Bloomberg TV Fires Another Salvo In Comcast’s Direction

By Alex Weprin 

Bloomberg TV continues its relentless effort to use Comcast’s NBCUniversal deal to affect channel placement. The company has filed another document with the FCC, reiterating its prior claim that it should be placed into existing channel “neighborhoods” that feature news, and arguing that Comcast has created new news neighborhoods without including Bloomberg. It also argues that the FCC is yet to act on its initial complaint, filed over a year ago.

From the Los Angeles TimesJoe Flint:

“We need a passport to get to the news neighborhood from where we are now,” cracked Greg Babyak, head of government Affairs for Bloomberg LP.

In its latest FCC filing, Bloomberg claimed Comcast has done just that. It cited two markets — Crescent City, Fla., and Claxton, Ga. — where Comcast 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.

Comcast responded with a statement of its own:

“Bloomberg continues to willfully misinterpret the ‘neighborhooding’ condition in the FCC’s Comcast NBCUniversal transaction Order. Comcast does not ‘neighborhood’ news channels in the way Bloomberg seeks to be repositioned. Bloomberg is not entitled to any relief pursuant to its threatened complaint. And its continued rehashing of the same arguments it has previously made smacks of desperation.

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.

“Any complaints about Comcast’s commitment to independent programming are similarly without merit. Since the close of the transaction, Comcast has increased carriage of diverse and independent networks, including networks such as the Africa Channel by two million homes and Mnet by four million homes, as well as expansion of TVOne (an independently programmed diverse network in which Comcast has a minority ownership interest) by 600,000 homes. Comcast also expanded distribution of seven independent Hispanic or Spanish-language independent networks by 14 million homes, surpassing the three network and 10 million homes target in its commitment.”

In addition, Comcast committed to launch 10 new independent channels by 2019, and moved quickly to begin to make that a reality. We’ve already announced agreements to launch the first four new diverse and independent owned or operated channel additions. And last year, Comcast launched BBC World News, a new independent news network.”