Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, July 30 »

Liberty Media‘s John Malone told the Financial Times (which adds details here) he’s considering bidding on Virgin Media, Richard Branson’s in-play UK cable operations, which Comcast is also reportedly eyeing; Marketwatch and the Wall Street Journal have more. Malone speaks with Paul Kagan in the new issue of CableWorldclick here.

CableWorld‘s 2007 Independent Cable Operator of the Year is Armstrong Cable, which will be honored at the Independent Show this week in Monterey, CA. American Cable Association president Matt Polka tells CableWorld that his members are still fighting D.C. on issues including retransmission consent, the set-top box integration ban and RUS loans for rural broadband.

Verizon‘s 2nd quarter earnings report this morning noted 167,000 net new FiOS TV customers in the quarter, and, as of June 30, 515,000 total FiOS TV customers and nearly 1.3 million total video customers, including satellite TV. Verizon also reported 7.7 million total broadband connections (FiOS Internet and DSL), up 25.5%, including 288,000 net new broadband connections and 203,000 net new FiOS Internet customers in the quarter; and 1.1 million total FiOS Internet customers.

Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for insider trading, in addition to paying a $19 million fine and forfeiting $52 million "in ill-gotten gains," with the judge getting in a few zingers during sentencing, reports the Denver Post.

The FCC tomorrow decides on rules for its upcoming auction of public wireless airwaves in a likely win for chairman Kevin Martin’s draft proposal; the Washington Post has more. Google‘s lobbying effort to expand the rules was dismissed Friday by Cisco lobbyist Mary Brown, reports Red Herring.

Vanity Fair‘s upcoming article on Rupert Murdoch winning Dow Jones may be premature. The company’s controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, were still deliberating late Sunday whether to sell to News Corp., according to the Wall Street Journal. They have until 5pm today to accept or reject News Corp.’s offer.

Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone defends his spat with daughter Shari in BusinessWeek, noting he wants to be remembered (feuds with his kids nothwithstanding) "primarily as a loving father and grandfather." And, of course, "for what I have done in building these two great companies, Viacom and CBS."



• PROGRAMMING

CBS yesterday became the first U.S. broadcast network to cover a video game tournament as a sporting event, running highlights of the World Series of Video Games tournament, held in Louisville, Ky., last month. [New York Times]

CNN‘s planned YouTube debate with Republicans may not get off the ground, reports Time and the New York Times. Separately, Campbell Brown discusses her jump from NBC News to CNN this fall with the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz.

Court TV‘s pending name change to truTV summarily dismissed by New York Post critic Adam Buckman.

Fox News Channel‘s The O’Reilly Report advertisers including Home Depot are being targeted by activists (including filmmaker Robert Greenwald, whose YouTube clip is here) outraged over Bill O’Reilly’s recent shot at JetBlue for sponsoring a conference by left-wing blogger DailyKos. Home Depot is rebuffing the campaign, according to the New York Times, although Lowe’s has reportedly pulled out.

FSN Southwest and the Dallas Cowboys signed an agreement that adds Cowboys programming to the network’s lineup for the 2007 NFL season and makes FSN SW the regional cable and satellite TV home for the team. Comcast launched a short-lived Dallas Cowboys regional sports network in 2004.

GSN‘s new president and CEO (starting Wed.) David Goldhill tells the New York Times, "If GSN is just good at TV, it’s unlikely to grow very much."

HBO‘s Costas Now claims about Barry Bonds’ alleged steroid abuse have been refuted by Bonds. [AP] And just when you got Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ out of your head, the alternative Sopranos ending theory resurfaces in Drexel University’s student paper.

Lifetime Real Women was dropped by DirecTV on July 25, according to Lifetime’s boards and DSL Reports.

Showtime‘s racy series Californication (which premieres Aug. 13, with a sneak peek via Netflix) will work next to Weeds, programming president Bob Greenblatt tells the New York Times, because "Flawed main characters is one of our hallmarks, and this seems like another great flawed character that hopefully isn’t so flawed as to be hopeless." Star David Duchovny quips, "I’m sure there’s going to be people calling it Sex Files and Triple X Files."

TBS and TNT will eventually run more originals than off-net repeats, Steve Koonin tells Variety. TBS has renewed the latenight interstitial series, Lovebites, for a second season, reports Variety; its pick-up of The Office and My Name Is Earl to run day-and-date with stations in syndication has shaken up the syndication market, Variety adds.

The WWE is reviewing a letter sent Friday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting any information it has (in the wake of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide case) on steroid and drug abuse in pro wrestling. The committee’s leaders, chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and ranking Republican Tom Davis (R-VA), want a response by Aug. 24. [AP]



• ONLINE

Google will implement its anti-piracy technology on YouTube this fall, "hopefully" (but not likely) in September. [AP | CNET | Salon | InfoWorld]

Pownce, co-founded by former TechTV host Kevin Rose, is deemed "the hottest startup in Silicon Valley" by the New York Times.

The New York Times checks in on Sean "Diddy" Combs’ YouTube search for an assistant.



• LAUNCHES

Charter Communications expanded its triple-play phone service in Michigan.

Comcast added six high-definition channels in Colorado Springs, CO—Cinemax HD, Universal HD, MTVN’s MHD, National Geographic HD, A&E HD and Comcast’s own Versus/Golf Channel HD—bringing the market’s HD channel line-up to 19 high-def networks. Comcast also added HGTV HD and Food Network HD in Tucson, AZ.

Insight Communications is promoting a $95 bundle in Lexington, KY; its "$40-$30-$25" plan includes "classic cable" for $40, high-speed online service for $30 and phone for $25.

Time Warner Cable launched business digital telephone service in Kansas City.

AT&T‘s U-verse will carry Superstation WGN and Tribune stations in New York (WPIX), Los Angeles (KTLA), Dallas-Fort Worth (KDAF), Houston (KHCW), Indianapolis (WXIN), Indianapolis (WTTV/WTTK), San Diego (KSWB), and Hartford, CT (WTIC/WTXX).



• IN OTHER NEWS

Montomery County, MD, officials are urging Comcast customers to opt out of a reverse-onus arbitration notice sent in July bills (it’s also online) that relinquishes their rights to sue Comcast if they don’t take action. [NBC4 | WTOP]

Less than 1% of Comcast customers in Houston have experienced problems in the transition from Time Warner Cable, Comcast SVP Tony Speller tells the Houston Chronicle.

CSG Systems is buying Prairie Voice Services, a privately held provider of interactive messaging services.

Vyyo announced in an SEC filing it will shed 16% of its workforce this year. [AP]

Yahoo tapped Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Citizens Communications, as a board member, the first addition since Jerry Yang took over as CEO. Her 25-year track record includes ITV startup Wink Communications and stints at Microsoft, AT&T and McCaw Cellular Communications.

The proposed merger between XM and Sirius Satellite Radio is raising questions about cable a la carte, reports the Boston Globe (which quotes CableFAX and CableWorld columnist Steve Effros arguing against a la carte.)

Comcast Voice SVP/GM Cathy Avgiris is profiled on TelecomWeb while Comcast Eastern Division president Michael Doyle is profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Microsoft‘s "long-term strategic thinker" and Bill Gates’s right hand, Craig Mundie, is profiled in the Wall Street Journal.

Click here for Friday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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