Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, Sept. 5 »
Comcast plans to sue the FCC after the agency last night upheld the Media Bureau’s January denial of the cable operator’s request for a set-top integration ban waiver. Comcast EVP David Cohen fired off a statement that the MSO will appeal in a federal court. FCC chairman Kevin Martin and fellow commissioners upheld the waiver denial, although Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps grumbled in a joint statement that other video providers received waivers for the same boxes the Media Bureau nixed at Comcast. They believe the Bureau wrongly focused "on the operator who requested the waiver, rather than the box."
The FCC continues to take aim at the cable industry with its scheduled vote next Tuesday on its controversial triple-carriage must-carry proposal. Operators are united against the agency’s proposed rules, released in May, that would force operators to transmit broadcasters’ local signals in HD, standard definition and analog after the DTV deadline in Feb. 2009 — unless a cable system is all-digital. Comcast and the NCTA filed protests last week, when the American Cable Association similarly voiced its opposition in a meeting at the FCC. In follow-up comments to the agency, ACA called the FCC’s proposed DTV order "both fiscally and technologically infeasible for all small cable operators." The commissioners also plan (ambitiously) to vote Tuesday on program access and extending its streamlinked video franchise rules to cable.
Retirement Living TV is going 24/7 on Oct. 1, and has signed up its first full-time affiliate launching that day — and is in talks with TV news legend Walter Cronkite to host a weekly show. Seth Arenstein has the scoop.
NBC Universal slammed the door on Apple — and Mac users — by expanding its video downloading deal with Amazon‘s Unbox service, which already offers downloads of NBC’s primetime series and Universal movies. Apple booted NBCU off iTunes Friday after the New York Times revealed NBCU wasn’t planning to renew its iTunes deal. Starting this Friday, the PC- and TiVo-only Amazon service will offer, in advance of their network premieres, the first episodes of NBC’s new fall shows Bionic Woman, Chuck, Journeyman and Life. Additional TV episodes from NBC and its sister cable networks will be available on Unbox the day after they premiere on-air.
In related news, Beth Comstock, NBC Universal’s “digital diva” (as the New York Post calls her), is reportedly rejoining GE as chief marketing officer. Her two-year run included extending NBCU’s digital distribution deal with Amazon. GE spokesman Gary Sheffer refutes today’s New York Post story on Comstock to BusinessWeek, adding that NBCU will hit $1 billion in digital revenue in 2008, a year ahead of schedule.
WWE wrestler Chris Benoit is back in the news today. His father Michael this morning released evidence to support his claim that wrestling-incurred blows to the head turned his son into a killer. More details here.
AT&T‘s U-verse hit 100,000 subscribers.
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network won the support of two key allies in its fight to launch on Time Warner Cable’s North Carolina systems, reports Mediaweek: Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Durham Mayor Bill Bell. MASN posts their letters on its PlayBallNow.org website.
Hearst-Argyle‘s KHBS-KHOG broadcast station in Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas has stepped up its retransmission consent stand-off with Cox Communications. The ABC affiliate is threatening to pull its analog signal Oct. 1 after a year of failed negotiations. It’s also urging viewers to contact local Cox GM Nelson Mower and lobby for a deal, or switch to DirecTV or Dish Network.
RCN received FTC approval to purchase Neon Communications Group for an estimated $260 million to bolster its business services offering, reports Reuters.
Fox Sports Nets last night replayed Appalachian State University’s stunning college-football upset over the University of Michigan, the inaugural weekend highlight of Fox sibling Big Ten Network. 13 FSN affiliates picked up the replay, except (as expected) BTN hold-out Comcast.
DirecTV is using Harmonic‘s MPEG-4 encoders for its national HD rollout to 70 high-def nets this month.
Verizon‘s FiOS TV this fall premieres an original technology makeover series, My Home 2.0, featuring five families living in Comcast‘s backyard of Philadelphia.
Broadcom won its antitrust appeal against Qualcomm (reports Reuters), which yesterday received FCC approval to bring its MediaFLO live TV service to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Kevin Curran, SVP of marketing at Cablevision‘s Optimum Lightpath business services arm, is now the first MSO representative to serve on the board of the Metro Ethernet Forum.
Microsoft‘s Silverlight expanded its content partners to include WWE, which will use the interactive software to "energize" its online content. HSN and Entertainment Tonight are also on board for Silverlight’s live launch.
Yahoo is buying BlueLithium, the 5th largest online advertising network in the U.S., for $300 million (in cash), reports Reuters.
Comcast is using handheld devices for its mobile workforce from Amdocs and Ventyx.
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