News Briefing for Thursday, April 17, 2008  Cable360 newsroom staffers have been asked politely to not rail against other people or governments. Good day.

Comcast hired veteran broadcast television producer Mike Weisman to work as a consultant to its sports networks, the New York Times reports. Weisman, who has been the executive producer of NBC Sports and recently worked on NBC’s Football Night in America, has been assigned by Comcast to “improve the quality” of the cable company’s national sports networks Golf Channel and Versus as well as its regional sports networks. Comcast programming president Jeff Shell told the Times that the sports networks’ current content is “respectable, but not memorable.” [New York Times]

A partnership between Yahoo and Google is now considered more likely in light of a successful search advertising test the companies conducted, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last week they announced that Yahoo would experiment with outsourcing its search advertising to Google, a move perceived to be an attempt by Yahoo to stave off a hostile takeover by Microsoft—at least until Microsoft increases its purchase offer. [Wall Street Journal]

The telcos need to convince content providers to allow them to deploy network-based digital video recording if their Internet protocol TV services are to meet consumers’ growing demand for hi-def programming, says Telephony Online. Enrique Rodriguez, corporate VP of Microsoft TV, said optimistically at NAB in Las Vegas that “in five years, [network-based DVR] will be a natural part of the industry.” [Telephony Online]

The Chinese government was not satisfied by CNN’s response to its request for an apology for critical comments about China made by commentator Jack Cafferty, Reuters reports. In a statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that journalists “don’t have the privilege to rail against or slander other people or other governments.” In other words, in a global economy, expect global crackdowns on the press. [Reuters]

Briefly Noted
Reuters is now Thomson Reuters. [Reuters]

If you are a Verizon Wireless customer and your account data gets stolen by a con artist or some other sleazebag, new FCC rules agreed to by Verizon will ensure that you will be the last to know about it, according to Ars Technica. [Ars Technica]

Federally enforced a la carte programming could lead to some consumers paying $400 a month for a combination of TV and mobile content, MediaPost says. [MediaPost]

Time Warner Cable customers in Queens, N.Y., who subscribe to digital phone and digital cable now have access to a free caller ID on TV option, the Queens Gazette reports. [Queens Gazette

Late Stories
Smithsonian Networks engaged Trifecta Entertainment & Media as its exclusive representative for its advertising sales operations.

Comcast today launched AnyRoom On Demand to all digital customers in NJ with Motorola boxes. AnyRoom allows customers to select Channel 1 On Demand programs on one television and view them on any other TV in the home that has a digital box. Subs don’t need to make any changes or add equipment and it’s free.

Rosalyn Durant was named ESPNU VP and GM. She previously served as ESPN VP, programming and acquisitions for a variety of sports, including the NBA. She succeeds Burke Magnus, who was recently promoted to ESPN SVP, college sports programming. ESPNU has 20mln subs.

Discovery Channel’s series Deadliest Catch returned for season IV Tues night with its highest delivery of any season premiere. The 9pm and 10pm shows garnered 2.50 and 2.59 HH ratings, respectively, and 3.39 and 3.53 million viewers, respectively (persons 2+).
 
In the works for a number of years, The Italian American Network is up and running, the company said today, posting a broadband site at italianamericannetwork.com. The company says it’s committed to developing and launching an HD linear network, a VOD offering, a mobile content platform, as well as home entertainment and publishing initiatives. Among the celebs on the site’s numerous original videos are actor Chazz Palminteri and soccer great Giorgia Chinaglia. The company plans to be an ad-supported, multi-platform media outfit providing Americans with “a vibrant daily window to the complete Italian and Italian American experience.”  The founder and CEO is Tony Ceglio, who’s won numerous Emmys for his films with the NFL’s NY Giants.   Got a tip? Contact sgoldstein@accessintel.com and sarenstein@accessintel.com.

Wednesday’s Top Stories
 

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FCC Seeks Comment on NAB NextGen Petition

The FCC Media Bureau is seeking comment on NAB’s petition regarding the treatment of multicast streams under the NexGen TV local simulcasting rules.

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