December 12, 2012
Even the Comcast name was on the table over the last year as the company considered a rebranding plan to communicate that it was now both a cable-TV provider and a media conglomerate through its NBC Universal subsidiary. NBC wasn't considered, but other names were, D'Arcy Rudnay, Comcast's chief communications officer, said Tuesday afternoon in a 52d-floor conference room.
The company ultimately decided to keep Comcast - a combination of "communications" and "broadcast" coined by company founder Ralph Roberts in the 1960s - with NBC's colorful peacock logo centered over it. The font was specially created by the global design firm frog - that's right, lowercase "f" - that worked on Apple products in the 1980s.
Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts presented the new logo and website, www.comcastcorporation.com, in an internal meeting Monday at NBC headquarters in New York with 275 Comcast employees in attendance in NBC's Saturday Night Live studio. The employees were being recognized for restoring cable and Internet service in the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy. Roberts, accompanied on stage by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams and cable division head Neil Smit, said the new brand was a "great new image for the company." No longer solely a cable-TV company, Comcast has positioned itself at the intersection of technology and media, Rudnay said.
Comcast acquired a 51 percent interest in NBC Universal in early 2011 from General Electric and is expected to eventually buy the other 49 percent, also from GE. Comcast will continue to market its cable, high-speed Internet, and phone services under the Xfinity name, and the new logo will reflect the corporate parent, now one of the largest companies in the United States, with more than 100,000 employees. Xfinity will remain on the company's ubiquitous white service vans, but the new Comcast lettering with the NBC peacock will be painted on the doors. "We are a whole company and not a company of parts," Roberts said, referring to the combination of the two main business lines, Comcast and NBC, in the logo.
The company developed the new content-rich website - 2,500 pages and 100 videos available to the public - for those curious about Comcast. It will be managed in Philadelphia and contain movie trailers and information about the businesses and history of NBC, Comcast, and Universal, the movie studio. Before launching this website, Comcast's main website, www.comcast.com, was aimed at retail customers. It will remain focused on retail. That site had 29 million visitors in November. Philadelphia Inquirer; also see Wall Street Journal
Federal regulators unanimously approved a plan to allow Dish Network Corp. to use its satellite airwaves to build a new cellular network, a move that could add new capacity to the nation's crowded airwaves. All five Federal Communications Commission members have voted on the rules as of Tuesday, the agency said. "These actions will help meet skyrocketing consumer demand and promote private investment, innovation, and competition, while unlocking billions of dollars of value," FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said.
Under the order, Dish Network would be required to restrict a portion of its spectrum to avoid interference with neighboring airwaves, according to FCC officials. The company would also be required to build out at least 70% of the new network within six years. The agency is "committed to final action" to free up this particular satellite spectrum for mobile use, Chairman Julius Genachowski said in testimony prepared for a Wednesday congressional hearing.
Dish, a satellite-TV provider, could have built a mobile network without the FCC rule changes. But those handsets would have to include a satellite chip, making them more expensive. The rule would allow Dish to use the airwaves for a ground-based cellular network. It may partner with another cellular company to build a network from the spectrum. The company has been aggressively lobbying the FCC for the rule change. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said last month any restriction of the Dish airwaves "would be a game changer" for the company and make his foray into the wireless market "increasingly risky." "The Commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation," Jeff Blum, Dish senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a statement. "Following a more thorough review of the order and its technical details, Dish will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use."
The FCC commissioners also voted to seek public input on proposed rules about vacant airwaves, which are adjacent to Dish's segment and could be auctioned off. Sprint Nextel Corp. has expressed interest in acquiring that spectrum, as it is next to airwaves Sprint already uses. "I expect the Commission to hold the first of those auctions-of H-block-in 2013," Mr. Genachowski said in his testimony, referring to the vacant airwaves. A spokesman for Sprint declined to comment.
Dish had proposed using that portion of spectrum as a "guard band" to limit interference, but that could lessen the spectrum's value. An FCC spokesman has said the swath potentially is worth billions of dollars. The five commissioners will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday to update lawmakers about a spectrum auction program designed to create more airwaves for wireless broadband services by auctioning off what is voluntarily relinquished by broadcast station owners. Tuesday's announcement comes as the FCC works to advance the Obama administration's goal of making 500 MHz of spectrum available for broadband use by 2020. Wall Street Journal
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