Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, Sept. 18 »

The HD march continues: MGM HD is coming soon to DirecTV; while MGM’s 20% owner, Comcast, hasn’t announced it’s carrying the channel, Comcast spokesperson Jenni Moyer tells TV Predictions it will add TBS HD on Oct. 1. News Corp.’s upcoming Fox Business Network will launch in high-def when it goes live Oct. 15 (according to Multichannel News) while CNBC will also launch a high-definition service this fall, the NBCU-owned biz net announced. MTV Networks will also launch its first pan-European HD service next year.

As for Verizon‘s FiOS TV high-def plans here at home, "We’ll be adding a few more HD channels along with some special interest SD channels this quarter [and] we’re planning a major expansion in our HD, sports and multicultural offerings that will track with the removal of analog content from our system [next spring]," Verizon spokesperson Sharon Cohen-Hagar tells TV Predictions‘ Phil Swann.

Penthouse TV, a non-HD $10 million linear channel co-owned by Penthouse magazine and New Frontier Media, will launch in the first quarter. The partnership includes a Penthouse VOD service for cable, satellite and telco TV operators.

The NCTA‘s Cable Show will return to New Orleans next year. The cable industry’s 57th annual convention (May 18-20, 2008) will be co-chaired by BET Networks chair/CEO Debra Lee and Mediacom Communications chair/CEO Rocco Commisso.

As the cable industry converges in New York this week (with NAMIC‘s 21st annual conference drawing a record 700+ attendees), Time Warner scored 100 on Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index for 2008. TW’s perfect rating reflects its equal benefits and employee protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Comcast chair/CEO Brian Roberts, speaking at the Merrill Lynch investor conference yesterday in Los Angeles, said he anticipates sales growth of more than 10% in telephone subscriptions. Roberts also talked up cable operators’ joint advanced ad sales initiative, a CableLabs-backed effort that will create a common standard to better capitalize (and measure) VOD and interactive cable advertising. "Cable will aggregate the most eyeballs and therefore has the best potential in interactive advertising of any platform out there," Roberts commented. He also talked up DOCSIS 3.0, which Comcast intends to launch next year, and business services, which will expand from two lines to eight lines of digital voice service in 2008. [Bloomberg | Reuters | Light Reading]

Time Warner Cable COO Landel Hobbs also warned at the Merrill Lynch conference that basic subscriber losses will likely continue in the 3rd quarter. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett says investors overreacted to basic subscriber losses at MSOs including Time Warner, which lost 57K basic subs in the 2nd quarter primarily in its former Adelphia systems, notes AP.

AT&T confirmed the interactive U-verse TV features (including a widget-like toolbar, Yahoo! games and Yellow Pages listings) it’s testing in Dallas-Fort Worth. In unrelated announcement to U-verse’s Yellow Pages application, Emmy nominee BIAP Systems is bringing Yellow Pages on TV to cable systems. BIAP’s platform includes the ability to drill down into a Yellow Pages listing and view a longer ad on demand.

In other advanced advertising news, Navic Networks unveiled Admira, which places ads within linear or nonlinear (including switched broadcast, VOD, or DVR playback) video feeds.

In the largest co-op marketing effort ever undertaken by the cable industry, CTAM won its MSO-backed bid to exclusively advertise digital cable in the U.S. Postal Service’s national change of address program.

TNT‘s The Closer was the most watched (and least fast-forwarded) TV program on TiVo in July according to the DVR-maker’s Stop|Watch tracking service. The series nabbed its top 5 ratings spots from June 25-July 23, the first time a cable network has made TiVo’s list. TiVo points out that The Closer‘s highest rating, 10.4, is lower than than its highest rating (a 25.6) due to lower summer viewing patterns.

A day after AOL announced it’s moving to New York, launching a global advertising platform (dubbed Platform A) and will be embedded on HP PCs, the portal today unveiled a still-in-Beta consumer website, Bluestring.com, that will allow users to store (up to 5GB) and share photos, videos and music for free. Storage can be upgraded to 50GB for $99/yr.

Nickelodeon‘s SpongeBob franchise is expanding into consumer electronics, including a branded portable media player for kids. [New York Times]

Gemstar-TV Guide is making a move into the U.S. mobile TV arena, by licensing its mobile interactive program guide technology to MediaFLO USA.

Comcast‘s customer bandwidth limits — 90GB/month, estimates Wired — are news to three CSRs in an unscientific poll by Daily Tech.

ESPN Deportes will pick up 1 million digital cable subscribers when Time Warner Cable adds the channel in its New York and New Jersey cluster on Oct. 15, when its digital basic lineup will shuffle to accommodate Fox Business Network.

Cablevision launched The Jewish Channel as a subscription VOD service for $4.95/mo. TJC (whose principals include NYC Dem fundraiser Michael Tobman, a former aide to Sen. Charles Schumer) competes with Shalom TV, which Comcast has launched, and the Jewish Television Network for distribution.

Dish Network added home gem-shopping net The Jewelry Channel, not to be confused with Jewelry Television.


Cox Communications promoted Tony Matthews to executive director of marketing.

Hallmark Channel promoted Nancy Carr to SVP of corporate communications.

The Association of Cable Communicators (fka CTPAA) relaunched its website and announced an Oct. 3 event in LA and an Oct. 16 event in NY. ACC’s Forum 2008 takes place Mar. 30-Apr. 2 in D.C.

Speed will televise six "power golf" events next year, expanding beyond its traditional wheely fast sports focus.

Tandberg Television will receive a technical and engineering Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its OpenStream VOD Platform at CES in January.

Comcast is offering a $10K reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in the shooting of a cable technician in Mt. Prospect, IL, last month. [Chicago Tribune]

Cablevision chair/CEO James Dolan may take the stand today as a witness in Anucha Browne Sanders’ sexual harassment trial against Madison Square Garden‘s Isiah Thomas. • Catching up? Here’s Monday’s Cable360AM briefing.

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• Got a tip? Send an email to sbrady@accessintel.com.

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