360AM | News briefing for Wednesday, Mar. 7 >> Tandberg Television‘s board has accepted Ericsson‘s $1.4 billion bid on Feb. 26 to acquire the company. "The Directors note that Ericsson’s unsolicited offer is competitive to the voluntary offer launched by Arris Group, Inc. on 15 February," the board stated. [Release] Ericsson will include Tandberg TV’s U.S. shareholders in its cash offer. [Release] Tandberg last night won for best IPTV head-end and video-processing technology at the IPTV World Forum. [Release]

Verizon is betting on games, local programming, movie downloads and other unique content (including YouTube videos, now in negotiations) to help lure subscribers to FiOS TV. The Wall Street Journal‘s front page story examines the range of features in development for Verizon’s service such as FiOS1, a local channel featuring traffic, weather and local news "airing soon" in the Washington, D.C. area. [WSJ]

Verizon Wireless will announce DVR programming via cell phone next week [Reuters]. The move follows AT&T’s HomeZone announcement yesterday [Release] and will be added this year to Sprint‘s cable joint venture partners, including Time Warner Cable‘s just launched Mobile Access service in Cincinnati. [Release]

Amazon‘s Unbox video service today launches on TiVo, offering over 1.5 million broadband-ready TiVo subscribers access to thousands of movies and TV shows including titles from Sony, MGM and other previously announced studios. The companies are offering $15 in free movie and TV show downloads through Apr. 30. [Release] Amazon yesterday released a new version of Unbox, which it says offers 20% faster downloads, 50% faster application loads and Microsoft Vista support.

TiVo announced fourth quarter and year-end results, with CEO Tom Rogers saying that Comcast‘s TiVo launch will happen "in the near future" and its Cox Communications roll-out is due "later this year." The company is looking to advertising and affiliations, not moving its boxes, to boost its coffers going forward. [Earnings release | Earnings call transcript – Seeking Alpha | USA Today]

FCC chairman Kevin Martin has expressed concern about pricing and programming details in the proposed XM/Sirius satellite radio merger. Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin is scheduled to appear before a second House telecommunications hearing today. [New York Times | Reuters]

A Cable in the Classroom survey indicates the value of cable networks and operators to its educator affiliates. The commissioned survey showed 38% of CIC users "held positive views" of cable networks and 33% "viewed cable operators as strong education supporters." The survey also identified educators’ priorities for cable going forward. Top of the list: deliver content to classrooms in a variety of formats, with #1 preference for DVDs followed by Internet downloads, CD-ROM, online streaming, VHS tape and mobile content for iPods, cellphones and other devices. More details on the survey is available here.

RCN fixed a glitch creating sound and picture problems with its TV service following weeks of complaints. The company blamed a programming error in a software patch downloaded to subscribers’ set-top boxes late last year. [Needham (MA) Daily News Transcript] RCN also launched a webpage-tool from Vibe Solutions. [Release]

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was optimistic at yesterday’s Bear Stearns media conference that a new retransmission consent agreeement with Sinclair Broadcasting would be reached by the companies’ Mar. 10 deadline, although Roberts was adamant it won’t be a cash-only deal. ("That line is drawn," he said.) Sinclair CEO David Smith was also confident at the conference that a deal would be struck by this weekend. [MarketWatch]

Google CEO Eric Schmidt also made waves with remarks on the investors’ conference circuit this week, including his "I’m sure we’re arrogant" comment yesterday at the Bear Stearns event. Google will replace Yahoo as Friendster‘s advertising partner in a multi-year deal being announced today. [WSJ | CNN Money]

WSJ looks at the more sober upfront presentations planned by cable networks this year, including Turner and Viacom‘s networks scrapping their traditional glitzy big ticket events for more strategic smaller meetings. "The upfront is forever changed," says Universal McCann U.S. president Mary Gerzema. [WSJ]

Arkansas‘ Senate is weighing a bill to allow broadband over power lines [Arkansas Business].

Tennessee‘s proposed statewide franchise legislation has sparked a PR assault by AT&T and cable companies. [Nashville City Paper]

Connecticut introduced a bill that would require News Corp.’s MySpace.com and other social-networking sites to verify users’ ages and obtain parental consent before minors can post profiles. [WSJ]

• PEOPLE

Bravo promoted Jason Klarman from SVP, marketing/brand strategy, to EVP, marketing/digital.

The Cable Center promoted Jana Henthorn to SVP, programs and education.

DirecTV promoted Derek Chang to EVP, content strategy and development and Dan Hartman to SVP, programming acquisition, while EVP of entertainment Eric Shanks will lead DirecTV’s new entertainment department and report directly to president/CEO Chase Carey. DirecTV’s EVP of programming acquisition and business & legal affairs Dan Fawcett is returning to News Corp. as the new president of digital media for Fox Entertainment Group. Fawcett replaces Peter Levinsohn, who was named president of Fox Interactive Media in November. [Release]

NBC Universal promoted Beth Roberts from EVP, Business Affairs for the NBCU Entertainment and Cable Entertainment Divisions, to EVP, NBCU Cable Entertainment Business Affairs, Digital and New Business Development.

• PROGRAMMING

Bloomberg TV expands to Comcast‘s South Florida region [Release] following yesterday’s Comcast New Jersey launch [Release].

Bravo‘s Real Housewives of Orange County was #1 on cable for women 18-49 on Tuesday. [Release]

Court TV hired former The View co-host Star Reynolds Jones as executive editor and host of a yet-to-be-named daytime talkshow to launch later this year. No longer a practicing attorney, Reynolds got her TV break as a Court TV commentator during William Kennedy Smith’s trial. [Release]

ESPNews will launch an HD simulcast at year-end as part of DirecTV’s 100-HD channel lineup. [Sports Business Journal via TV Predictions]

The Fight Network signs mobile content deal with Movidity. [Release]

Fox acquired the U.S. rights to Italy’s Serie A pro soccer league games through 2010, with Fox Soccer Channel getting English-language broadcasts and Fox Sports en Espanol airing Spanish-language coverage.

MTV and its Harmonix sibling (creator of Xbox monster hit, Guitar Hero) are partnering with Electronic Arts on an MTV-branded videogame that EA will publish. [Release | Play.tm]

MTV Networks will launch "hundreds" of websites, MTVN digital chief Mika Salmi tells Reuters.

NBC Universal on Demand releases its first titles, including Hollywoodland and The Return, for HD VOD this month. NBCU is also giving affiliates behind-the-scenes and other extra video to promote the titles.

USA starts March as #1 on cable. [Release]

VH1 Rock Honors will air May 24. [Release]

The Water Channel files for bankruptcy protection. [HeraldNet, WA]

The Weather Channel will launch a standalone HD network in September. More information is here.

World Championship Sports Network and Break.com will launch an online sports channel. The WCSN Zone will offer its content on Break’s site. [Release]

• IN OTHER NEWS

Charter Communications‘ chair Paul Allen announces $9.5 million in grants through his family foundation.  [Release]

Comcast named in a wrongful death lawsuit related to subcontractor’s murder of a customer. [AP]

PricewaterhouseCoopers says 2007 will be a strong year for U.S. media and entertainment companies. [Release]

CLECs and COMPTEL urged the FCC to dismiss Verizon‘s petition for regulatory relief in its Northeastern markets. [Xchange]

Ted Turner unloads all his Time Warner stock. [Bloomberg via LA Times]

Time Warner will pay Ohio $144 million to settle a suit related to the AOL merger. [WSJ]

BusinessWeek profiles Zattoo, a Swiss online video service with global aspirations. [BW]
Shirley Brady

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