Comcast CFO: No signs of cord cutting

Michael Angelakis sees year-end close for NBCU deal

NEW YORK -- Cable giant Comcast Corp. continues to target a year-end close for its NBC Universal deal and hasn't seen any evidence of customers cancelling their cable subscriptions due to the availability of online content, CFO Michael Angelakis said here Wednesday.

"We are moving as fast as we can to close the [NBC Universal] transaction," he said in an appearance at the annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference. The company has long said it hopes to complete the acquisition of a 51% stake in the entertainment company from General Electric late this year. "That's hopefully the goal...of the Department of Justice and FCC" as well, he told the conference.

He also reiterated previous comments from his CEO Brian Roberts that Comcast is "more excited than we were last December" when the deal was first officially announced. He cited advertising market improvements, creative progress and a better financing environment as positive changes since then.

Asked about investor fears of cord cutting, or cable users cancelling their subscriptions to get TV content online for free, Angelakis said: "We really just don't see it."
The topic of alternative ways of getting content, including via "over-the-top" TV services that deliver video content to TV sets via the Web, has been a recurring topic at the Goldman conference.

On Tuesday, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger also said he has seen no signs of cord cutting.

Angelakis also told investors that acquiring control of NBC Uni will help it amid new challengers and new ways for consumers to get content in digital form. "With NBC, we will actually have more compete effectively with whatever comes," he said.

In a sign that cord cutting hasn't become a real issue, Angelakis pointed out that basic cable subscriber losses have remained fairly constant over the past two years and argued they are mainly driven by increased competition and economic factors.

"Clearly the video business has been softer" than hoped, he acknowledged, citing economic factors. "There is just no robustness in the consumer."
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