Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, Oct. 10 »

NBC Universal‘s $925 million purchase of Oxygen was a deal says SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine, who comments to the New York Times that Oxygen is valued at about $1.1 billion. "When you look at the comparable prices and the historical benchmarks, you would have to say NBC made a great deal," says Baine, who also tells the Los Angeles Times, "the price is low … (but) not all that surprising because of the credit crunch and the weaker markets." NBC paid $1.3 billion to acquire Bravo in 2002, while Viacom paid a whopping $2.34 billion for BET in 2000. The NYT cites Oxygen insiders who say the NBCU sale sped up after rumors that Rainbow Media‘s rival women’s network, WE tv, was on the block.

Hallmark Channel, one of the last independent cable networks now that Oxygen’s betrothed, is lobbying the FCC for regulatory support. CableFAX Daily reports that Henry Schleiff, CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media, is pitching baseball-style mandatory arbitration if carriage renewal talks aren’t concluded within a set time, such as 90 days. Hallmark’s carriage agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV expire in December.

DirecTV added 4 HD channels today, reports Phil Swann: MGM HD, Food Network HD, National Geographic Channel HD (which had been running as a part-time HD preview) and CNBC HD+. This brings its national HD network count to 45, including 4 local networks. Comcast, meanwhile, is launching USA Network HD as part of its beefed up high-def lineup in New Hampshire, Swann adds.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association spent nearly $6.9 million on lobbying in the first six months of this year to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form posted online by the Senate’s public records office. [AP]

Comcast is expected to launch its customized TiVo DVRs to non-employees "any time now," as Reuters quotes TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, who was speaking at an investors’ conference in New York yesterday.

Cablevision‘s iO digital cable platform will launch interactive TV and online commerce, bookmarking tools and network ad storage for national, regional and local advertisers next year that will expand upon its interactive Optimum Autos and Optimum Homes interactive ad showcases. TBWAChiatDay has been hired to come up with a creative campaign to advertise Cablevision’s new suite of interactive products in 2008.

DirecTV quietly dropped the price of its Sat-Go portable dish player from $1499 to $999, notes Gizmodo.

Nielsen scrapped its controversial tweak this season that let NBC cume two Heroes broadcasts into a single rating.

Studios and TV networks are preparing for a month-end "de facto strike deadline as they stockpile scripts and speed up production on some projects as a precaution," reports Reuters. Talks continued yesterday between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Yesterday’s hearing of StoneRidge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta before the Supreme Court looks likely to conclude with a ruling that favors corporations over investors, according to FT.com and Reuters.

The Weather Channel HD is on track to be all-HD by the end of next year. Ascent Media is helping convert its live studios in Atlanta, while the channel currently features high-def content with Local On the 8’s and its series, Epic Conditions and Weatherventures. Beyond smoother video, it’s ramping up on the audio side, releasing its first "Weather Channel Presents" CD of Local On the 8’s smooth jazz tunes this week, reports ABC News.

Fox Business Network, which goes live Monday, signed former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as an on-air contributor.

Discovery Channel struck a video ringtone deal offering Vringo subscribers worldwide 2- to 10-second Discovery library clips "from sunset scenes to raging elephants and brewing storms."

Qwest is offering commercial wholesale customers Ethernet broadband speeds from 2-10 Gigabits per second. Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is appealing his six-year sentence for insider-trading conviction that was handed down in July, reports the Wall Street Journal. He still faces a civil-fraud suit from the SEC.

Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan was defended — in the wake of last week’s sex harassment suit verdict and ahead of the Oct. 24 shareholders vote on the Dolan family’s privatization proposal — by AOL Sports, which cites this Newsweek story on Dolan.

The NHL‘s Center Ice Online subscription service is using IPTV start-up NeuLion (whose backers include Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan) to stream up to 30 simultaneous live hockey games this season in partnership with Globecomm. The Long Island-based NeuLion last fall launched Islanders TV, an IPTV channel for the NY Islanders hockey team.

The first fast forward-enabled network DVR service will launch in Spain next month. Past TV will offer a week’s worth of programs on demand with ad-skipping permitted. Cablevision‘s network DVR has been foiled by studios while Time Warner Cable’s network DVR-based Start Over and Look Back services disable fast-forwarding.

Tyler Perry, whose various projects include his House of Payne series for TBS, is "hatching plans to launch his own TV network aimed at providing a more positive outlook on life," according to this report.

Read yesterday’s Cable360AM briefing >



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