Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, Feb. 5 »

Cable’s competitors haven’t been strong enough over the last 10 years to keep rates from rising to the limit of what the market will bear, but then, cable isn’t what it was 10 years ago, and consumers appear to be more than happy to pay for the services that digital brings, such as  digital video recording, high definition and video on demand, Twin Cities-based Pioneer Press reports. [Pioneer Press]

One of the rising stars of The Weather Channel, EVP/GM Wonya Lucas, is leaving to become Chief Marketing Officer at Discovery Communications. As Chief Marketing Officer, "She will be responsible for strengthening Discovery’s world-class brands and leveraging the company’s many assets to increase awareness and expand its worldwide viewer base," a statement said. The Weather Channel’s ownership situation became fluid early in January when parent Landmark said it was exploring a sale of "all or part" of the company.

Food’s debut last Saturday of Down Home with the Neelys (11am) became the highest-rated series opener in the five-year history of the network’s "In the Kitchen" weekend block. Featuring Pat and Gina Neely, African American restaurateurs from Memphis, TN, the show’s laid-back style and southern cuisine found an audience of nearly 2 million people. It was the top-rated program among women 25-54 on ad-supported cable during its time period, grabbing a  record 700,000 women 25-54. It earned a 1.1 rating and ranked second among adults 25-54 with a .8, averaging 870,000 viewers. 
 
Over-the-air high-definition television reception provides viewers with more than enough programming options to keep them entertained, and is a lot cheaper than a cable subscription, John Heinzl writes in Toronto’s Globe and Mail. If you want to put your money to work during tough economic times, invest in a cable company instead of driving a cable company’s growth by paying high monthly bills. [Globe and Mail]

Cablevision was upgraded to “buy” by Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Doug Mitchelson, who expects the company to add 478,000 net new RGUs in 2008. [Newratings.com]

Verizon signed up 66,000 customers in Massachusetts for its FiOS TV service in 2007, giving it a total of 78,000 by the end of the year. The state’s largest provider of pay-TV service is Comcast, which has 1.66 million customers. [Boston Globe]

News Corp. has not been hurt by an advertising slowdown, the company said in its fiscal second-quarter earnings call. High ad pricing, driven by ratings gains at the Fox broadcast network, helped News Corp.’s television division more than double its operating income in the quarter, the Wall Street Journal said. Operating income rose 23% at the company’s cable network programming division, led by Fox News Channel.
    Separately, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch said his company will not submit a competing offer for Yahoo. [Wall Street Journal]

Google will probably not find sympathetic ears in Washington, D.C., as it attempts to rally regulators to take antitrust stands against Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, according to an Associated Press report. When one company complains about another company’s growing reach, regulators suspect that what’s bad for the aggrieved company is good for consumers. [Associated Press]

Every dog will have its day. Sunday’s record Super Bowl ratings tracked with top numbers for Animal Planet’s IVth annual Puppy Bowl. While Brady and co were in the Giants’ doghouse, the pups (3pm-3am) attracted more than 8 million viewers, a record 0.8 rating and averaged 1.1 million viewers. Animal  Planet’s edgier logo was unveiled Sunday.

In CableFAX Daily: An FCC spokesperson actually comments on the recent challenge to its dual carriage order. Yesterday’s 360AM.

Got a tip? Contact sgoldstein@accessintel.com and sarenstein@accessintel.com.

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