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Comcast and Bloomberg TV are in the middle of a cat fight and both groups seem poised to pull out the sharp claws. The spat arose when Bloomberg TV began whining at Comcast about the channel’s position on cable television in relation to Comcast owned CNBC. Now, Bloomberg TV has pushed further, openly discussing bringing the FCC into the mix in the hopes they might push Comcast to put Bloomberg TV into a better position.
This whole thing would come off as completely catty and foolish if we weren’t already privy to some underlying details. When Comcast bought NBC back in January, the FCC had to approve the purchase. When they did, they warned Comcast the company could not discriminate against any network that competes with NBC channels. This seems like fair policy and a simple enough solution: competing channels need to be in close proximity. So, MSNBC needs to be near CNN in the channel lineup, and maybe even a couple of positions after CNN to stick with the FCC restrictions. Fair’s fair.
Unfortunately for Comcast, in certain parts of the country, Bloomberg TV is legitimate competition for CNBC. However, in many areas, Bloomberg TV can be found over a hundred channels later than CNBC in the lineup. According to Deadline, Comcast subscribers in Hartford, CT will find CNBC at channel 60 and Bloomberg TV doesn’t come up until 178. Bloomberg TV is arguing that it is being screwed out of a better channel position so that Comcast can support CNBC. In a sense, he’s right; unless a viewer is super down with Bloomberg TV, why would they bother to channel surf to 178 when they could stop at 60?
To be fair to Comcast, the lineup was probably set in place before Bloomberg TV became more of a force to be reckoned with. It isn’t Comcast’s fault the channel didn’t previously have more of a viewer base. CNBC has been a respected news source for much longer. I don’t know if it necessarily makes sense to either force CNBC later into the lineup or move the clearly less popular Bloomberg TV into one of those coveted pre-100 channel spots. Besides, channel shuffling always annoys subscribers. Stay tuned to see if Bloomberg TV makes good on its FCC threat.
In southern Indiana, Comcast is playing fair. Both news channels are right next to each other in the lineup—at 411 and 412, where only the most avid channel surfers will find them.