360AM — Morning news briefing for Tuesday, May 1

Cox Communications announced a gain of 372,000 telephone customers in the last 12 months for a year-over-year increase of more than 21%, with customer adoption in its new phone markets "pacing 50% higher than past launches in traditional circuit-switched markets." Cox also reported that it ended the first quarter with 5.5 million basic video subscribers (0.9% year-over-year growth), 2.9 million digital cable subscribers (+13.2%), 3.5 million high-speed Internet subscribers (15.2%), 2.1 million telephone subscribers (+21.2%), 3.6 million bundled customers (+13.3%), 5.9 million total residential customers of any product (+2.3%), and 470,000 "non-video" residential customers (+20%). "For every video customer the phone companies have connected to their new video services in our footprint in the past year, we’ve connected more than 50 phone subs," commented chief marketing officer Joe Rooney. Privately held Cox also ended the quarter with more than 187,000 commercial customers, reflecting 32.2% year-over-year growth, and now boasts more than 2 million residential and commercial phone customers. Separately, Cox is producing PSAs to support the national 811 "call before you dig" hotline that launches today.

Comcast‘s annual investor and analyst day kicked off this morning with remarks by chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, who said in a release that the company expects annual compounded growth of 12% per year from 2007-09, when digital voice penetration should exceed 20%. [Reuters]

Charter Communications president and CEO Neil Smit received $5.9 million in compensation last year. The 2006 base salaries for Smith and five other top Charter execs totaled about $3.3 million and their total compensation reached about $11 million. [St. Louis Business Journal]

Bloomberg revisits Time Warner Cable‘s Adelphia transition woes in SoCal, while TWC today restored email access following an outage since Sunday in Buffalo, a former Adelphia market it now owns and manages. [Buffalo News]



• COMPETITION

AT&T today launches U-verse in SoCal to four Los Angeles suburbs including Anaheim and Burbank, six Orange County cities, three Riverside County cities and Simi Valley—but not (yet) in the city of LA. [Los Angeles Times] AT&T also is testing a bundled offer of its wireless cellphone service with CallVantage, its VoIP service, in a three-month trial in two Comcast markets: Portland, Ore. and central New Jersey. [USA Today]

Verizon will launch "network assessment with voice" later this month; the reporting service allows business customers deploying VoIP telephony to assess and manage voice quality. [Release]

Qwest‘s first quarter profits almost tripled on its broadband subscriber growth. [Release | Earnings call transcript, Seeking Alpha | Bloomberg] The company is asking federal regulators to ease wholesale pricing controls in four markets: Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Seattle. [Rocky Mountain News]

RCN expands its Boston area footprint. [Boston Globe]

The Chicago Tribune supports statewide video franchising in Illinois.

Activist investor Carl Icahn is taking out full-page ads today lobbying for a Motorola board seat, in which he calls the company "troubled" and refers to comments by CEO Ed Zander "as something straight out of Alice in Wonderland." [Wall Street Journal] Motorola shareholders owning more than 25 million shares appear ready to back Icahn’s board bid at their meeting on May 7. [WSJ blog]



• PROGRAMMING


AETN held its ad sales upfront this morning: click here for details of what’s coming up on A&E and the History Channel.

Comcast‘s Eastern division and CN8, its regional news network, are bringing back the Candidates on Demand VOD channel in the lead-up to the Philadelphia mayoral race.

Gospel Music Channel today launched wherever Black Family Channel was previously available as a linear channel, in an acquisition that distributes GMC to nearly 275 additional cable systems. Click here for details.

HBO licensed The Sopranos name to Imbibe, Inc. for a line of all-natural beverages called The Sopranos Old Fashioned Italian Sodas. Flavors include limoncello, amaretto and chianti (no blood orange) and marketing efforts include an odd video in which the "made" soda bottles whack a competitor at drinksopranos.com. [Release]

INHD, In Demand‘s high definition network, rebrands to Mojo today. The channel adds The Show, a behind-the-scenes look at Minor League Baseball players, on May 30.

NBC Universal and Citadel Investment Group sweetened their takeover offer for Ion Media Networks. [New York Post]

Starz announced three additional HD channels: East Coast high-def feeds of Starz Comedy, Starz Edge, and Starz Kids & Family. They will join the existing Starz HD channel, which is available in East and West Coast feeds (as well as the Starz On Demand HD and Encore On Demand HD services) in late summer. [Release]

TVG signed a long-term deal with DirecTV, bringing the horseracing channel total’s distribution to 26 million homes. [Release]



• ONLINE

Google responded to Viacom‘s $1 billion lawsuit over alleged copyright infringement on YouTube yesterday. In its filing in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Google said Viacom’s claims were unfounded and asked for the complaint to be dismissed; it also said it’s ready to make its case before a jury. Google said the companies are scheduled to meet with the judge on July 27, when a court date may be set. [New York Times | Business Week | LA Times | Wall Street Journal]

Viacom’s Web video partner Joost goes from beta to commercial launch today with 32 content partners, including Turner Broadcasting‘s Adult Swim and CNN.

Google enhanced its personalization features with the launch of iGoogle. [Google blog | BusinessWeek]

Microsoft is eyeing Internet ad firm 24/7 Real Media in the wake of Yahoo!‘s acquisition yesterday of the 80% of online ad exchange Right Media that it doesn’t own and Google‘s recent $3.1 billion deal for DoubleClick. [New York Post]

• IN OTHER NEWS

News Corp. made a $5 billion unsolicited bid for Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal. [Release]

SeaChange will unveil its first Flash memory VOD server at the Cable Show next week, along with its next generation management software plus interoperability with Cisco, Concurrent and Motorola. [Release 1 | Rls 2 | Rls 3]

Vonage requested a lower court retrial in its legal tussle with Verizon. [Release]

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Monday, Apr. 30 >>

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