It was just one of the reasons that parent company General Electric reported a 47% drop in 2nd quarter earnings today. Problems in the finance sectors were expected. But NBC Universal helped drag down even the non-finance performance with profit off 41% because of declines in broadcast and local TV because of the down ad market in this recession. During the earnings call, according to news reports, GE executives said that while NBCU’s cable channels were all up, NBCU’s broadcast was down by about $100 million, mostly due to writedowns. GE has Bob Wright to thank for that cable safety net since he drew up the blueprint of multiple revenue streams to augment broadcast — a blueprint which Jeff Zucker has been following (and claiming credit for) while he “manages for margins”. For the year, the company expects NBCU to post declines between 15%-25%.

Turning to the sluggish upfront negotiations, despite reports of recent movement in dealmaking, GE execs expect NBCU to retain a larger portion of its ad inventory for the scatter market this fall compared to previous years.