FCC Orders Comcast to Move Bloomberg's News Channel

On visits from his corporate superiors at Comcast
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

"I dress the place up to look like a movie studio. I bring all the Winnebagos to the front; I have people pushing sets around, like one of those old Cecil B. DeMille movies. So they come for two days every two, three months, and we look like we're a bustling metropolis, and then we go back to being a regular old business."

The FCC has sided with Bloomberg in a fight with Comcast over whether the media conglomerate favored NBCUniversal's news networks. In a decision Wednesday, the regulatory agency says Comcast has violated the "news neighborhooding" conditions of the agency's approval of the NBCUniversal acquisition.

Bloomberg had alleged that its own business news network was left out of a tier of news stations, including CNBC and MSNBC, and was regulated to the backwaters of the cable dial. Bloomberg pointed to 11,000 channel changes made by Comcast last year and said there wasn't any excuse for its own station being discriminated against.

On Wednesday, the FCC's Media Bureau agreed with the assessment, finding that Comcast has violated a promise on "independent" news channels such as Bloomberg's. "We find that Comcast is placing a significant number or percentage of news and business news channels substantially adjacent to one another on certain headends' channel lineups," the decision read.

As a result, the FCC has given Comcast 60 days to put Bloomberg's station near the other news stations on some of its cable systems.

Comcast rresponded in a statement: "We respectfully disagree with the Media Bureau's interpretation of the 'neighborhooding' condition, which so clearly rewrites the history and any permissible underlying rationale for the condition. Since by definition, no 'discrimination' against Bloomberg in favor of CNBC could have taken place before the NBCUniversal transaction, any retrospective condition on this subject would have been arbitrary and capricious. And there is simply no support in any record for a four channel definition of a 'neighborhood.' "

Comcast said it intends to appeal the decision to the full commission.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner