Comcast Addresses Bloomberg Charges in FCC Brief

By Alex Weprin 

Bloomberg TV has already come out against the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal acquisition. The financial news channel says that once Comcast owns CNBC, it will discriminate against other networks such as itself, leaving them higher up on the channel lineup or on different tiers.

Yesterday, in a response to questioning from the FCC, Comcast addressed those concerns directly.

The FCC did not  ask about Bloomberg’s complaint. Rather, Comcast included the response in a section outlining new navigation technologies it is developing to help consumers find the channels they want to watch:

Comcast is conducting limited trails of a new channel lineup that will allow certain cable systems that convert to all-digital to group networks in genre neighborhoods such as “News & Local,” “Kids,” “Sports,” “Movies,” etc. For example, under “News & Local,” systems where this channel lineup is implemented would group Bloomberg TV, CNBC and Fox Business Network together with other news channels such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC…

Because local and regional programming placement varies by geographic location, moving networks from one channel to another is very difficult, especially in cable systems that are channel-locked; and any channel movement results in substantial customer confusion and numerous complaints.”

The use of Bloomberg TV as an example was no accident.

Comcast is essentially arguing that channel placement will soon be largely irrelevant, as new technology helps consumers find the channel by name, rather than number.

Of course, consumers, especially older consumers, are often slow to adopt new technologies. For the financial news channels, older viewers are often their core viewership.