Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, Sept. 19 »
Company insights and comments by CEOs to analysts yesterday at Goldman Sachs’ Communicopia conference in New York:
• News Corp. chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch articulated the mission for Fox Business Network: "CNBC is a financial channel for Wall Street. We’re for Main Street." He added that CNBC "dwell(s) too much on failures or scandals" in its daytime coverage. "We want to put a lot on innovations and successes, people who are making money," as CNBC does in primetime. Murdoch’s comments were made as FBN announced four additional anchors, all external, and none from CNBC. [AP | PaidContent | New York | MarketWatch]
• DirecTV expects to finalize the transfer of its control to Liberty Media shortly. Liberty pres/CEO Greg Maffei said the deal probably will close next month, while DirecTV pres/CEO Chase Carey said it’s "mostly finished." Carey also touted its 100 HD channel launch by year-end (which should be officially announced today, notes TVPredictions) and also DirecTV on Demand, its upcoming DVR-based download service, as superior to cable VOD, and said neither the housing slump nor the credit crunch as having any real impact on DirecTV’s performance. [Hollywood Reporter]
• Comcast COO Steve Burke said satellite should be worried about triple play after Carey downplayed cable bundles, saying satellite customers who switched to cable would have churned anyway: "Satellite is going to be in big trouble," Burke said. "Chase sounds like a guy in big trouble." He also said Comcast will "get more aggressive" with HD programming in the 4th quarter as new channels come on. "So far, there hasn’t been a lot a lot of channels we felt needed to go on the dial. But as top-20 channels come out with HD versions, we will have those," said, noting that Comcast is capable of offering 500 HD VOD titles. Echoing Brian Roberts yesterday, Burke talked up business services (which he expects to be a "material business" in the next 12-24 months) and interactive ad sales (a viable business for Comcast by 2010). [THR | Silicon Alley Insider]
• Time Warner Cable pres/CEO Glenn Britt said TWC as seen a "little uptick" in customer’ nonpayments in markets populated with subprime loan-financed housing, although the company will not increase discounts for triple play offers in subprime markets to retain subscribers. Asked about acquisitions, Britt added: "We would like to be bigger, but we’re not deal-hungry. If something comes along at the right price, we’d buy." [Reuters]
• Time Warner Inc. chairman/CEO Dick Parsons said he’s "open-minded" about spinning off the remaining 84% of Time Warner Cable it still holds. "We are just about now in the zone where we can take another hard look at that," he told the Goldman Sachs confab, noting that from April 2008, splitting TWC from Time Warner would no longer be subject to taxation. Parsons said a full spin-off would depend on how how Time Warner would achieve double-digit growth in earnings without TWC, the fastest-growing part of the company. "Right now cable is the driver (although) AOL and Time Inc. could get there." [Financial Times | Variety | Reuters]
• Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said the company is seeing double-digit increases in affiliate fees, which he expects will continue in the U.S. and internationally (and pointed to Comedy Central renewals as an example of how subscriber fees will continue to rise.) He feels Viacom’s networks are underpriced, accounting for 25% of viewing on ad-supported cable (really?) but seeing fees closer to single-digit. [Silicon Alley Insider]
• Rogers Communications Inc., Canada’s largest cable- company, may pursue a purchase of Shaw Communications or other smaller rivals at "the right price," COO Nadir Mohamed told Goldman Sachs. [Bloomberg]
• Liberty Media‘s Maffei also talked up its new Liberty Entertainment umbrella, home to its interests in DirecTV, Starz Entertainment and Starz Media, FUN Technologies, GSN and WildBlue Communications. [THR]
• IAC/InterActiveCorp. pres/CEO Barry Diller said turning around HSN, which accounts for almost half the company’s revenues, "has not been pretty" but it’s been rebounding this summer under network head Mindy Grossman. Diller added that HSN’s interactive shop-by-remote feature has been tried at least once by half of households that have had the feature for at least a year. He also confirmed talks with IAC biggest shareholder, Liberty Media, which owns rival QVC, regarding stock transactions that would enable Liberty to "get more credit" from investors for large cable TV assets it controls. [St. Petersburg Times]
Elsewhere in New York yesterday, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan took a virtual witness stand (via a taped deposition that was shown in court) in Anucha Browne Sanders’ sexual harassment lawsuit against NY Knicks coach Isiah Thomas. Dolan testified that he takes sole responsibility for firing Sanders (then one of the highest-ranking black female executives in sports) as SVP of marketing for the team after hearing allegtions she was impeding MSG’s investigation into her complaints against Thomas. "I specifically think I did not consult with counsel” about firing her, Dolan stated. "The overall health of the Garden was at jeopardy here.” [Bloomberg | New York Times]
Outdoor Channel‘s DockDogs Diversity Week event in Bryant Park, meanwhile, "stopped New Yorkers in their tracks," says Newsday. Seth Arenstein was there, and also gives yesterday’s NAMIC conference a thumbs up. Fox, meanwhile, launched a website to tout its on-air and corporate diversity efforts.
Today’s Diversity Week events in NYC: CTAM‘s Blue Ribbon breakfast, WICT Executive Women‘s lunch (or TV Week and the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau‘s lunch seminar on commercial ratings), the BCFM East Coast regional seminar, and tonight, the annual Walter Kaitz Foundation fundraising dinner.
ESPN‘s Monday Night Football was #1 and #3 on cable for the week of Sept. 10-16, sandwiching The Closer at #2. [AP]
HDNet signed former Charter Communications EVP of programming Sue Ann Hamilton as a strategic consultant.
Oxygen has landed first-time advertiser Home Depot through the eBay online ad sales exchange; it was the first cable network to make a deal (with Intel in August) through the exchange. [TV Week]
Scripps Networks is expanding its headquarters in Knoxville, TN, including constructing a multistory building (that will be completed by late 2010) to double office space and house all its divisions. [Knoxville News]
Google today launches Google Gadget Ads, an interactive ad format with video, games, news and other features it’s been testing with Honda. The service "lets marketers distribute ads that look and act like mini-Websites through the network of sites where it sells ads," comments the Wall Street Journal.
TiVo is seeking to sell up to $100 million in debt securities, preferred and common stock and other securities. It plans to use the proceeds expand and develop its business. [AP]
Tulsa real estate firm Williams & Williams is part of a group of investors getting ready to launch the Auction Network, a real-time, interactive TV/Web network that will focus on the $257 billion auction sector. Its website will start streaming auctions on Oct. 28, and it will test interactive, VOD and gaming content with an eye to launching on cable and satellite next year. OpenTV is one of its tech partners, and it faces competition from Rainbow Media‘s Voom, whose Treasure HD channel offers live auctions in high-def. [Oklahama City Journal Record]
Time Warner Cable‘s Oceanic system in Hawaii will display video posters of missing children (including age-projected images and police contact information) through its News on Demand Poster Program. The announcement was made by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona at a news conference in the Governor’s Office. With one in six kids featured in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Poster Program recovered as a result of someone recognizing their photo, hopefully this idea will spread to the mainland. [Honolulu Star-Bulletin]
The BBC‘s planned HD channel launching later this year was approved by British regulators. [The Guardian]
SportsTime Ohio and Time Warner Cable will televise Ohio state high school championships in football and girls and boys basketball. [AP]
McLeod USA is being sold to telephone service provider Paetec Holding Corp. for $557 million. [Dallas Morning News]
CableOne appears to be implementing tougher usage caps: "If you cross the bandwidth consumption threshold during the twelve hours, your connection speed is halved," says BroadbandReports.com, noting that users report the caps are lifted at night.
Silicon Alley Insider spies a FiOS cable in Manhattan, where Verizon‘s high-speed Internet service is coming (but no FiOS TV until Verizon gets franchise approval.) • Catching up? Don’t miss Tuesday’s Cable360AM briefing.
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