360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, May 30 » Comcast signed a two-year deal with Monster to integrate its job-search and recruitment functions into Comcast.net. Comcast high-speed Internet subscribers can click on the "Jobs" category on Comcast.net or visit a co-branded site at Comcast.Monster.com to access career tools and services. Scroll down for more online acquisitions announced this morning. Separately, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts last week sold 350,000 shares for $9.4 million, according to an SEC filing. Roberts holds 1.2% of Comcast’s 3.1 billion outstanding shares and controls more than one-third of total voting strength. [Reuters] Comcast also promoted Marlene Dooner to SVP of investor relations and D’Arcy Rudnay to SVP of corporate communications. Charles Cerino, Comcast VP of new media development, was named president of the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA).

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is expected to announce on June 6 a new campaign to help parents protect children from inappropriate online content and websites.

Bresnan Communications is adding four HD networks to its line-up: National Geographic Channel, A&E, Showtime and the shared HD feed of Comcast’s Versus/Golf channels. [Great Falls Tribune, MT] And speaking of indie cable operators, CableWorld‘s Independent Operator of the Year nominations are due Thursday. Patriot Media, recently acquired by Comcast, was last year’s winner.

AT&T‘s incoming CEO Randall Stephenson said the company is fully equipped to compete with cable and other industries. [Reuters] A bill before Connecticut’s General Assembly aims to level the playing field by applying most of the requirements for cable franchises to AT&T and other entrants as a condition of receiving a license to operate. Cable franchises faced with competition can, in turn, apply for a special license from the DPUC that eliminates the requirement that they renew their franchises. [Hartford Courant, CT]

Ars Technica notes that Major League Baseball is swinging at Sling Media, which MLB says is stealing their content by allowing fans to watch out-of-market games on the Slingbox. "Of course, what they are doing is not legal," MLB general counsel Michael Mellis told The Hollywood Reporter Esq. "We and other leagues have formed a group to study the issue and plan our response. A lot depends on ongoing discussions. Plus, there’s no guarantee that Slingbox will be around next year. It’s a startup."

Nielsen reported first quarter earnings today and tomorrow launches its commercial-minute TV ratings service, a hot button in this upfront. [Click here for Cable360’s 2007 Cable Upfronts Guide]

A DVR-leery Madison Avenue welcomed NBC’s appointment of Ben Silverman yesterday to co-chairman, with Marc Graboff, of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio. Silverman (with Mark Burnett) wrote the book on product integration with his Reveille-produced TV series including NBC’s The Restaurant and Bravo’s Blow Out. "Ben understands the needs and wants of advertisers in a way many other television executives don’t," Starcom USA SVP Laura Caraccioli-Davis, whose clients include GM, told the Wall Street Journal. "This is someone who looks at content in terms of how salable it is" to marketers, added Bill Cella, vice chairman of Interpublic Group of Cos.’ DraftFCB subsidiary. NBCU pres/CEO Jeff Zucker’s wooing of the 36-year-old Silverman (who learned the biz from his mom, former Court TV and USA Network programming exec Mary Silverman), was the reason Kevin Reilly asked to get out of his just renewed contract. Zucker told reporters on a conference call yesterday it was "now or never" if he was going to sign Silverman to a top exec slot, and now expects him to boost ratings and ad sales while continuing meshing online and TV (as he’s successfully done with The Office). Jeff Gaspin, recently promoted to president of NBCU Cable and Digital Content, now reports to Silverman and Graboff, while Vivi Zigler, EVP of NBC Digital Entertainment and New Media, reports to Gaspin and the new co-chairman. [More: Variety | Hollywood Reporter | Los Angeles Times | New York Times | Wall Street Journal | USA Today | MediaPost]



• ONLINE

Apple launched iTunes Plus, DRM-free downloads for $1.29 each including EMI’s catalog (except for the Beatles) plus iTunes U, featuring content (lectures, campus tours, sports highlights) from top U.S. universities and colleges.

CBS is paying $280 million to acquire Last.fm, a London-based social networking site for music lovers with more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S. "Last.fm is one of the most well-established, fastest-growing online community networks out there," CBS CEO Leslie Moonves stated. "Their demographics also play perfectly to CBS’ goal to attract younger viewers and listeners." [Release | BBC | Los Angeles Times]

News Corp.‘s Fox Interactive Media acquired photo-sharing site Photobucket and Flektor, which enables online video and audio editing. FIM will integrate both services into MySpace and its other digital properties.

Anheuser-Busch decided not to scrap Bud.TV after all, but relaunch the broadband entertainment channel with social-networking features and shorter videos, trimming six-minute programs to about a minute each with a dozen new series, er, in the can. [Wall Street Journal]



• PROGRAMMING

Bravo‘s Top Chef 3 (which premieres on June 13 and moves to Miami this season) is tapping into Latino viewers with NBCU sibling Telemundo, including producing webisodes that will run on BravoTV.com and Yahoo!Telemundo.

Comedy Central (which just announced its development slate) will welcome musical guest stars to Lil’ Bush, its animated series that originated on Amp’d Mobile and premieres on-air June 13th. Iggy Pop is channeling Donald Rumsfeld as the voice of Lil’ Rummy, while creator Donick Cary says he’s wooing Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Black from the Pixies, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, and Henry Rollins, and Boy George to voice Tony Blair. [ToonZone]

Fox News Channel led the three major cable news networks in airtime devoted to Anna Nicole Smith in the first three months of this year, and trailed MSNBC and CNN in coverage of the Iraq war according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s latest report. FNC devoted 9.6% of its airtime to Smith’s death versus 10.1% for the Iraq policy debate. FNC also devoted 2% of airtime to the firings of the U.S. attorneys versus 4% on CNN and 8% on MSNBC.

The History Channel tapped Meat Loaf to host History Rocks: The ‘70s, which airs tonight and tomorrow.

Nickelodeon will air Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Teachers Talk Back on June 17.

Showtime‘s Emmy aspirations featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Sundance Channel presents season 1 of British series Shameless starting July 5th, and will air seasons 2-4 next year. The award-winning dysfunctional family series debuted here on BBC America.



• IN OTHER NEWS

Viacom sold its Famous Music subsidiary to Sony for $400 million. [Release | Reuters]

Concurrent plans to market its advanced advertising patents.

Dish Network and MGM signed a video-on-demand movie deal.

Broadcom was awarded $19.6 million by a jury that found Qualcomm infringed on three of its patents.

In a different twist on retransmission consent negotiations, Cable TV of East Alabama is demanding that customers pay extra to keep receiving local Fox and ABC programming on WTVM and WXTX or it will drop the stations. [WRBL]

Shirley Brady

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