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June 05, 2009

GE/NBC Punished Paper for Running Story on Shareholder Meeting

You guys remember that story about a GE shareholders meeting last month in which shareholders (including a Fox News producer) tried to find out if GE or subsidiary NBC-Uni told CNBC to back off criticism of the President.

According to that story, the CEO dodged the questions and then shut down the microphone.

Well, it sounds like first GE and then NBC decided to punish the trade paper that ran the story.

According to my sources inside and outside Nielsen Business Media, The Hollywood Reporter trade publication ran a story dated April 22nd and updated on April 24th covering the "drama" at the most recent GE shareholders meeting in Orlando. THR's West Coast Business Editor Paul Bond wasn't sent to the meeting, but he interviewed about half a dozen people who'd been inside the shareholders meeting and told him what transpired (see below). Bond's THR story focused on the attempts by stockholders and Fox News Channel and other media to find out whether or not GE Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Immelt ordered his news operations to be less critical of President Obama and his policies.

Bond's story was immediately picked up by The Drudge Report under the headline "GE shareholders outraged over MSNBC bias; Microphone cut off." It became a widely posted news story on conservative and liberal and media websites everywhere. That's when, sources inside and outside Nielsen Business Media tell me, GE Chairman Jeff Immelt ordered a GE company-wide ban on all of THR's parent company: advertising, editorial, the works. After a few days, the ban was reduced to GE's NBC Universal against Nielsen Business Media's The Hollywood Reporter and lasted six weeks. (My NBC Universal sources believe the ban was lifted yesterday.)

It's how the game is played. If GE doesn't want media coverage of something, it can bring quite a bit of pressure not to run it. Rump-AOL wishes it could muster as much influence to shut down the Playboy story.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:30 PM

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