Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, July 16 »

On the eve of the CTAM Summit, one of the group’s highest profile members (and one of cable’s top marketers) has left the industry with the move of Ken Dice, EVP of marketing for Discovery‘s U.S. Networks, to sports apparel giant Nike. Dice, who was hired from Sony Electronics by former Discovery U.S. Networks head Billy Campbell in Nov. 2003, oversaw marketing at Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel and eight other networks. Dice and Nike forged a relationship during their involvement in Discovery’s sponsorship of the U.S. cycling team, which was rebranded "green" by new Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav for this current Tour de France. Dice’s departure follows a series of management changes under Zaslav’s new leadership since January. His new title at Nike is VP of USA brand management. (Click here for CableWorld‘s pre-20th Discovery anniversary interview with Dice.)

Nominations are due today for the CableFAX 100 (click here) … and last-minute nominators for CableWorld’s Top 50 Most Influential Minorities in Cable can squeak in (the deadline was Friday) here.

HGTV president Judy Girard is leaving Scripps Networks at year-end — click here for more.

The cable portion of the TV Critics Association annual summer press tour wrapped yesterday — click here for Seth Arenstein’s dispatches. NBC announced its fall line-up at TCA today; click here for details.

Just as Ad Age reports that "Commercial ratings give TV nets Christmas in July," TiVo today launches Stop Watch, a monthly commercial ratings report based on data collected from its 4.3 million DVRs. "According to TiVo’s analysis, there seems to be little correlation between the top-viewed TV shows and most-watched commercials — even during live airtime," notes the New York Post. "In May, a Ford Edge commercial attracted the most viewers during live airtime, but did so during an American Idol episode that didn’t crack the top 10 programs list." TV Week also recaps this year’s cable upfront, which (for the most part) wrapped Friday.

"Hollywood’s first YouTube-era contract negotiation swings into gear [today], as the Writers Guild of America sits down at the bargaining table with representatives of the big content-creating media companies," notes the Wall Street Journal.

The consensus at Herb Allen’s Sun Valley media moguls’ retreat last week, reports Bloomberg: "Consolidation in the cable industry is a given as companies expand into Internet and telephone services, said Paul Allen, chairman of Charter Communications. Time Warner Cable may look to acquire smaller rivals, said Richard Parsons, chief executive of the parent company, Time Warner. [Investor Mario] Gabelli, of Gamco, said he believed Cablevision, Charter and closely held Cox Communications were prime targets."

Qwest‘s rollout this week of Microsoft‘s Windows Live portal to its high-speed Internet subscribers "gives it a foundation for more advanced services the company will need to catch up to its peers," according to Dow Jones. The platform, launching Wed. to Qwest customers, will (in the near future) allow them to access voicemail through the computer as an audio file, or move computer video searches onto the television.

Time Warner Cable averted a strike in Ohio on Saturday, when members of the Teamsters Local 377 agreed to a 30-day extension of contact talks.



• PEOPLE 

Cedar Point Communications hired John O’Hara as EVP of engineering, from consultant.

Fox Business Network promoted John McCann to VP of ad sales; he continues to manage Fox News ad sales in Washington. FBN launches Oct. 15.

Google hired Tim Castelli as director, New York sales; from publisher, Rolling Stone. [Ad Age]

Gotuit Media chairman Dan O’Brien was named chairman of the board at Digitalsmiths Corp.

Turner Broadcasting named Cheryl Ingram SVP, controller and chief accounting officer; from assistant controller of financial reporting and accounting policy for Turner’s parent company, Time Warner Inc.

Verizon Communications promoted Dick Lynch EVP and CTO, from EVP and CTO at Verizon Wireless, in a new position reporting to Verizon president and COO Denny Strigl.

Vyyo hired Robert K. Mills as CFO; from CFO at Tri-S Security Corp.

Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution promoted Brian Moreno to VP-sales, responsible for domestic licensing of TV and movie titles for pay television and basic cable, from VP-strategic marketing, Warner Bros. Online; and hired Peter Baer as VP-sales and sponsorships, from VP-strategic sales and marketing, CBS Radio.



• ONLINE

Setanta Sports announced exclusive live online streaming rights for the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup.

Sony today rebrands its user-generated video portal, Grouper, as Crackle. It’s abandoning user-generated content and focusing on professionally-produced video, sparking interest (in a Ziddio-like fashion) with contests. [Wall Street Journal | AP | CNET]



• WIRELESS

Google is beta-testing a version of its AdSense system for mobile advertisers. [Clickz]

Rural cellphone users may get a break on roaming charges under FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s proposed rules that would require carriers to offer competitors’ roaming agreements at "just and reasonable rates." [USA Today]

TV networks (including ESPN and ABC Family) are using the Twitter mobile social network to promote their new shows. [Wall Street Journal]

UK’s Vodafone Group dismissed a Financial Times report that it’s planning to bid on Verizon Wireless. [MarketWatch]



• PROGRAMMING

Court TV‘s upcoming rebranding to truTV prompted this headline in today‘s New York Times: "Court TV Tilts to Tabloid Side in Ratings Quest."

Disney Channel‘s High School Musical 2 will be available as a week-long sneak preview starting Aug. 10 on Disney on Demand, the VOD channel available on Cablevision and Verizon’s FiOS TV service. The movie’s Aug. 17 linear premiere will lead into the launch of new series Phineas and Ferb, followed by a new episode of Hannah Montana.

Healthination, the broadband and video-on-demand channel (whose cable operator affiliates include Insight, Charter, Cox and Bresnan) is adding diabetes-focused videos from dLife.

MTV tomorrow night premieres Room 401, a hidden camera show (featuring magicians performing tricks on unsuspecting victims) from Ashton Kutcher.

NBC Universal‘s cable networks helped parent GE report a 10% increase in 2nd quarter income, with NBCU’s TV businesses up 20% for the quarter.

The Tennis Channel signed a six-year deal with the All England Club for Wimbledon starting in 2008, including the right to televise a four-hour primetime show. The deal marks the third Grand Slam for TTC, which this year covered the French Open and in January commences its Australian Open coverage.

Click here for Friday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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