Policy

Bloomberg TV Calls for ‘Neighborhood’ Watch

5/31/2011 8:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Bloomberg TV said Friday it
plans to file a complaint at the Federal Communications
Commission asking it to enforce the “news
neighborhooding” condition in the Comcast/
NBCUniversal merger-approval order, which it
alleges Comcast is ignoring.

Comcast said Bloomberg has misinterpreted the
condition. It said it does not “neighborhood” news
channels in the way Bloomberg seeks to be repositioned
and has not repositioned any channels to
favor CNBC or any other affiliated news channel.

The order prevents Comcast from discriminating
on the basis of affiliation or non-affiliation, which it
is not supposed to do anyway under existing program
carriage rules. But the order also states that “if Comcast
‘neighborhoods’ its news (including business
news) channels, it must include all unaffiliated news
(or business news) channels in that neighborhood.”

Bloomberg is concerned that Comcast could favor,
say, its newly acquired CNBC over Bloomberg’s business
news service.

“Since the FCC’s Order [was approved] on January
18, 2011, Comcast has taken no steps to comply with
the independent news provision of the order,” Bloomberg
said.

According to Bloomberg’s interpretation, examples
of Comcast’s failure to comply includes the
Washington, D.C., market, where it carries CNN,
Headline News, CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News Channel
on adjacent channels 35-39 and Blooomberg
Television on channel 103, and its Seattle system,
where it carries those same networks on adjacent
channels 44-48, but Bloomberg on channel 128, between
Nickelodeon and an empty channel.

Bloomberg said it will file that complaint unless
Comcast agrees to place Bloomberg TV in its existing
news neighborhoods in the 35 most populous DMAs
within the next 60 days.

Comcast said that if it were to do what Bloomberg
asks, it would be consumer-unfriendly and
confusing.

“Bloomberg simply misinterprets the ‘neighborhooding’
condition in the FCC’s Comcast
NBCUniversal transaction order,“ Comcast said in
a statement. “Bloomberg is not entitled to any relief
pursuant to its threatened complaint.”

September