Cable360AM — News briefing for Friday, Dec. 7 »
Rabbit ears are topping holiday wish lists for Cable360 staffers who can’t keep up with their mortgage payments and must eliminate luxuries like cable TV. Good morning.
Wall Street analysts are worried that cable operators don’t have enough bandwidth capacity to meet consumers’ rising demand for high-definition programming, Investor’s Business Daily reports. Running fiber to the home would add the needed capacity, but Wall Street, paradoxically, would be displeased by another round of capital investments. Comcast and Charter, meanwhile, say their network upgrades have put them on equal footing with the satellite distributors and telcos.
Separately, TV manufacturers are focusing on making large high-definition sets that will be relatively immune to pricing discounts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
[Investor’s Business Daily | Wall Street Journal]
Sanford C. Bernstein’s Craig Moffett isn’t a lone wolf crying in the wilderness after all—at least one other media analyst says cable shares are priced too low. Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne feels that worries about Comcast are “overblown,” according to an Associated Press story picked up by the Houston Chronicle. Swinburne raised his rating on Comcast to overweight from equal weight, and said in a client note that increasing data speeds and new HD and digital video recording offerings should generate growth, AP reports. [Houston Chronicle]
It’s been a banner holiday season for cable’s lead lobbyist, NCTA chief Kyle McSlarrow. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) and Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation in the House yesterday that aims to prevent FCC chairman Kevin Martin from expanding his and, secondarily, the commission’s, powers over cable operators, CableFAX Daily reports.
The bill would repeal the 70/70 rule in the 1984 Cable Act, which states that “at such time as cable systems with 36 or more activated channels are available to 70% of households within the United States and are subscribed to by 70% of those households, the commission may promulgate any additional rules necessary to provide diversity of information sources.” The legislation was presumably inspired by Martin’s recent failed attempt to invoke the rule, which was followed by accusations that he used incomplete data to back his claim that the 70/70 threshold had been reached.
Rupert Murdoch’s 34-year-old son James will run News Corp.’s U.K., Europe and Asia operations. This seems to indicate the BSkyB chief executive is the heir apparent to his tycoon dad. [BBC]
EchoStar Communications filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday to rename itself Dish Network Corp. The company plans to eventually split in two; the consumer satellite TV business will be controlled by Dish Network, and its set-top box and commercial satellite businesses will be run by an independent company called, temporarily, EchoStar Holding Co., and eventually, EchoStar Communications. Got it?
Macrovision Corp. is buying Gemstar-TV Guide International. [New York Times]
Highly rated WWE series Monday Night RAW will remain on USA Network through 2010, NBC Universal said late Thursday. That extends the current deal by two years. The news comes as the series gets set to celebrate its 15th anniversary next Monday with a three-hour special (8 p.m.).
RAW ran for seven years on USA before moving to Spike TV in September 2000. It returned to USA in October 2005. Since then RAW has averaged 5.07 million total viewers, 2.6 million in P18-49 and 2.3 million in P25-54. USA with RAW in the Monday prime slot is up 210% in total viewers, +221% in P18-49, and +187% in P25-54. In addition to RAW on USA, WWE will continue to provide NBC with special programming twice a year for the late-night Saturday slot. In addition, WWE will continue to provide its weekend program A.M. RAW for USA and provide a Spanish-language version of Monday Night RAW for Telemundo and mun2.
The New York Post reports that this week or next NBC will lay off staffers on the newsgathering and operational sides of NBC News and MSNBC. Merry Christmas, to one and all. [New York Post]
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