FCC Tells Comcast to Put Bloomberg TV Among News Channels

Comcast Corp. must carry Bloomberg Television, a competitor to the cable company’s CNBC, near other news channels, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said.

Bloomberg TV must be placed in neighborhoods of news channels that Philadelphia-based Comcast provides in standard definition in the 35 largest markets, the FCC said in an order released by e-mail today. The agency said it was affirming decisions by its media bureau.

“With this order, we ensure that Comcast treats Bloomberg Television comparably to its affiliated news channels” CNBC and MSNBC, Mignon Clyburn, acting FCC chairwoman, said in a statement. Viewers flipping from channel to channel “are going to be significantly less likely” to see a news channel not near others, Clyburn said.

The FCC’s decision promotes “the availability to the public of diverse sources of news,” Greg Babyak, Bloomberg’s head of government affairs in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement.

The FCC acted on a complaint by New York-based Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg News.

Requiring placement in news neighborhoods could require “endless reshuffling” as new channels ask to be inserted into lineups, causing viewer confusion, Comcast said in a filing last year.

“We are disappointed,” Sena Fitzmaurice, a Washington-based spokeswoman for Comcast, said in an e-mailed statement. “The FCC’s interpretation very likely will lead to significant and unwarranted burdens on us, our customers, and other programming networks.”

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, agreed to place news channels near one another in system lineups as it sought FCC approval for its purchase of NBC Universal in 2011. The requirement lasts until 2018.

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