Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, July 23 »
As the Bancroft family meets today in Boston to vote on News Corp.‘s $5 billion Dow Jones bid, MySpace founder Brad Greenspan submitted a new proposal (click here to read) to Dow Jones’ board Friday to thwart Rupert Murdoch. Greenspan, who says he has other backers for his plan, offered up to $600 million to buy out Bancroft family members who want to cash out at $60 per share, matching Murdoch’s offer. As part of his proposal, Greenspan wants to create a new online video venture and a cable and satellite financial news channel that would rival CNBC and News Corp.’s planned Fox Business Network. [Reuters | New York Times | Wall Street Journal]. The Simpsons‘ creator Matt Groening dissed Murdoch’s Dow Jones bid in yesterday’s New York Times.
Comcast is reportedly one of 11 potential bidders for Virgin Media, the U.K. cable operator owned by Richard Branson — click here for details.
CNN announced that Campbell Brown (who announced yesterday she’s leaving NBC News) is joining the network Sept. 1, as expected. Brown is expecting her first child with husband Dan Senor, an analyst for Fox News.
The CTAM Summit kicks off today in Washington, D.C. — click here for CableWorld‘s schedule of events.
Amp’d Mobile is pulling the plug tomorrow, but says it’s in talks with potential buyers in this online Q&A for its subscribers.
TVN signed a video-on-demand deal with Alaskan cable operator GCI, marking TVN’s 100th affiliate and the first time consumers in Alaska will have access to VOD. GCI currently offers pay-per-view movies and events from In Demand.
CNN‘s on-air reporters are featured in 15-second interstitials that Turner Network Sales is offering as taggable spots for affiliates through the end of this year. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is featured in a series on health tips; CNN’s senior business correspondent Ali Velshi and personal finance editor Gerri Willis deliver financial tips; and CNN’s weather team offer "Be Prepared" weather tips.
Three major search engines are significantly stepping up their consumer privacy efforts, with Microsoft today announcing new protections for users of its Live Search services; Ask.com announcing plans for an industrywide initiative to establish standard practices for retaining users’ search histories; and Yahoo announcing plans this week to make all searches anonymous within 13 months unless users request otherwise or the portal is required by law to retain the information. [Wall Street Journal]
The Universal Service Fund telephone fund has increased its take 10x since 2004, reports the Associated Press, which calls the controversial surcharge "a bottomless and politically protected well of cash for cell phone companies that do big business in rural America." The biggest beneficiary: Alltel, the largest rural carrier, which raked in up to $70 million in USF funds in the first quarter of this year. FCC chairman Kevin Martin opposes the USF, which is being widely critiqued and up for review.
Charter Communications is phasing out analog set-top boxes in its flagship market of St. Louis, MO, where it no longer services or offers the older analog boxes as of July 17. [Edwardsville Journal, MO]
Verizon‘s FiOS TV was approved in Bronxville, NY, its 49th community in New York state. Verizon is also offering a single bill option for its wireless and landline customers, with a $25 credit to customers who sign up this month.
RCN signed a multi-year carriage agreement with ESPN and Disney-ABC Television for linear carriage of ESPN2 HD and ABC News Now; ESPN360.com on its broadband portal; and on demand content including ABC Family, ABC News Now, Disney Channel and ESPN.
EchoStar announced the channels it will deliver on Virgin America‘s in-flight entertainment system, including A&E, BET, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNBC, CNN, Current TV, Discovery, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, Food Network, FX, IFC, SiTV, Travel Channel and USA Network plus a branded entertainment channel from Land Rover. Virgin America, which started selling tickets (from $44) last week, launches in the U.S. on Aug. 8.
ViewTech intends to fight EchoStar and Nagravision‘s lawsuit last week alleging its set-tops enable piracy. [SkyReport]
Netflix, which reports 2nd quarter earnings today, lowered its pricing by $1 on its two most popular plans, offering unlimited DVD rentals and the ability to watch movies and TV series instantly on a PC for no additional charge. Also reporting Q2 this week: AT&T (Tues.), Qualcomm (Wed.), Comcast and EarthLink (Thursday) and Gemstar-TV Guide (Friday). AT&T and Verizon expect to report video growth in their 2nd quarter earnings, according to Reuters.
A&E TV Networks tapped Visible World for targeted advertising and will launch mobile versions of A&E and The History Channel with MobiTV.
AMC‘s Thursday premiere of Mad Men scored a 1.4 household rating from Nielsen.
The CNN/YouTube presidential debates kick off tonight at 7pm ET.
Discovery Channel plans to relaunch in October with a younger-skewing branding and new tagline, tapping LA-based agency 72andSunny for creative duties after a two-month review. According to the press release, "72andSunny will be charged with extending the Discovery Channel brand and connection with a younger, technologically savvy audience that is relentlessly curious about the world around them."
FOX‘s Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly made veiled jabs at Reilly’s former employer, NBC, at their TCA session, including oblique references to NBCU head Jeff Zucker’s back-channel meddling in programming decisions. [Los Angeles Times | Tim Goodman’s blog, San Francisco Chronicle]
GalleryPlayer added 80 half-hour blocks of original HD programming; its affiliates include Comcast.
HBO will premiere White Light, Black Rain, a documentary on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Aug. 6th — the 62nd anniversary of the bombings. It will be offered as a simultaneous day-and-date DVD and VOD release the next day.
Mojo, In Demand‘s HD channel, announced its fall line-up; details here.
NBC‘s Deal or No Deal hit 1 million mobile downloads.
Showtime will debut a new mixed martial arts series, ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series, on Friday night.
USA Network‘s ratings on WWE Raw have slipped 10% in total viewers (and 21% in men 18-34 and 17% in men 18-49) since Chris Benoit’s June 24 murder of his wife and son and subsequent suicide, while SCI FI‘s WWE-produced ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling, has dropped 9% in total viewers, 28% in men 18-34 and 19% in men 18-49, reports Variety.
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s World of Wonder productions pays tribute here to Tammy Faye Messner, who died Friday. WoW produced two documentaries on Messner, The Eyes of Tammy Faye and the WICT award-winning Tammy Faye: Death Defying, which was commissioned by WE tv.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussed the company’s wireless aspirations in Thursday’s 2nd quarter earnings call, following the announcement it’s willing to bid $4.6 billion in the FCC’s upcoming 750 MHz spectrum auction provided the FCC auction follow Google’s conditions. Explained Schmidt to analysts last week: "From a Google perspective, the most important thing is that there be an open network. We define that in the sense that people can go to a store or however they are going to get it and get a device, plug that device into a wireless network and be able to use the full capability of the Internet. In the course of using that full capability of the Internet, which is going to be delivered on these mini-devices that have come out in this space globally, they’re also going to become very significant Google advertising users." Google also outlined its wireless gameplan on its corporate blog.
A team of computer security consultants claims to have found a flaw in Apple‘s iPhone that allows them to easily hack into the system using a Wi-Fi connection or by tricking users to go to a dummy website with malicious code. [New York Times]
Melissa Bear to VP, business and legal affairs, TV Land; from VP, business and legal affairs, VH1.
Angela Bromstad to president, international television production, NBC Universal; from head of NBC Universal Television Studios. Bromstad’s new position (starting Sept. 1) is based in London.
Jennifer Dangar to SVP, domestic distribution, Discovery Networks; from VP, new media distribution.
Adam Gerber has left Brightcove as VP of ad sales for an undisclosed position, reports MediaPost.
Michael Jury to chief technology officer, Millennium Digital Media; from VP, corporate engineering and operations, Baja Broadband.
Helen Karas to SVP, ad sales, ION Media Networks; from SVP, ad sales, AMC and WE tv.
Geri Wang, SVP of primetime ad sales for ABC, is in line to take over Lifetime‘s ad sales in the wake of Lynn Picard’s departure, reports Mediaweek.
Allen Wastler to managing editor, CNBC.com; from managing editor, CNNmoney.com.
• IN OTHER NEWS
Motorola completed its acquisition of Terayon.
A service in the U.K. now allows consumers to make doctors’ appointments using their TV remote controls or mobile phones.
TNS Media Research COO George Shababb offers his take on minute-by-minute commercial ratings in Mediaweek.
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