Brian Roberts, the Chairman and CEO of Comcast, gave an hour-long keynote interview to Wall St. Journal online executive editor Alan Murray at the State of the Net Conference in Washington this morning. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • Brian reiterated how excited he is by the proposed NBCU joint venture. "This is fundamentally a bet on America," he said, anticipating that the economy is recovering, Internet demand will grow, and that "television will remain an important part of our lives." He also stressed that this deal is not about cutting jobs, but about keeping up with change and making NBCU "more deeply involved" with the digital future.

  • Despite some of NBC’s challenges, "we think there is a vibrant role for local and national broadcast TV," he said. He also said "there’s going to be a thorough regulatory review," but he said he hopes it will be completed on a timely basis.

  • Alan Murray asked Brian about his frequent comment that "the Internet is friend, not foe." Brian noted that the cable industry "made a tough decision to invest in fiber optics before anyone else (in the mid-Nineties)" which powered cable’s push to be the first to bring high-speed Internet to American homes. He spoke about the challenges and opportunities the Internet presents. "Broadband is still the best-growing part of our company. We will invest in broadband. We want to be faster than (the competition)."

  • Alan Murray asked Brian about the cable industry’s reputation for innovation (contrasting it with Apple’s on the day that Apple is releasing its new tablet device), Brian mentioned some of Comcast’s innovations in areas like high-speed Internet, video on demand, Comcast Digital Voice. He also highlighted the vision of Comcast’s Project Infinity - "unlimited choice, unlimited devices… At the end of it all, we’re enabling as much change as any company."

  • Asked about the net neutrality debate, Brian reaffirmed Comcast’s commitment to an open Internet. Referring to Web-based innovations, he said "none of us wants to get in the way of that innovation, or can or will." He commended FCC Chairman Genachowski’s "open and transparent process" to decide whether new rules are needed.

The conference is an annual event of the Advisory Committee of the Congressional Internet Caucus and organized by the Internet Education Foundation. This year’s conference also highlights cybersecurity, copyright in an Internet age, global free expression, and smart grid, among other hot topics. We’ll add a link to the streaming version of this keynote interview when it is posted.

Update 1/29/10: The video of the session is now available on C-SPAN.