As much as I love some of the online initiatives that General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC has been working on these days -- like its Dunder-Mifflin social-networking website -- the upcoming launch of Hulu is making the network do some pretty stupid things.

I'm not talking about NBC's decision to team up with Fox to launch a video-sharing website. I completely understand NBC's desire to have a heartier say in the way that its popular prime-time programming is dispensed. Hulu is set to begin a private beta this month, and as long as it's not overly restrictive or commercialized, it should be a hit.

What concerns me are some of the moronic things that NBC has done in tearing down its presence from popular online hubs like Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes.

Return to sender
Let's tackle the YouTube mess first. You may have heard that the NBC promotional videos that were streaming through YouTube a few days ago have been removed. It's worse than that. Go to and you will find a big red "This channel is not available" warning. In other words, NBC didn't just take down its videos. It deleted the channel.

How stupid is that? NBC's channel may not have been as popular as the one offered by CBS (NYSE:CBS) on YouTube, but it still had tens of thousands of subscribers. These are people who were alerted whenever NBC uploaded fresh clips that promoted hit NBC shows like Heroes and Saturday Night Live.  

Think about this logically. Hulu is still not in open beta. Wouldn't you think that it would be in NBC's best interest to keep the YouTube channel going, if only to have free access to tens of thousands of fans to let them know it's filling out a change-of-address card?

Even if this is a prelude to following Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) footsteps in trying to sue the bejeezus out of Google for copyright infringement, it can't erase the past. It can only obliterate the future promotional benefits.

YouTube was offering NBC a platform for free publicity. More than that, NBC could actually profit from the free promotional activity by partnering with YouTube to get a piece of the ad revenue action. Instead, NBC decided to blow up the bridge.

That's just nuts. It comes just weeks after NBC bolted from Apple -- where it accounted for 30% of the television shows sold through iTunes -- and set up shop at the lesser-known (NASDAQ:AMZN) Unbox, which offers downloading to PCs as well as TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) boxes. There is nothing wrong with giving Amazon's fledgling digital-delivery service a shot, but then NBC devalued those Unbox downloads by proposing to offer its shows for free through its own site -- titled NBC Direct -- as a competing service for penny-pinchers.

Ground control to Major Dumb
It all boils down to control. I get it. However, NBC also has control over what it serves up on Apple, Amazon, and YouTube. The quest for exclusivity has brought out some peculiar eccentricities in NBC's DNA. It's not very flattering.

"Want to get paid to run your free promo clips?" YouTube asks.

"No, thanks," NBC counters.

"Want to get paid to sell your shows as downloads?" Apple asks.

"No, thanks," NBC counters.

"How much longer before we get an open beta of Hulu?" consumers ask.

"No comment," NBC counters.

"Aren't you supposed to leave bread crumbs, so you can find your way back in case you need to?" I ask.

"What are bread crumbs?" NBC counters.

No network is an island, but NBC certainly seems to be acting like it wants to be shipwrecked.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.