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Memo to Jeff Immelt: Listen to Jack Flack, If You Won't Listen to Me--Sell NBC!

Written By mista sense on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | 5:39 AM


Jack Flack is blunt in his "rescue memo" to General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, in Conde Nast Portfolio. It is time for Immelt to de-conglomerate GE. As Flack explains, "The Street has decided to you are too big and complicated for either management or industrial analysts to understand, and that you’ve got businesses with completely different fundamentals that cannot be properly valued within the hull of the aircraft carrier."

And then Flack gets specific, item by item, including this advice on what to do with NBCU:

Sell NBC Universal to an entertainment player. Stop assuming you can get NBC back to its glory days, and get the deal done before the Olympics if you can. I know owning a network, not to mention having the Squawk Box guys on staff, is nice. But the longer you hang onto a show biz operation that is so different from your other sectors, the more it will be perceived as an irrational vanity holding.

The Cable Gamer admits to having a soft spot for pseudonymous bloggers, who need their privacy in order to make full use of what they know. Nobody has to listen to us, of course, unless we in the Blogger Underground have something important to say, based on our insight and experience. And "Jack Flack" is a case in point: He/She obviously knows his/her stuff, in a way that usually comes to one who has worked inside the belly of the beast, and not just reported on it from the outside.

And how do I know that JF is so smart? Because Jack agrees with me! It's quite possible that JF saw the grim truth about GE's over-conglomeration before I did, of course, but coming from our differing duck blind-vantage points, we see the same reality in our crosshairs.

Because I know what I am talking about in my little sliver of the mediaverse. TCG doesn't pretend to know much about corporate high finance, but she does know from branding and message, and it's been obvious for a long time that GE, which is basically an engineering company, had no idea what it's doing with NBC, going back to the days when former GE exec Bob Wright, whose picture belongs in the dictionary next to "irrational vanity holding," managed to persuade his then-boss Jack Welch to buy NBC so that he, Wright, could have some fun on the other coast--if you know what I mean!

Since then, in the best tradition of say, The Vietnam War, in which Uncle Sam dug himself deeper in a vainglorious foreign expedition that did not serve American interests, so GE continues to deepen its commitment to being a media player; just as Richard Nixon extended the war into Cambodia and Laos, so GE expanded from NBC to the misbegotten MSNBC. And then added on Universal, creating the ugly abbreviations NBC-Uni, or NBC-U. And all the while, of course, while top cat Immelt was doing whatever he is doing at GE HQ in Fairfield, CT, the lefty liberal media mice were eating up revenues and corporate good will at their various rodent homes, in Secaucus, Fort Lee, and at The Rock.

And ugly is, as ugly does.

Jeff, listen to Jack. Sell NBCUgh. You will have less glamor, but more money. And believe me, that's what the shareholders want.

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