Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

Bureau Grants Extension And Partial Stay In Bloomberg V. Comcast

Download Options

Released: August 14, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

BLOOMBERG L.P.

)
MB Docket No. 11-104
Complainant
)
)
v.
)
)

COMCAST CABLE COMMUNICATIONS,

)

LLC

)
Defendant
)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Adopted: August 14, 2012

Released: August 14, 2012

By the Chief, Media Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. In this Order, we clarify our Memorandum Opinion and Order1 in the above-captioned
proceeding (“Neighborhood Order”), grant Comcast Cable Communications, LLC (“Comcast”) a limited
extension of time to comply with particular aspects of the Neighborhood Order as agreed upon by the
parties, and, on our own motion, stay the effectiveness of other aspects of the Neighborhood Order
pending Commission review.
2. Bloomberg L.P. (“Bloomberg”) and Comcast agreed in principle to a partial stay and a partial
extension of time of the Neighborhood Order. Specifically, they agreed (i) that Comcast will place
Bloomberg Television (“BTV”) in a news neighborhood on lineups where BTV is not in a news
neighborhood and the only vacant channel in a news neighborhood is below channel 100, (ii) to an
extension of time until August 15, 2012 with respect to headends that have only a standard definition
(“SD”) news neighborhood and that neighborhood has no adjacent vacant channel, (iii) that the Media
Bureau shall decide the proper remedy for headends with “high definition” (“HD”) news neighborhoods
through a clarification, and (iv) to a stay for the remaining neighborhoods pending Commission review.2
3. We clarify that the Neighborhood Order decided only the issue of whether BTV’s SD
programming (“BTV SD”) is entitled to carriage in an SD “news neighborhood”3 on Comcast’s channel
lineup. The issue of whether and how the news neighborhooding condition applies to HD news channels
or neighborhoods was not raised in the Media Bureau proceeding, and the Neighborhood Order did not
address the application of the condition with respect to HD news channels and neighborhoods. Further,


1 Bloomberg L.P. v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, 27 FCC Rcd 4891 (MB 2012) (“Neighborhood Order”).
2 Bloomberg L.P.’s Response to the Media Bureau’s Request for Additional Information Regarding High Definition
News Neighborhoods, MB Docket No. 11-104, at 7-9 (“Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing”).
3 Applications of Comcast Corporation, General Electric Company and NBC Universal, Inc. For Consent to Assign
Licenses and Transfer Control of Licensees
, 26 FCC Rcd 4238, 4358 (App. A, Sec. III.2) (2011) (“Comcast-NBCU
Order
”). See infra ¶ 3 (explaining the “news neighborhood” condition and the Bureau’s interpretation of that
condition).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

pending action by the Commission on the parties’ applications for review, we stay, on our own motion,
the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Order with respect to any headend that (i) carries BTV SD, (ii)
does not carry BTV SD in an SD news neighborhood, (iii) has multiple news neighborhoods (regardless
of whether those neighborhoods are HD or SD), and (iv) has no vacant channel adjacent to any SD news
neighborhood. For those headends that have a single SD news neighborhood with no adjacent vacant
channel, we grant Comcast’s request for a brief extension of time to comply with the Neighborhood
Order
, as agreed to by the parties. Finally, for the remaining headends for which Comcast is required to
“neighborhood” Bloomberg pursuant to the Neighborhood Order, the Request for Stay of the
Neighborhood Order is moot because Comcast has completed its compliance on those headends.

II.

BACKGROUND

4. On May 2, 2012, the Media Bureau issued the Neighborhood Order, granting in part a
complaint filed by Bloomberg. Bloomberg claimed that its 24-hour business news channel, BTV, was
entitled to relief under the “news neighborhooding” condition adopted in the Comcast-NBCU Order.4
That condition requires Comcast to carry all independent news and business news channels in a
neighborhood if it places any such programming in a neighborhood of similar programming. The
condition states that “neighborhooding” is “placing a significant number or percentage of news and/or
business news channels substantially adjacent to one another in a system’s channel lineup.”5 In the
Neighborhood Order, the Bureau further clarified the terms of the condition. We concluded:
(i) that the condition applies to the channel lineups existing on Comcast’s systems at the
time the Comcast-NBCU Order was adopted as well as future channel lineups; (ii) that
four news or business news channels within any five adjacent channel positions qualifies
as a “significant number or percentage of news and/or business news channels” and
therefore constitutes a neighborhood for purposes of the news neighborhooding
condition; (iii) that the term “news channel” refers to a channel carrying general interest
news programming; and (iv) that, if a Comcast system has more than one news
neighborhood, the condition obligates Comcast to carry independent news and business
news channels in at least one such neighborhood, but not in all news neighborhoods, in a
particular neighborhood, or in one consolidated news neighborhood.6
After reviewing the record, we concluded that Comcast places a significant number of news and business
news channels substantially adjacent to one another in many systems’ channel lineups, thus forming news
neighborhoods, and that BTV is not included in news neighborhoods on some systems that have such
news neighborhoods.7
5. On June 1, 2012, Comcast filed an Application for Review of the Neighborhood Order,
arguing (i) that the “four news networks on five adjacent channels” definition of a neighborhood was
erroneous,8 (ii) that the condition should not apply to channel groupings that existed at the time of the


4 In the Comcast-NBCU Order, the Commission granted the application of Comcast, General Electric Company, and
NBC Universal, Inc. to assign and transfer control of licenses from General Electric Company to Comcast, subject
to Comcast voluntarily agreeing to certain conditions.
5 Comcast-NBCU Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 4358 (App. A, Sec. III.2).
6 Neighborhood Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4891, ¶ 2.
7 Neighborhood Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4902-3, ¶ 24.
8 Application for Review of Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, MB Docket No. 11-104, at 7-15 (filed June 1,
2012) (“Comcast’s Application for Review”).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

transaction,9 and (iii) that the Bureau's construction of the condition infringes on Comcast's editorial
discretion as protected by the First Amendment.10 On June 1, 2012, Comcast also filed a Motion for
Extension of Time to Comply with the Neighborhood Order, seeking additional time to move BTV on
certain headends. The Motion seeks a 45-day extension to comply—until August 15, 2012—for about
one third of the headends at issue.11
6. On June 1, 2012, Bloomberg filed an Application for Review of the Neighborhood Order
asking the Commission to review (i) the Bureau’s decision not to require Comcast to place BTV in every
neighborhood,12 (ii) the Bureau's decision to let Comcast pick the neighborhood in which it places BTV,13
and (iii) the Bureau’s failure to decide whether CurrentTV and other networks are news channels.14
7. On June 8, 2012, Comcast filed a Motion for Stay of the Neighborhood Order, arguing that
Bloomberg’s Application for Review might result in a decision by the full Commission that Comcast has
to place BTV in different neighborhoods than the Neighborhood Order currently requires.15 Comcast
argues that rearranging its channel lineups twice would cause irreparable harm to Comcast and confuse
consumers, and asserts that a stay would not harm Bloomberg.16
8. The parties met with Commission staff on June 14, 2012 to discuss Comcast’s Motion for
Stay. In that meeting, the parties came to an agreement in principle as follows: (i) on headends17 with
only one SD news neighborhood, no HD news neighborhood, and a vacant channel adjacent to the SD
neighborhood, Comcast will place BTV in the neighborhood by July 1, 2012;18 and (ii) on headends with
only one SD news neighborhood and no HD neighborhood but no vacant channel adjacent to the
neighborhood, Comcast will place BTV in the neighborhood by August 15, 2012.19 For these two groups
of headends, Comcast’s Motion For Stay is now moot due to the agreement and, pursuant to the parties’
agreement, we grant a brief extension until August 15, 2012, for the headends referenced in (ii) above.


9 Comcast’s Application for Review at 16-22.
10 Comcast’s Application for Review at 23-25.
11 Motion for Partial Extension of Time filed by Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, MB Docket No. 11-104, at
1-5 (filed June 1, 2012).
12 Application for Review filed by Bloomberg L.P., MB Docket No. 11-104, at 7-20 (filed June 1, 2012)
(“Bloomberg’s Application for Review”).
13 Bloomberg’s Application for Review at 18-19.
14 Bloomberg’s Application for Review at 20-22.
15 Motion for Expedited Stay of Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, MB Docket No. 11-104, at 6-11 (filed June
8, 2012) (“Stay Petition”).
16 Stay Petition at 13-20.
17 The headends at issue in this dispute are headends in the top-35 most populous DMAs. See Neighborhood Order,
27 FCC Rcd at 4894, 4903, ¶¶ 6, 27.
18 In order to meet the consumer notification requirement on headends with a vacancy in the news neighborhood,
Comcast will carry BTV in two locations—at the new, neighborhooded channel position, and at the old, existing
channel position until consumers have sufficient notice that Comcast will discontinue carriage at the old position.
Comcast has stated that it will voluntarily carry BTV HD on any headend that has only a high definition news
neighborhood. Letter from David H. Solomon and J. Wade Lindsay, Counsel for Comcast Communications LLC, to
William T. Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, MB Docket No. 11-104, at 4 (June
19, 2012) (“Comcast’s June 19 Letter”).
19 See Comcast’s June 19 Letter at 4; Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing at 7-9.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

The parties did not agree, however, on whether Comcast could satisfy the Neighborhood Order by
placing BTV HD into an HD news neighborhood and accordingly did not agree on appropriate relief for
the remaining headends. Comcast argues that placing BTV HD in an HD neighborhood would satisfy the
Neighborhood Order’s requirements;20 Bloomberg disagrees.21 At the June 14, 2012 meeting, the parties
asked the Bureau to clarify how the Neighborhood Order applies to HD channels and neighborhoods, and
each filed a letter in response to that meeting22 and replied to the other party’s letter.23

III.

DISCUSSION

A.

Clarification

9. We clarify that the Neighborhood Order addressed only carriage of BTV SD in SD news
neighborhoods. As Bloomberg points out in Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing, our analysis considered only
headends with SD news neighborhoods.24 Furthermore, the relief Bloomberg sought in its complaint was
necessarily limited to SD carriage under the news neighborhooding condition, because Comcast did not
carry Bloomberg HD before release of the Neighborhood Order.25 Comcast is correct that “[t]he scope of
Bloomberg’s complaint cannot change the meaning of the [news neighborhooding] Condition.”26 But
Bloomberg’s complaint framed the issue that we considered in the Neighborhood Order: whether the
news neighborhooding condition entitles Bloomberg SD to carriage in Comcast’s SD news
neighborhoods. We concluded that it does. Therefore, we clarify that the Neighborhood Order requires
Comcast to place Bloomberg SD in SD neighborhoods. Because of the limited scope of Bloomberg’s
complaint and the proceedings on that complaint, we need not decide at this time how the condition
applies to HD carriage.27

B.

Stay

10. Based on various arguments raised on review by Bloomberg—e.g., whether the Bureau
should have decided that BTV is entitled to choose the news neighborhood in which it is carried—the
Commission could direct Comcast to place BTV in different neighborhoods than the Neighborhood Order
currently requires. To address this, we stay, on our own motion, the effectiveness of the Neighborhood
Order
with respect to any headend that (i) carries BTV SD, (ii) does not carry BTV SD in an SD news
neighborhood, (iii) has multiple news neighborhoods (regardless whether those neighborhoods are HD or


20 Comcast’s June 19 Letter at 5-12.
21 Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing at 2-7.
22 See Comcast’s June 19 Letter and Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing.
23 See Letter from David H. Solomon and J. Wade Lindsay, Counsel for Comcast Communications LLC, to William
T. Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, MB Docket No. 11-104 (June 21, 2012)
(“Comcast’s June 21 Letter”); Bloomberg L.P.’s Response to Comcast Cable Communication LLC’s Letter
Responding to the Media Bureau’s Request for Additional Information Regarding High Definition News
Neighborhoods, MB Docket No. 11-104 (“Bloomberg’s June 21 Filing”).
24 Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing at 4-5 (citing Neighborhood Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4903, n.88 and Answer at Exhibit
5 at 4, ¶ 16).
25 Complaint at 10, ¶ 23 (“BTV HD is not currently carried by Comcast.”); Reply at 21 (“Comcast does not widely
carry BTV’s HD feed”).
26 Comcast’s June 21 Letter at 5.
27 Although Comcast has volunteered to carry BTV HD on any headend that has only an HD news neighborhood,
we note that Comcast is not required to do so under the Neighborhood Order, as that order decided only the SD
carriage issue. Comcast’s June 19 Letter at 4.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

SD), and (iv) has no vacant channel adjacent to any SD news neighborhood.28 We believe that staying the
effectiveness of the Neighborhood Order with respect to these headends will help avoid and reduce
disruption to consumers that could arise if Comcast were required to adjust channel lineups more than
once if the Commission grants Bloomberg’s Application for Review or otherwise directs Comcast to
comply with the news neighborhooding condition differently than does the Bureau’s Neighborhood
Order
.
11. We find that the novelty and importance of the issues presented warrant an administrative
stay of certain aspects of the Neighborhood Order to provide the Commission an opportunity to resolve
the issues on review.29 This will be the first time the Commission has had an opportunity to address the
implementation of the news neighborhooding condition, and as Comcast points out, it will affect how
Comcast must handle similar requests from other independent news networks.30 The arguments raised on
review by Bloomberg could lead to a channel placement remedy that conflicts with the Bureau’s
interpretation. While harms to both parties may result from either compelling immediate compliance or
granting a stay, if we compel immediate compliance with respect to certain headends, Comcast may have
to undertake multiple channel realignments to comply with the news neighborhooding condition, and a
stay will avoid potential disruption to consumers and any affected third-party programmers in the event
that the Commission subsequently reverses or modifies the Bureau’s decision.31 Accordingly, we
conclude that grant of a stay is equitable and will serve the public interest. We take this action on our
own motion to preserve the status quo until the Commission has an opportunity to consider the parties’
Applications for Review.32


28 Bloomberg has defined five “buckets” of lineups as follows, and as specified in binders that counsel to Bloomberg
provided to counsel to Comcast and Commission staff at the June 14, 2012 meeting.: (i) Bucket 1—lineups where
Bloomberg is not in a news neighborhood and the only vacant channel adjacent to a news neighborhood is in an SD
neighborhood below channel 100; (ii) Bucket 2A—lineups where Bloomberg is not in a news neighborhood, where
the only news neighborhood is an SD news neighborhood below channel 100, and there is no vacant channel
adjacent to the news neighborhood; (iii) Bucket 2B—lineups where Bloomberg is not in a news neighborhood,
where there are both SD and HD news neighborhoods, and neither neighborhood has a vacant adjacent channel; (iv)
the HD-Only Bucket—lineups where the only news neighborhood is an HD news neighborhood , and (v) the Other
Bucket—lineups that fall outside of the other defined buckets, which include lineups with multiple neighborhoods.
Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing at 8. Comcast includes six lineups in Bucket 1 that Bloomberg considers to be Bucket
2B lineups, and Comcast agreed to move BTV to an SD news neighborhood on July 1, 2012 on those headends,
along with the headends that Bloomberg deems Bucket 1. Comcast’s June 21 Letter at 8, n.44. Because this
interpretation is favorable to Bloomberg, we accept Comcast’s analysis. We further clarify that Comcast is not
required to reposition BTV in HD-Only Bucket lineups because the Neighborhood Order dealt only with the issue of
whether BTV in SD was entitled to carriage in SD neighborhoods. Finally, on our own motion, we stay the
effectiveness of Comcast’s obligation to reposition BTV in Bucket 2B or Other Bucket lineups because we want to
prevent Comcast from having to make multiple lineup changes in the event that the Commission grants Bloomberg’s
or Comcast’s Application for Review.
29 In taking this action on our own motion for the reasons explained, we find it unnecessary to address whether
Comcast’s showings in the Stay Petition would satisfy any of the traditional requirements for a stay. See, e.g.,
Virginia Petroleum Jobbers Ass’n v. FPC
, 259 F.2d 921, 925 (D.C. Cir. 1958); Hispanic Information and
Telecomm. Network, Inc
., 20 FCC Rcd 5471, 5480 (2005).
30 Comcast’s July 19th Letter at 5 (“The Bureau must take into account the fact that the Condition applies to any
independent news network and will not be used exclusively by Bloomberg.”).
31 See Tennis Channel, Inc. v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, 27 FCC Rcd 5613, 5615, ¶ 5 (2012). .
32 See, e.g., AT&T Services, Inc. & Southern New England Telephone Co. v. Madison Square Garden, LP and
Cablevision,
26 FCC Rcd 14293 (MB 2011).
5

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

C.

Motion for Extension of Time

12. In its Motion for Extension of Time, Comcast explains that it will need more time to adjust
channel lineups on headends that have a single SD neighborhood with no adjacent unoccupied channel,
“primarily because it will be required to move a network currently placed in or adjacent to the news
neighborhood in order to make room for BTV.”33 Comcast explains that an extension of time until
August 15, 2012, for such headends is necessary to “provide timely advance notice to affected subscribers
of the impending channel relocations . . . through a message on his or her bill at least 30 days in advance
of the relocation.”34 Bloomberg agrees in principle to this extension of time until August 15, 2012 with
respect to these “Bucket 2A” channel lineups.35 We agree with Comcast that granting an extension of
time where necessary to provide timely notice of channel relocations is consistent with Commission
precedent seeking to avoid and reduce disruption of service to subscribers.36 Accordingly, we grant
Comcast’s Motion for Extension of Time until August 15, 2012 with respect to channel lineups on
headends that have a single SD news neighborhood with no adjacent unoccupied channel, as described
above.

IV.

CONCLUSION

13. For the reasons stated above, we clarify that the Neighborhood Order considered only
whether the Comcast-NBCU Order’s news neighborhooding condition entitles BTV SD to carriage in SD
news neighborhoods, and therefore direct Comcast to carry BTV SD in SD news neighborhoods on
headends where the channel lineup has only one SD news neighborhood and no HD news neighborhood.
On our own motion, we stay the effectiveness of the Neighborhood Order with respect to certain
headends, as explained above, pending Commission review. Finally, we grant Comcast’s Motion for
Extension of Time to the extent described above.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

14. Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

, pursuant to Section 1.2 of the Commission’s Rules, 47
C.F.R. § 1.2, we declare that the Neighborhood Order addressed only the issue of whether Bloomberg
Television in standard definition was entitled to carriage in standard definition neighborhoods on
Comcast’s headends.
15.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 4(j) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i) and 154(j), the effectiveness of certain aspects of the
Neighborhood Order

IS STAYED

pending Commission review, to the extent described above.
16.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that, pursuant to sections 4(i) and 4(j) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i) and 154(j), Comcast’s Motion for Partial Extension of
Time

IS GRANTED

.


33 Motion for Partial Extension of Time filed by Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, MB Docket No. 11-104, at
2 (filed June 1, 2012).
34 Id. at 3.
35 See Bloomberg’s Response to the Motion for Partial Extension of Time of Comcast Cable Communications, LLC,
MB Docket No. 11-104, at 3. The Buckets are defined supra, note 27. See also Bloomberg’s June 19 Filing at 9.
Bloomberg also agreed to an extension of time with respect to Bucket 2B lineups. Id. But, as discussed above, we
stay the requirements of the Neighborhood Order for Bucket 2B lineups, which makes the extension of time issue
for those lineups moot.
36 Id. at 5 (quoting Southern Television System Corp., 6 FCC 2d 569 (1966)).
6

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1338

17. This action is taken pursuant to delegated authority pursuant to Section 0.283 of the
Commission’s rules.37
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
William T. Lake
Chief, Media Bureau


37 See 47 C.F.R. § 0.283.
7

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.