Bloomberg Takes Comcast Channel Placement Dispute to FCC
Bloomberg filed a channel “neighborhooding” complaint with the FCC, arguing the cable giant is ignoring a condition placed on it in the NBCUniversal deal, while Comcast reiterates that Bloomberg misinterpreted the condition.
NEW YORK - Bloomberg made good on a recent threat, filing a complaint Monday morning with the FCC that charges that cable giant Comcast has ignored a condition on channel placement that was included in the FCC order that approved its acquisition of NBCUniversal.
Meanwhile, Comcast reiterated its stance that it hasn’t violated the order, saying the FCC didn't require it to move the Bloomberg TV financial news channel next to CNBC in its channel lineup and reiterating that it hasn't given NBCUniversal news channels better placement.
The FCC order wanted to ensure that Comcast wouldn't treat its own networks better and put competing independent programmers at a disadvantage. The agency ruled that if Comcast “neighborhoods” its news, including business news, channels on a cable system's channel lineup, "it must include all unaffiliated news (or business news) channels in that neighborhood.”
Bloomberg is seeking enforcement of the condition, arguing that its Bloomberg Television, which competes with NBCUniversal's CNBC, is affected.
“The FCC wisely placed conditions on the Comcast-NBCU merger in order to protect the public,” said Greg Babyak, head of government affairs at Bloomberg, on Monday. “Comcast affirmatively agreed to those conditions, only to argue now that they don't have to live by them. This has become a test of how serious Comcast is about abiding by and implementing the conditions set by the Commission. So far, Comcast is failing that test.”
He added: “We are confident the FCC will enforce this condition. If Comcast is dragging its feet on a condition this clear, we can only imagine how they will live up to conditions that are potentially less clear.”
A Comcast spokeswoman said the FCC order doesn’t support Bloomberg’s request. “The FCC order in the Comcast NBCUniversal transaction does not require Comcast to 'neighborhood’ Bloomberg,” she said. “The FCC clearly stated that 'we decline to adopt a requirement that Comcast affirmatively undertake neighborhooding’ and that the neighborhooding condition 'would only take effect if Comcast-NBCU undertook to neighborhood its news or business news channels’.”
She emphasized that Comcast does not “neighborhood” channels and since the transaction has not done so.
“If Comcast were forced to do what Bloomberg is asking the government to mandate, millions of customers would be subject to disruption and confusion required by massive channel realignments across the country all to benefit an already thriving $30 billion media company,” the Comcast spokeswoman said.
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