May 2 The U.S. Federal Communications Commission
on Wednesday told Comcast Corp that it must place
Bloomberg LP's financial news channel near other independent
news channels in its channel lineup.
Bloomberg last June filed a complaint with the FCC, accusing
Comcast of violating a "neighborhooding" condition of its merger
with NBC Universal that requires the cable operator to put
similar channels in the same place in the lineup.
Comcast had argued that it does not "neighborhood" any
channels in its cable television lineup.
But the FCC's media bureau concluded on Wednesday that
Comcast does in fact neighborhood news channels, which it
defined as having four news channels within any five adjacent
The agency found that Bloomberg TV was left out of these
news neighborhoods on some cable systems, according to an FCC
Comcast will have to place Bloomberg TV near other news
channels on some cable systems, particularly those that include
multiple news neighborhoods.
Comcast said it will immediately appeal the decision to the
full Commission, and it was confident that this ruling would be
Bloomberg's complaint suggested that Comcast was
discriminating against Bloomberg TV to increase viewership and
advertising revenue for its affiliated programming, including
CNBC, Bloomberg TV's dominant competitor, and other news
networks now controlled by the cable company.
"Since by definition, no 'discrimination' against Bloomberg
in favor of CNBC could have taken place before the NBCUniversal
transaction, any retrospective condition on this subject would
have been arbitrary and capricious," Sena Fitzmaurice, Comcast's
vice president of government communications, said in a
"And there is simply no support in any record for a four
channel definition of a 'neighborhood,'" she added.
Bloomberg, a financial news and data provider whose
competitors include Thomson Reuters Corp, welcomed the
"We are pleased the FCC had the foresight to include the
news neighborhooding condition in the Comcast/NBCU merger order
and the willingness to enforce it," Greg Babyak, head of
government affairs for Bloomberg, said in a statement.
Comcast, the No. 1 provider of video and residential
Internet service in the United States, acquired a 51 percent
stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co last
Approval of the merger after a year-long review by the FCC
and Justice Department came with a list of conditions to protect
the public interest and prevent anti-competitive practices.