Late Breaking News
Microsoft has chalked up two big wins for its interactive program guide, scoring trial runs in selected Time Warner Cable and Comcast systems. The Microsoft TV IPG will be tested “at a time to be determined” in TWC’s Beaumont, Texas, system, which serves 100,000 subscribers. Comcast will also kick the tires on the stand-alone IPG, although the MSO has not revealed the market or a time line. Both trials will be run on Motorola’s DCT-2000 set-top, according to Ed Graczyk, Microsoft TV’s director of marketing. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is expected to announce the MSO wins at the close of his CTAM keynote address Monday. Verizon Media Ventures Inc. finally reached an agreement to sell its cable television franchises in Pinellas County, Fla., and Cerritos, Calif., to over-builder Knology Inc. Backed by investment bank GLA New Ventures, Knology gets ten franchises, a total of 291,000 homes passed, 64,000 video subscribers and 11,000 data subscribers. These systems were originally to be sold to Adelphia Communications last year, but Verizon pulled out of the sale after reports of the alleged financial shenanigans of Adelphia’s founding family and its subsequent bankruptcy. “This simply completes our exit from the cable TV video business,” says Verizon spokesman Bill Kula. Verizon is currently in bankruptcy court seeking payment for systems, such as Thousand Oaks, Calif., it sold to Adelphia early last year, Kula adds. Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein of the Federal Communications Commission asked Chairman Michael Powell late last week to delay implementing the new media ownership rules that were voted on June 2, in light of recent actions in Congress to overturn those rules. They said in a press release, “A stay would allow the people’s elected representatives to complete their deliberations on media concentration before irreversible consolidation occurs.” Meanwhile, industry sources say that there was a meeting at the White House on July 17 to discuss the bipartisan Congressional moves, and whether the president should veto such legislation. Time Warner Cable will expand its on-demand offering this summer with the free Oxygen on Demand service. In Demand will begin airing Oxygen’s on-demand content, including yoga classes and sex and parenting advice, in early August.… TV Guide Channel’s VOD campaign has signed up cable affiliates including Comcast in Philadelphia, Boston and New Jersey. A TV Guide Channel HD campaign has attracted Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner systems.… MGM closed the previously announced sale of its 20% stake in Rainbow Media’s AMC, IFC and WE networks to Cablevision Systems.