360AM — News briefing for Thursday, May 24 >>

Tennessee’s cable industry scored a major victory yesterday, derailing an AT&T-backed statewide video franchise bill a day after it cleared the state’s Senate Commerce Committee. Lead House sponsor Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) said he is taking the bill "off notice" until next year, blaming cable industry,  city and county officials and consumer groups for muddling the issues. AT&T Tennessee president Marty Dickens said cable operators (including Comcast) and organizations like the Tennessee Municipal League may have “won this battle, but consumers have lost the war.” Jim Spears, AT&T’s lead lobbyist, said if the bill had become law, AT&T would have invested “hundreds of millions” in Tennessee by offering television service in  four major metropolitan areas and up to 70 smaller cities and towns — but now, that plan is “going to be scrapped.” [Nashville City Paper | AP]

TV networks and media buyers are looking at a mid-to-late June timeframe for upfront deals to get moving, with Nielsen’s minute-by-minute commercial ratings (launching next week) throwing a spanner in this year’s negotiations. [MediaPost]

EchoStar is launching HSN‘s "Shop by Remote" interactive commerce service, which the IAC-owned network has been testing since last year with Cablevision in New York and Time Warner Cable in Hawaii. [Wall Street Journal] Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei tells Bloomberg that his boss, John Malone, and IAC’s Barry Diller have discussed merging HSN and Liberty’s cash cow QVC "for years." Maffei adds that Liberty is shopping for more programming assets, and is open to Cablevision’s Rainbow Media group of AMC, IFC and two regional sports networks. "If Rainbow or any major property is offered to us, we’d look. It hasn’t been offered."

Cox Communications is discussing a TV show with Facebook, blogs the Wall Street Journal‘s Kara Swisher. Comcast is already producing Facebook Diaries with the popular online social network, tapping producer R.J. Cutler to pull together a TV series from video submissions to a contest that has been running on Facebook and Comcast’s Ziddio.com since March.



• COMPETITION

Verizon’s FiOS Internet launches bundled offers for 15 Mbps service in eight states. Verizon is reportedly working on an "iPhone killer," writes TheStreet.com.



• ONLINE/DIGITAL

Lucasfilm is making about 250 Star Wars clips from all six movies available to fans on StarWars.com to remix or mash up and then post on YouTube, MySpace and other sites, with more clips to be released in coming months. Pegged to this week’s 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars, the project (powered by Eyespot) forbids nudity or pornographic clips. Lucasfilm is also producing a videogame, The Force Unleashed, and developing an animated TV series and a live-action TV series. [Release | Wall Street Journal]

JumpTV adds live chat to its video channels and "in the near future" will share that functionality with other sites that pick up its content.

Netflix is working on an Internet-to-TV set-top box that will stream its titles directly to consumers, CFO Barry McCarthy said at yesterday’s Goldman Sachs Internet conference in Las Vegas. [Video Business]

Ruckus raised $10 million in its second round of venture funding for the college-based digital entertainment nework, led by Philip Anschutz’s investment company and Columbia Capital.



• PROGRAMMING

ABC‘s Lost becomes the first TV-based game on iTunes. [C21Media]

Bravo has produced a pilot based on UK quiz game show format Payday. [C21Media]

ESPN signed Super Bowl champion (with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Keyshawn Johnson as an analyst on Monday Night Countdown with his former coach Bill Parcells. Johnson said on a media conference call yesterday he’s not open to any offers to return to the field and is retiring.

NBC will air a one-hour version of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in early December, a first in the show’s 75-year history. It’s being produced by 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt, who came up with the idea and pitched it to his friend, Radio City owner and Cablevision chairman Chuck Dolan, and then (reports the New York Times) convinced Jeff Zucker to pick it up after his TV alma mater, CBS, passed. Cablevision’s MSG Entertainment is co-producing. [Release]

Showtime signed Mary-Kate Olsen as a recurring character in season 3 of Weeds, marking her first TV role without twin sister Ashley. [Hollywood Reporter]



• IN OTHER NEWS

Comcast is taking over the former Keebler Cookies HQ—and no, it’s not a giant tree.

Mediacom now offers high school student-produced programming on VOD in Florida’s Santa Rosa County; it’s also free to participating schools. [Gulf Breeze News]

Shirley Brady

• Click here for Wednesday’s 360AM news briefing >>

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