360AM — News briefing for Friday, May 25 >>

Joost, the YouTube rival whose content deals include Viacom, has revealed its hand (or so it seems) in a leaked presentation about its plans to add big-name content and media companies to its roster and take over the world wide Web. Mashable posts Joost’s apparent PDF document, which lists some of the media congloms knocking at its door, including, "In wake of Viacom … Turner, Sony, NBC all wanting attention." Joost, whose founders launched and sold peer-to-peer giant Kazaa, has also been sued (along with Skype owner eBay) by StreamCast Networks, the parent company of the Morpheus online P2P file-sharing network. The suit, notes AP, "claims Morpheus had the right of first refusal when the founders of Kazaa sold the company and transferred its peer-to-peer technology, known as FastTrack, to another firm." Joost this week signed Canada’s Just For Laughs comedy festival [C21Media‘s headline: "Joost For Laughs"] and is accepting new users to kick the tires on its beta site, including invites here and here.

Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the FCC concerned that the digital TV transition won’t hit the Feb. 17, 2009 deadline due to a current "lack of leadership on the federal level." The Consumer Electronics Association commended the chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Telecommunications Subcommittee respectively, commenting: "We strongly agree with Chairmen Dingell and Markey that broadcasters should inform their over-the-air audience with public service announcements as quickly as possible."

Comcast promoted Derek Harrar to SVP and GM, video services; from VP of video product management. He replaces Page Thompson, who left in April to become president of Comcast’s Golf Channel, and reports to David Juliano, EVP of marketing and product development.

Fox and TiVo apologized to viewers who lost the final nine minutes (and crowning of Jordin Sparks) on American Idol when it ran long. "We’re huge American Idol fans, too, so had we known the program would run over, we would have alerted our subscribers to pad a few extra minutes," TiVo said in a statement. [Detroit Free Press] The Idol finale was down 20% over last season’s conclusion. [AP] Another lost finale—the NHL match that NBC handed off to Versus so it could start its Preakness coverage, leaving Versus-less hockey fans hanging—was defended by the Comcast-owned sports network’s head, Gavin Harvey, to the Los Angeles Times. Harvey said Versus’ NHL ratings are up from last year and that the network is continually working on improving its distribution. He also called its HD coverage the "best hockey production ever seen on television."

The mayor of Chattanooga, TN, invited AT&T to apply for a local franchise to launch U-verse after the state’s proposed telco-backed "cable competition" video franchise bill was pulled this week. [The Chattanoogan]

RCN said it successfully completed a recapitalization program and closed a new $595 million senior secured credit facility; it also declared a $350 million special dividend and authorized a $25 million open market common stock repurchase program. The company also announced some key promotions: Anthony Ontiveros is now VP/GM of its New York market, succeeding P.K. Ramani, who was promoted to Chief Services Officer; Gary Houston was promoted to VP/GM of its Washington, D.C. market, whose former head Richard Wadman is now SVP/GM of RCN Boston; and Saroosh Ahmed was promoted to VP/GM of RCN’s Lehigh Valley system in its Pennsylvania market, whose former SVP/GM, John Filipowicz, was recently promoted to corporate president, residential markets.

Rogers filed comments with Industry Canada, the federal body responsible for the nation’s upcoming wireless spectrum auction.

New Frontier Media CFO Karyn Miller announced she’s leaving the company after a successor is found so she can take a year off to go camping and backpacking around the U.S.



• PROGRAMMING

HBO held onto the top spot in Nielsen’s cable ratings, with The Sopranos‘ May 20 telecast at #1 for the week of May 14-20. [AP] On the lighter side of its programming, HBO is eyeing Santa Barbara as the cheaper and closer-to-LA new home of its annual comedy festival. The festival, a pet project of former chairman Chris Albrecht, recently nixed Aspen as too pricey to keep hosting the event. [Santa Barbara Independent]

BET launched a home entertainment division led by former Buena Vista exec Constance Cribbs Knight.

Kathy Griffin tells the Boston Globe the third season of Bravo‘s My Life on the D-List reality series (which starts June 5th and includes a UK jaunt with Brit comics Ricky Gervais and Graham Norton) will be her last.

CNN hired former New York Times arts reporter Lola Ogunnaike as an entertainment and pop culture correspondent.

The History Channel premieres Titanic’s Achilles Heel special on June 17.

LoneStar Channel, a Texas-focused regional sports and entertainment network, launches July 9th on Cable One, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable.

MTV Networks promoted Carolyn Everson to EVP, strategy and operations for U.S. ad sales, reporting to MTVN U.S. ad sales president Hank Close.

NBCU announced a company-wide eco-friendly initiative called "Get on Board."

Frank Maggio’s ReacTV is abandoning its linear network plans and going all in on broadband because, he says, Nielsen (who Maggio is suing) derailed his other erinMedia digital tracking service. [MediaPost]

RHN: The Real Hip-Hop Network aims to launch a premium cable network this summer.

USA confirmed June 17th as the premiere date for season 6 of The Dead Zone.

Separate research studies indicate that too much TV can impair teens’ learning skills and increase kids’ risk of type 1 diabetes.



• ONLINE

The Internet Advertising Bureau announced Web ad sales grew 35% in 2006 to $17 billion; fourth quarter ’06 revenues totaled $4.8 billion, the highest quarterly take to date.

CBS expanded its "CBS Audience Network" online video strategy, adding social network sites and enabling video clip-embedding to its network of Web affiliates (including Comcast, AOL, Brightcove and Veoh Networks). CBS News and CBS O&O television stations in 13 markets also started distributing national and local video clips from programs including The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and The Early Show.

Facebook hosted about 750 content programmers at its first F8 (a play on G8) developers’ summit yesterday and announced 65 companies (including Microsoft, Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive, Veoh and Warner Bros. Records) participating in its open platform push. USA Today noted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s comments that it’s now the sixth most trafficked site in the U.S.: "We recently passed eBay in traffic and we’re working on passing Google, too."

Google is being investigated by the European Union over privacy concerns. [AP] Google’s mobile search patent includes mapped results and other nifty features. [Ars Technica]

Vivendi is planning a Web video hub to compete with YouTube, MySpace etc. [Reuters]

55% of people surveyed by Equs Group said they would use a Google or Yahoo! mobile device.



• TECHNOLOGY

TiVo sued Forgent in a pre-emptive move of a disputed DVR patent on May 17, five days before a federal court jury ruled for EchoStar in its legal spat with Forgent. [Austin American Statesman]

SeaChange signed a VOD deal with the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance, a consortium of independent operators.

Today’s Wall Street Journal looks at the "brave new world" of digital advertising agencies and methods.

Shirley Brady

• Click here for Thursday’s 360AM news briefing >>

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