US CABLE group Comcast yesterday bought a majority stake in American media group NBC Universal (NBC) from industrial giant General Electric, creating a $37bn (£22.3bn) media and entertainment giant.<br /><br />Comcast said it would acquire 51 per cent of NBC from GE in a joint venture, with the industry-to-finance conglomerate keeping the other 49 per cent. Management of the media group will pass to Comcast.<br /><br />NBC, valued at $30bn, is the world’s fourth largest media firm after Walt Disney, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Time Warner.<br /><br />The deal will give America’s biggest cable operator control of about two dozen cable channels such as Bravo, CNBC and SyFy, the NBC?Television network, local TV?stations, Spain’s Telemundo network, the Universal Pictures film studios and two theme parks in Florida and California.<br /><br />However, the merger will be subject to tough scrutiny by competition regulators. <br /><br />Analysts said the tie-up would spark a wave of mega-mergers as other media companies look to grow in size, and that more entertainment will ultimately disappear behind pay walls.<br /><br />Comcast chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts said:?“This deal is a perfect fit for Comcast and will allow us to become a leader in the development and distribution of multiplatform ‘anytime, anywhere’ media that American consumers are demanding.”<br /><br />GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt said: “The combination of Comcast’s cable and regional sports networks and digital media properties and NBC will deliver strong returns for GE?shareholders.”<br /><br />Regulatory approval and closing of the deal is expected in nine to 12 months. <br /><br />GE will contribute its interest in NBC Universal to the new joint venture valued at $30bn. <br /><br />And Comcast will contribute its cable channels, regional sports networks and internet assets valued in total at $7.25bn.