Cable360AM — News briefing for Thursday, July 12 »
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav is at Allen & Co.’s media moguls’ summit in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week to shop for social networking sites, where he will seek face-time with Facebook and other social network start-ups at the confab. "We need to grow in new media," Zaslav told reporters. "There are a lot of great companies here. This gives us a chance to get a little more acquainted." While the most-coveted social networking site in Sun Valley this week is Facebook, which sent its COO to talk business, LinkedIn and Sling Media (a stretch) are also present. [Bloomberg | CNBC] Meanwhile, all eyes are watching News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, who has expressed interest in Facebook and whose MySpace had 70 million users last month (or "nearly one in four Americans," as its press release boasts), making it the most popular social network. Reuters, meanwhile, looks at this year’s YouTube in Sun Valley, Joost. Conference organizer Herb Allen is thanking Sun Valley for hosting his annual media summit by funding free municipal Wi-Fi in Ketchum (and then Hailey, Idaho) reports Sun Valley Online.
Verizon opposes FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s proposal for the wireless spectrum auction, a plan that has won support from Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). Verizon Wireless general counsel Steven Zipperstein said Martin’s proposal would make the auction less attractive to bidders such as Verizon, and thus less lucrative. The FCC’s airwaves’ auction is projected to make as much as $15 billion. [Bloomberg]
Comcast bought Champion Broadband‘s systems serving about 2,000 customers (and reaching about 12,000) in Denver and Lakewood, CO. Financial terms of the sale weren’t disclosed. Champion (whose CEO, Mark Haverkate, founded WideOpenWest) couldn’t afford to build out service to metro Denver as stipulated in its franchise agreement, and still serves about 7,000 customers in CO, CA and WY. [Denver Post]
• INSIDE CABLE360.NET
Tomorrow is the deadline to nominate executives for CableWorld’s Top 50 Most Influential Minorities (click here) and Monday is the deadline for 2007 CableFAX 100 submissions (details here). And Seth Arenstein is in Los Angeles this week for the TV Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour — click here for Seth’s TCA blog.
Jason Holzman was named VP, brand creative, USA Network; from creative director, Euro RSCG.
Michael Klein was promoted to president, LFP, Inc., parent company of Hustler TV; from president of LFP Broadcasting, Internet and Video.
Jim Louderback was named CEO of Revision3, a broadband video site; he previously was an executive (and on-air host) at ZDTV and TechTV.
Bill McGorry was named chairman of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
Balan Nair was named SVP and chief technology officer, Liberty Global; from EVP and CTO, AOL.
Sander Schwartz was named president, international production, Sony Pictures Television International; he rejoins Sony after leaving to become president of Warner Bros. Animation in 2001.
Navarra Williams was named president and CEO, SAMMinistries, a non-profit homeless service provider; he was previously president of Time Warner Cable’s San Antonio market.
Optimum Lightpath promoted Paul Corona to VP of outside plant design and construction, from VP of construction and operations for RCN; and Robert Mazzarella to VP, network operations, who has been with the company since 1995.
ABC News programs — including World News with Charles Gibson, Good Morning America, Nightline, 20/20 and Primetime — are now available for sale on Amazon‘s CustomFlix Labs.
AOL will pay a $3 million settlement to 48 states and the District of Columbia and make it easier for customers to cancel service and get refunds, including a dedicated cancellation center on its site. [AP] Gerry Levin, co-architect (with Steve Case) of the AOL Time Warner merger debacle, is profiled in this week’s New York magazine; interesting read.
Comcast‘s Ziddio.com Web video portal will feature highlights from the BlogPhiladelphia conference, which starts today.
Weather Channel owner Landmark Communications acquired Digital Envoy, an Internet safety enabler.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey anonymously posted on Yahoo Finance message boards, where he trash-talked the Wild Oats organic foods chain to drive down its stock price before making a deal earlier this year to acquire his rival for $565 million. The FTC, which uncovered his online deception, is expected to reject the deal. [Wall Street Journal | New York Times | CNNMoney]
A&E signed Rick Schroder, Eric McCormack, Andre Braugher and Christa Miller to join Benjamin Bratt in the cast of its remake of The Andromeda Strain, its four-hour, $15 million miniseries, being executive produced by Ridley and Tony Scott. [Variety]
Court TV‘s new name on Jan. 1, truTV, faces the challenge of "convincing consumers that it means something more than a new logo," branding exec Rita Rodriguez tells the Wall Street Journal. Dean Crutchfield, SVP of marketing at Wolff Olins, feels truTV "is a little blah," and estimates Turner will have to spend $3 million to $10 million in marketing and advertising "to get the name to stick with consumers."
DIY Network tapped NY Giants’ defensive end Michael Strahan to host Backyard Stadiums, a new home improvement series that debuts Sept. 5.
Hallmark Channel will announce today at TCA it’s commissioning 30 original movies for 2008, its biggest original programming slate ever. Budgeted at $2 million-$3 million each, EVP David Kenin tells Variety a couple of its big event movies may premiere theatrically before debuting on the channel. The first title in its 2008 movie roster: When You Listen (Jan. 5), starring Tom Bosley as an ailing grandfather trying to restore peace to his family before he dies.
HDNet covers David Beckham’s first press conference with the Los Angeles Galaxy tomorrow at 1pm ET.
IFC will announce at TCA it’s acquired musician R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet and has commissioned him to produce 10 new episodes in his so-called hip-hopera. IFC premieres two original series on Aug. 5: The Business and season 2 of The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman. [Variety]
Lifetime announced today at TCA it’s (no surprise) renewing hit series Army Wives for a second season. The network also talked up its four-hour miniseries, The Gathering (Oct.); original movies The Murder of Princess Diana (Aug. 25, with repeats Aug. 26/27) and Racing for Time (2008), directed by and starring Charles S. Dutton; and original series How to Look Good Naked (Jan.), hosted by former Queer Eye fashion guru Carson Kressley. Lifetime is also launching a Friday night reality programming block (Oct. 12) featuring a new season of Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead and a new competition series, America’s Psychic Challenge (couldn’t the contestants guess the winner?) from Bunim/Murray Productions.
MTV and Harmonix announced at E3 their Rock Band videogame will offer (in a first) downloadable content featuring full-length albums (starting with Who’s Next) on a weekly basis; Little Stevie, aka Steve Van Zandt of The Sopranos, is advising.
National Geographic Channel will talk up six original specials at TCA: Nefertiti and the Lost Dynasty (Monday, 9pm), a look at Nefertiti’s relationship with the likely father of King Tut; Explorer: China Mummies (Sept. 26), an archeological special; Dino Autopsy (Dec.), a virtually intact dinosaur mummy that "could be one of the most important dinosaur discoveries ever"; Dino Death Trap (Dec.), about dinosaur fossils in western China; Lost Tribes of Palau (4th quarter), an archeological special that NGC says could reveal a new species; and Stonehenge Revealed (2008), which investigates new physical evidence into Stonehenge’s origins. [Hollywood Reporter]
SCI FI‘s 2nd season premiere of Eureka on Tuesday attracted 2.5 million viewers, the channel’s highest rated telecast of the year for demos with 1.3 million adults 18-49.
Showtime is developing Doubting Thomas, an hourlong drama about televangelists, with George Clooney’s Smoke House production banner; and Trade, a drama from John Singleton about an escort service. Showtime will confirm its pilot pick-ups in the 4th quarter and start shooting in January. [Variety]
TNT‘s Saving Grace (which debuts July 18) is featured in today’s USA Today.
TV Guide Network announced its biggest marketing campaign ever for America’s Next Producer, its reality series from the producers of Bravo‘s Project Runway that premieres July 18. Episodes are being released in advance on TV Guide Spot, its VOD channel that reaches 28 million homes, and on TV Guide Online in addition to AOL Video, YouTube, Google Video, Veoh and Brightcove.
The Weather Channel and Dish Network are co-sponsoring two cars in NASCAR’s Busch series.
The medical records of other wrestlers treated by WWE wrestler Chris Benoit’s doctor, Phil Astin, were seized in a developing federal investigation. [Fox5 Atlanta]
• IN OTHER NEWS
AT&T‘s U-verse is using Sun Microsystem video-on-demand servers.
The P4P Working Group, a consortium formed by the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), will work with Verizon and two undisclosed top 10 MSOs to formulate best practices for peer-to-peer over broadband. [Screen Plays]
Corus Entertainment is lobbying the Canadian government to keep U.S. networks including HBO and ESPN from venturing north. [Globe & Mail]
"There is a profound shortage of CableCARD boxes available for retail since these device makers are supplying them only to cable operators," reports BusinessWeek, which says CableCARD-based consumer products will hit retailers this summer.
WICT reported record membership, passing the 6,000-member benchmark with 6,025 members.
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