Cable360AM — News briefing for Thursday, Sept. 20 »

DirecTV‘s 70 HD Channel expansion — on its promised road to 100 — won’t happen this month after all (the hype). The satellite TV provider’s website has been updated to read: "Many new HD channels in September, over 70 in October" and, hedging its bets, "Up to 100 by end of year."

Cable operators, meanwhile, are busy shoring up their high-def offerings: Former Discovery co-owner Cox Communications is adding HD versions of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and The Science Channel on a market-by-market basis while Time Warner Cable will offer 29 HD channels in its NC market starting Oct. 15, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

Verizon marked the 2nd anniversary of FiOS TV with a press release that cites customers and analysts; and yesterday received state approval yesterday to offer discounted bundles of voice, TV, high-speed Internet and wireless services in Washington state. Silicon Alley Insider looks at projections for FiOS TV and AT&T’s U-verse.

Broadcast networks are flooding the Web to promote their new fall shows:

NBC.com next month will begin beta-testing NBC Direct, which offers free, ad-supported full-length downloads of its shows. A free subscription feature will deliver NBC shows directly to users’ PCs. NBC.com and NBC Mobile will also feature two original series this fall: Pale Force, an animated comedy (voiced by Conan O’Brien and Jim Gaffigan) that begins its second season Monday; and a "fun, sexy soap," Coastal Dreams (Oct. 2).
ABC will share its primetime programming with AOL the day after they premiere, abandoning its go-it-alone philosophy on ABC.com.
• CBS.com is relaunching for the fall season (CBS digital head Quincy Smith’s mantra: "Community, community, community, plus watercooler"), the Los Angeles Times reports.
The CW‘s Aliens in America, NBC’s Chuck, CBS’s The Big Bang Theory and Showtime’s Dexter and Brotherhood are now available as full-episode previews on Yahoo! TV.
• On the mobile front, NBC is teaming with Verizon Wireless and MediaFLO USA to deliver full episodes of 10 new fall TV series from CBS, NBC, Fox and Nick‘s iCarly and MTV‘s Kaya. In addition to other shows from Nick and MTV, ESPN (including the new season of The Contender and live sporting events) and Comedy Central are participating.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal has more on the ABC/AOL deal while the New York Times looks at how NBC’s  online plans fits in with its iTunes walk-out and Hulu.com start-up with Fox.

Time Warner Cable yesterday said in an SEC filing a special committee is looking into allowing its TW NY Holding subsidiary to redeem a portion of its non-voting equity interest (worth $2.9 billion in 2005) owned by Time Warner Inc. [AP]

Earthlink, Qwest and Verizon topped J.D. Power‘s 2007 Internet Service Provider (ISP) residential customer satisfaction study. The survey found 70% of high-speed households experienced outages this year and only 9% of dial-up users switched to high-speed service in the past 12 months, while 63% of high-speed subs (vs. 38% of dial-up subs) are using a third-party email service (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail) instead of the ISP’s email as their primary account.

U.S. ad spending slipped .6% in the first six months of 2007 according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Online advertising was up 31.9% while national cable network spending increased 2.5% while product placement across the top 10 primetime cable shows declined 14% in the first half. More findings here.

Local broadcasters devoted 70% less time to kids’ programming (dropping to nearly 6 hours/wk) at TV stations in eight markets that became part of a duopoly or triopoly, according to the Big Media, Little Kids 2 study by Children Now that examined programming trends from 1998-2006. The findings will be released today at an FCC public hearing in Chicago on media ownership. [USA Today]

20% of U.S. adults say they’re spending more time online (and having less sex as a result), reports Reuters of a JWT survey of 1,011 adults conducted Sept. 7-11.

Last night’s Walter Kaitz Foundation dinner raised $1.7 million that will benefit diversity efforts at NAMIC, WICT and the Emma Bowen Foundation. The event honored ESPN with its Diversity Champion Award and U.S. Rep. Edolphus Townes with its Diversity Advocate Award.

VH1‘s Save the Music Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary tonight with a gala event at New York’s Lincoln Center. Sponsored by LG mobile phones, the VH1 bash will honor former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, VH1 Save The Music founder John Sykes, Mariah Carey and NAMM, The International Music Products Association, with performers including Jon Bon Jovi, John Mayer and Roger Waters.

On the same day GLAAD praised cable networks for on-air diversity and doing a better job than broadcast nets representing GLBT characters on TV, Cable Positive CEO Steve Villano gets the story behind the July 16 New York Times story (on the Trojan-condomnation TV ad flap) from Comcast and Cox; details on his blog.

Comcast Houston did own up to rejecting PETA‘s ad featuring Alicia Silverstone (because of her nudity in the spot) to a reporter for Comcast-owned E! Online.

VH1 announced a deal to create a music video on demand service for Virgin America.

MTV launched think.MTV.com (it soft-launched weeks ago) as the hub of a new online social network to spur youth social activism. MTV’s Sept. 27 Dem. candidates’ online presidential debate with MySpace will be streamed on think.MTV.com and on MySpaceTV with a follow-up broadcast later that day on MTV and mtvU.  Reuters has more.

HDNet newsman Dan Rather filed a $70 million breach-of-contract suit naming former employer CBS, Viacom and Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone and Andy Heyward.

Sex and the City: The Movie began shooting in New York yesterday (with one character not in the HBO series: Carrie Bradshaw’s assistant, played by Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson). Its theatrical release is scheduled for May 30.

Fox Business Network named radio vet Dave Ramsay as a primetime host and hired three more reporters for its on-air launch team: Jeff Flock (CNN), Shibani Joshi (Cablevision’s News 12 Westchester) and Connell McShane (Bloomberg TV).

ESPN will produce Confessions of a College Football Junkie, a weekly series featuring ESPN College GameDay host Chris Fowler and analyst Kirk Herbstreit, exclusively for AT&T 3G wireless handsets.

Emmy-winning AMC renewed Mad Men for a 2nd season, reports Variety.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas clarifies the company’s bandwidth caps policy to Ars Technica, and notes that less than 0.01% of Comcast.net customers are exceeding its bandwidth limits.

Midcontinent Communications is upgrading its network using Nortel‘s Metro Ethernet optical technology to expand its VOD and triple play voice, video and high-speed online services.

Widevine Technologies unveiled a two-way CableCard that supports QAM and IP-based networks and devices.

Google will outline its privacy stance at an FTC town hall (Nov. 1-2) on "ehavioral advertising" in Washington, D.C.

It’s now legal for consumers to burn movies onto DVDs — special DVDs, notes the NY Times’ Bits blog.

Manhattan bankruptcy judge Robert Gerber dismissed 12 of 13 claims by Adelphia shareholders accusing the former cable TV operator’s investment banks of fraud and other wrongdoing, but let a claim against Salomon Smith Barney stand. [AP]

Landline phones are beefing up with high-tech features (instant messaging, Web and email access, video baby monitoring) to compete with cellphones, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Catching up? Don’t miss yesterday’s Cable360AM briefing.

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