Comcast watches NBC's wallet

NBC's "30 Rock'' has poked fun at the inevitable culture clash between the worlds of Kabletown - the spoof version of Pennsylvania-based Comcast - and a broadcast network accustomed to the less careful spending habits of General Electric, a multinational behemoth.

Soon, life might be imitating art. New CEO Steve Burke made it clear on a call with investors this past week the new NBC will not be inclined to take losses lightly.

"We're here to make money, and we're going to be disciplined,'' he said.

That thinking could be decisive when the IOC sells rights to the 2014 and '16 Olympics this summer. NBC lost more than $200 million in Vancouver last year and expects losses again in London in '12.

With ESPN and Fox likely to be involved, the folks at Kabletown might decide the Games' finances are no laughing matter.


NBC is Hockeytown

Happy "Hockey Day in America,'' America!

It's the day on which NBC celebrates the facts that NBA safely is out of the way in prime time and that hockey and Daytona 500 fans usually aren't the same people.

Executive producer Sam Flood said he borrowed the idea from the CBC when he was in Vancouver for the Olympics last year.

Flyers-Rangers will be one of three regional games, followed by national coverage of the Penguins and Blackhawks, then the outdoor "Heritage Classic'' between the Canadiens and Flames on Versus.

NBC and Versus are working together on the day's events, their first major partnership since becoming corporate siblings last month.

Moving forward, the big question is whether the fact Comcast now owns both of the NHL's U.S. TV partners enhances the likelihood of the league remaining on those channels after this season.

Assuming the prices are fair, it should. Both have done right by the league in the post-lockout era.


Kornheiser gets red flag

No major sport has a greater cultural divide between fans and non-fans than stock car racing, a gap that is even more sensitive than usual around Daytona 500 time.

Double that if the subject is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

So when Tony Kornheiser suggested on ESPN that NASCAR had rigged qualifying to place Earnhardt on the pole 10 years after his father's death, it was like igniting a blowtorch during a refueling stop.

Take Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip: "Kornheiser needs to learn to keep his mouth shut and people maybe wouldn't question how smart he is. He just blurted something out that shows how little he knows about this sport.''

And ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett: "It wouldn't matter who said it or what network it might have been on, but it - - me off that somebody thinks that.''


Swimsuits are

$I's golden goose

Does it make me a hypocrite to regard Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue as shameless and exploitative, and yet on balance to be glad it exists, seeing as how it is the economic engine that helps keep the venerable magazine running and many of my friends and colleagues employed?

Probably so. But I am a devout pragmatist, and pretty, mostly naked, young women always have been good for business and always will be, and it's not SI's responsibility to wish that reality away. So there you have it. Enjoy!


RIP, MSG press room

After 43 years of service, Madison Square Garden's John F.X. Condon press room closed its doors for good following Thursday's Rangers game.

Generations of journalists produced countless millions of words in the sixth-floor room (named in 1998 for the late Garden public address announcer) while consuming countless gallons of coffee and whining to colleagues about countless clueless editors.

The makeshift room - the original Garden plans neglected to plan for media facilities - will be gutted as part of the massive renovation of the building. Reporters will use a temporary area until a new room opens later this year.


'Lombardi' producers

take shot at hoops

Part of the motivation for bringing "Lombardi" to Broadway was to counter the notion that being a fan of sports and theater is mutually exclusive.

The formula has worked so well, producers Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser announced Thursday they are bringing another sports show to the theater in 2012.

"Magic/Bird," produced in association with the NBA - as "Lombardi" was with the NFL - and written, as "Lombardi" was, by Eric Simonson, will focus on the relationship between the iconic stars.

One advantage the show will have that "Lombardi" understandably did not:

The real-life versions of the lead characters will participate in the creative process.

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