News briefing for Friday, Feb. 22 »

The dreaded wintery mix means a snow day for schools and hopefully an early close for many of you. Good day.

Despite icy conditions in DC, the FCC might today unveil a more flexible plan for publicizing the digital transition to consumers, The Washington Post and Reuters report. Citing unnamed sources, The Post says the new plan will require cable ops to notify customers of the 2009 transition at least once monthly. TV set manufacturers will also have to alert consumers of the transition via packaging. Broadcasters will have the option of following the FCC’s previous plan for the transition or one outlined by NAB, the Post says. [WP] [Reuters]

Those unlimited mobile plans announced by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile could make mobile phones a more fertile platform for advertisers, Media Daily  says. The thinking is that the lower price plans will include text and eventually data services, inducing more consumers to download content, text, surf the Web and be fresh meat for advertising. [MD]

Some government officials in Western Michigan are upset with the brusque, take-it-or-leave-it nature of AT&T’s franchise proposals for U-verse, The Muskegon Chronicle reports. The officials also complain that AT&T is hard to deal with and that they had a working relationship with cable ops like Comcast, but not with AT&T. [MC]


Briefly Noted
FX’s Nip/Tuck finale Tues night averaged just shy of 3 million viewers, making it the series’ lowest-rated ender in its 5-year history, The Hollywood  Reporter says. [THR]

Fuse named veteran music, media and entertainment exec Matt Farber EVP, Programming, Development and Digital. He’ll oversee all aspects of programming development, multi-platform work, scheduling, acquisitions, production, and music & talent relations. Joining Farber at Fuse is Allan Infeld, who recently was named SVP, Ad Sales. He’ll oversee day-to-day operations of the Fuse Advertising Sales department.

SportsTime Ohio said today it will have 24/7 HD programming available beginning April 1. That’s in addition to all Cleveland Indians games in HD. The Indians join the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs and Rockies as baseball teams projected to carry 100% of their games in HD in 2008.

Another study says eyeballs and advertising are moving away from TV and print and toward the Internet, Marketing Daily reports. [MD]

The Lakers-Suns game that reunited Shaq with Kobe Wed night (and was Shaq’s debut with Phoenix) averaged 2,813,000 HH impressions and 3,616,000 viewers (P2+), ranking as the #3 most-viewed regular-season game on ESPN. It pulled a 2.9 rating, trailing only the Rockets-Lakers game in 03  (3.8 rating) and the Pacers-Pistons  contest in 04 (3.5).

The NY Times’ TV critic Alessandra Stanley looks at the  CNN-hosted debate between Sens Obama and Clinton last night and asks whether or not it all mattered. [NYT]

HBO helped sponsor the opening of a boxing gym in Harlem dedicated to  Joe Louis, The NY Times reports. Not coincidentally, HBO will present a  documentary about the Brown Bomber tomorrow night at 8pm, which is reviewed in today’s CableFAX Daily. [NYT]

Analysts contacted by The NY Times say Multichannel News parent Reed Elsevier could get at least $2 billion for selling Reed Business Information, which also includes Variety, Broadcasting & Cable and many other titles. [NYT]

Sports Illustrated said today the digital version of its Swimsuit ’08 print issue has set records in the 10 days since launch. Last year’s online version had amassed records in its first 10 days, too. To date, the ’08 digital version has attracted more than 228 million page views, up  41% vs the same 10-day period in ’07. The 5.4 million unique visitors mark is up 4% vs ’07. Today in CableFAX Daily: DC’s lobbying class is abuzz about McCain’s alleged ties, Mon’s FCC meeting in chilly Boston and a lawsuit against Comcast on peer-to-peer file sharing.

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

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