment

February 13, 2013

General Electric gets out of the TV business

(Continued)

A spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast said the company had no comment on its plans for the 1933 Art Deco building.

GE's history with NBC goes back to 1919, when it co-founded the Radio Corporation of America, or RCA. The company pioneered commercial radio broadcasting. In 1926, RCA launched a television arm: the National Broadcasting Company, or NBC. Within two years, it had started the first regularly scheduled U.S. television programming in Schenectady, N.Y., then the site of GE headquarters.

GE sold its stake in RCA in 1932. But in 1986, GE ended up acquiring RCA, selling off its record label and television-manufacturing business. All that remained was NBC.

During the GE years, NBC was home to a number of hits including "Friends," ''Seinfeld," ''ER," ''Frasier," and the "West Wing." Millions of American tuned in each night to watch the network's lineup, which was sold as "Must See TV."

In 2011, GE sold its majority ownership of NBCUniversal to Comcast for $8 billion in cash and reduced its ownership share from 80 percent to 49 percent. Tuesday's sale of the remaining stake gives GE cash to focus on its industrial businesses, such as building train locomotives, wind turbines and lights.

In 2007, just before the financial crisis hit with full force, GE's finance arm accounted for about 55 percent of the company's earnings, according to Martin. NBCUniversal contributed about $3 billion of the company's $22 billion in operating profit.

In 2012, GE's industrial segment — including a growing energy-infrastructure business — had a profit of $15.49 billion, compared with $7.4 billion from GE Capital.

General Electric CEO Immelt said that Tuesday's sale of NBCUniversal will allow his company to "accelerate our investment in our core businesses."

Showbiz might be sexy, but for GE the profit apparently is in manufacturing the devices that generate the power for our TVs.

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