News briefing for Wednesday, Feb. 27 »

Forecasters are expecting snow showers in D.C. today but members of our newsroom staff are warmed by the fact that spring training games have begun. Good day.

Charter Communications said today it surpassed one million telephone customers. The lucky sub lives in Worcester, MA, and recently upgraded to Charter’s triple-play bundle. The company estimates its one million Charter Telephone customers save approximately $150 million a year versus the service provided by traditional phone companies. “The vast majority” of telephone customers “bundle it with Charter Digital Cable and Charter High-Speed Internet…,”  Charter EVP/COO Mike Lovett said. [See item on Charter’s Q4 earnings below.]

Are cable companies taking advantage of the coming digital transition by moving channels to digital tiers as they increase rates? Those are some of the claims being lobbed at Comcast and Suddenlink in Charleston, WV, by state delegate Tim Ennis (D), who wants an independent report on Comcast, the provider in his area, The Charleston Daily Mail reports. Ennis called for the investigation after constituent complaints and his own frustration as a consumer. "Last October [Comcast] took eight channels from us," Ennis is quoted as saying. “They’ve taken a total of nine channels [and put them on a digital tier], yet they’ve jacked the cable rates up $3." Charleston City Councilman Harry Deitzler chimed in, blasting Suddenlink’s rate increase. The problem is not “that inflation or costs warrant don’t warrant the increase, but based upon the fact that the calls I have received say Suddenlink’s service has been rather dismal." [CDM]

Yes, the writers strike hurt, but it was good for cable’s ratings as seven of the top 10 ad-supported nets saw prime time deliveries jump a salutary 25% over last year, a Mediaweek piece in The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

Paul Allen is pleased. Charter today posted Q4 pro forma revenue of $1.5 billion, up 10.6% year over year, primarily driven by rising telephone and high-speed Internet (HSI) revenue. Pro forma adjusted EBITDA of $563 million was up 13% year over year.

Briefly Noted
Good odds for Silver Spring in the Apr 1 Golden Beacon contest at ACC’s confab in DC. Animal Planet’s Expo 2007 and Discovery’s Planet Earth were named as finalists today. The other finalist is Nick’s Let’s Just Play.

HBO started a channel on YouTube the other day, now it’s TMZ’s turn. The celeb sighting site and TV series will contribute 2-3 clips/week exclusively to  MySpaceTV.com as well as some 15 non-exclusive clips per week, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

Could Fox Business News be poaching CNBC’s younger eyeballs just as it lured a slew of CNBC talent to its side, Portfolio.com blogger Jeff Bercovici wonders. [CNP]

Google shares hit a nine-month low on slow economic forecasts and a report that the number of consumers clicking on Google-situated ads fell badly last month, The NY Post says. [NYP]

Dr Malone’s Liberty Global touted revenue and sub growth in Q4, but also reported a $197 million loss, up from a loss of $31 million during last year’s Q4, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

MySpaceTV launched another series last night. Delivery, an unscripted, hidden-camera piece where delivery people get pranked, joins Roommates, quarterlife and others, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

Microsoft was slapped with a $1.3 billion fine from the EC for failing to comply with a 2004 ruling about the company’s dominance, The NY Times reports. [NYT] Today in CableFAX Daily: Is Comcast’s paying people to hold spaces in line for Monday’s FCC hearing at Harvard evidence that it blocks competition?


Got a tip? Contact  sarenstein@accessintel.com and sgoldstein@accessintel.com

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