As FCC and DOJ Speed Up Comcast-NBCU Review, Questions of What the New Bosses Have in Store

By Alex Weprin 

The FCC and Department of Justice are speeding up their respective reviews of the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal merger, the Wall Street Journal reports. The goal is to close the deal by the end of the year, albeit with conditions placed on the new company.

With the regulatory end in sight, Comcast and NBC Universal executives and employees are beginning to wonder about what the new executive structure will look like… and what other changes Comcast may have in store.

Comcast is expected to announce the senior leadership team for the new company as soon as this week, though any other personnel announcements are forbidden until the regulatory agencies approve the deal. NBC News president Steve Capus will remain in his role, though still unclear is what role CNBC president Mark Hoffman will take on. Reports last week speculated that Hoffman would keep his current role, reporting directly to incoming CEO Steve Burke.

Meanwhile, MarketWatch’s Jon Friedman specualtes about what, if any, changes Comcast may make to MSNBC:

One of the great mysteries in TV media is how NBC News could be so well-managed and successful while its little sister network MSNBC stumbles along. Sure, it occasionally garners ratings triumphs, but usually it’s forced to settle for the unsatisfying bragging rights against CNN for second place behind Fox News Channel.

Where Friedman misses the mark in his analysis is looking at profitability. MSNBC may be in second place, but it has better margins than NBC News as a whole, thanks to cable’s lucrative dual-revenue stream. Winning is great, but for a company like Comcast, the most important thing is profits.

Comcast may not like the bombastic nature of much of MSNBC’s content, but it also wants the network to make money. Toning it down or turning it rightward does not seem like an effective strategy.