ACTING CHAIRWOMAN MIGNON CLYBURN
Bloomberg L.P., Complainant v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC,
NBC Universal deal, which combined the nation's largest cable operator with the
nation's fourth largest owner of national cable networks. Ultimately, I voted to approve
the transaction because I believed that if the parties lived up to their voluntary
commitments and the conditions we imposed on them, the deal would result in more
benefits to consumers than harms. That's why I am pleased that we are taking this step
today to hold Comcast to one of its commitments.
In the Order approving Comcast-NBCU, the Commission recognized that as a
combined entity, they would have "increased ability and incentive to harm competition in
video programming by engaging in foreclosure strategies or other discriminatory actions
against unaffiliated video programming networks."1 The Commission expressed concern
that Comcast-NBCU could "reduce the viewership of competing video programming
networks, which in turn could render these networks less attractive to advertisers, thus
reducing their revenues and profits."2 The Commission recognized that news
programming is particularly important to the public interest. Therefore, the Commission
adopted the news "neighborhooding" condition to guard independent news channels from
anticompetitive behavior and to help ensure a vibrant marketplace of ideas.
In general terms, "neighborhooding" refers to the practice of grouping similarly
themed TV channels together, such as sports, children's programming, or news. Today's
decision interprets the news neighborhooding condition in the most reasonable way. It is
an interpretation that is supported by the record. It is an interpretation that aligns with
industry and consumer practices. And most importantly, it is an interpretation that
protects independent news channels from anticompetitive harms, as the Commission
When the Commission adopted this condition, my colleagues and I were
concerned that Comcast-NBCU would include its affiliated programming in news
neighborhoods and leave an independent news channel on an island to itself. The record
in this proceeding corroborates our concern. Comcast overwhelmingly includes affiliated
programming in neighborhoods of four news channels in five adjacent channel positions.
CNBC is included in a news neighborhood in 99 percent of lineups that have news
neighborhoods. For MSNBC, it's 98 percent.3 This is for good reason: the record also
1 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, 4284, 116 (2011).
2 Id. at 4285, 116.
3 Letter from David H. Solomon and J. Wade Lindsay, Counsel for Comcast Cable Communications, LLC,
to William T. Lake, Chief, Media Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, at Attachment A, page 2
(filed June 21, 2012).
reflects that consumers tend to "flip" between channels, particularly during breaking
news events.4 Consumers' tendency to "flip" also explains why a grouping of four news
channels in five adjacent channel positions is so significant. Once a viewer finds a
channel grouping like that, she is unlikely to hunt around the dial for other news
channels. So, to sum up, if you are a news channel, you'd better be located in the "news
neighborhood," or viewers are going to be significantly less likely to find you. And
Comcast now has an incentive to keep its competitors, like Bloomberg Television, out of
those news neighborhoods to deter viewers from flipping to them. With this Order, we
ensure that Comcast treats Bloomberg Television comparably to its affiliated news
channels. This will allow Bloomberg Television to compete on an equal footing with its
As a final note, my colleagues and I frequently stress that it is always important
for the Commission to act swiftly on complaints. It is particularly important for us to
resolve news neighborhooding complaints in a timely manner because the condition will
expire in less than four and a half years. This was a complex proceeding with an
extensive record, and it is unusual to receive four applications for review in a proceeding
with only two parties. But if the Commission receives additional complaints that allege
violation of the news neighborhooding condition, the groundwork laid in resolving this
complaint should allow us to act on those more swiftly. Moreover, I hope that my
colleagues will act quickly on other matters involving conditions adopted in connection
with this transaction. Doing so will help safeguard the public as the Commission
intended when it adopted the conditions in 2011.
I wish to thank the Media Bureau staff for their work on this item.
4 Bloomberg's June 18 Opposition at 9-10 (citing Reply of Bloomberg at Exhibit B, 18; Exhibit C, 14,
15; Exhibit E, 19; Exhibit F, 13, 15, 17 (filed Aug. 30, 2011)).
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