Still, the rumors seemed at least to have inspired Mr. Cosby. “Bill kept reading about Barry Diller and Paramount,” Mr. Brokaw said. “He approached me a couple of weeks ago and said: ‘We’re been hearing about all these different people buying NBC. I want you to tell NBC we’re seriously interested.’ ”

Some financial analysts have suggested that General Electric probably does want to sell NBC. “There are really only two or three options for NBC,” said John Tinker, a media analyst for Furman Selz Inc. “They can try to rebuild, but the same team is still in place so that doesn’t seem to be the plan. The other option is to sell, but then you have book-value problems. So they’re left to fudge in the middle and every day NBC loses more value.”