Among the conditions placed on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger is the “neighborhooding” condition that Bloomberg TV has been seeking since shortly after the deal was announced.
In a nutshell, the condition says that if Comcast carries news networks in a channel “neighborhood” it cannot discriminate against channels not affiliated with Comcast-NBCU, and must carry those channels in the same neighborhood.
So if Comcast in Philadelphia had a block of channels for news that included CNBC (which it now owns) it would have to carry Bloomberg TV and Fox Business Network in that same group, if it did not already.
“In today’s order, the FCC has taken strong action to preserve independent news programming, and protect competitors against discrimination,” said Dan Doctoroff, President of Bloomberg L.P. in a statement. “The FCC has recognized the critical importance of neighborhooding and ensuring that independent channels are treated fairly and consumers are protected.”
Bloomberg’s full statement on the matter, after the jump.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission conditioned its approval of the Comcast/NBC Universal merger on Comcast placing all independent news and business news channels in any neighborhood of news channels carried on any Comcast cable system. Because the merger allows Comcast to acquire major news channels such as CNBC, Bloomberg L.P. asked the Commission to place such a condition on the transaction, arguing the action was needed to prevent Comcast from discriminating against independent and competitive news channels, such as Bloomberg Television.
Dan Doctoroff, President of Bloomberg L.P., responded to the Commission’s decision with the following statement:
“In today’s order, the FCC has taken strong action to preserve independent news programming, and protect competitors against discrimination. The FCC has recognized the critical importance of neighborhooding and ensuring that independent channels are treated fairly and consumers are protected.”
As the FCC’s own press release observes: ‘The Commission requires that Comcast not discriminate in video programming distribution on the basis of affiliation or non-affiliation with Comcast-NBCU. Moreover, if Comcast neighborhoods its news (including business news) channels, it must include all unaffiliated news (or business news) channels in that neighborhood.’
“As a result of today’s decision, whenever Comcast carries news channels near each other, it will have to include all independent news channels in all of these neighborhoods. We thank Chairman Genachowski, all of the FCC Commissioners, and the Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division for their hard work on this issue and for taking such strong action to safeguard the public interest,” Doctoroff said.