Bloomberg says its Bloomberg business news channel is not located close enough in channel position to Comcast’s CNBC and MSNBC networks across the country. Bloomberg’s claim points to a condition of the merger that requires Comcast to move Bloomberg to the same neighborhood CNBC and MSNBC.
This is the second complaint filed with the FCC against Comcast, claiming the MSO is not following conditions the government put on it as part of approving its 2011 takeover of NBCUniversal.
“We need a passport to get to the news neighborhood from where we are now,” Greg Babyak, head of government Affairs for Bloomberg LP was reported by the LA Times as saying.
Comcast claims the FCC’s conditions only apply if Comcast were to start placing similar channels next to each other on the dial—“neighborhooding.” In this latest filing, Bloomberg cited Crescent City, FL., and Claxton, GA as markets where the media giant created a neighborhood of news channels but left out Bloomberg Television.
“Comcast is favoring its own programming content and discriminating against competitors,” Bloomberg attorneys told the FCC.
A spokeswoman for Comcast told the LA Times the company has not created any new news neighborhoods since the NBCUniversal transaction closed last year.
Bloomberg filed its first FCC complaint against Comcast last June, and the length of time it has taken the regulatory to respond is becoming a n issue. On a 4/10 conference call hosted by Bloomberg, Gigi Sohn, CEO of non-profit advocacy group Public Knowledge and a supporter of Bloomberg’s cause, said it is ridiculous that the Commission has yet to act on Bloomberg’s first complaint: “It’s time to do the hard work and actually enforce those conditions,” she said, adding that the FCC’s inaction is going to discourage others from coming forward to report possible abuses by companies such as Comcast.
In a statement, Comcast called Bloomberg’s latest complaint desperate: “If Comcast is forced to do what Bloomberg wants the FCC to mandate, beyond the requirements of the FCC Order, millions of customers will be subject to disruption and confusion required by massive channel realignments across the country, all to benefit an already thriving, $30-billion media company. It is hard to imagine a more anti-consumer result that would be less in the public interest,” Comcast said.
RBR-TVBR observation: Indeed, Comcast does have news neighborhoods. In Northern Virginia, for example, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, CNN and Headline News are all back to back. It’s the same for other markets as well. Bloomberg is nowhere close. If putting the channel in the same neighborhood is a condition of the merger, then Comcast is in violation and the FCC should do something about it.