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Bloomberg wants more time to study Comcast-NBC deal

June 15, 2010 |  1:09 pm

Those folks at Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg TV, must really be worried about Comcast's proposed deal to acquire NBC Universal.

First Bloomberg hired former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin as its legal gun in Washington, D.C. Now the financial media giant is asking the regulatory agency to give it more time to study the acquisition and review recent filings that Comcast and NBC Universal just made at the commission.

What Bloomberg is concerned about is its rival CNBC getting an unfair advantage once the NBC-owned financial news channel becomes part of Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator with almost 25 million subscribers. Bloomberg has not come out against the deal yet but may want the FCC to put conditions on any approval.

CNBC is already the dominant business news channel in terms of ratings and reach. It easily beats Bloomberg and Fox Business. Compared with Bloomberg, CNBC has much better channel position on most cable systems. Even in 2010, where a channel is on the dial still matters. News channels like to be around other news channels and no one wants to be in the boondocks. Bloomberg doesn't want Comcast to give CNBC better channel positions when its deal to take control of NBC Universal closes.

Interestingly, the executive in charge of Bloomberg's television operations is Andy Lack, the former NBC president who also served as head of NBC News for many years.

The documents that Bloomberg wants more time to scrutinize are Comcast and NBC Universal's responses to dozens of highly detailed questions from the FCC about its businesses including its deals with program suppliers. Much of the information the agency requested is confidential so many of the responses were redacted in the public filings the two companies made late last week.

Bloomberg can get a look at the non-redacted filings, but it has to send a special request and agree to respect the confidential nature of the material in the filings. In a letter to the FCC, Bloomberg said it won't have enough time to digest all the information because the agency's deadline for comments about the deal is Monday.

The deadline for comments on the Comcast-NBC deal has already been extended once. Originally, comments were due on May 3. The date was pushed back so the FCC could get more material from Comcast and NBC.

-- Joe Flint


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