The American Cable Association launched Sports Choice Now online and on-air (with a video being distributed to cable operators; check it out in our screening room) to encourage consumers to lobby congress over what ACA sees as NFL Network‘s unfair pricing demands to the cable industry, particularly to the small and mid-sized companies it represents. ACA president and CEO Matt Polka accused the NFL of "using its brand, market power and federal anti-trust exemption to specifically deny choice to consumers in smaller markets and rural areas served by independent cable operators" in a press release.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press (via BusinessWeek) reports that Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt offered NFL Network president Steve Bornstein two options in response to the NFL’s Dec. 24-30 free view offer to New York area customers of Time Warner and Cablevision. Britt’s counter-offer: making only the Dec. 28th Rutgers-Kansas State Texas Bowl game "available to all customers on Time Warner’s basic tier or carrying the network all week on a digital tier, which costs extra and is received by about 75 percent of New York City area systems." NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the AP, "That’s not our offer and not how free views normally work, but we are reviewing Time Warner’s response." Britt also told Bornstein he hopes the league and operators can refrain from public squabbling during any free view period. (Britt’s San Antonio system this week launched a publicity campaign defending its decision to not carry NFL Network locally.) NFL spokesman Seth Palansky also tells AP reporter Seth Sutel that Cablevision has not formally informed the league of its desire to only carry the Texas Bowl game as a free view, despite published reports such as this New York Times (reg. req.) article on the stand-off.
In a sidenote, Ellis Rubin, the Miami-based attorney who helped lift TV blackouts of NFL games—in a 1975 suit that forced the NFL to lift TV blackouts of Super Bowl games and allowed regular season games to be viewed when all tickets were sold—died this week. He was 81.
HBO announced online that The Sopranos’ final original episodes will start airing in April, Zap2it.com noticed. Until then, Season 6 will repeat (starting Jan. 15; it’s already on HBO on Demand) while the second seasons of Rome and Ricky Gervais’ Extras take over HBO’s hallowed Sunday night perch starting Jan. 14. The Sopranos on A&E starts airing on Jan. 10, offering back-to-back episodes from the series’ beginning every Wednesday at 9pm/8c.
Mediacom dropped its appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning a prior decision by a lower court involving its antitrust suit against Sinclair Broadcast. (Sinclair general counsel Barry Faber described the motion to appeal as "completely frivolous" in a press release today). The companies agreed on Nov. 30 to extend retransmission consent negotiations (and carriage of Sinclair’s broadcast stations on Mediacom systems) until Jan. 5.
Time Warner Cable‘s Elmira, NY system renewed carriage agreements with several networks—HGTV, GAC on Demand, Showtime, The Movie Channel, Spike TV and the Encore movieplex—and removed an on-screen crawl warning those channels could go dark on Dec. 30. The system was the company’s launchpad for Road Runner cable modem service 10 years ago.
Adelphia amended its reorganization plan (#5) yet again.
Michigan‘s statewide video franchise bill cleared the Republican-led Legislature yesterday and is expected to be passed into law by Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm (Grand Haven Tribune, MI). House bill 6456 did not include net neutrality provisions despite lobbying by Google and other advocates.
Comcast expanded the availability of video messages from U.S. military personnel stationed overseas on its video on demand platform throughout its Eastern division. Previously available in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New England, for its fourth annual outing Comcast’s Troop Greetings on Demand this month expands to Comcast digital customers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The Military Channel (owned by Discovery Communications) and Military.com (owned by Monster Worldwide) joined forces (so to speak) on a public affairs campaign to rally national support for U.S. troops around the world. In addition to highlighting military support efforts on-air and online, a Reconnect America site will serve as the online home for the initiative, enabling online donations to select charities, sending e-cards to service members, video messages from the frontlines and related features.
TV Land adds M*A*S*H to its lineup on Jan. 1 with a New Year’s Day marathon and week-long specials (including guest appearances by cast members and the Robert Altman movie that inspired the series) throughout the week. M*A*S*H will air in its regularly scheduled timeslot of Mon/Wed at 10:30 p.m. and Tue/Sun at 10 p.m. (all times ET/PT) beginning Jan. 8. Separately, TV Land’s ongoing research into baby boomers, the target demographic for M*A*S*H and its other classic shows, finds that folks born between 1945-57 cite TV commercials as their #1 source of information on products and services.
BET‘s American Gangster (dubbed "The Black Sopranos") debuted on iTunes with other BET television series yesterday, becoming one of its top 10 downloaded cable series.
GSN launched Throw the Book at O.J., an online game inspired by Simpson’s supposed literary mea culpa.
Dish Network and New Line Cinema signed a movie output deal for video on demand/pay per view windows on Dish’s DVR service.
TV Guide struck an unusual partnership to co-host a sneak peek full episode screening of the mid-season finale of SCI FI channel’s Battlestar Galactica series tomorrow in Mark Cuban‘s Landmark Theaters chain. Meanwhile, aspiring filmmaker Rick Dacko is running 3,100 miles from Syracuse to Los Angeles in the hopes of pitching the high-def loving billionaire. (Odd stunt, with Cuban based in Dallas and his film companies—Magnolia Pictures and HDNet Films—based in New York and Texas, but hey, it caught our attention…)
VH1 debuts Flavor of Love spin-off I Love New York on-air Jan. 8 and online Jan. 2. It’s also taping a behind-the-scenes look at Jerry Springer’s show, among other ’07 projects, says the New York Post.
MTV Networks formed a global inclusion committee chaired by Marva Smalls, EVP of MTVN’s global inclusion strategy, to promote diversity across its business units.
LodgeNet, the leading supplier of programming to hotels, is buying its competitor On Command from John Malone’s Liberty Media for $380 million. Liberty will hold 9.9% of LodgeNet’s stock when the deal is done.