Those are time frames during which pictures can be viewed in theaters, on disc, over subscription cable channels or via video on demand.
Despite a stall in the talks just over a week ago, Comcast has continued to close in on a deal that would give it the reins of an entertainment company valued at $30 billion. General Electric , which currently controls NBC Universal, would become a minority owner, while buying out a 20 percent stake held by its partner, Vivendi.
Because talks are continuing, executives from both Comcast and NBC Universal declined to discuss their plans for the film studio, which is to be run by its president, Ron Meyer, and his current boss, Jeff Zucker, during a regulatory review that is expected to last as long as a year.
Privately, however, people who have been briefed on the possible combination — and who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the negotiations — said they expected Universal, hurt by weak films and industry-wide erosion in DVD revenue, to become a laboratory for an owner that might have to reformulate the movie industry’s approach to its own customers.
In the short term, much of Hollywood is simply relieved that Universal has not been scooped up by companies like Time Warner or the News Corporation , which might have absorbed the company’s 4,000-film library while folding its operations into movie units of their own, Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox respectively.
“Hopefully, it will give stability to the studio, because we can’t afford to lose another major film studio,” Michael Shamberg, a producer of “Erin Brockovich” and “Along Came Polly” for Universal, said of the Comcast deal.
Mr. Shamberg, who was interviewed via e-mail, said that corporate turmoil had recently curtailed activity at MGM, while units like New Line Cinema, Paramount Vantage, Miramax Films and Warner Independent Pictures had already been downsized or eliminated.
Comcast executives have not signaled changes in the mix of films at Universal, staff cuts or another round of management change. Only last month at Universal, its two chairmen, Marc Shmuger and David Linde, were forced out in a shake-up that left the former marketing president, Adam Fogelson, in the chairman’s post, under Mr. Meyer and Mr. Zucker.
It has been a pretty rough patch for Universal, which ranked as high as No. 2 in market share among Hollywood studios in the early years of the decade, but is now a dismal sixth in the wake of flops like “Land of the Lost.”
Internally, many at Universal are nearly giddy at the prospect of liberation from the management systems at G.E., which have galled studio managers since the conglomerate took charge in 2003, after successive ownership of the studio by Vivendi, Seagram, Matsushita and MCA Inc.
Under G.E., film executives have complained about what they see as a rigid insistence on quarterly profit growth — difficult to sustain in a business where a surprise hit like “Mamma Mia!” can be followed by a heavily promoted disappointment like “The Express” — and management review systems that have complicated routine matters like the hiring of a lawyer or a change in a release date.