Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Speaks Out on Bloomberg FCC Complaint, NBC News

By Alex Weprin 

At a breakfast discussion hosted by Fortune, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts addressed the FCC complaint filed by Bloomberg TV, as well as his thoughts on the state of NBC News.

Bloomberg filed a complaint with the FCC arguing that Comcast is not living up to the promise it made in order to complete the NBCU acquisition. Bloomberg argues that the “neighborhooding” clause means that in areas where Comcast currently places news channels together in a group, Bloomberg should be included. Comcast argues that the clause applies to future decisions, not prior ones.

Roberts–who appeared on Bloomberg from The Cable Show last week–briefly addressed Bloomberg’s complaint this morning:

“Whatever the condition was, it was set up based on market forces that pre-date the merger,” Roberts said. “Whether by choosing to merge that should cause us to disrupt a lot of consumers by putting [a channel] over here, move something over there or move that to somewhere else, it is the single most noisy thing to do. None of that was done with the kind of market conditions they potentially described.”

As for NBC News, Roberts reiterated previous comments he has made about how important that part of the company is in terms of brand equity. At the breakfast, however, he also argued that NBC News, MSNBC were a powerful business opportunity as well:

“I spent a lot of time all my life with a lot of journalists, the extra sense of purpose that you have in what you do,” Roberts said. “In today’s world that is really hard given the technological craziness affecting business models. NBC News, with CNBC, MSNBC, “Today” show, “Meet the Press,” these are fantastic franchises that we can invest in and that we can bring to more platforms. They may have the best business combination of any of the major news providers in television. That should bode well for us in the future.”

In other words, the combination of the top broadcast news network, the top business news channel and the still-growing MSNBC have an opportunity to drive profits, not just knowledge. What he meant when he said Comcast would be bringing them “to more platforms” was not made made clear.