FCC orders Comcast to group Bloomberg with other news stations

September 29, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that Comcast must place Bloomberg TV in its cable lineup alongside the station’s news competitors.

Verdicts like this one, release last Thursday, are important because they force providers like Comcast, which owns Bloomberg’s rival NBC Universal, into following media distribution rules.

Comcast now has to put Bloomberg into what the New York Times calls the “news neighbourhood,” which, for example, had previously favoured CNBC in Washington at channel 39 over Bloomberg at channel 108.

According to the FCC’s ruling, Bloomberg’s separation from its competitors put it at a disadvantage as viewers tend to “stay within neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods ‘have meaning’ to viewers because they mean that the viewer does not need to wander the channel lineup in search of lone news networks”.

While my normal understanding of the FCC is limited to its status as the almighty censor of television, I am impressed with this ruling. Comcast had put Bloomberg at a competitive disadvantage, one that benefitted a Comcast subsidiary, so it appears that the regulatory body’s ruling worked against one of the more sinister aspects of media ownership.

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