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Comcast not looking to sell any of NBC's parts

In an interview at D: All Things Digital, Comcast COO Steve Burke said that cable channels, movie studios, and theme parks make for a "well-rounded" media company.

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.--Comcast COO Steve Burke said on Wednesday that Comcast isn't looking to get rid of NBC Universal's movie studios or theme parks, saying that all of its parts are part of a good media company.

"Our modus operandi is not to sell things," Burke said, kicking off the first full day of the D: All Things Digital conference, noting that all of NBC Universal's many businesses make it "well-rounded."

Steve Burke
Comcast COO Steve Burke talks with Kara Swisher at the D8 conference on Wednesday. Asa Mathat | All Things Digital

However, while he said that content and distribution can make for a good marriage, he said that is only the case if they are actively brought together well. "They don't work together unless you make them work together," he said.

Comcast is slated to close its deal to buy NBC Universal by the end of the year, Burke reiterated. The states of the businesses Comcast is getting are in different stages, he noted.

"The majority of the cash in most (TV) companies comes from cable," he said, adding that is even more true with NBC Universal. But even though he said that the network businesses are "extremely challenged," there are some positive signs on the horizon.

Plus, he said, including cable, the big media companies are making as much money in television as ever. Broadcast networks themselves still serve a purpose.

"For big events, there is nothing like broadcast television," he said. "You look at the Olympics, you look at American Idol...When you get it right, that is an audience that is very attractive to advertisers.

As for the company's traditional distribution business over cable, Burke said he is not worried that Americans will choose to give up subscription television in favor of Hulu and other alternatives.

"There's very little evidence people are giving up their subscription television," he said. "All these other things are complementary."

Moderator Kara Swisher asked Burke about 3D television. "I think it remains to be seen what percent of your viewing will be 3D...but there's no question it is coming."

However, Burke noted that HDTV took years of very slow growth before it took off. The technology that enables 3D is fairly inexpensive, he said, noting that even today it only adds about $500 to the cost of making a TV. "That $500 will come down to essentially nothing."

Asked what he thinks is the most interesting thing in tech, Burke pointed to the iPad, which he also said Comcast plans to use as a remote control for navigating through the cable company's program guide.

"I think the iPad is just extraordinary," Burke said. "I bring it everywhere I go."

One of the audience members asked about the company's efforts to police its high-speed Internet use.

"It's very important to us that we provide really reliable, very fast Internet service," he said. "We believe in an open Internet...That having been said, you need to make sure that the network is run efficiently and well."

Protecting privacy and copyright, he said, are also important aims," he said. "It's very, very complicated. You walk this fine line trying to make sure the highway is not jammed with cars."

Another questioner pointedly told Burke that a lot of his customers hated the company because of its service.

"You don't get it right all the time," he said, but said the company has spent hundreds of millions on both its system and customer service.

"We are clearly getting better," he said. "It's a competitive world. If you don't take care of your customers, they will go somewhere else."

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