Bloomberg doesn’t feel like its financial news channel is in the right kind of “neighborhood,” according to a legal complaint filed with the FCC. In fact, the company so dislikes where Comcast has placed Bloomberg TV in its channel line-up, that it’s saying Comcast is violating one of the conditions it agreed to when the FCC approved its merger with Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA).
When Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal was approved by the FCC, it included a number of conditions. One of those conditions is that when it engages in “neighborhooding,” Comcast needs to group channels together with other channels offering similar content. An example of what Bloomberg doesn’t like: in the Washington D.C. area, several news organizations, including CNN and CNBC, are grouped together as channels 35-39. But Bloomberg TV is far away from those channels; it resides at channel 103. Bloomberg says that’s a violation of the “neighborhooding” condition.
Comcast has responded to Bloomberg’s complaint by saying it’s clear that the “neighborhooding” requirement only comes into effect if it begins to engage in neighborhooding-which is something the cable giant says it doesn’t do. “Comcast does not, and since the transaction has not, ‘neighborhooded’ channels on our systems,” said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice.
Bloomberg takes a different view, and argues that Comcast is banishing it to the upper reaches of its channel lineup in order to favor channels that it owns, such as CNBC. “If Comcast is dragging its feet on a condition this clear, we can only imagine how they will live up to conditions that are potentially less clear,” said Bloomberg spokesman Greg Babyak.
The filing of the complaint [PDF] isn’t unexpected, since Bloomberg began complaining about this earlier this month. Comcast responded to those complaints with a letter [PDF], noting that it has rolled out Bloomberg TV to 18 million subscribers in less than 5 years, and arguing that Bloomberg is actually trying to use the merger “to obtain more favorable treatment than it would ever have been entitled to absent that transaction.”