360AM — Morning news briefing for Tuesday, Feb. 27 (Updated: 8pm ET) CBS and Cablevision report fourth quarter earnings today:
CBS Corp. earnings release | Earnings call transcript—link (Seeking Alpha) | Earnings call webcast | New York Post | Reuters | Bloomberg |
Cablevision earnings release | Earnings call transcript—doc (Seeking Alpha) | Earnings call webcast | Reuters | WSJ |

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) threw his support behind broadcasters’ right to seek retransmission consent fees from cable operators. Speaking at an NAB state leadership conference in Washington, D.C., the senior House Democrat also warned of increased congressional oversight of the FCC. [MarketWatch]

Ericsson will discuss its Tandberg TV takeover bid today in New York at the Pacific Crest digital entertainment conference; DirecTV, Sprint Nextel, Starz and the Consumer Electronics Association are also presenting.

Comcast is close to signing a deal for the Boston Celtics basketball games; it’s also negotiating with Cablevision‘s Rainbow Media Holdings for full ownership of Fox Sports Net New England and FSN Bay Area [Boston Globe picks up on John Ourand’s scoop in Sports Business Journal].

Comcast.net subscribers on BroadbandReports say company is planning to goose its PowerBoost service in May and is testing an economy tier of 384kbps for $24.95/mo. in select markets including Springfield, MA.

Cox Communications faces competition in New Orleans’ St. Charles parish [The Times-Picayune] and almost overpaid the city of Pensacola, FL, $1.9 million before catching an accounting firm’s error. [Pensacola News Journal].

Charter Communications will hold its annual stockholders meeting on June 12 in chairman Paul Allen’s hometown of Seattle. [Release]

• COMPETITION

DirecTV announced a $1 billion stock buyback program. [Release]

Sprint Nextel becomes the first national carrier to offer unlimited voice, messaging and mobile Web service with its Unlimited Access Pack bundles. Now being tested in San Francisco, Sprint customers can pay $120/mo. or $150/mo. to add unlimited Web access for a PC. Analyst William Ho calls it "a grenade blast [for] not only wireless competitors but also landline carriers (both traditional wireline and cable)." [RCR Wireless]

Verizon receives cable franchise for FiOS TV service in Richmond, VA [more info at Richmond.com & Richmond Times-Dispatch], and is cleared for take-off in Tuckahoe, NY and Wilmington, MA.

• PROGRAMMING

Cable news nets jumped on the global stock market plunge at 3:00pm ET, when Fox News Channel and CNN commenced coverage while MSNBC played catch-up, says TVNewser.

Adult Swim breaks cable ratings records for monthly total day delivery of adults 18-34 and 18-24 and men 18-34 and 18-24 with January performance. Cartoon Network’s late-night network is now the #1 nework for men 18-24 for 23 consecutive months.

BET‘s College Hill reality series premieres a new season Mar. 6 [Release] while Rip the Runway returns Mar. 14 with Project Runway contender Mychael Knight and Ciara [Release].

BlueHighways TV to expand satellite carriage; it’s currently got limited satellite distribution through RFD-TV and cable VOD deals with Charter, Insight, Bresnan and Armstrong. [Greensboro NC News-Record]

Chiller, the new horror/thriller net from NBCU, launches tomorrow to 16 million DirecTV subscribers. Chiller’s VOD and HD channels will launch later this year; its website goes live tomorrow too. [Release]

Comedy Central brings original programming from its Motherload website to late-night with 2am Web Shows series. [Release | Hollywood Reporter]

Discovery Channel‘s The Lost Tomb of Jesus doc (airing Sunday) draws criticism from church leaders and academics. The network lists some "theological considerations" on its website while more than 1,500 messages are posted on the show’s discussion board. [Associated Press | San Jose Mercury News | The Australian | New York Times | NYT blog]

CN8: The Comcast Network will broadcast the Evander Holyfield/Vinny Maddalone boxing bout live on Mar. 17 at 10p.m. ET. In a first for the regional network, Holyfield’s quest for a fifth world championship title will be televised in all 24 million Comcast homes. The special will also be made available across its systems on Comcast on Demand. [Release]

Disney‘s Buena Vista Video signs VOD distribution deal with TVN. [Release]

HBO‘s Life Support doc will be screened Tuesday at NCTA HQ in Washington [Release].

HBO on Demand launches this summer on Delta‘s international and four-hour+ transcontinental flights. A 30-minute block of content will be made available on overhead screens while a pay-per-view HBO channel will cost coach passengers $5 per movie or $2 per show title (including The Sopranos and Sex and the City). Business and first class passengers will get unlimited free access to the 40-50 hours of HBO’s video on demand content. [WSJ]

HDNet‘s Dan Rather Reports broadcasts live at 8pm ET tonight from Princeton University.

Lifetime premieres The Staircase Murders (starring Treat Williams, Samaire Armstrong and Kevin Pollak) on Apr. 14 [Release]. Original movie dramatizes the Michael Peterson murder trial, which Sundance Channel explored in its riveting documentary series, The Staircase.

MSNBC adds user-generated content to its website with FirstPerson, an area where visitors can post stories, videos and photos around interests such as pets, travel and vintage cars. [MediaPost]

SportsNet New York airs its first New York Mets spring training game (against the Detroit Tigers) tomorrow at 1pm ET.

TV Guide Channel‘s pre-Oscars red carpet show was the highest rated telecast in its history. The live coverage featuring Joan and Melissa Rivers earned a 1.1 household rating, up 22% over last year. [Release]

WheelsTV will sell DVDs through Amazon‘s CustomFlix DVD on Demand service. [Release]

• VENDORS

AirPlay Network Inc. creates wireless application for the National Basketball Association, allowing cellphone users to play fantasy versions of live NBA games as they’re happening. The subscription service costs $3.99/mo. and will launch tomorrow to Sprint customers, with Verizon Wireless and Cingular launches to follow. [WSJ]

Cisco‘s John Chambers pleased with Scientific-Atlanta acquisition. [News & Observer, NC]

New York Times profiles Joost creators, who also founded Kazaa and Skype. [NYT]

Veoh Networks launches broadband channel for Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid. [Release]

YFonGlobal provides voice services for Marco Island Cable. [Release]

• IN OTHER NEWS

Arbitron and Nielsen Media‘s Project Apollo test aims to fine-tune audience measurement. [WSJ]

Pew Internet study finds that 34% of Americans have used a wireless connection to access the Web. [Report]

12 Seattle University students signed up for a week-long media deprivation experiment—they lasted four days. [Seattle Times]

Sony’s new Cyber-shot W-series cameras allow high-definition photo-viewing on HDTV sets. [Release]

WSJ tech writer Walt Mossberg grills AT&T exec over lousy broadband service in U.S. and company’s reluctance to give consumers more control. [San Jose Mercury News blog]

How does an MTV VJ stay in shape? If you’re TRL host Damien Fahey, you start by rolling out of bed at 9am and texting your trainer. [WSJ]

• PEOPLE

EchoStar president/CEO Michael Neuman becomes president/CEO of Canada’s Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of HRTV: Horseracing TV. [Release]

Gotuit hires Dan Gill and David Leibowitz [Release]

OMD president/CEO Joe Uva becomes CEO of Univision on Apr. 1, after the private equity acquisition of Univision is expected to be finalized. The Turner Broadcasting vet replaces Jerrold Perenchio. [Release | FT via MSNBC].

SIVOO
hires Robert Saltzman [Release]

Former TLC head David Abraham officially named CEO of UKTV; he resigned before David Zaslav’s recent exec-trimming at Discovery Communications. [Release]

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Monday, Feb. 26 >>

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