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Updated from 1:31 p.m. EDT

Robert Wright, the longtime chief of broadcasting giant


, will take the post of vice chairman of the board for

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

, the television network's parent, GE announced on Friday.

Wright, 57, will continue at NBC's helm, a seat he has occupied for nearly 14 years, and will be responsible for overseeing GE's media interest in his new role, the company said.

"Bob's a visionary with a great strategic mind, and he's a strong business leader with outstanding people skills," GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jack Welch said in a statement.

In the future, analyst Lawrence Horan said, NBC could play an increasingly vital role as GE puts an added emphasis on the communications and information fields. GE's decision to broaden Wright's influence, he added, reflects that commitment.

"It's not the new economy, as Jack

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Welch puts it. It's just new tools, and GE is embracing the power of those tools. And NBC is at the forefront of that," said Horan, who follows the company for


. "Giving Wright additional leadership responsibilities is important. It raises his strategic importance."

Welch plans to retire in 2001, and analysts who track the company have said the presidents of

GE Medical Systems


GE Power Systems


GE Aircraft Engines

are the apparent frontrunners for Welch's position.

GE finished down 1 9/16, or 3%, at 50 15/16.