Comcast's Burke: We Want to Reinvigorate NBC's Local News Operations USA Today

Comcast's COO, Stephen Burke, who will soon become CEO of NBC Universal, says " "We would like to see the local NBC stations brought back to the position of strength they were in a decade ago, and a big part of that will be local news," according to an article by David Lieberman in USA Today.

Says the story, "The most promising opportunity seems to be hyperlocal news: Comcast could feed stories produced by its local stations to channels or websites that would be distributed through Comcast's cable and broadband services."

The article also speculates about the upcoming relationship between Comcast and NBC News in general, noting that "The company is becoming television's dominant newscaster, with enormous influence on civic life."

The article also notes what Comcast has agreed to do--newswise--as part of its deal to win government approval of the NBCU deal:

"•For the next three years, Comcast won't cut the amount of time for local newscasts at the 10 NBC stations it owns.

•The company's NBC stations will collectively add 1,000 hours a year of original, local news and information programming. Its Spanish-language Telemundo stations will also collectively add 1,000 hours of local news.

•This year, the company will introduce an independently produced weekly business news program for Telemundo stations.

•Within 12 months, at least five of Comcast's NBC stations will forge partnerships with outside organizations that produce neighborhood-level--also known as hyperlocal--news."

The article also notes that Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC last week "was awkward for Comcast." Comcast has said it had no involvement with that move.

The article adds, "Fans of the politically liberal commentary on MSNBC are especially wary about Burke. He was a leading fundraiser for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential campaign."

The story also adds, "Comcast promised federal officials that it will protect its news operations from management interference by continuing to employ David McCormick as ombudsman — a position that GE created — who will investigate possible problems. And Burke says he understands, and will respect, the need for journalistic independence."