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Comcast CFO: NBCUniversal Must Address Profit Drop at Film Studio

Michael Angelakis
Matthew Staver/Bloomberg/Getty Images

While the bottom line may not reach levels hit a few years ago amid weaker DVD sales, "we know we can do better than where we are today," says Michael Angelakis.

NEW YORK - Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis on Thursday said that NBCUniversal's film studio profitability must improve, that Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo is "a diamond in the rough" and that the entertainment company's management team remains "pretty darn focused" on turning around the NBC broadcast network.

Speaking at the Citi Investment Research 2012 Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in San Francisco in a session that was webcast, he once again mentioned the two TV broadcast assets along with the studio as businesses facing challenges, but also providing upside opportunity.

"Compared to its profitability of two years ago…there is a big gap" in 2011," Angelakis said in discussing the studio. He added that he was "not sure we can get back to where it was a few years ago" due to continued weakness in DVD sales. "But we know we can do better than where we are today, and we are trying to manage the volatility" of the film business, he said without citing specific figures. "We think there is opportunity there as well."

Comcast acquired a 51 percent stake in NBCUniversal in late Jan. 2011.

Discussing NBC, Angelakis said there is room for a "real swing in profitability" if and when NBC bounces back. "And we are pretty darn focused on doing that," he said, even though that will take a while, he said in once again begging patience.

Said the Comcast CFO: "I encourage people to go look at how well CBS performs or how well Fox performs or even how well ABC performs. And if you look at those and compare them to us, and you realize that we are investing at probably the same levels that those folks are programming,…we need to move from fourth to a higher level."

Asked about the economic and advertising outlook, Angelakis said that he is hopeful that the economy will be "a little bit better in 2012."

Asked about recurring industry chatter that Apple could start competing with cable operators, the Comcast CFO said he doesn't know more than anyone else. But he also said that "we do have a relationship with them," that Apple is "a great company" and that Comcast "would love to work with them."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai