News Briefing for Friday, May 16, 2008

The Rays, Diamondbacks, Astros, Marlins and Cubs have the best records in baseball on May 16. Who’d a thunk it? Good day.

Billionaire investor and corporate pest Carl Icahn filed papers to unseat Yahoo’s board, claiming it acted irrationally on the Microsoft deal. Icahn’s move, made after he purchased 10 million Yahoo shares, is designed to reignite Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo. The Yahoo board returned serve, saying Icahn doesn’t understand the facts surrounding Microsoft’s offer. The stage is set for a showdown, The Journal says. [WSJ]

A bomb in the normally staid world of outdoor television. The Sportsman Channel parent InterMedia Outdoors (Leo Hindery’s outfit) said late Thursday it chose not to renew programming agreements with The Outdoor Channel. Instead it will shift its shows and programming strength to The Sportsman Channel in an effort to make it the number one channel in the genre, ousting Outdoor Channel.  “IMO will also increase its commitment of resources to TSC, integrating new and upgraded programming and content from IMO’s vast market-leading properties, which extend across print, television, radio and online mediums,” it said in a statement. Earlier in the day, Outdoor Channel issued a seemingly sleepy release noting that it was shuffling its lineup by dropping several shows in order to make room for better shows. The release made no mention of the long feud between Outdoor and InterMedia. Let the shooting begin.

Heard on the Street
douses the acquisition of CNET by CBS, saying there are no synergies and that Les Moonves made the move to bolster a falling share price with Internet buzz. The piece also notes the acquisition of CSTV didn’t work. [WSJ

Man, The Journal woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Besides the above piece, it blasts CBS again and Time Warner for their CW venture, saying it might be on its last legs. The network has lost more than WWE wrestling. It’s lost some 28% of its target audience of 18 to 34 year olds this season and ratings during the May sweeps are off about 22%. Apparently the kids are abandoning the CW for the Internet, the Journal says. [WSJ]

After the massive drug bust on the campus of San Diego State U, the school and prominent alums have launched a PR campaign to scrub the school’s image. A full-page ad in today’s SD Union-Tribune (cost $19K) is sponsored in part by Cox Business, The L.A. Times reports. [LAT]

Briefly Noted
Kelly Preston will star in HBO’s dark (what else?) comedy pilot Suburban Shootout as a woman who leaves the city for suburbia only to find gangs of housewives fighting to control the town, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

ESPN-ABC basketball analyst Doris Burke gets a nice review from The Times’ Richard Sandomir. [NYT

Gina Bellafante calls Discovery’s Man vs. Wild “the most elitist of television’s nature-combat shows.” [NYT]

Late Stories
Another award for HDNet’s World Report. Along with two National Headliner awards, World Report now has a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award on its shelf. The winning entry, a co-production with The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,  was A Silent War, about how civil war in Uganda has brutalized children there. 

Didn’t they used to hold announcements like this until the National  Show? Well, MGM HD today announced it signed an affiliate agreement with Comcast that lets the MSO distribute the network to its HD subs. Comcast’s HD customers will have access to MGM’s classic and contemporary films via the linear line-up as well as VOD.

Horseracing channel TVG said its cable and satellite distribution has surpassed 30 million U.S. households. 

WealthTV said today its linear digital feed will be available on Avail Media’s IPTV MPEG4 platform later this month.  In addition, WealthTV is making over 30 titles of its unique and original HD VOD content immediately available to Avail Media customers. 

We’re glad to see ACC pick up the ball on something that had only been loosely charted previously. A new study from ACC and research firm Cision US says the cable industry in 2006 provided $1,994,794,418 in support to local communities. The sum was up  from $1,361,698,733 in 2004, the first year the research was conducted.  Other results show cable provided $159,302,000 in support to schools and educational institutions, an increase of 29% over the two-year period from 2004.  Specifically schools and educational institutions received the equivalent of $48,990,000 in free broadband and cable services.  The cable industry also contributed another $110,312,000 in educational expenditures to schools and educational institutions.  In 2006 cash and in-kind support by the cable industry to charities, non-profits and educational institutions totaled $925,236,000, an increase of 122% from 2004. Public service announcements were valued at $897,106,000 in 2006, an 11% increase from 2004. Cable industry companies also provided $8,513,000 in the value of volunteer time to community organizations. Rounding out the survey results was an additional $4,637,000 contribution of broadband services to libraries and youth centers, an increase of 231% since 2004.

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

Thursday’s Top Stories

Better hurry, today’s the last day to enter our MSO of the Year and Independent Operator of the Year contests. And don’t forget our Programming Awards contest.

What are the best companies to work for in the cable industry? Help CableFAX: The Magazine decide by nominating the companies you think should be on our list of the Top 10 Places to Work in Cable by completing our online nomination form.  We will run the Top 10 Places to Work as a Web exclusive on Cable360.net, on CableFAX: The Magazine’s home page and in our Top Operators edition of CableFAX: The Magazine.

The Daily

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Nielsen Gauges Cross-Platform Viewership

Nielsen launched monthly viewership visualization tool “The Gauge” Thursday. It shows how audiences in the US use streaming services on their TVs and how the streaming usage compares to traditional

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