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• PROGRAMMING

ABC Family tonight premieres season 2 of Lincoln Heightsclick here for Seth Arenstein’s review.

The Africa Channel
, which this week launches in the UK, is moving into sports with its exclusive US/UK rights deal to televise the biannual 24th African Nations Men’s Basketball Championship. [C21Media]

AmericanLife TV yesterday launched a 20-hour VOD offering to TVN‘s affiliates.

BBC-produced Doctor Who, which SCI FI and BBC America televise here, will take a one-year break between seasons four, which will premiere in the UK next year, and five (set for 2010). There will be three Doctor Who specials to fill the gap in 2009. [The Guardian] Doctor Who anagrammed spinoff Torchwood, which premieres this Saturday on BBC America, gets a rave review in The Denver Post.

Bloomberg TV is preparing to take on Fox Business Network with an on-air makeover that will lose the crawl in October and play up talent such as Judy Woodruff, who moderates a monthly show. It also expanded its distribution on Comcast to New Jersey, South Florida and Washington, notes the New York Times.

Bravo‘s Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, which premieres Thursday, couldn’t mention Project Runway or use P.R. producers Magical Elves after legal threats from The Weinstein Company. Gunn was also barred from mentioning Project Runway in his book with the same title as his Bravo series. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

CNN HD went live Saturday, ahead of its pending launch on DirecTV this month. Its high-def programming includes New York-based shows such as Lou Dobbs Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360, according to Turner’s press release. The New York Post reports that Cooper had to reshoot stand-ups for his Hurricane Katrina special last week after CNN lost his original tapes, cutting short his European vacation to fly to New Orleans.

Discovery Channel‘s Dirty Jobs is now available as both free and subscription downloads on iTunes and Discovery.com.

Discovery Health’s Dr. G: Medical Examiner will feature an eco-friendly morgue following a $16 million  renovation to Dr. Jan Garavaglia’s Orlando morgue; Discovery is not paying for the green reno. [Orlando Sentinel]

ESPN tonight premieres The Contender at 10pm. Its upcoming primetime newsmagazine, which debuts Oct. 16, is now called E:60.

HBO‘s Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq (James Gandolfini’s first documentary) is touted by Liz Smith ahead of its Sept. 9 premiere. HBO also will premiere My Second Life, the first doc to be shot entirely in a virtual world, next year. Meanwhile, The Wire just shot its final episode in its fifth and last season; the Washington Post was on the set.

HDNet‘s Redacted, an original movie on Iraq by Brian De Palma, stunned the Venice Film Festival this past weekend; its HDNet premiere date has not been announced. [Reuters | Globe & Mail]

HGTV is now casting for Design Star 3; season 2 wraps on Sept. 16.

The History Channel HD launches tomorrow on Dish Network, according to this press release from EchoStar.

ION Media Networks will introduce "edgy late-night programming" and repackage CBS’s 48 hours in a bid to attract younger viewers this fall. [South Florida Business Journal]

The Men’s Outdoor & Recreation channel is dead in the water (according to this report) after DirecTV pulled the plug, following on MOR owner The Media Group filing for bankruptcy protection after a spat with EchoStar led to its being dropped from Dish Network.

National Geographic Channel‘s Dog Whisperer returns with new episodes Friday night — click here for a preview.

Showtime‘s "The Best Sh-t on Television" spot raises an eyebrow at the New York Times.

Starz will introduce two half-hour scripted comedies in January: Hollywood Residential and Head Case, which expands on Alexandra Wentworth’s 12-minute episodic series that launched this year, reports Variety. Starz, HBO and Showtime are also stepping up their in-house-produced theatrical movie production, notes Variety.


The Tennis Channel signed Bud Collins as a contributor; the veteran tennis commentator, who was unceremoniously dropped from NBC, is has been "busier than ever" contributing to ESPN‘s properties under a new contract signed last month. [New York Post]

TNT cancelled Heartland, its summer drama starring Treat Williams.

World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) signed a deal with FOXSports.com to provide Olympic-style and World Championship event video content to sports fans on FOXSports.com on MSN, and within MSN Video.



• ONLINE

Amazon today offers a sneak peek at its music download store with Bruce Springteen’s Radio Nowhere, the first release from his upcoming album. [MediaPost]

AOL is phasing out KOL and Red, its portals aimed at kids and teens. [PaidContent]

Babelgum‘s online film festival (which features Spike Lee as a judge) is "the right train on the wrong track," blogs NewTeeVee’s Chris Albrecht (who’s not that Chris Albrecht).

Cablevision has removed downstream modem caps on Boost, Optimum Online’s 30Mbps/5Mbps tier, according to users on DSL Reports.

Dailymotion, France’s answer to YouTube, raised $34 million in funding and hired former CNN sales exec Christa Rimonneau as its New York-based VP of sales. [The Guardian]

Google is making VC-style investments of $500,000 or less in "promising start-ups," reports BusinessWeek.

Joost acquired OnTheToob, a Web video programming guide. [NewTeeVee]


Suddenlink Communications has been doubling its speeds to 10 Mbps in markets including Gainesville, FL. [Broadband Reports]

Verizon‘s 100 Mpbs-tester Richard Guziewicz says uber-broadband hasn’t dramatically changed his life. [GigaOm]


VH1 rapped Web vlogger Michael Knight for his YouTube video featuring a VH1 promo that uses Knight’s original video without permission. Knight wonders how he can steal his own clip when it was VH1 that erred. [VNUnet]



• IN OTHER NEWS

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers hired Pam Nobles as director of education and certification. She joins SCTE from Comcast, where she was senior director of CommTech development.

Comcast will increase rates an average of 6.1% in Houston to make up for its $200 million upgrade to enable more high-definition channels, bumping VOD from 1,000 to 9,300 hours and hiring more staffers. [Houston Chronicle]

Verizon launched V CAST Mobile TV in Corpus Christi, TX.

Is TiVo software coming to DirecTV DVRs? [PVR Blog] Also, DBSTalk has a sneak peek of DirecTV’s HR21 HD DVRs.

Verimatrix this week at IBC unveils its video content authority system for cable IPTV.

A year ago this week, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone ousted Tom Freston as CEO, as the New York Times notes in a profile of still-standing Paramount head Brad Grey. And on this day in 1951, the first coast-to-coast telecast using coaxial cable (featuring a speech by then-President Truman) was seen by viewers from New York City to San Francisco.

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

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