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Comcast accuses Bloomberg of squeeze play

June 6, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Comcast and Bloomberg are having a street fight over an issue known in the television industry as "neighborhooding."

The debate centers on where Comcast places Bloomberg's business channel on its cable systems, which reach more than 20 million subscribers. Bloomberg wants its channel to be next to or near CNBC -- in the same "neighborhood." Comcast owns CNBC as a result of the cable giant's acquisition of NBCUniversal.

The two are bickering over what constitutes a "neighborhood"of similar channels and whether Comcast was required to automatically move Bloomberg's channel closer to CNBC after the NBCUniversal merger closed, among other issues.

Ever since Comcast announced plans to acquire control of NBCUniversal from General Electric Co., Bloomberg has been worried that the deal would give CNBC an unfair advantage over its own cable channel Bloomberg TV.

Although the FCC addressed the issue of neighborhooding in its order approving the deal, Bloomberg and Comcast are arguing over what the FCC said. Bloomberg seems to think that Comcast should start moving its channel closer to CNBC. Comcast says that is not what the regulatory agency ruled.

Last month, Bloomberg hired legal eagle David Boies to fight for its cause. In a letter to Comcast, Boies threatened to complain to the FCC about the matter.

On Monday, Comcast fired back and told Boies and Bloomberg that it was dismayed by the business media company's allegations.

"This entire matter reflects nothing more than an attempt by Bloomberg -- a multi-billion-dollar financial services conglomerate that can and should stand on its own two feet in any negotiation -- to manipulate the FCC process for its own narrow commercial gain," Comcast said.

Bloomberg countered that "The FCC's Order could not be more clear about what is required of Comcast.  Rather than delays and obfuscations, Comcast should respect the public interest and implement the FCC's Order immediately."

-- Joe Flint

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