Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, August 15 »

DirecTV is testing broadband-over-powerline with Current Group, expanding its broadband partnerships with AT&T, Verizon and Qwest. According to this morning’s press release, DirecTV-branded broadband and VoIP phone service will roll out to Current’s Dallas-Fort Worth customers by the new year. Current Group serves one other market, Cincinnati, making it a limited test of BPL, which Comcast has also tested with Intellon. The Wall Street Journal has more. DirecTV also swept the 2007 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey of cable and satellite customers, which was announced today; click here for details.

Verizon was chastised in New Jersey for a misleading marketing campaign telling Cablevision subscribers if they switch to FiOS TV they’ll get local programming. Verizon can’t offer local public access channels on FiOS until it signs interconnection agreements with NJ cable operators, reports NorthJersey.com. Verizon’s forbearance petitions at the FCC, requesting that it be freed of obligations to give competitors access to its network at reduced rates in Boston and five other cities, are also noted in today’s Boston Globe.

Former Adelphia CFO Timothy Rigas got married before beginning his 20-year prison term Monday. Rigas, who’s serving time for accounting fraud in the same NC federal prison as his father, Adelphia founder John Rigas, married longtime girlfriend Katherine Fox nine days before his incarceration. Their daughter, Hallie, is almost a year old. John and Tim Rigas are still fighting for a retrial, and the father and son also face a separate trial for tax evasion next July. [Bloomberg]

FCC chairman Kevin Martin reiterated his support for a la carte pay TV in a keynote address at the Aspen Institute yesterday, where he said consumer choice should take precedence over contracts between programmers and cable operators. His fellow FCC commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein begged to differ, commenting at the same event: "I don’t think it’s so simple for the government to mandate that those contracts be broken." [Denver Post]




• RESEARCH

Cable operators must step up bandwidth management technologies such as rate-shaping, switched digital video, better MPEG-4 compression and other tools to compete with satellite’s impending HD channel explosion, according to a new report from ABI Research. Ars Technica has more.

Interactive TV is hot again thanks to Web video, interactive games and digital widgets, according to new research from Forrester. Its survey found 35% of TV viewers use an electronic program guide about 4.7 times daily, with those users 63% more likely to request advanced interactive features (such as polling) over viewers who don’t use EPGs. The Hollywood Reporter has more.




• PROGRAMMING

Disney Channel‘s week-long sneak peek at Friday’s High School Musical 2 (on Verizon‘s FiOS TV and on VOD with Cablevision) is a hit with tweens, reports the New York Times.

Fox News Channel cancelled news parody The Half Hour News Hour, writes Variety.

Hallmark Channel is shooting The Good Witch, an original movie co-starring Catherine Bell (of Lifetime’s Army Wives) and Chris Potter (Hairspray) in Toronto with veteran cable producer Orly Adelson.

HBO is promoting its Sept. 3 Justin Timberlake concert with a virtual Second Life island, a website and promos running on HBO on Demand in HD on Comcast, Cox, Charter and Suddenlink. HBO has scheduled Run Granny Run, a documentary about Doris Haddock, who ran for the New Hampshire senate at 94, on Oct. 18; it will also run on Nov. 6th (Election Day) next year, reports Variety.


The History Channel scored 3.9 million viewers and a 2.7 HH rating for Sunday’s installment of Ice Road Truckers, the highest-rated program on cable for the evening.

IFC Films is pursuing smaller-budget independent films for its First Take label to feed its IFC in Theaters same-day theatrical/cable VOD release initiative, and scaling back acquiring bigger-budget independent films. [IndieWire]

Lifetime is shooting a movie starring Janeane Garofalo in Canada called Binky (hopefully a working title) about her character’s road trip with a dog, reports Canada.com. Lifetime also greenlit a miniseries based on Gigi Levangie Grazer’s Maneater, her 2nd TV foray after USA‘s Starter Wife, reports Variety; and an original movie, Love Sick, starring Sally Pressman of its Army Wives series, adds Variety.

The NFL Network‘s ongoing feud with Time Warner Cable—which refuses to carry the channel anywhere but a sports tier—is spelled out in TWC’s script for customer service reps dealing with irate football fans demanding the channel before the regular season starts. The Consumerist blog posts TWC’s Q&A for CSRs here.

SCI FI cancelled freshman series Painkiller Jane, which is now wrapping production, but will air all 22 episodes. It also cancelled The Dresden Files this month. [Hollywood Reporter]

The Science Channel is shooting Green Road Trip (wt), a search for grassroots eco-inventors across America. [Variety]

Showtime‘s Weeds season 3 premiere Monday night attracted 824,000 viewers, a 43% increase over its season 2 premiere. It was followed by the series premiere of David Duchovny’s TV return, Californication, which averaged 550,000 viewers. [Variety]



• ONLINE

Blockbuster got a relative bargain by paying $6.6 million cash for online downloading service Movielink, down from its initial offer of $70 million a year ago, according to an SEC filing. [Variety]

Cable Positive launched a blog written by CEO Steve Villano this week.

FX promotes the Sept. 13 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with a week-long preview of its season opener on News Corp. sibling MySpace starting tomorrow.



• PEOPLE

CBS reached an undisclosed settlement with Don Imus, paving the way for his return to the airwaves. [NYT] Imus was named in a libel, slander and defamation lawsuit filed by Rutgers basketball player Kia Vaughn, a member of the team who Imus insulted on-air in April, leading to his ouster. Vaughn’s suit names Imus in tandem with CBS, MSNBC, NBC Universal and other parties, reports ABC News.

Comcast promoted Jay Kreiling to VP of video services; from VP of product management, West division.

The History Channel named Dirk Hoogstra, Charles Nordlander and Dolores Gavin as VPs of development and programming. Hoogstra was previously VP of development for TLC; Nordlander was VP of program development for Food Network; and Gavin was promoted from director of programming; she’s also executive producer of Ice Road Truckers, THC’s top-rated original series. [Variety]

ReelzChannel co-founder and president Rod Perth resigned; COO Gary Thorne will assume his duties. The channel is poised to hit 40 million subscribers by year-end. [Variety]

Starz Media named William Hamm EVP of creative development. He was previously EVP of television for director Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, where he produced two original Web series for Comcast’s FEARnet.

Click here for Tuesday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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