Update: NBCU and Comcast have filed a letter opposing Bloomberg’s request for an extension. More information after the jump.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of business network Bloomberg TV, has asked the FCC to extend its comment deadline on the proposed Comcast-NBC Universal deal by another 45 days. At the moment, comments and petitions opposing the deal must be filed to the FCC by June 21. Bloomberg does not believe that date provides adequate time to put together its comments. The company is requesting the comments period be extended to September 19.
NBCU filed a (highly redacted) economic report with the FCC June 10, with Comcast expected to follow suit next week. Bloomberg has the right to review those reports, including confidential information that is not made available to the public. However, the company is concerned that it will not have enough time to review the documents and write a response in time for the deadline.
“The merger has enormous implications for consumers,” A Bloomberg LP spokesperson told TVNewser. “Yesterday, interested parties received well in excess of 60,000 pages of relevant documents from NBC, with an expectation of receiving a comparable or larger number from Comcast less than a week before the filing date. An opportunity to review thoroughly those submissions in advance of Monday’s deadline for comments is important. A reasonable extension is advisable for that review.”
In a request for extension filed to the FCC, Bloomberg wrote:
If the requests were made at the earliest possible date, that would give parties only three business days to review the confidential and highly confidential materials. Given the substantial volume of documents and materials produced by the applicants, the extensive resources needed to review the data, and the short time period in which to process this information, the commission should follow its established practices in this proceeding. It should afford the public an adequate amount of time to properly consider and analyze the newly filed information by granting the extension of time to the June 21st deadline.
The company is expected to weigh in with opposition to the merger in the coming weeks, as more documents are filed by Comcast and NBCU. The new company, if it gets approval from the FCC and US Department of Justice, would include Bloomberg television competitor CNBC.
In fact, CNBC is discussed in detail in a separate letter filed to the FCC by a lawyer representing Bloomberg:
As a result of the transaction, Comcast will have a strong incentive to hinder neighborhooding and disadvantage networks like Bloomberg that compete with its “owned” networks like CNBC. Comcast could also decrease viewership of BTV relative to CNBC by placing BTV on a more expensive tier, while keeping CNBC on the basic non-premium tier.
Update: the American Cable Association, which represents small and mid-size cable operators, has weighed in supporting Bloomberg’s request:
We reiterate those concerns especially in light of the fact that the Applicants have not produced data and information responding to the Commission’s requests in a format that is easily accessible to parties to the license transfer review proceeding, thus hampering their ability, as a logistical matter, to work with the data.
Update 2: NBC Universal and Comcast have filed a letter with the FCC opposing Bloomberg’s request for an extension:
The Commission has carefully considered the interests of would-be petitioners and commenters by issuing its Information Requests at a relatively early stage of the review process. Such requests are usually issued after petitions and comments are due – and, indeed, usually several months after the full pleading cycle has been completed.