360AM — Morning news briefing for Friday, Apr. 6

This morning’s Sky Report says EchoStar has circulated a set of talking points on why Dish Network subscribers aren’t getting Major League Baseball’s Extra Innings package, even though MLB is leaving the door open to a deal if Charlie Ergen & Co. want to step up. Dish says ponying up hundreds of millions for the out-of-market games package would put an unfair financial burden on all its subscribers, because EchoStar would be forced to pass along the costs for both MLBEI and the Baseball Channel in a rate hike to all customers. EchoStar also posted a message on the Dish Network website explaining why it’s taking a pass. Meanwhile, cable operators beyond In Demand‘s triumvirate of owners (Comcast, Cox and Time Warner) are talking to MLB about striking their own deals for the Extra Innings/Baseball Channel combo. A Cablevision spokesman yesterday commented: "Cablevision would like to carry the out of market games and, as an affiliate of In Demand, we look forward to speaking with them on the matter."

Yesterday’s rejection by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau of national advertisers’ proposed eBay auction system for buying and selling TV ads in an online forum draws media attention this morning. [New York Times | Wall Street Journal | Los Angeles Times | New York Post | Ad Age | MediaPost | GigaOm]

Vonage received a temporary stay of injunction from U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., related to Verizon‘s patent lawsuit that allows it to continue selling phone service. Earlier today a lower court indicated it would enter an injunction against Vonage that would prohibit it from acquiring new customers starting Apr. 12. [Release]

Comcast‘s Ziddio user-generated Web/VOD channel struck an unusual partnership in New York. Spotlight Live, an eatery opening today in Times Square (with no relation to Comcast’s Spotlight ad sales division), features singing waiters and the opportunity for customers’ karaoke croonings to be streamed on a billboard outside, recorded onto a DVD or CD for posterity and featured on Ziddio’s online and VOD channels.

Time Warner Cable Kansas City on Monday gave viewers of Scripps‘ KHSB and KMCI-TV broadcast station 30 days’ notice that the channels may go dark if a retransmission consent deal is not reached. [Kansas City Star]

Comcast goes all-digital in Chicago on July 1, enabling it to deliver 120 HDTV channels in ’08. [Chicago Tribune] The market introduced the Comcast Central interactive program guide ahead of the launch, offering a real-time mosaic showing what’s on six different channels related to three content areas: sports, kids and news programming.

Cox Communications reached a tentative agreement with the city of Tucson; they’ve been locking horns since last year. [Arizona Daily Star]

FCC aims to settle heated debate over allocation of commercial spectrum for emergency services this month. [WSJ]

U.S. telcos could lose 1.5 million small business phone lines to cable operators by Dec. 31, according to Insight Research. [TelecomPaper]

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg named AFL-CIO’s overpaid "poster boy" of 2007. The federation will ask shareholders to boot company directors who approved Seidenberg’s compensation package (over $109 million since 2002) at Verizon’s annual meeting May 3. [AP]

Veoh Networks will stream video from broadband directly to consumers’ televisions through a deal with technology company Advanced Micro Devices, an Internet broadcasting company [Release]. Veoh backers include former Disney chief Michael Eisner, whose original Web series Prom Girl (created by Eisner’s Vuguru digi-studio) just launched on Verizon‘s V Cast, MySpace and other platforms.

In an article titled "TV is Dead. Long Live the TV," Wired argues that television is stronger than ever despite the challenges of "unbounded digital video."

A cable operator was "hacked to death" this week in Chennai, India, allegedly over revenue shares with partners. [The Hindu]

• PROGRAMMING

Click here to check out Seth Arenstein’s What to Watch guide to what’s coming up on cable this weekend, including the return of The Sopranos to HBO.

CNN‘s Anderson Cooper makes cover (with Jodie Foster) of Out Magazine‘s "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America" issue. [Release]

FX will televise the first five episodes of The Riches in a marathon "with limited commercial interruption" on Friday Apr. 13.

Jewelry TV addict faces 25-year sentence for stealing over $3.6 million from the Office of the New York City Comptroller; New York Daily News calls him "the king of bling."

National Geographic Channel HD launched on Time Warner Cable‘s Oceanic system in Hawaii. [TV Predictions]

Spike TV‘s first female employee—SVP Casey Patterson—came up with The Guy’s Choice awards, announced yesterday … hence, "Strong Enough For a Man, Made by a Woman" by Washington Post‘s Lisa de Moraes.

Viacom and other media companies challenged a Vidmeter report on YouTube this week claiming that pirated video clips from big media companies accounted for less than 9% of the site’s videos and less than 6% of total views. [Reuters]

WGN will start airing Chappelle’s Show this fall, to run in a late-night comedy block that will include another Comedy Central fave (Reno 911) and the hit Canadian comedy series, Corner Gas. [Release]

Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Thursday, Apr. 5 >>


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