Bloomberg Behind the Coalition for Competition in Media

An article in the February 28 issue of The Nation has revealed that Bloomberg was behind the Coalition for Competition in Media (CCM), an apparent public interest group aiming to stop the then-pending $30 billion megamerger of Comcast and NBC Universal. While CCM advanced a legitimate argument that the merger would negatively impact independent media outlets and internet freedom, and while other pro-media democracy groups joined the coalition, Bloomberg LP’s true motivation behind forming and funding the group may have been to advance the narrow interests of Bloomberg Television. A major way for the Bloomberg company’s independent cable channel to increase viewership is by placing it near similar channels on the dial; Bloomberg executives feared that the merger could permit Comcast to punish independent channels by placing them elsewhere on the dial and making them harder for viewers to find. When the FCC approved the merger, it was a defeat for the CCM coalition, but a victory for Bloomberg: the merger was approved with the condition that Comcast is required to “neighborhood” channels together, in the exact same language Bloomberg and its lobbyists had pushed for. The Center for Media and Democracy’s Lisa Graves is quoted in The Nation article, noting that while coalition building is a normal feature of Washington influence efforts, this case stands out:

“I would say that it is clever and somewhat deceptive because the assembly of the groups is mainly meant to further Bloomberg’s interest.” Strictly speaking, she points out, it is not a front group, but it is similar. “It is like a front group because the name of the group and the superficial appearance obscure the primary intent, which is to further this company’s corporate interest.”

Read the entire article here.