Comcast doesn't offer cable and Internet services in New York City, but it wants residents of the Big Apple to know it actually exists. How? By putting its name up in neon lights on top of NYC's tallest billboard.
30 Rockefeller Plaza has long been known as a beloved landmark in the city, even having its own television show named after it. Now that Comcast owns majority of NBC Universal, the building's main occupant, the corporate giant that wants to swallow up Time Warner Cable also wants to get rid of the 24-foot GE sign on top of the art deco skyscraper and put its own name and logo in place.
And Comcast is well on its way to gaining approval. Last Thursday, the local borough advisory board gave its blessing on Comcast's plan to place a 12-foot high LED sign that spells out the company name on the northern and southern facades of the 70-story building, topped by a 10-foot-high NBC peacock logo. A lone 17-foot-high peacock would be placed on the building's western side that faces a strip of high-rise condominiums on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. The proposal also includes a new marquee on the Avenue of the Americas promoting NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
According to a report by the New York Times, Comcast has already applied for a certificate of appropriateness, which is to be granted by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of NYC. Local conservationists are not happy with the news, noting that the building has always been known to New Yorkers as the RCA building to refer to Radio Broadcast Association, the building's main occupants. However, they don't think the proposal to put the Comcast name on top of the building will be turned down, since history favors the approval of signage changes.
"If it's the GE Building now and the owners want to change it to Comcast, OK, I say with a sigh because it's still not going back to being the RCA Building," says Carol Krinsky, art history professor at New York University and author of "Rockefeller Center. "The building is really, really the RCA Building, because the Radio Corporation of America saved Mr. Rockefeller's financial neck by entering the project."
General Electric established Radio Broadcasting Association in 1919, but gave up ownership in 1930 as a result of antitrust regulation. RCA first occupied 30 Rockefeller Plaza following its completion in 1933 and, up until 1969, the building showcased a prominent sans serif amber-colored RCA logo on top until it was replaced by a neon red version. In 1988, GE reacquired RCA, which led to the replacement of the RCA logo to the GE logo that is sitting on top of the building right now.