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CNBC TRANSCRIPT: JEFF ZUCKER, NBC UNIVERSAL PRESIDENT AND CEO, ON CNBC'S "SQUAWK BOX" TODAY

Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker

WHEN: TODAY, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4TH

WHERE: CNBC'S "SQUAWK BOX"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker on CNBC's "Squawk Box" today.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

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KERNEN: COMCAST MAKING A DEAL WITH GE TO BUY CONTROLLING STAKE IN OUR PARENT COMPANY NBC UNIVERSAL. JOINING US NBC UNIVERSAL PRESIDENT AND CEO JEFF ZUCKER, WHO WE'RE VERY GLAD TO SEE ON THE SET.

ZUCKER: IT'S NOT THAT FAR.

KERNEN: NO.

ZUCKER: AND JOE, THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME OUT AND SEE BECKY THIS EARLY IS GREAT.

KERNEN: I FULLY EXPECTED THAT. I AM READY FOR YOU. LET'S FIND OUT WHAT IT BRINGS TO NBC AND WHAT IT BRINGS TO COMCAST. WHICH WAY DO YOU WANT TO START?

ZUCKER: LOOK, THIS OBVIOUSLY IS AN EXCITING DAY FOR EVERYBODY INVOLVED. FOR NBC UNIVERSAL, IT'S THE NEXT TRANSFORMATION, NEXT EVOLUTION OF THE COMPANY. YOU GO BACK SEVEN YEARS, WE WERE DOMESTICALLY FOCUSED BROADCAST NETWORK WITH TWO CABLE NEWS NETWORKS. THEN THE MERGER WITH UNIVERSAL TRANSFORMED THE COMPANY. HERE WE ARE AGAIN SIX YEARS LATER ANOTHER EVOLUTION AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE COMPANY. YOU WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE NBC UNIVERSAL FROM WHAT IT WAS SEVEN YEARS AGO. IT'S AN INCREDIBLY DIFFERENT COMPANY. AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT IT DOES FOR US IN THIS DAY AND AGE YOU HAVE TO KEEP TRANSFORMING YOURSELF.THIS BRINGS ASSETS, SOME GREAT CABLE NETWORKS, DIGITAL ASSETS, TEN REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORKS. NBC UNIVERSAL IS VASTLY DIFFERENT COMPANY. THAT'S VERY EXCITING FOR US.

KERNEN: EVEN WITHOUT ANY COST SYNERGIES, WHATEVER, PAST MEDIA MERGERS THEY HAVE USED, BRIAN ROBERTS DID IT IN A WAY THAT STILL MAKES SENSE. YOU FIGURE CONTENT AND PIPES AND DISTRIBUTION, IFYOU CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO THAT, YOU NEED IT TO EXIST AS A MEDIA COMPANY IN THIS DAY AND AGE IN THE DIGITAL AGE, HOW WILL HE DO THAT? WHAT DO YOU FORESEE?

ZUCKER: WELL I THINK THAT IS RIGHT JOE WE'RE IN A WHOLE NEW ERA. DIGITAL HAS TRANSFORMED THE WAY EVERYBODY CONSUMES CONTENT, THE WAY THEY WATCH THE SHOW ON A HAND-HELD DEVICE. I THINK THE MARRIAGE OF CONTENT AND DISTRIBUTION, WHICH HAS WORKED IN THE PAST, JUST BECAUSE IT HASN'T NECESSARILY WORKED IN ONE PLACE DOESN'T MEAN IT WON'T WORK IN OTHERS.IT HAS. IN THIS DIGITAL ERA, THE ABILITY TO MANAGE CONTENT ACROSS ALL PLATFORMS, MAKE IT AVAILABLE WHEN AND WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO WATCH IT, THAT'S REALLY WHAT THE PROMISE IS. THAT'S REALLY WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE WHAT'S EXCITINGABOUT THIS.

KERNEN: YOU SEE CONTENT BEING PIRATED. YOU SEE IT FREE. PEOPLE CRITICIZES GOOGLE. IT'S BECOME WORTH LESS.

ZUCKER: JOE, I THINK ACTUALLY WHAT THIS ESTABLISHES IS THE WORTH OF CONTENT. I THINK THAT'S WHAT THIS DEAL REALLY IS ABOUT.PLACES A GREAT VALUE ON IT IF YOU CAN MAKE SURE YOU CAN CONTROL AND GET PAID AND GET PAID --

KERNEN: RIGHT WHAT WILL YOU DO WHERE REGULATORS WON'T SAY -- I CAN ENVISION THINGS YOU COULD DO IF YOU WERE BRIAN ROBERTS WITH CONTENT WHERE YOU COULD LIKE REALLY RUN THINGS, BUT REGULATORS MIGHT SAY, WHOA, YOU CAN'T DO THAT. HOW CAN YOU MAKE SURE YOU CAN DO THIS WITHOUT IT BEING ANTI-COMPETITIVE.

ZUCKER: WELL LOOK YESTERDAY COMCAST STEPPED UP AND MADE A NUMBER OF COMMITMENTSON DAY ONE THAT MADE IT CLEAR THAT THEY UNDERSTAND THIS, IT'S PRO CONSUMER, IT'S CLEARLY IN THE INTEREST OF VIEWERS, TELEVISION SHOWS AND FILMS. I THINK COMCAST IS CLEARLY COMMITTED TO MAKING SURE THAT'S THE CASE.

QUICK: YOU KNOW, JEFF, IN THIS NEW WORLD WHERE YOU START TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WATCHING SHOWS ON THEIR BLACKBERRIES OR WHATEVER THEY ARE CARRYING AROUND, THAT IS GOING TO BE WHERE PEOPLE END UP PAYING THEMSELVES OR TRADITIONAL MODEL WHERE YOU HAVE ADVERTISING, ADVERTISERS PAYING THE BULK.

ZUCKER: I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE ALL OF THAT. AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT WE'RE ALL GRAPPLING WITH NOW, HOW DO YOU GET PAID FOR YOUR CONTENT? WE'RE ALL LOOKING FOR NEW AVENUES, NEW WINDOWS. I THINK THE COMBINATION HERE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WILL HELP US EXPERIMENT WITH THAT, WILL HELP US THINK ABOUT NEW WAYS TO DO THAT.THAT'S REALLY WHAT WE HAVE TO DO. WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT RIGHT NOW. THAT'S WHY IT FEELS SO UNCERTAIN, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE IN THE CHANGE. WE CAN'T SEE WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN FOR SURE. THAT'S WHY SOME PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS ABOUT IT. REALLY WE'RE SO EARLY IN THE GAME BUT WE'RE IN THE GAME.

QUICK: THE BROADCAST MODEL, OBVIOUSLY THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF ANXIETY LIES. IS THAT THE RIGHT WAY, CAN IT SUSTAIN A NETWORK TWO YEARS FROM NOW, FIVE YEARS FROM NOW.

ZUCKER: ADVERTISING ONLY SUPPORTED MODEL OF BROADCAST NETWORK ONE REVENUE STREAM MAKES THAT MORE DIFFICULT. THAT'S WHAT WE'VE STRUGGLED WITH AND OBVIOUSLY AT NBC WE STRUGGLED WITH THAT AT THE SAME TIME THAT WE HAVEN'T DONE AS WELL AS WE USED TO DO IN PRIME TIME. SO THE COMBINATION OF THAT HAS OBVIOUSLY SHOWN A MUCH BIGGER LIGHT AND MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT. OBVIOUSLY WE NEED TO FIND A MODEL THAT'S SIMILAR TO THE CABLE MODEL THAT MAKES NETWORKS LIKE CNBC AND USA AND SCI-FI AND BRAVO SO FANTASTIC.WE NEED TO FIND A SECOND REVENUE STREAM. THAT'S WHAT WE'RE ALL GRAPPLING WITH.

GUEST HOST RANDALL KROSZNER: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST REGULATORY OBSTACLES TO DEVELOPING THE NEW MODEL, BRING CONTENT TO PEOPLE WHO WANT IT IN ALL THESE DIFFERENT VENUES.

ZUCKER: I DON'T KNOW THERE'S REGULATORY OBSTACLES TO THAT. I THINK IT'S JUST A MATTER OF MAKING SURE WE'RE GETTING PAID IN ALL OF THOSE NEW PLACES AND MAKING SURE THAT OUR CONTENT IS NOT BEING PIRATED AS JOE TALKED ABOUT. I THINK THOSE ARE THE KEYS. I THINK THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE COMCAST FAMILY AND WORK WITH THEM AS WE DO THAT, I THINK IT ACTUALLY OPENS SOME NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR THAT.

KERNEN: JEFF, YOU'VE SEEN LIKE THE OLD 10:00 P.M. DRAMA, SUDDENLY YOU CAN FIND THOSE ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING ALL OVER THE PLACE, YOU KNOW, COMPETITORS, USA.DOES IT MAKE -- DO WE NEED TO HAVE -- SPEND ALL KINDS OF MONEY TO GET NBC ANOTHER ER? WILL YOU EVER TRY TO DO THAT AGAIN?

ZUCKER: YEAH, LOOK, I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO MAKE CLEAR WHILE WE'RE TRYING TO WORK ON THE BUSINESS MODEL AT THE NETWORK -- AGAIN, THE NETWORK IS A TINY PIECE OF THIS LARGE COMPANY BUT ATTRACTS LARGE ATTENTION WHILE WE'RE WORKING ON THE MODEL AND WORKING ON NEW REVENUE STREAMS AND NEW HIT SHOWS, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE WANT TO HAVE GREAT PROGRAMS, WE WANT TO HAVE THE NEXT ER. YOU PROBABLY CAN'T HAVE TEN NEW ERs BUT WE WANT TO HAVE GREAT PROGRAMS AND GREAT DRAMAS AND WEWANT THEM TO AIR ALL ACROSS NBC.

KERNEN: WILL THEY AIR AT 10:00? ARE YOU GLAD YOU DID THAT? WILL WE STICK WITH THE LENO --

ZUCKER: OBVIOUSLY, AGAIN, THAT'S OBVIOUSLY NEW AS WELL. I THINK WE HAVE TO GIVE TIME FORTHESE THINGS TO PLAY OUT.RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF ITS PERFORMANCE ON THE TELEVISION NETWORK ON NBC, IT'S DOING IN TERMS OF RATINGS EXACTLY WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WOULD DO.I THINK IN TERMS OF WHAT IT'S DONE TO THE LOCAL STATIONS AND AFFILIATES, OBVIOUSLY IT'S HAD A GREATER IMPACT THERE.THAT'S OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING WE'RE ASSESSING AND WE HAVE TO LOOK AT.

QUICK: CAN THE O & Os STILL SURVIVE?

ZUCKER: I THINK THE LOCAL STATIONS ACTUALLY HAVE A VERY STRONG FUTURE. THE FACT IS WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT IN THE COMCAST WORLD AS WELL WHERE THEY ARE REALLY LOCAL CABLE GROUPS, THE IDEA OF LOCALISM IS VERY IMPORTANT AND THAT'S IN THE NEW WORLD. BUT FOR US, THAT MARKET IS COMING BACK A LITTLE BIT. I THINK WE'VE MADE CHANGES TO THE LOCAL STATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE AND I THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD STORY IN THE YEARS TO COME.

KERNEN: WITH BRIAN AND COMCAST FACING SATELLITE, FACING THE INTERNET, HOW DOES THIS PRESERVE CABLE FOR THE NEXT 10 OR 20 YEARS WITH THIS NEW TECHNOLOGY? DOES THIS ALLOW THEM TO KEEP PUTTING THROUGH CABLE PIPES?

ZUCKER: THE CABLE MODEL HAS BEEN FANTASTIC.IT CONTINUES TO BE ROBUST.

KERNEN: IT'S SCARY NOW THOUGH

ZUCKER: WELL YEAH BUT IT'S WHAT -- IT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WE'RE SITTING IN THIS BEAUTIFUL STUDIO IN ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS.IT'S HELPED US DO THAT. ITS MODEL IS STILL VIBRANT. BUT THE FACT IS THERE'S OTHER COMPETITION IS GOOD FOR NBC UNIVERSAL AND PEOPLE LIKE US, COMPANIES LIKE THIS. SO IN THE END THAT'S GOOD FOR COMCAST AS WELL.

KERNEN: COMCAST PROBABLY WON'T WANT TO -- NOW THAT THEY ARE PRODUCING SOME CONTENT THAT THEY ARE BUYING FOR CABLE -- IT'S ALLWEIRD. DON'T THEY WANT TO HOLD DOWN HOWMUCH MONEY THEY SPEND PRODUCING IT.

QUICK: IT'S LIKE A BIG ACCOUNTING LEDGER.

ZUCKER: WELL LOOK OBVIOUSLY COMCAST IS A BIG COMPANY AND THEY HAVE, YOU KNOW, 80% OF THEIR COMPANY IS STILL THE CABLE PORTION OF THEIR COMPANY, SO THEY WILL WANT TO DO EVERYTHING ON THAT SIDE. BUT WITH REGARD TO NBC UNIVERSAL AND OWNING NBC UNIVERSAL, THEY WILL OBVIOUSLY HAVE GOALS THERE, TOO. LISTEN, WE ALL PLAY IN DIFFERENT BUCKETS.

KERNEN: THEY ARE DOING TO BE TALKING US DOWN, HOW MUCH THEY PAY FOR THE SHOW.

ZUCKER: JOE, JOE, JOE -- LET ME SAY THIS.NOBODY WILL EVER BE TALKING DOWN CNBC OR "SQUAWK BOX."

KERNEN: THAT'S GOOD. THAT'S THE RIGHT ANSWER

ZUCKER: WHERE IS CARL, BY THE WAY?

KERNEN: HE'S AFRAID.

ZUCKER: HE'S IN HIDING.

KERNEN: HIS FUTURE IS IN QUESTION.

ZUCKER: HIS FUTURE IS NOT IN QUESTION, LET'S BE CLEAR.

KERNEN: BELIEVE I KNOW HE'S DOING NIGHTLY NEWS, THE "TODAY" SHOW,

KERNENl IS EBERSOL, HE MUST BE LIKE ON MY GOD HIS UNIVERSE JUST EXPLODED.

ZUCKER: DICK EBERSOL WHO IS THE CHAIRMAN OF NBC SPORTS

KERNEN: HE MUST BE VERY EXCITED.

ZUCKER: I THINK ONE OF THE EXCITING POSSIBILITIES HERE, OBVIOUSLY NBC SPORTS, COMCAST BRINGS VERSUS, WHICH IS A NATIONALLY DISTRIBUTED SPORTS NETWORK, THE GOLF CHANNEL, WHICH I KNOW YOU'RE A BIG FAN OF. RIGHT. TEN REGIONAL SPORTS NETWORKS.ONE OF THE THINGS WE'VE HAD A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF SUCCESS WITH NBC UNIVERSAL IS NEWS AND INFORMATION. IF YOU THINK ABOUT BROADCAST NEWS, CABLE, CNBC, MSNBC, ONLINE MSNBC.COM AND CNBC.COM. YOU THINK ABOUT THOSE IN THE SPORTS WORLD ON THE BROADCAST SIDE, CABLE SIDE, DIGITAL SIDE, I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAS US REALLY IMAGINING THE POSSIBILITIES AS WE LOOK FORWARD.

QUICK: WE'VE GOT 12 MONTHS PROBABLY AT LEAST TO GO THROUGH THE REGULATORY PROCESS ON THIS HOW DO THINGS CHANGE IN THE MEANTIME CAN YOU EXPERIMENT CAN YOU TRY THINGS

ZUCKER: WELL OBVIOUSLY LOOK WHILE WE ARE IN THAT PERIOD THE WAY THINGS HAVE BEEN WILL CONTINUE TO BE BUSINESS AS NORMAL BUSINESS THE WAY ITS BEEN BUT WE'LL BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT THOSE THINGS WE'LL BEGIN A TRANSFORMATION PROCESS BUT OBVIOUSLY WE CAN'T DO ANYTHING UNTIL REGULATORY APPROVAL COMES THROUGH

KERNEN: I GUESS WE'RE CHEAP TOO IN TERMS OF NBC IN TERMS OF OLYMPICS IF YOU DONT WANT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO PAY

ZUCKER: JOE WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT

KERNEN: BRIAN ROBERTS DEFINITELY HAS A FRUGAL REPUTATION WILL PAY UP AND ITS GOOD IF YOU'RE A BUSINESS MAY BUT WILL WE PAY UP FOR AN OLYMPICS THAT WE WOULD NOT MAKE MONEY ON AT THIS POINT

ZUCKER: I THINK WELL LOOK WE'RE NOT IN THE BUSINESS TO LOSE MONEY IN ANYTHING THAT WE ARE DOING

KERNEN: WELL PEOPLE DO IT FOR FOOTBALL

ZUCKER: WELL OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE TIMES WHERE LIKE LOSS LEADERS THAT MAKE SENSE WITH REGARD TO YOUR QUESTION ABOUT THE OLYMPICS OBVIOUSLY WE HAVE THE VANCOUVER GAMES IN TWO MONTHS AND THE OLYMPICS IN 2012 BEYOND THAT IS OBVIOUSLY NOT DECIDED THE OLYMPICS HAS BEEN A HUGE PART OF NBCU THEY'RE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO US ITS SOMETHING WE WOULD LIKE TO STAY IN BUT WE WILL BE PRUDENT FISCALLY PRUDENT AS WE LOOK AT THAT FOR THE 14 AND 16 GAMES

KERNEN: OK ALRIGHT THAT SOUNDS FAIR AND YOU'RE LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT IT'S JUST A

ZUCKER: I LOVE COMING OUT HERE AND BEING WITH YOU JOE THAT'S WHY I AM LOOKING AT YOU LIKE THAT

KERNEN: FROM HERE ON OUT GE WILL STILL BE INVOLVED WITH CERTAIN DECISIONS AT 49%

ZUCKER: LISTEN THERE'S TWO THINGS LET'S REMEMBER GE CONTINUES TO HAVE 80% OF THE COMPANY UNTIL REGULATORY APPROVAL COMES THROUGH AND THEN THEY'LL STILL BE A 49% STAKE OWNER OF THE COMPANY SO I THINK LOOK THAT'S FOR FOLKS LIKE YOU AND BECKY WHO HAVE KNOWN GE FOR A LONG TIME THAT WILL BE NICE TO HAVE THEM AROUND THEYVE BEEN GREAT STEWARDS OF THIS COMPANY FOR A QUARTER OF A CENTURY BUT THEY'LL PLAY A DIFFERENT ROLE OBVIOUSLY

KERNEN: WE HAVE A CHOICE OF GOING TO COMMERCIAL BREAK AND MAKING MONEY OR GOING LONGER WITH YOU

ZUCKER: HERE'S WHAT I THINK WE SHOULD DO GO TO COMMERCIAL BREAK

QUICK: MAKE A LITTLE MONEY

ZUCKER: LET'S MAKE MONEY

KERNEN: WE'LL TALK OFF CAMERA ABOUT IT I HAVE SOME OTHER ONES TO ASK YOU

ZUCKER: OK YOU GOT IT

KERNEN: ALRIGHT THANK YOU

ZUCKER: HAPPY TO BE WITH ALL OF YOU

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