News briefing for Wednesday, Feb. 13 »

Cable360 tipster Brain Clark told us that the three major cable news networks are connected to a common kitchen by underground tunnels. His sidekick Joe chimed in, "Forget it, Brain, it’s Cabletown."

Comcast reports its fourth-quarter 2007 earnings tomorrow. Analysts are forecasting Q4 earnings of 17 cents per share on revenue of $7.9 billion, according to an Associated Press report picked up by MSN.com. Comcast has lowered its Q4 guidance, blaming a slowing economy and increased competition. The FCC’s recent rule capping at 30% the share of the national pay-TV market a telecommunications company can serve will also likely color analysts’ views after Comcast delivers its report.
    Some Comcast investors want the cable operator to pay a dividend as a reward for sticking with the company, which was “the seventh-worst performer in the Nasdaq 100 Index in 2007," Bloomberg reports. [MSN.com | Bloomberg]

The U.S. Congress, notoriously clueless when it comes to new or even nearly obsolete communications technology and thus almost entirely dependent on corporate and consumer group lobbyists for a basis on which to form opinions, is considering a bill that on its surface is intended to give the Federal Communications Commission powers to regulate Internet traffic and “ensure traffic is delivered fairly,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS)  introduced yesterday a so-called net neutrality bill—“net neutrality” being a term not fully comprehended by most lawmakers and pundits—that would give the FCC authority to force Internet service providers, in particular, Comcast, to operate like phone companies and complete all connections sought by their online customers. Comcast has been criticized for its hampering of some peer-to-peer music and video file sharing, which the cable operator feels is necessary to prevent some bandwidth hogs from slowing down its network for all customers. Public interest groups are worried that such network management could lead to more nefarious filtering and blockage. Broadband providers are likely concerned that in order to meet the FCC’s potential demands they would have to invest even more heavily in their networks.
    Comments are expected today from the FCC about its investigation into Comcast’s management of traffic on its broadband network. [Wall Street Journal]

As expected, Writers Guild of America members voted yesterday to end their three-month strike. This past Sunday guild leaders approved a tentative three-year agreement made with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the New York Times reports. [New York Times]

Despite Microsoft’s ravenous circling, Yahoo continues to strike big deals. Following on the heels of a deal to provide Web services to T-Mobile in Europe, Yahoo announced yesterday that it has purchased online advertising technology company Maven Networks, the New York Times reports. [New York Times]

CableLabs established the OpenCable Project on Sun Microsystems’ Java.net site to speed development of tru2way technology.

In CableFAX Daily: DBS fears HD must-carry burden. Yesterday’s news briefing. 

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

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