NEWS BRIEFING FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008

Are members of the Cable 360 newsroom the only ones worried about flying to The Cable Show on Southwest Airlines? Good day.

DirecTV is about to address its vulnerability on VOD, The Wall Street Journal says. The DBS provider is testing a mix of broadband connections and DVR-stuffing to offer films and TV on demand in Q2, the paper says. The offering is akin to Dish’s more limited product, it says. Comcast subs are ordering 275 mln pieces of on demand content per month, the paper says.

In addition to luring customers, DirecTV’s on demand service could also allow it to sell highly targeted ads, as cable’s Canoe project aims to do. “With a set-top box connected to the Web, DirecTV will be able to track what programs people order through real-time data about a user’s television viewing behavior and allow the company to target ads,” the Journal says. [WSJ
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Cable acquitted itself well during the nominations for Sports Emmys, announced today in NY. HBO led the charge with 31 nominations, followed by ESPN  with 26; TNT was sixth with 12, followed by NFL Network with 8, FSN with 6 and  and ESPN2 with 4. Among multiple nominees were HBO’s Inside the NFL and  Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, receiving 5 each. As announced earlier, Inside the NFL will not return to HBO next season as the NFL ended the partnership. The awards will be presented in April.
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Horseracing Network TVG hitched a ride with Hulu to supply horseracing programming from TVG Broadband, a new imprint offering digitized video for online media. Hulu launched yesterday.
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Paul Maxwell must be smiling. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Oversight Subcommittee investigating Kevin Martin’s running of the FCC has widened its probe. It’s seeking documents from 3 years ago related to complaints from present or former FCC employees, The Washington Post reports. Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) said the investigation has broadened since it was launched in December.
 
The Wall St Journal
says lawmakers asked for “all written communications — including emails, electronic and handwritten notes, phone-conversation records and meeting schedules — related to 12 agency decisions made since the beginning of 2005.” Our favorite headline, though, is from Ars Technica: “Congress Dons Rubber Glove, Prepares Probe of FCC Chairman.” [WP]  [WSJ]  [AT]
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A new deal envisions TiVo carrying millions of YouTube videos straight to your TV set in a further blurring of the line between the Web and television. [NYT]
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There’s plenty o’ confusion about the digital transition, as a reader of The San Jose Mercury News needs reassurance that his Comcast cable-provided TV will not require a converter box. One of the better explanations of the transition, from The Acorn of Agoura Hills, CA, notes that a survey of retail outlets in 10 states found retailers failed to properly inform consumers of Feb ’09’s implications and some tried to take advantage of the confusion.

Today Show tech reporter Paul Hochman’s piece isn’t bad, but takes a while to note that analog sets will still work if they’re connected to cable or DBS. And its title—Got An Old TV? Better Get a New One—is misleading. [SMN] [AA] [MSNBC]
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Briefly Noted
The Sopranos and Mad Men alum Alan Taylor will direct HBO’s new comedy pilot 1%, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR

QVC promoted Larry Hayes to SVP and General Counsel. He replaces Neal Grabell, who is retiring from QVC after 21 years.

Lin TV and Dish Network reached a retrans agreement for standard and HD shows, Dow Jones reports. [DJ]

Don’t you just love when the Diller-Malone trial provides a peek into the private lives of the rich and famous? [NYT]

ABC might not order pilots for the fall, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

AT&T is talking with city leaders in Albertville, AL, about delivering video to the region, The Sand Mountain Reporter says. Charter is the cable provider there. [SMR]

We normally keep awards news to a minimum, but when stand-up guys are recognized, we’re going to report it. That’s why it’s our pleasure to note that ESPN PR hands Mike Soltys and Josh Krulewitz were named co-winners of the Katha Quinn Award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. They were cited for providing exceptional service to college basketball media members. Excellent choices. 

Today in CableFAX Daily: Hallmark chief Schleiff says top priority in ’08 is Hallmark Movie Channel.

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

Provocative and Funny. Watch The CableFAX Show with Mike Grebb and Seth Arenstein at cable360.net

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