Are GE Shareholders really upset that MSNBC is a ratings success?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

That's what The Hollywood Reporter claims, although its report seems a bit fishy. Here's THR's take:

Things got testy Wednesday at the GE shareholders meeting courtesy of several complaints about [liberal] political bias at its media division, NBC Universal.

That just seems odd. And I'm not referring to the fact that MSNBC's entire morning block is hosted by a former GOP Congressman. (Great way to advance that liberal agenda, eh?) But rather, why would GE shareholders, who invest in the global conglomerate to earn back dividends, be upset that the GE-owned cable outlet has practically doubled its ratings in recent years? Why would GE shareholders, who have suffered through dismal earning reports from the business icon recently, be upset that its cable news unit was bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue?

Meaning, is that really a deep concern among GE investors about MSNBC, or did some activists try to hijack the annual GE proceedings? Here's the clue, which came in the article's final paragraph:

One shareholder at the Orlando, Fla., meeting was Jesse Waters, a producer of "The O'Reilly Factor." Waters asked a question at the meeting, then turned on the Fox News Channel cameras outside the venue and interviewed other shareholders who attended the meeting.

This is a classic stunt: buy minimal shares in a company in order to be granted access to the annual shareholder meeting where you might be allowed to ask the chairman a question. Are GE shareholders worldwide upset that MSNBC's become a ratings hit in recent years? Outside of O'Reilly's paid players, there's no indication that's the case.

Also, note that THR hyped the MSNBC "drama" at the shareholder meeting, but neither Bloomberg nor AP nor WSJ even mentioned the topic in their dispatches from GE's annual confab.

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