Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, August 13 »

Noggin and The N spin off into their own channels on Dec. 31. Now sharing a single channel, tween-skewing The N, home to Degrassi: The Next Generation and other shows for 9- to 14-year-olds, will take over the transponder space occupied by Nickelodeon’s Games and Sports channel. GAS will disappear from linear TV and be integrated into the TurboNick broadband service with a new focus on local sports. (Nick’s GAS website this morning was "under construction" with the promise of being "all things sports on nick.com.") The N will fill its 24/7 schedule with acquisitions such as That 70s Show (which ABC Family also begins running next year), TEENick faves (like Drake and Josh) and new sitcoms About a Girl, Gigantic (a scripted "dramedy" series about kids in Hollywood), the reality series Queen Bees and the working-titled Interns. The N split-off from Nickelodeon has been planned "for years," Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group, tells the New York Times, as "there’s somewhat of a disconnect between the preschool audience and the teen audience at night." Noggin, meanwhile, will add more content appealing to parents in the evenings. The N faces competition from two Disney-owned brands: ABC Family and (most of all) Disney Channel, whose High School Musical juggernaut returns with a sequel on Friday. HSM‘s worldwide phenom (writes AP) has so far generated more than $1 billion, writes the New York Post. Separately, Yo Gabba Gabba!, which premieres Aug. 20 on Noggin and Nick Jr., was featured in yesterday’s New York Times.

Time Warner Cable‘s enhanced TV product suite expands with the October launch of nework DVR-based Look Back in South Carolina, also its corporate launchpad for its Start Over playback service. Look Back, which lets customers catch shows they’ve missed (but not fast-forward ads) until midnight on the day they aired, has an agreement for MTV Networks‘ channels but is still negotiating with other programmers. Time Warner Cable EVP Peter Stern tells the New York Times he’s expecting some drop-off in the company’s DVR rental business (which permits fast-forwarding) as the advertiser-friendly Look Back and Start Over take off: "Many customers do fast-forward through commercials when given the choice, and that is an obvious and undeniable benefit of a digital video recorder." Comcast will offer technology similar to Start Over, which replays a program from the beginning even if the viewer tuned in half-way through the show, notes SVP/GM of video services Derek Harrar.

Adelphia founder John Rigas is now serving his 15-year sentence at Federal Medical Center, a federal hospital prison in Rochester, MN, reports local newspaper the Post-Bulletin. The 80-year-old Rigas, who has bladder cancer and heart problems, and son Tim—who today starts his 20-year sentence at a federal facility in Elkton, Ohio—begin their prison terms more than five years after being arrested for accounting fraud and corporate looting. Adelphia creditors "are still waiting for a payout from a government fund of more than $800 million designed to compensate victims," reports the Wall Street Journal. The elder Rigas, who still hopes to clear the family name in a retrial, told the Buffalo News last week "this is a death sentence for me," adding: "I can’t believe it’s happening because we know we didn’t do anything criminal and never had any intent. But it’s happening. My hope is that we will continue to claim our innocence and hope that a miracle happens and that the truth will prevail." The Hornell, NY, Evening Tribune published a lengthy account of the Rigas family’s arguments for a retrial.



• COMPETITION

Qwest named Edward A. Mueller, a former CEO of Ameritech and Williams-Sonoma, as its new chairman and CEO to replace the retiring Richard Notebaert. Mueller tells the Wall Street Journal he will "maximize Qwest’s slogan, ‘Spirit of Service,’ to ensure customers’ expectations are met. ‘I don’t think technology gives anyone an edge. Everyone else catches up pretty fast. It’s what you do with that technology.’" Bloomberg has more.

DirecTV is expanding NFL Sunday Ticket to mobile and broadband this season for its SuperFan subscribers. Sunday Ticket also expands its In-Stadium service to two NFL stadiums in Houston and Seattle, joining Miami and Washington, D.C. With more than 180 regular season NFL games in HD this season, DirecTV is informing customers they’ll need a B-Band Converter (BBC) in order to receive the 100 HD channels they’ll offer by year-end, reports Engadget.

Verizon‘s FiOS TV announced its first rate hike: from $12.99 to $15.99 for HD DVR service, to new subscribers in New England, where Comcast just announced an increase in its HD DVR service from $9.95 to $12.95. [Boston Globe] FiOS TV’s new interactive media guide (IMG) user interface is now available in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Indiana, Rhode Island and Virginia. Verizon’s Joe Ambeault demos the new guide in our exclusive video here.

Towerstream expanded its fixed wireless network in New York.



• ONLINE

BitTorrent next month launches ad-supported streaming of TV series (including Fox‘s 24) and films including Letters from Iwo Jima. [San Jose Mercury News]

Google stops selling video downloads on Aug. 15, reports Bloomberg. Google Video started offering download-to-own and download-to-rent titles in Jan. 2006. Google also announced Gdrive, extra storage starting at $20/yr for 6 GB; and new features in its online ad serving tests such as "crumbled" and shorter cookies. And the Google-backed Gbox online music store uses new DRM-free MP3s from Universal Music Group, reports AP.

NBC Universal‘s iVillage website is floundering in the face of competition (writes the New York Times) and a failed TV series, iVillage Live. That scenario is why NBCU is contemplating acquiring or taking a stake in the "low-rated Oxygen, not exactly a trophy in its own right, (which) has been quietly shopped by bankers for months."

Time Warner Cable Milwaukee revved its Road Runner high-speed online service to 15Mbps. [BroadbandReports]




• TECHNOLOGY

Cisco and Texas Instruments successfully completed interoperability testing of Cisco’s uBR10012 cable modem termination system (CMTS) with TI’s Puma 5 DOCSIS 3.0 CPE development platform. "This successful demonstration of upstream channel bonding clearly shows there is significant momentum for DOCSIS 3.0," Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner said in a statement.

Slingbox‘s next-generation box is ready for HD video, according to its FCC filing. [CNET]



• PROGRAMMING

CNN‘s 2nd YouTube presidential debate is set for Nov. 28 with Mitt Romney the only Republican candidate hold-out. [Wired | Washington Post]

Comedy Central confirmed "Address this Mess," its eco-conscious (and first) pro-social campaign. Separately, Stephen Colbert and guest Richard Branson last week got into an on-air scuffle (blogs fellow guest Ian Bogost) that saw Branson dump water on Colbert, who doused back. Branson was miffed that Colbert downplayed Virgin America, which named its inaugural flight "Air Colbert" last week in honor of the faux pundit.

HBO signed James Gandolfini to play Sonny Vaccaro, who signed Michael Jordan to Nike, in original movie ABCD Camp from Gandolfini’s Attaboy Productions, whose Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq doc premieres Sept. 9. [Variety]

Lifetime‘s State of Mind creator, Amy Bloom, profiled in the New York Times.

Retirement Living TV hired G4 founder Charles Hirschhorn as chief creative officer; he oversees all programming, production and marketing.

Showtime tonight premieres the 3rd season of Weeds and David Duchovny’s return to TV, Californication.




• IN OTHER NEWS

Charter Communications launched a worldwide calling plan costing $20/month for 4 hours of global chatting.

Microsoft will file a brief today at the FCC arguing for its co-sponsored wireless spectrum "white spaces" proposal the commission shot down. [Washington Post]

TiVo announced its StopWatch commercial ratings results for June.

Time Warner Cable averted a strike by Teamsters Local 377 in central Ohio Friday night, signing a new five-year contract two hours before a threatened walk-out. [Youngston, OH, Vindicator]

Virgin Media (see above), Richard Branson’s UK cable company, is looking to take over Europe by expanding (first) to France, reports AFX. The company’s board last week tabled bids from Liberty Media and others until debt financing markets settle.

Hotel VOD and pay-per-view provider LodgeNet is being targeted by an anti-porn group led by a self-described former porn addict. [AP]

Former WWE EVP of marketing (and Fox Sports Net exec) Kurt Schneider is developing a reality series based on the Harlem Globetrotters; he became CEO of the basketball franchise in May. [Variety]

PBS commentator Robert X. Cringely blogs on "The $200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future was stolen."

Ah, the Life of Brian: check out the view from Comcast‘s new HQ, under construction in Philly.

Rome burns: HBO and BBC‘s set of Rome (except for the Coliseum) was destroyed in a blaze that is still being investigated at Italy’s famed Cinecitta studio. [AP]

Click here for Friday’s 360AM news briefing »

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

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At the Commission

The FCC has rescheduled the Open Radio Access Network Solutions Showcase originally planned for June 29. Due to the large number of interested participants, the Commission has expanded the showcase into a two-day virtual event to be held July 14-15. Presenters at the showcase will be limited to vendors that will have Open RAN products […]

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