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FCC Votes On Comcast/Bloomberg Complaint Appeal - Broadcasting & Cable

FCC Votes On Comcast/Bloomberg Complaint Appeal

Decision in restricted proceeding won't be public until order is released
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The
FCC has decided the appeal of both Comcast and Bloomberg's challenge to a Media
Bureau decision upholding Bloomberg's news neighborhooding complaint, but it is
not saying yet what that decision was.

The commission voted on the appeal during a
restricted session instead of during the originally scheduled Thursday open
meeting vote. According to one staffer, FCC employees cannot talk about the decision
until the order is released, and after that they can only reference the order
until any petitions to reconsider the full commission decision and legal
challenges are resolved.

Comcast wanted the commissioners to overturn the
finding that it had not complied with the NBCU deal condition requiring it to
put competing news nets adjacent to "neighborhoods" containing its
co-owned news nets and others. Bloomberg wanted clarification that Comcast, to
fix the problem, had to "neighborhood both standard definition and high
definition channels."

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."

The FCC was not expected to overturn the finding
against Comcast, but it is not clear whether the commission has interpreted the
condition as applying just to HD nets or to the standard definition channels in
systems with only one news neighborhood and no available adjacent channels.

In May 2012, the FCC 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, which was meant to prevent Comcast
from favoring its co-owned news nets, like MSNBC or CNBC, over independents.

In August the FCC, in a release 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, the review the FCC has just completed.

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