Bloomberg LP filed an official complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, saying Comcast is not living up to the promises it made when regulators approved its merger with NBCUniversal in January.
The filing, expected for some time, argues that Comcast is violating merger conditions by exiling Bloomberg TV to channel 103. Other cable news organizations such as CNN and CNBC in Washington, D.C., for example, are carried on channels 35-39.
That has Bloomberg crying foul. During the FCC’s merger review process, Bloomberg pushed for rules that would require Comcast to carry Bloomberg TV in the same “neighborhood” as other news stations.
“The FCC wisely placed conditions on the Comcast-NBC-U merger in order to protect the public. Comcast affirmatively agreed to those conditions, only to argue now that they don't have to live by them,” Greg Babyak, Bloomberg’s head of government affairs, said in a statement. “This has become a test of how serious Comcast is about abiding by and implementing the conditions set by the Commission. So far, Comcast is failing that test.”
But Comcast asserts that the FCC never required it to “neighborhood” its channels.
According to Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast’s vice president of government communications, the FCC specifically declined to force Comcast to switch up its channels. She said any such restrictions would only apply if Comcast tried to neighborhood channels in the future.
“The so-called ‘neighborhooding’ condition in the FCC’s Comcast NBCUniversal transaction Order does not support Bloomberg TV’s request today,” Fitzmaurice said in a statement.
“Comcast does not, and since the transaction has not, ‘neighborhooded’ channels on our systems. If Comcast were forced to do what Bloomberg is asking the government to mandate, millions of customers would be subject to disruption and confusion required by massive channel realignments across the country all to benefit an already thriving $30 billion media company. The FCC carefully crafted its moderate, forward looking condition precisely to avoid this type of upheaval.”
This article appears in the June 13, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.