Will NBCU and Time Warner Marry?

Those pesky Time Warner-NBC Universal merge stories won't go away.

A May 21 report from CNBC says the possible major media deal is hot on the burner again--for many of the same reasons that have been bandied about for years. Media analysts have long mused that NBC would make a perfect match with Time Warner--given that the largest U.S. media company, Time Warner, still doesn't fully own a viable major TV broadcasting network. (It does hold a half-interest in the mini-broadcast network CW.)

For its part, NBC Universal does not own any major magazines and publishing interests. In the past, former NBC Universal CEO Bob Wright has said a merger of this type would be a good deal for both companies.

With NBC in the basement in terms of ratings, and with Time Warner flush with billions in cash from its spinoff of its Time Warner Cable division, analysts say such merger talk is natural.

Previously, reports circulated that General Electric--the owner of NBC--was looking to put its TV and entertainment division up for sale after this summer's Beijing Olympics, when the network expects to pull in just over a billion dollars in TV advertising sales. GE executives have nixed these rumors.

In the meantime, Time Warner and NBC Universal are separately bidding for one of the last big independently owned cable networks, The Weather Channel. The price tag, according to analysts, could hit $3 billion to $4 billion.



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