Bloomberg Wants FCC Action on Comcast Neighborhooding Complaint

Asks Commission to Direct MSO to Group Network with Other News Channels in Top 35 DMAs
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Bloomberg is pushing the FCC to come to a final decision on its complaint against Comcast for what Bloomberg alleges is a violation of the news neighborhooding condition the agency imposed as a condition allowing Comcast to meld with NBCU.

In a letter late Tuesday to the new FCC acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and the other commissioners, Bloomberg says the FCC should act "immediately" to move Bloomberg TV into all the standard-definition "news neighborhoods" on Comcast systems in the top 35 DMAs.

The company points out that it has been 29 months since the FCC approved the deal, and almost a year since the Media Bureau said there should be some neighborhooding, then stayed that decision pending review by the full commission. "[I]t is past time for the Commission to expeditiously act on this matter," said Bloomberg.

"The Commission has all it needs to enforce the news neighborhooding condition before any more of the seven-year time limit on the condition passes," Greg Babyak, head of government affairs for Bloomberg LP, said in a statement. "With that final step, the Commission will ensure that millions of Comcast customers benefit from a greater diversity in cable news content."

The FCC back in May 2012 agreed with Bloomberg that Comcast needed to move the independent news channel into "news neighborhoods" -- groupings of news channels in adjacent channel positions -- to comply with the NBCU deal condition. That condition was meant to prevent Comcast from favoring its co-owned news nets, like MSNBC or CNBC, over independents.

In August the FCC, in an order clarifying its May 2 order to Comcast to neighborhood Bloomberg TV, stayed the effectiveness of that order as it applied to markets with only a single standard-definition news neighborhood and no vacant adjacent channels.

The FCC said the partial stay would reduce consumer disruption if the FCC changes its decision per the review for which Bloomberg itself has asked.

Comcast disagrees that its news groupings in channel lineups meet the FCC definition of a neighborhood, and that in any event, those groups predated the deal condition and were "not based on any discriminatory motive to advantage CNBC or MSNBC or disadvantage Bloomberg."

A Comcast spokesperson was not available for comment at presstime.

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