Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, Jan. 14 »

Reality shows that have replaced classically scripted series on broadcast networks because of the writers’ strike have performed very well, in some cases besting the ratings of the originally scheduled shows, the New York Times reports. NBC’s new American Gladiators is a ratings hit, and older reality series are scoring good numbers. CBS, meanwhile, has signed on to broadcast three new reality shows, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The glut of reality programming on the broadcast networks could serve to further blur the line for viewers between the Big Four and the cable networks, which offered a full menu of reality fare well before the writers went on strike, the Times says. It remains to be seen whether the eroding distinction between broadcast and cable will negatively affect broadcast’s commercial pricing. [New York Times | Hollywood Reporter]

Dodge & Cox, an investment firm, has increased its stake in Comcast, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In March 2007 it had a 7.9% stake; it now has an 11.4% stake. [Hollywood Reporter]

Davenport & Co. analyst F. Drake Johnstone updgraded Verizon from neutral to buy, citing the company’s wireless growth and expanded FiOS network, newratings.com reports. [newratings.com]

Digeo’s upcoming Moxi HD DMR Multi-Room set-top box will not support cable’s new tru2way platform and will be sold directly to consumers, Cable Digital News reports. This will enable the Paul Allen-backed company to "retain its user interface and application suite." [Cable Digital News]

Imagine Communications announced its ICE Broadcast System, intended to enable cable operators to carry up to 50% more HD and standard-definition digital signals without sacrificing video quality. [BusinessWire]

RCN has launched its Starpower Internet Phone Service, available to RCN customers and to consumers within the company’s service area.

John Malone’s Liberty Media bought 14 million shares of Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp., according to a Bloomberg report picked up by the New York Times. [New York Times]

Discovery Communications’ Animal Planet will be re-launching next month, adding 8 new series and specials and targeting programming at adults, it said this morning.  Animal Planet’s prime-time ratings declined in 2007, and it’s hoped that “predation programming…pet shows and immersive storytelling” will appeal to adult viewers, The NY Times reports. [New York Times]

Contract talks between the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers are going “smoothly enough,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. The DGA’s current film and TV contract expires June 30. Unlike the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild is reportedly not demanding “sweeping new residuals for new media,” [Hollywood Reporter]

One of cable’s perennial ratings grabbers is going HD next Monday. WWE’s Monday Night RAW and A.M. RAW on USA, Extreme Championship Wrestling on SCI FI and Friday Night SmackDown on The CW will be delivered in HD starting Jan 21.  WWE will broadcast its pay-per-views in HD, starting with Royal Rumble on Jan 27. The move to HD includes new sets, new state-of-the-art production trucks and a $20 million studio upgrade, WWE said. “This upgrade will be the first of many technological advances for our brand in 2008,” said Mke  Grossman SVP, TV Ops.

In CableFAX Daily: The FCC’s Year That Was. Yesterday’s 360 Update.

Got a tip? Email: sgoldstein@accessintel.com and sarenstein@accessintel.com

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