Bloomberg, Comcast Continue to Exchange Barbs over NBCUniversal Deal

By Alex Weprin 

The deal for Comcast to acquire NBCUniversal was closed in January, but that isn’t stopping the cable company and Bloomberg TV from continuing to exchange barbs over the conditions of the deal.

To recap, Bloomberg fought for a condition to the deal, namely that if Comcast “neighborhooded” news channels, (i.e. Fox News, CNBC, FBN, CNN) then it would have to include Bloomberg TV in that neighborhood. The deal was imposed, but Comcast argued that it would only apply to new neighborhoods, not existing ones. The two companies have been duking it out in FCC filings ever since.

Comcast says:
“[B]loomberg’s Complaint is based on an arbitrary and baseless definition of a news neighborhood as ‘four news channels within five positions.’ But that definition was neither supplied nor endorsed by the Commission. Instead, it is entirely Bloomberg’s invention . . .”

And…

“The alleged ‘neighborhoods’ Bloomberg describes were formed years before Comcast even began negotiations to acquire an ownership interest in NBCUniversal (and by extension, CNBC and MSNBC)—indeed, in most cases before Comcast even owned the systems. Bloomberg does not allege (nor could it) that Comcast has recently rearranged channels in order to create news neighborhoods that exclude or disadvantage BTV.

Bloomberg responded to the filing in a statement:

After a comprehensive review lasting nearly one year, this past January, the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission approved arguably the most significant media merger in history. They did so, however, in reliance on Comcast’s compliance with critical merger conditions. These conditions, which Comcast expressly accepted, were deemed necessary to protect the public interest.

The FCC expressed in particular its concerns about the importance of independent sources of news. Despite these strongly worded concerns, Comcast is not obeying clearly defined conditions, as Comcast continues to assert that “now” does not mean “now” and that their programming neighborhoods are not neighborhoods.

We are confident that Chairman Genachowski and his colleagues will enforce this condition, not only because of the critical role of independent programming and especially independent sources of news, but also because the integrity of the merger review process demands it.

– Greg Babyak, Head of Government Affairs, Bloomberg LP

The full Comcast filing is embedded below.

Comcast.answer

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