Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, Dec. 4 »
Assuming he survives through the end of the Bush administration, FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s final year in his job will be marked by constant hounding by the Democrat-controlled Congress. CableFAX Daily reports that in response to Martin’s recent contradictory attitudes toward media regulation and his alleged suppression of cable industry data, House Democrats have begun an investigation into whether the “FCC chairman is not disenfranchising his fellow commissioners and the American public he is supposed to serve,” as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said in a statement.
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to Martin yesterday in which he asked questions about the FCC’s recent procedures. “A trend appears to be emerging of short-circuiting procedural norms, suggesting a larger breakdown at the agency,” Dingell wrote in the letter, which will likely be followed by another series of questions related to the procedures followed in Martin’s recent moves to regulate the cable industry and his plan to ease newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, according to Variety. Martin has until Dec. 10 to respond to Dingell’s letter. [CableFAX Daily | Variety]
Layoffs have begun at Oxygen, which was recently acquired by NBC Universal. “More than 60 Oxygen staffers,” or 25% of the cable network’s staff, were axed yesterday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. An NBC Universal executive commented that “these decisions are never easy.” Merry Christmas, to one and all. [Hollywood Reporter]
Yesterday was the deadline for bids on the 700-MHz band of wireless spectrum. Google announced last Friday that it was bidding on the spectrum; other bidders are unknown. The strict rules of the auction dictate that companies that have placed bids must refrain from discussing those bids with each other, so if AT&T and EchoStar placed bids, merger talks, assuming they have been ongoing, would likely be placed on hold. Comcast and Time Warner Cable said they would not bid on the spectrum, Reuters reports. This decision seems to have pleased cable investors. The auction starts Jan. 24. [New York Times | Reuters]
As Court TV gets set to re-brand itself as truTV on January 1, it’s elevated Marc Juris to EVP and GM, making him the channel’s top executive. Juris is one of the few Court TV employees who kept his job after Turner parent Time Warner bought the company in May 2006. The offbeat Juris has served as GM of Court TV Networks since November 2004. Prior to that, the cable vet was President of Rainbow’s fuse networks.
Wachovia Capital Markets analyst John Janedis upgraded shares of Discovery Holding Co. from market perform to outperform, citing "stronger ratings and a healthy advertising market,” says the Hollywood Reporter. [Hollywood Reporter]
Cox, Charter, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are teaming with Bravo to provide ad-supported interactivity to fans of the network’s reality series Project Runway.
AT&T is getting out of the pay-phone business, reports the Sacramento Business Journal. [Sacramento Business Journal]
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