Cable360AM — News briefing for Friday, August 31 »

The FCC may force cable operators and consumer electronics manufacturers to strike a compromise in order to speed digital interactive TV sets, set-top boxes and DVRs. Talks stalled after Sony balked at the cable industry’s OpenCable Application Platform, reports AP. Unless a compromise is reached by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the Consumer Electronics Association, the FCC may be forced to choose between CableLabs’ OCAP standard and the CE industry’s Digital Cable Ready Plus (DCR+) platform. The federal agency may also determine whether a deal between the NCTA and the CEA would apply to Echostar, DirecTV, AT&T‘s U-verse and Verizon‘s FiOS TV.

NBC Universal is ending its iTunes relationship in December, as it ramps up its Hulu.com video portal launch with News Corp. and looks to make more money from downloads, reports the New York Times. NBCU’s 2-year deal with Apple expires in December, so The Office, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica and NBCU’s other popular iTunes titles will remain available until then. Apple’s iTunes pacts with CBS, Discovery and News Corp. are also coming up for renewal.

World Wrestling Entertainment suspended 10 performers for violating its drug-testing policy following a report from the Albany County, NY, D.A.’s office. The performers’ names or alleged violations weren’t disclosed in WWE’s press release, although the Stamford, CT-based company said it will release the names on Nov. 1, reversing the privacy terms in its corporate Wellness Policy. Earlier this month, WWE officials met with New York prosecutors investigating illegal steroid sales, reports AP.

Nielsen released its 2008 U.S. TV universe estimates, which reflect a 4.4% growth in Hispanic TV households (to 12.14 million) and a 3.9% increase in Asian TV homes (to 4.54 million), with Los Angeles still the #1 market for both groups. The number of  African-American TV households grew faster than the national U.S. average, 1.5% versus 1.3%, to a record 13.65 million homes. Nielsen’s total TV universe is now 112.8 million. Meanwhile, Mediapost reports that Nielsen’s much-debated commercial ratings aren’t ready for primetime, despite Nielsen removing its "evaluation" label off the service, which launched in May.

MTV‘s 2007 Video Music Awards will make a splash off-TV as well as on-air Sept. 9. MTV will produce a same-day "best of" VMA program reaching 18 million Comcast and Time Warner Cable video on demand homes, the first time VOD content will be made available nearly simultaneously with a broadcast. All MTV on Demand affiliates will receive a slate of pre-taped VMA programming. Comcast Chicago will feature local band Flowers For Dorian during its local VMA telecast and on MTV2 On Demand Chicago. Other VMA firsts this year: a simulcast on Sprint TV‘s MTV Mobile channel; a Viewer’s Choice remix special that will air Sept. 13; and the first Virtual VMAs.

MTV Networks chairman & CEO Judy McGrath jumped from #52 to #31 on Forbes’ just-released annual ranking of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. CNN‘s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour debuts at #74.

Charter Communications, after failing to reach a deal with the Big Ten Network in time for yesterday’s launch, advised fans to visit its website for a schedule of Big Ten games on other networks this season.

Comcast refuted a Wired article that repeated claims that Comcast.net blocks BitTorrent peer-to-peer activity.

AT&T North Carolina promised the state attorney general’s office it will improve its rebate program for DSL customers, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

The Mountain West Sports Network, a.k.a. The Mtn., signed Baja Broadband as its 18th distributor. Baja is launching the Comcast-backed regional sports network in Utah on Sept. 1, the first day of the 2007 Mountain West Conference football season, with Baja’s Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico markets following.

Click here for Thursday’s 360AM news briefing »

Got a tip? Contact Shirley Brady at sbrady@accessintel.com

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