NEWS BRIEFING FOR FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2008 Question of the day in the Cable 360 newsroom: Who or what is Belmont? Good day.

Barry Diller’s and Dr John Malone’s variation on March Madness could be  finished early next week or it could move to the next round, The Globe and Mail of Canada reports about the two moguls’ trial. Lawyers will file final briefs today in a Delaware court attempting to debunk the other side’s case. “To say this is one of the most eagerly awaited court decisions in mogul land in years, is, of course, like saying that Godzilla is a nice little gecko,” Richard Siklos writes in the paper. The judge will rule on two main questions: whether Diller’s IAC Corp can spin off four companies without Dr Malone’s blessing; and whether Dr Malone can revoke the “irrevocable proxy” he granted Diller years ago.  [GAM]

You have to wonder if Jim Dolan’s interest in buying Newsday stems from his wanting to tone down the aggressive coverage of him that the newspaper provides. The press-averse Dolan wouldn’t change the paper’s editorial policies if he bought the place, would he? Others interested in acquiring Newsday are Rupert Murdoch, whose portfolio includes The NY Post, and Mort Zuckerman, publisher of The NY Daily News, The NY Times reports. [NYT]

Will Planet Green bring greenbacks to David Zaslav’s Discovery Networks? Among the determinants, The Wall St Journal argues, is whether the soon-to-be-launched channel can avoid the green-marketing backlash. Most important,  can Planet Green avoid making “boring TV shows?” Annabelle Gurwitch in bra and shorts romping in an environmentally correct shower with frat boys doesn’t sound boring, does it? [WSJ]

Comcast is bringing a VOD effort to Allegheny County, PA, that’s worked in other states, reports. A VOD channel will show pictures of fugitives in hopes that viewers can help authorities track them down. [WPXI]

Briefly Noted
Man, it’s getting ugly out there. A Florida woman notes that she taped a CSR call with Comcast; when the tech arrived and didn’t do what she’d ordered, she told him about the taped call. The work was done. Amazing. [MH]

Comcast is upgrading plant in Sunnyvale, CA, as AT&T enters the area, The San Jose Mercury News reports. [MN]

The 3Com sale to China is off, owing to national security concerns, Bain Capital said. [Reuters]

Lauren Conrad of MTV’s The Hills and her dad are attempting to translate her celebrity into a merchandising empire, The Wall St Journal reports. [WSJ]

Disney says it’s ready to buy back its retail outlets. [THR]

Life imitating art, sort of. The Sopranos exec prod Brad Grey said in a Los Angeles court yesterday that he had no knowledge of his private eye wiretapping two of Mr Grey’s rivals, The NY Times reports. [NYT]

Traffic for NCAA March Madness on Demand yesterday, day one of the men’s basketball tourney, jumped 122% vs last year’s first day, reaching 1,751,956 unique visitors. The on Demand platform is a partnership of the NCAA,, CBS Sports and CBS College Sports Network. It had 571,297 VIP registrants, up 22%; there were 1,225,089 clicks of the so-called "Boss Button" (figure not available for 2007). This is the first time that March Madness on Demand gives users access to all 63 games.
Today in CableFAX Daily: Kyle McSlarrow discusses network management and—gasp—doesn’t mention paid seat warmers.

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New Street Drops Altice USA to ‘Neutral’

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