Forget Disney. The industry was abuzz on news that Comcast is reportedly teaming with Viacom’s MTV Nets to create cable channels and VOD offerings. The venture will include lifestyle channels and e-commerce. The NY Post reported the scoop and said John Sykes would head the unit. During Merrill Lynch’s conference Tues, Viacom co-pres/co-CEO Tom Freston said the company is talking to "several outside parties" about developing programming ventures. "We have engaged historically in a lot of joint ventures on the cable programming side," he said, pointing to Viacom and Time Warner’s jv in Comedy Central as well as international jvs with ops. — When asked to verify the Post story at NAMIC Tues, MTV’s svp digital music and media Jason Hirschhorn said it sounds like a leak and I "don’t want to get fired." But he didn’t deny it. Sounding a bit like he was reading from Philly’s script, Hirschhorn stressed the value of VOD, especially the successful launch of channels. "If you know Comcast, they love their VOD … that’s all I’m gonna say without getting hung out to dry." — "In our view, the potential joint venture could set the companies up to work more closely together in the future, possibly including prospects for an eventual merger," a UBS research piece said, noting hurdles to a possible merger, including the concentrated voting control at both companies and a resolution of Viacom chmn Sumner Redstone’s ownership stake.