Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, Oct. 3 »

Cox Communications and fellow Atlantan Turner Broadcasting are bringing TBS HD (in time for MLB playoffs) and CNN HD to Cox markets. Cox just launched NFL Network HD on its Northern Virginia market’s sports tier, which will add the non-HD NHL Network Oct. 30. The NHL Network is already available on Cox Connecticut and will launch in Cox’s San Diego division Nov. 2.

The National Hockey League‘s channel is also now on Time Warner Cable‘s NY/NJ sports tier and coming to other TWC divisions including San Antonio; it’s also launching on Bright House Networks‘ Orlando market in November as part of Time Warner Cable’s deal with the NHL.

Bright House is also busy adding eight HD channels, including TBS HD and Discovery HD, in its Tampa Bay and Central Florida divisions by year-end.

Comcast, which committed to carry the NHL Network as part of its Versus hockey deal, is also busy rolling out high-def nets on a market-by-market basis. It’s bringing TBS HD and CNN HD to Vermont; TBS HD and NFL Network HD to Jackson, Miss.; and Comcast subs in Chicago will have TBS HD today, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Cable operators, along with DirecTV and Dish Network, also renewed a deal via In Demand Networks for the NHL Center Ice out-of-market package. A free preview (through Tuesday) offers a sneak peak at the $149/season ($169 after Oct. 9) package’s new four-screen mosaic that rotates live hockey games.

DirecTV, meanwhile, today added 11 HD networks just as Nielsen released its first survey of HDTV owners indicating consumer demand for more high-def programming on cable and satellite. Details are here.


• IN OTHER NEWS

Yesterday’s sexual harassment verdict that handed down $11.6 million in fines against Cablevision and its Madison Square Garden unit is called "just the latest black eye in a history of conflict for [Cablevision’s] controlling Dolan family" in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. The next battle for Cablevision CEO James Dolan, who was ordered to pay $3 million as part of damages awarded to former employee Anucha Browne Sanders: the scheduled Oct. 24 vote by Cablevision shareholders on the Dolan family’s $10.6 billion privatization offer.

The GAO will release a report today criticizing the FCC for leaking information to lobbyists ahead of key votes. FCC spokesman David Fiske commented to AP that FCC chairman Kevin Martin (who yesterday touted multicast must-carry as beneficial to Spanish-language broadcasters, and hence viewers, in a speech in D.C.) "has always been very open and transparent" about issues on the agency’s docket.

USA Network was #1 on ad-supported cable in the third quarter, averaging 2.7 million viewers, but it lost the quarter’s primetime ratings crown to the non-ad-supported Disney Channel, which averaged 3.2 million primetime viewers thanks to High School Musical 2‘s record-breaking premiere in August. Mediaweek has more.

Time Warner Cable‘s business services division in NY/NJ launched a new IPTV service, BusinessLink.tv, that delivers 10 real-time TV news channels to its commercial customers’ PCs. No word whether Fox Business News will join the IPTV line-up after it goes on the air Oct. 15.

AT&T plans to invest $1.25 billion in Texas this year (and nearly $3 billion by the end of next year) to support its wireless, video, voice and broadband infrastructure throughout the state.

Verizon, which is lobbying for a statewide video franchise in NY, is close to finalizing a new 15-year franchise agreement with the city of New York that would bring FiOS TV to the Big Apple. NYC’s franchise agreements with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision expire next year. [New York Daily News]

DirecTV and EchoStar face declining subscriber growth in the next five years, according to projections from Pike & Fischer that peg their sub growth rates declining at an average of 13.5% annually through 2012.

EchoStar and TiVo take their patent dispute to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit tomorrow.


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