Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, Sept. 24 »

Arris announced last night it will buy C-COR for $730 million, creating what the two tech companies call the largest "pure-play provider" of equipment and services to the cable industry. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close in January.

Cox Communications will offer five NBC fall primetime series on free VOD (Life, Bionic Woman, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock and Las Vegas) in its Orange County and Palos Verdes, CA, system. Orange County is Cox’s test site for its closely-watched VOD trial with Disney this fall, offering four ABC series (Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy and Lost) plus select ESPN on ABC college football games on free VOD with fast-forwarding (no ad-skipping) disabled.

As broadcast networks kick off the fall TV season tonight, TV Guide launches a multi-platform consumer campaign to guide viewers through the new shows. The New York Times previews broadcasters’ fall premieres this week here and notes in a separate story that viewers should brace for a flood of on-air snipes (those annoying pop-up graphics that plug shows other than the one you’re watching) this week.

Discovery Communications is a step closer to going public following parent company Liberty Media‘s SEC filing Friday indicating it’s in preliminary talks to buy out Advance/Newhouse‘s 34% stake in Discovery Holding Company in exchange for a stake in Discovery Communications. [Washington Post]

Pali Capital‘s Rich Greenfield got the Discovery scoop (before the SEC) from Liberty Media head John Malone, who also told analysts Friday that discussions to merge his new look QVC with rival HSN stalled on "valuations," not antritrust concerns, notes Reuters.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett tells Barron’s "what’s it like to be recommending the purchase of Comcast shares at a moment when the market clearly hates the sector: ‘It sucks.’"

Comcast this week launches Breast Cancer Hope, a free VOD and online channel featuring content from cable network partners Lifetime, Style, HBO, Discovery Health, Exercise TV plus breastcancer.org. The initiative is both a public affairs push and personal (for Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts’ wife Aileen).

Would Cablevision exchange AMC, IFC and WE for the YES Network? That’s one scenario being floated as Goldman Sachs reportedly pitched Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan last week about taking a stake in the Yankees-centric sports net, reports the New York Post.

Dolan, meanwhile, is busy fighting stories like this in the wake of a lawsuit by former MSG employee Anuch Browne Sanders, whose sexual harassment trial in New York against NY Knicks coach Isiah Thomas also involves Cablevision and the Garden as defendants.

DirecTV will exclusively launch the Smithsonian Channel on Wednesday. The Showtime/Smithsonian JV will join DirecTV’s $4.99/mo. HD tier (which also adds newbie net MGM HD) and will feature its first original series, Stories from the Vaults, hosted by Tom Cavanagh. [AP | Washington Post | Variety | Hollywood Reporter]

DirecTV‘s Supercast, delivering blackout-busting online streams of Sunday NFL games to SuperFan package subscribers, is being enabled by Sling Media’s software. [NewTeeVee]

Its $5.3 million do-not-call fine notwithstanding, a complaint on Consumerist.com reports an automated telemarketing call from DirecTV that begins, "You have asked us not to call you. Because you are on our Do Not Call List, we can’t call you with all of our super-awesome special promotions…"

Dish Network dropped NBC affliate KHNL’s HD signal in Hawaii because unreliable over-the-air picture quality prompted customer complaints. [Honolulu Advertiser]

ABC-Disney is open to participating in NBCU/Fox’s Hulu.com, according to Disney execs Anne Sweeney and Albert Cheng. Sweeney tells Broadcasting & Cable, "I’ve said to the Hulu people, the door’s open," while Cheng elaborates to Forbes that "any such arrangement would have to include the use of the ABC player and could only allow Hulu non-exclusive use of ABC content."

Variety looks at the trend of smaller cable networks (AMC, Oxygen, SoapNet, Animal Planet, Court TV, Starz, BET) investing in pricey scripted series.

Bravo‘s Workout and ESPN‘s The Bronx is Burning will be honored at the the Multicultural Motion Picture Association’s 2007 Diversity Awards, Nov. 18 in Los Angeles.

Comedy Central and National Lampoon signed a three-picture first-window premiere rights deal that will bring three National Lampoon movies to the network next year. Comedy Central’s sophomore season of The Sarah Silverman Program is sponsoring Rocketboom’s debut on blip.tv.

Court TV‘s Jan. 1 rebranding to truTV will be pre-tested by in-home researchers questioning target viewers, Turner entertainment president Steve Koonin tells Fast Company.

Discovery Channel is shooting Green That House, expected to premiere in November. Next: Flip That Green House. [OC Register]

Fox News Channel tonight unveils a multimillion-dollar makeover for the set of Fox Report with Shepard Smith, the #1 7pm cable newscast for 71 months. Smith also adds dedicated correspondents, notes the NY Daily News.

Fox Reality Channel tapped Gotuit to power its Really Awards 2007 website.

HBO is being lobbied to bring back John From Cincinnati with an online petition and fan-funded ad in The Hollywood Reporter.

TBS will get My Name is Earl from Twentieth TV 18 months before it becomes available to syndication. TBS plans to premiere the NBC hit twice-weekly beginning Apr. 1, ahead of daily plays of Earl in 2009. [Variety]

The Tennis Channel gave DirecTV an undisclosed stake in the network in exchange for distribution to about 9 million of its 16.3 million homes. [MediaPost]

Average network primetime CPMs for adults 18+ will increase 8% in the 2007-2008 TV season to an annual average of $16.39 per thousand viewers, while cable networks will post a 5.8% CPM increase in primetime according to projections from Media Dynamics, whose president tells MediaPost viewers are less apt to DVR cable programs and that "cable generally retains less of its viewers going from program to commercial content."

Nielsen (which last week reported that U.S. ad spending slipped 0.5% in the first half of this year) informed its clients late Friday that its Monitor-Plus commercial tracking system was having trouble identifying live TV spots, and asked clients to begin supplying detailed commercial log ratings data as a back-up. [MediaPost]

The Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association on Friday filed suit in against the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga for approving a business plan that will use electric ratepayer proceeds to fund cable television and Internet services. [Chattanoogan.com]

Dial-up customers are more satisfied than high-speed Internet customers, J.D. Powers telecom analyst Steve Kirkeby tells PC World following its latest broadband customer satisfaction survey. It’s not higher prices that irk broadband subscribers, but "outages and network performance, connection problems, and quality of tech support received when it is sought."

Apple and Starbucks launch the iTunes Wi-Fi music store Oct. 2 with a promotion that will offer 1.5 million free song downloads a day (or 50 million through Nov. 7).

AT&T is temporarily suspending its Smart Limits parental controls plan that launched Sept. 4 due to a technical glitch that doesn’t let 911 operators call back, which it’s working to fix. [Wall Street Journal]

Google is rumored to be launching a virtual world (to compete with Second Life) and on Nov. 2 will introduce Facebook-like features, blogs TechCrunch.

Joost won the bronze category in the Wall Street Journal‘s 2007 technology innovations awards.

Microsoft plans to relaunch its Live Search with improved video search, ranking and other features. [CNET]

Motorola announced an MPEG-4 to MPEG-2 receiver to support HD rollouts.

BigBand Networks unveiled what it’s billing as the first universal Edge QAM for both switched digital video and modular CMTS.

Tech start-up Pudding Media is launching a toll-free Internet phone service that will (in a huge trade-off for privacy) monitor calls and deliver advertising targeted to each conversation. [New York Times]

Today’s Wall Street Journal reviews satellite-delivered broadband services here.

And don’t forget: Oct. 11 is the deadline to bid on the former Adelphia headquarters and properties.

Catching up? Don’t miss Friday’s Cable360AM briefing.



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