Cable360AM — News briefing for Wednesday, August 1 »

With both boards last night approving the $5.6 billion acquisition of Dow Jones by News Corp.—and a dramatic finale that saw William Cox Jr., the only living Bancroft to have spent his entire career at Dow Jones, rushed to hospital after going into a diabetic shock—the deal is finalized and expected to close by year-end, pending regulatory approval and a full Dow Jones shareholders’ vote. The deal is poised to change the landscape for business news not just in print, but on digital platforms (notably, the Web) and on TV. Wall Street Journal‘s extensive coverage this morning notes that the biggest impact "could be in online and television, where Mr. Murdoch has said he sees the greatest opportunity." Fox Business Network, launching in 30 million homes on Oct. 15, can’t fully integrate the Wall Street Journal unless Murdoch buys out TV rival CNBC‘s exclusive (through 2012) deal for the newspaper’s content. [News Corp. release | Dow Jones release | Wall Street Journal | New York Times | AP | USA Today]

Time Warner Cable reaffirmed its 2007 outlook this morning while reporting its 2nd quarter results. TWC’s net income fell 7.2% (to $272 million) over 2nd quarter 2006, while revenue increased 59% in the quarter. Revenue rose 59% to $4.01 billion from $2.52 billion, including $1 billion from system acquisitions from the Adelphia– and Comcast system acquisitions that closed a year ago (July 31, 2006). OIBDA (Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization) increased 52% to $1.4 billion in the 2nd quarter. The operator, like Comcast, lost basic subscribers in the 2nd quarter: 38,000 in its acquired systems and 19,000 in its legacy systems for 57,000 total in the quarter. Time Warner Cable’s Buffalo market, once the flagship system for Adelphia (see below), marked its first anniversary under TWC today by saying its investments have "moved the area forward by about 3 years." Separately, Time Warner Inc. today reaffirmed its 2007 outlook and reported 2nd quarter earnings, with CEO Dick Parsons reiterating his support for Time Warner Cable on the earnings call.

The FCC yesterday handed a partial victory to Google in its approved rules for January’s auction of 700 MHz wireless spectrum. The Commission did not approve Google’s desired condition that the winner of the auction would have to sell access to other parties on a wholesale basis. [More: FCC’s statement-PDF | Google’s response | New York Times | Wall Street Journal | Hollywood Reporter] The FCC also released 10 studies on media ownership yesterday for public comment; click here to view.  

Adelphia founder John Rigas isn’t going to prison Aug. 13 without a fight. In an interview that aired last night on local Buffalo station WIVB (click here to watch), Rigas reiterated comments in the Buffalo News last week that he and son Tim are seeking a retrial by arguing their former VP of finance Jim Brown, they allege, lied under oath as the prosecution’s star witness. Rigas, who faces a 15-year prison sentence and suffers from heart disease and bladder cancer, today enters the Mayo Clinic for pre-prison medical tests. Separately, former Enron Broadband execs Kenneth Rice, the unit’s former CEO, and former CFO Kevin Hannon, start their federal prison sentences this week, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Discovery Channel bought eco-blog TreeHugger.com (for $10 million, reports the New York Post) to enhance its Planet Green channel launch in the 1st quarter. Discovery’s eco-centric channel is developing series with celebs, including Eco-town with Leonardo DiCaprio, and a lifestyle series featuring Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage, reports Ecorazzi. TreeHugger has a prior cable TV relationship with Sundance Channel‘s The Green block, which features TreeHugger’s Simran Sethi as a host plus an online blog.

DirecTV will enhance its TiVo Series2 boxes with advanced DVR features in the new year; and with NFL regular season games starting this month, DirecTV is offering NFL Sunday Ticket for $69.99 for four months to new subscribers, a deal that includes its premium channels and sports networks.

Women in Cable Telecommunications announced the new class in its Betsy Magness Leadership Institute.

Comcast audit committee chairman J. Michael Cook was named to the SEC’s new advisory committee tasked with improving corporate financial reporting. [Wall Street Journal]



• PROGRAMMING

ABC Family ordered an additional 10 episodes of its new series, Greek, for a full season 1 order.

Animal Planet‘s biggest ever marketing campaign—for Meerkat Manor, which returns Aug. 10, so consider it meerkating—includes online games, a roadshow for affiliates including Comcast that hits 12 local markets this summer, sneak peeks in 1,110 cinemas, mobile marketing and "an influencer" campaign attempting to generate word-of-mouth buzz among 300,000 moms.

Bravo‘s Top Chef episode tonight will re-air on NBC Saturday night at 10pm.

Court TV/truTV daytime host Star Jones gives Glamour the scoop on her sudden weight loss.

CNN‘s Larry King interview with vice president Dick Cheney last night was released as a transcript by the White House.

DIY Network signed Martha Stewart to host a new series, Martha Stewart Crafts, that will premiere in November.

ESPN2 will televise the Los Angeles Galaxy match in Toronto Sunday at 7:30pm ET, which should mark David Beckham’s MLS debut; he played in an exhibition game July 21.

HDNet acquired high-def rights to Torchwood, which it will run Mondays starting Sept. 17. BBC America premieres the series (in standard def) on Sept. 8.

In Demand will premiere Art of War, a mixed martial arts pay-per-view event, on Sept. 1.

Mojo will launch Mojo Mix, a 5-hour block of HD VOD programming, this month on Time Warner Cable systems.

VH1 tapped Drew Barrymore’s The Family Van Productions to produce Clash of the Music Videos, a music-video competition series set for early 2008, that challenges contestants to remake classic 1980s music videos. Barrymore is executive producing with her ex, Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti. [Variety]



• MOBILE

NBC Universal expanded its deal with Verizon Wireless to launch nine V CAST channels this week offering clips from NBCU’s entire suite of networks.

Viacom today launched myMTV in Japan, which it’s billing as the first mobile entertainment social networking service to offer simultaneous video and page-browsing. [C21Media]



• ONLINE

ABC News Now‘s painful interview with Holly Hunter about TNT‘s Saving Grace launch has been watched over a million times on YouTube and other Web video sites, including VH1‘s Best Week Ever. ABC News makes light of Merry Miller’s first-time mishap in a follow-up video that invites the public to apply as guest hosts on What the Buzz, the entertainment show that Miller flubbed.

Alliance Atlantis tapped Maven Networks for Web video management.

Apple‘s iTunes hit 3 billion downloads.

RealNetworks won a streaming patent infringement suit against Friskit.



• CABLE TECH

Atlantic Broadband signed a deal with New Global Telecom for SIP-based VoIP.

Cox Communications tapped Infinera to build out its national digital optical network for residential and business services.

Sunflower Broadband tapped Volicon for channel management quality assurance and monitoring.



• PEOPLE

Comcast‘s Eastern division hired Lindsay Johnston as VP of human resources, from the same title at PJM Interconnection; and Bill Andrews as VP of business services, from VP and general manager of the customer management group at Convergys.

NBC Universal hired former Chum City SVP of content Roma Khanna as president of global networks and digital initiatives.



• IN OTHER NEWS

American Cable Association president and CEO Matt Polka announced at the Independent Show in Monterey, CA, that the ACA has reached an agreement in principle with the Association of Public Broadcasters for public TV stations’ digital TV signals on behalf of small and independent cable operators.

Carat Digital EVP Mitch Oscar’s #1 barrier to ad-supported VOD on cable: "system operators, whether cable or satellite, cannot provide guidance to advertisers on best practices for utilizing their interactive applications." Oscar is soliciting feedback on his must-read list here.

NBCU, the NFL and MLB are named in a complaint filed with the FTC today by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Their beef: sports leagues’ on-air copyright warnings such as, "Any rebroadcast, reproduction or other use of the pictures and accounts of this game without the express written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited." The CCIA claims such statements are false, misleading and harmful to consumers.

Sinclair Broadcasting released its 2nd quarter results today, reporting $8 million in retransmission consent fees for the quarter (and projecting $59 million in retrans income for the year).

SNL Kagan (formerly Kagan Research, etc.) released its latest Economics of Basic Cable Networks report, which notes that cable networks’ ad sales revenue was up 9% last year, total revenue increased 12% and cash flow grew 13%. The average for cash flow margins was 34% with some networks—primarily those owned by media conglomerates—up 50-60%.

Sony‘s PlayStation 3 will add DVR functionality next year, a PSP exec tells New Zealand’s The Press.

Qwest reported 2nd quarter earnings today. The company this week launched five HDTV channels in Phoenix: FSN Arizona, Universal HD, Versus/Golf HD, ASUtv from Arizona State University, and local Spanish-language broadcaster KPHE-TV.

Click here for Tuesday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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