360AM — Morning news briefing for Friday, Mar. 2

Time Warner Cable prevailed in its complaint to the FCC about rural telephone exchange carriers in South Carolina and Nebraska refusing to carry its VoIP telephone service. The FCC ruled yesterday that local phone companies can’t block cable operators’ rival Internet-based digital voice offerings, with FCC chairman Kevin Martin commenting, "The commission must promote competition." The landmark decision in favor of the cable industry should benefit millions of rural Americans. [NCTA statement | USA Today | Dow Jones via New York Times | Bloomberg via Washington Post | Converge Network Digest]

Cox Communications
and the city of Tucson, AZ, came to an agreement that could make a Cox-backed bill that passed earlier this week in the Arizona state House moot. [Tucson Citizen]

DirecTV acknowledged to the FCC that it has an agreement on the table with MLB to become the sole TV distributor of Major League Baseball’s Extra Innings out of market package (MLB.com would distribute the package online). DirecTV president Chase Carey’s letter also said DirecTV would carry the league’s Baseball Channel when it launches in 2009 [AP via SI.com]. The FCC is investigating the proposed deal following a complaint to the Commission by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) The New York Times quotes Rob Jacobsen, president of In Demand (which is owned by Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Advance/Newhouse) as saying that its cable operator members had offered MLB a non-exclusive deal with better terms and had also agreed to launch the Baseball Channel in ’09. [NYT]

Time Warner Cable‘s debut as a publicly traded stock (NYSE: TWC) wasn’t the most "auspicious" timing, writes today’s Wall Street Journal. Shares of other cable operators have been falling "due, in part, to the belief by some investors that cable stocks are fairly valued, after rising for 12 months. Some investors also are concerned that cable’s growth engine may be running out of steam, and capital spending is higher than expected." TWC closed at $38.93 yesterday, up 18 cents or 0.5%. [TWC’s 1st day trading]

Will Comcast succumb to Sinclair‘s cash demands for its broadcast feeds? With a newly extended deadline of Mar. 10 to complete negotiations, a Comcast payment would set a huge precedent says the Baltimore Sun, which adds a backgrounder on the situation for its readers.

Iowa weighs statewide video franchising with a bill that passed in the House yesterday and now goes to the Senate. [AP] In Illinois, the city of Naperville is fighting AT&T’s lobbying efforts to get statewide video franchising passed into law. [Release]

CableLabs
is developing specifications to enable cable set-top boxes to receive digital off-air broadcast signals. The technology’s goal is to integrate broadcast TV feeds with programming delivered by a cable operator. [Release] CableLabs’ Winter conference kicks off Tuesday in Denver, with technology vendors such as ICTV demonstrating cable tech advances.

• PROGRAMMING

BBC content is coming to YouTube. [BBC] Google has been signing YouTube deals with "hundreds" of smaller media companies, says the New York Times. [NYT]

BBC America‘s Maid Marian (Lucy Griffiths) in its 13-part Robin Hood series kicking off tomorrow at 9pm ET rings the closing bell at NASDAQ today. Click here (scroll down to the webcam) at 4pm ET for live streaming video from the event.

Biography Channel UK rebrands to BIO on Apr. 1.

Comedy Central expands to Germany and beyond. [WSJ]

Discovery Channel host Mike "Dirty Jobs" Rowe becomes Ford spokesman. [Release]

E! is all over Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral today, with live coverage and a special (Anna Nicole Smith: Rest in Peace) at 10:30pm. Bravo airs back-to-back specials tonight with Larry Birkhead: Good Night My Sweet Anna Baby at 10:00pm followed by Anna Nicole Smith: A Life Through A Lense. Cable news networks’ coverage today was more low-key. [AP]

ESPN‘s status in China remains unclear. [AFX]

NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly re-upped with a multi-year contract. [Release]

Nickelodeon premieres El Tigre, a kids’ animated superhero series with Mexican characters, tomorrow at 10am. [Release]

Comcast is launching SportsNet NY in some parts of Connecticut [Waterbury Republican American] but, to the chagrin of New York Mets’ fans, not all [Hartford Courant].

MTV UK head Michiel Bakker is stepping down in the wake of 250 layoffs at MTVN International. [Scotsman | Digital Spy | World Screen]

TV One re-airs Roots, the epic 12-hour mini based on Alex Haley’s novel, starting Apr. 8. [Release]

USA airs the season finale of Monk tonight and starts a new season of Psych.

WE tv premieres Designer to the Stars: Kari Whitman tomorrow with two episodes starting at 10:00pm.

WWE named Frank Serpe as CFO. [Release]

• IN OTHER NEWS

Joost struck a deal with JumpTV for ethnic channels, starting with Spanish-language programming. The companies will split ad revenues on the JumpTV-branded channels. [Release | TIME]

Verizon‘s FiOS launch in Milwaukee this week doesn’t mean telcos are off the hook with local officials. [Broadband Reports]

Ericsson‘s $1.4 billion bid for Tandberg is in cash. [IPTV News]

Motorola CEO Ed Zander was paid $13.2 million last year, according to an SEC filing. [AP]


USA Video Interactive Corp. updated the status of its patent-based lawsuits against various cable operators. [Release]

New York Times‘ Richard Sandomir ponders MLB/DirecTV deal. [NYT]

Slate gives Netflix downloading service a mixed review. [Slate]

USA Today offers HDTV primer. [USAT]

Wall Street Journal looks at online video ads. [WSJ]Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Thursday, Mar. 1 >>

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