Cable360AM — News briefing for Tuesday, August 21 »
MTV Networks is announcing today that its digital music service Urge is merging with RealNetworks Inc.’s Rhapsody service. Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group will supply mobile distribution for the joint venture’s content. The expected merger is seen as a bid to better compete with Apple’s iTunes service. [Wall Street Journal | Reuters] Wal-Mart, meanwhile, launched a music downloads service, competitively priced at 94 cents a song and $9.22 an album.
Federal Communications Commission staffers are putting the finishing touches on plans that would extend video franchise rules to incumbent cable companies, according to FCC commissioner Robert McDowell. [CNN Money]
New Lifetime president and CEO Andrea Wong made one of her first major hires, bringing on board marketing top guns Bob Bibb and Lewis Goldstein, who helped launch WB Network and Fox as co-chief marketing officers. The duo were most recently consultants at Lifetime. Meanwhile, Lifetime SVP planning, scheduling and acquisitions Leslie Chesloff is exiting. And the network is relocating its scheduling department to Los Angeles. [Hollywood Reporter]
Adelphia Communications shareholders lost a court battle yesterday, when a Manhattan bankruptcy judge dismissed 12 of 13 claims that accused the MSOs investment banks of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and violations of racketeering laws. [Reuters]
Time Warner Cable was sued by the city of Carlsbad, CA, yesterday for allegedly trespassing on city property and operating without a valid franchise agreement since November. [North County Times]
Comcast Corp. has proposed a $3 billion offering of senior unsecured notes. And Fitch assigned it a BBB+ rating. The funds are expected to be used to pay for the acquisition of Patriot Media and the MSO’s portion of Insight Midwest. [Business Wire]
• IN OTHER NEWS
DirecTV, USA Network and the USTA are in cahoots to upgrade the US Open Interactive on USA Network feature on DirecTV. [DirecTV]
ESPN bought rugby website Scrum.com to beef up its appeal to international sports fans. [Reuters]
Leichtman Research Group has unveiled research showing that 76% of all households with incomes of >$75,000 get broadband, compared with a mere 39% in 2004.
ImaginAsian Entertainment inked the first phase of what’s billed as "an extensive investment" and content agreement with Sidus Corp., a Korean entertainment company. The deal is valued at more than $20 million.
Time Warner Cable Media Sales has tapped Live Oak Interactive to build a multimedia Web marketing tool. It reportedly will give the advertising sales group a central location from which it can push targeted advertising and information into local markets. [MediaPost]
NBC Universal funded a study that aims to convince New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine that he should approve a tax break to lure media and high-tech companies to New Jersey. The report claims the incentive would create almost 7,000 jobs and generate more than $1.5 billion in new economic activity in the state. [AP/nj.com]
The DVD high-def format wars have taken on a new twist. Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation defected from the Blu-ray ranks and said they would release content only in the HD DVD format. [NY Times]
Food Network has teamed up with Cooking.com on the launch of a new e-commerce site, which will be called FoodNetworkStore.com. It will be powered by Cooking.com.
TV Land scored big with the special Myths and Legends: Elvis and the documentary Elvis by the Presleys on Aug. 16, the day of Elvis Presley’s death. The network scored double-digit gains in demo rating and delivery for their premieres. And Myths scored a triple-digit increase among all TV viewers.
Kenny Vs. Spenny has found life after GSN on Comedy Central, as part of its just-announced fall lineup.
NFL Network may be embroiled in contract standoffs with some top MSOs, but it has something to crow about. It’s showing its first-ever live pre-season doubleheader this week.
Janet Stilson is filling in for Shirley Brady, who is on vacation.