Cable360AM — News briefing for Friday, July 27 »

Cox Communications reported (even though it’s privately held) the lowest churn rate in its history—2.5% in the second quarter—with 60% of customers taking more than one service and 28% taking the triple-play bundle of video, voice and high-speed Internet services. Cox chief marketing officer Joe Rooney crows in the company’s 2nd quarter press release, "After all these years, it’s still the bundle, baby," which offers more details.

A U.S. District Court in Connecticut ruled that AT&T’s U-verse is a cable service and thus subject to local video franchise requirements, a victory for the state’s cable association. Reuters has more.

The NAB defended its consumer education efforts about the DTV transition in a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on the subject yesterday. The Hollywood Reporter has more.

The FCC votes Tuesday on rules for its upcoming auction of wireless spectrum, which "likely means that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has secured a majority of votes to ensure that his proposals for the rules will be implemented," comments Internet News.

Mediacom is selling its systems in Le Mars and Orange City, Iowa, to Premier Communications. [Sioux City Journal]



• PROGRAMMING

A&E will offer its original programming on Southwest Airlines for the next four months, reports the Wall Street Journal. Southwest, which doesn’t offer an in-flight entertainment system, will allow fliers to download A&E original (so no Sopranos) series onto their laptops. 

Discovery Channel‘s Shark Week—which starts its 18-hour daily shark-athon Sunday—is reviewed in today’s New York Times.

ESPN steps up its NASCAR commitment with 66 hours of related programming this week and a new technology, Draft Track, that shows in replays how air travels around the cars and creates vacuums for drafting. [TBO.com]

FX licensed Judd Apatow’s Superbad ahead of next month’s theatrical release, reports Variety.

Hallmark Channel followed Disney in agreeing to eliminate cigarette smoking from its original movies.

RFD-TV announced it will launch a high-def network, RFD HD, this fall. RFD is upgrading its theater in Branson, MO, to incorporate HD production before the network’s Nov. 1 launch, reports Branson Daily News.

Spike TV announced at San Diego’s Comic-Con a ringtone deal for mobile phones with Spider-Man creator Stan Lee; and Oct. 19th as the taping date for its second annual Scream Awards.

Scout Productions is developing The Deads, a scripted series about 300-year-old witches in modern-day suburbia, for ABC Family; The Beard, a half-hour scripted comedy about a closeted gay baseball player, for Showtime; and Cheerleader Camp, a series for MTV. [Variety]



• TECHNOLOGY

Gemstar-TV Guide reported 2nd quarter earnings with a 42% increase in income, notes AP.

Motorola added two board members: company president and COO Greg Brown, and Fox Networks Group president and CEO Tony Vinciquerra.



• ONLINE

The BBC today launched iPlayer, its Web video service.

DailyMotion, a French Web video portal that just launched in the U.S., is licensing TV shows from RFD USA. [Hollywood Reporter]

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is profiled in The Guardian.

HBO (as expected) is shuttering its broadband comedy site, ThisJustIn, which launched as a replacement to AOL‘s comedy channel. HBO is now developing a broadband site in tandem with cable operators that will give viewers access to its programming on the Web. [Variety | Hollywood Reporter]

Microsoft, which just acquired online ad auction exchange AdECN, announced at yesterday’s annual analyst day it plans to embed Web tools into Excel, Office and "nearly every Microsoft software application" within 3-10 years, reports the New York Times.

No Good TV (whose chairman is Gene Simmons) passes 58 million views on YouTube and garners an AP write-up.

Vehix (part-owned by Comcast) is developing tools for its cable operator local ad sales affiliates including a mobile service, plus interactive features so viewers can telescope from live TV spots to customized car searches and local dealers’ inventory. [Search Engine Watch]



• PEOPLE

BBC Worldwide America promoted Michele Grant to EVP of news and sport, from SVP of global news development for BBC News. She will work with Rome Hartman on BBC America’s nightly newscast for BBC World News launching this fall.

Lifetime SVP of original movies Libby Beers is leaving the network to become a consultant, reports Variety.

Sopresa! hired KJ Jones to spur interactive ad sales; he was previously with Latina Media Ventures.



• IN OTHER NEWS

Time Warner, which reports 2nd quarter earnings on Aug. 1, will be watched closely for Time Warner Cable and AOL results. [CNNMoney]

EchoStar (which reports 2nd quarter earnings on Aug. 10) told the FCC in a filing that its stand-off with the Big Ten Network stems from News Corp.’s agreement (when it purchased DirecTV) to program access conditions on affiliated programming including its regional sports networks. EchoStar, in arguing that Big Ten Network is an RSN (BTN says it’s a national network) wants the FCC to strengthen program access rules.

Suddenlink boosted its broadband service in West Virginia to 1.5 Mbps. [Charleston Daily Mail]

The Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide rallied at Wisconsin’s state capitol yesterday in support of the Video Competition Act, a statewide video franchising bill awaiting legislative approval. [WRN.com]

The All-American Football League, an upstart that plans to launch next year as a rival to the NFL, signed new players at try-outs in Birmingham, AL.

Weekend reading: Los Angeles Times profile of Viacom chair (and "lion in winter") Sumner Redstone.

Click here for Thursday’s 360AM news briefing »

Got a tip? Contact Shirley Brady at sbrady@accessintel.com

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