Biz Briefs

Sep 29, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Vivendi Universal executives said last week they are probably a few weeks away from signing the contract that would link their Vivendi Universal Entertainment unit with General Electric’s NBC division and that final approval from regulators in the United States. and Europe would come in the second quarter of next year. That news came as Paris-based Vivendi reported a narrowed loss of 632 million euros ($725.2 million) for the first six months vs. a year-earlier loss of 12.3 billion euros ($14.1 billion). VUE’s television business saw its operating income fall 7 percent for the six-month period, mainly due to higher investments in original programming. Also, a federal judge in New York last week blocked deposed Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Marie Messier from collecting a $23 million severance payment that a New York state judge on Sept. 11 ordered Vivendi to pay. The Securities and Exchange Commission then asked the federal court to block the payment while Vivendi and Mr. Messier are under investigation for accounting misdeeds.
Comcast, Liberty Ink Distribution Pact
Comcast and Liberty Media’s Starz! Encore cable networks said last week they had ended their legal fight over programming fees and inked a new multiyear distribution agreement that one analyst described as favorable to Comcast and that could portend the kind of muscle Comcast could flex with other programmers. Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the two companies said the agreement calls for Comcast’s systems to carry the Starz! and Encore pay-TV channels and makes available the channels’ high-definition and subscription video-on-demand offerings in markets where Comcast offers such services. In a victory for Comcast, the pact also calls for Comcast to pay Starz! on a per-subscriber basis instead of the flat fee that Starz! had pushed for and that had been at the center of a nearly yearlong legal tussle between the two companies.