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General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt on NBC: 'I hate being No. 4'

Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman and chief executive of NBC Universal parent General Electric Co., expressed some frustration with NBC's lackluster prime-time performance this season in an interview at an industry conference.

"I hate being No. 4," Immelt said at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He was responding to a question by writer and Federated Media Publishing Chairman John Battelle about whether the network's ratings had anything to do with the decision to discuss selling a controlling stake in the entertainment company to cable giant Comcast Corp. That said, he did not say the network's lackluster start to the new season is the motivation behind the Comcast  talks. "I assume we can be No. 1 again," he said.

Immelt added that GE remains "quite comfortable" owning NBC Universal. He indicated that if a deal can't be reached with Vivendi to acquire the French industrial giant's 20% stake of NBC Universal then an IPO by Vivendi "would be fine."

The GE CEO also had some thoughts on how social networking sites are changing how companies operate.

"If you can't tolerate life in a world where you are sharing information openly, you'd better find a new profession," he said.

-- Joe Flint
 
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