Time Warner Cable renewed its affiliation agreement with Viacom’s MTV Networks and BET Networks properties. The new contract—which could be the last deal made by TW’s retiring EVP of programming, Fred Dressler, CableWorld‘s current cover subject—renews carriage for MTVN and BETN nets currently carried on Time Warner systems and expands to include:
• widespread digital carriage for MTV World, LOGO and MTV Tr3s
• launching MHD, Viacom’s HD channel featuring content from MTV, CMT and VH1, on Time Warner systems
• "a full package" of MTVN and BETN free video on demand content
• adding MTVN and BETN services to Start Over, Time Warner’s network DVR product (click here to read more from Communications Technology)
• adding MTV.com broadband content to Quick Clips, which brings Web video content to TV sets with digital cable connections
• polling, voting and interactive features in key programming such as The N’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, which has garnered a 30% response rate among "young Time Warner Cable viewers," according to the companies.
"Our agreements with MTVN and BETN permit us to offer customers additional, diverse programming choices and align channel line-ups, especially among those systems we recently acquired from Adelphia and Comcast," said Dressler in a statement. "It also greatly expands our partnership enabling us to offer MTVN content on advanced video platforms such as on-demand and broadband and across new applications like Quick Clips and Start Over."

In unrelated news, Eileen Opatut has stepped down as LOGO‘s head of programming but has signed a first-look development deal, according to Variety (sub. req.) Her interim replacement is Dave Mace, the network’s VP of programming.

In other Time Warner Cable news:

AT&T today sued Time Warner for allegedly damaging its property in San Antonio, TX, writes the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

• TW this month expands Music Choice on Demand to the top 25 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland. Time Warner will deploy the service (now available to 20 million households, and more than 550 million VOD orders to date) to all its free video-on-demand markets in the new year.

• The company is expanding its 10Mbps high-speed upgrade in Q1 2007, according to posts on Broadband Reports

• TW settled a retransmission consent dispute on Friday with WSAZ-TV in Charleston-Huntington, W. Va. (Ironton Tribune). The dispute centered on the NBC affiliate’s digital channel, My ZTV

• It’s closing its call center in Coudersport, PA (better known as the hometown and HQ of the now defunct Adelphia). The center was acquired in the TW-Comcast acquisition of the former Adelphia systems this year and is slated to close in February. Time Warner also made nearly $10 million selling 13 former Adelphia properties in the Buffalo market, according to Buffalo Business First.

• Last week’s news that Time Warner Cable sued DirecTV in a Manhattan court for alleged misleading advertising concerning HD and the NFL Network made headlines in India. Next battleground: New Jersey, where Verizon’s FiOS TV and DirecTV will simulcast the Texas Bowl (featuring the Rutgers and Kansas State football teams) on Dec. 28.  Stated the press release: "Unlike Cablevision and Time Warner, Verizon has an agreement to carry the NFL Network on its FiOS TV service. The game will also be available on DIRECTV, a service Verizon sells as part of its suite of voice, data and video services." New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg sent a letter to the NFL on Wednesday urging the league to allow the Dec. 28 game to be shown on local television, according to an AP report.

The U.S. Tennis Association is investing "millions" of dollars in The Tennis Channel. The USTA is "going to be involved with virtually everything that goes on at The Tennis Channel," network chairman and CEO Ken Solomon told the Associated Press on Sunday. The partnership will not impact USTA’s current U.S. Open TV deal with USA Network, which this year debuted interactive coverage on DirecTV. More info on the USTA/TTC partnership is in the press release.

Nancy Dubuc steps up to EVP/GM at The History Channel on Jan. 1. Currently SVP of nonfiction programming and new media content for A&E Television Networks (and #47 on CableWorld‘s 2006 Most Powerful Women list), Dubuc replaces Dan Davids, who is leaving the company after 22 years. (Click here for an interview with Davids at AETN’s 2005 upfront.) Dubuc will also oversee History International, The History Channel en español and Military History Channel.

Comcast named Dave Fellows’ replacement as its chief technology officer: Tony Werner, a cable veteran who’s currently SVP and CTO at John Malone’s Liberty Global Inc. Werner succeeds Fellows when he steps down later this month, with Fellows moving into a part-time consulting role starting in January.

NBC Universal upped Bridget Baker to president of NBC Universal Television Networks Distribution, replacing David Zaslav who takes over Judith McHale’s old job as Discovery Communications’ CEO in the new year. Baker was promoted from EVP of cable distribution, reporting to Zaslav.

Registration opened today for the NCTA‘s 2007 Cable Show, taking place at the Mandalay Bay convention center in Las Vegas from May 7-9 (click here for an early discount of $100).

Court TV today launched its first multicultural marketing campaign—also marking Turner’s first multicultural marketing effort on broadband—by distributing three Spanish-dubbed episodes of Psychic Detectives on AOL Latino and then on CourtTV.com, which will add two episodes to the run.

MTV announced that its live (in the east, tape delayed on the west coast) New Year’s Eve telecast from Times Square will include performances by Gwen Stafani and Ciara.

Verizon’s FiOS TV added gay and lesbian programmer here tv! as a video on demand channel and as a subscription premium service, while Comcast launched WGAY-TV in the Florida Keys (Miami Herald).

The Weather Channel is coming to the (very) big screen by sponsoring Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary that debuts in IMAX theaters nationwide on Dec. 22. Narrated by Meryl Streep, the film focuses on Louisiana’s wetlands before and after Hurricane Katrina.

USA Network signed Tanqueray to a custom sponsorship deal around its "Characters Welcome" branding campaign. The 10-day flight of "Character Uncovered" vignettes (touting Tanqueray London Dry Gin) breaks on-air today.

TVG signed an exclusive deal with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, adding Monmouth Park and Meadowlands to its stable of tracks.

SeaChange provides VOD to the DOD (U.S. Dept. of Defense); Motley Fool approves.

After recusing himself from voting in the AT&T-BellSouth merger, FCC commissioner Robert McDowell was cleared Friday to cast the tie-breaking vote (CNET). Prior to joining the Commission, McDowell (a Republican) was a lobbyist for CompTel, the Competitive Telecommunications Association, one of the strongest opponents to the merger.

The Boston Globe examines the bundled offerings from Comcast, Verizon and RCN, and the impact of adding wireless phone to the mix.

The New York Times (reg. req.) takes a look at Verizon‘s playbook for competing with cable; plus a look back at media highlights from the past year.

"Truthiness," a word coined by Stephen Colbert and used in Comedy Central‘s debut episode of The Colbert Report, was named Merriam-Webster’s 2006 Word of the Year. "Google" (as a verb) was #2.

Call it TheirTube: News Corp., Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal are discussing launching an online portal to distribute their television programming and rival YouTube’s dominance in the Web video space. Reuters’ report refers to the Wall Street Journal article (sub. req. but available for a short time free) that broke the story.

The Karaoke Channel offers Christmas-themed ringtones to viewers; affiliates include Comcast, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable.

DISH Network sponsors Roush Racing for ’07 season and forms "DISH All-Stars" roster of drivers. Discovery Channel’s reality series about NASCAR legend Jack Roush‘s drivers, Roush Racing: Driver X, airs Monday nights.

Verizon announced that its president and vice chairman, Larry Babbio, is stepping down. Babbio is a 41-year veteran of Verizon and its predecessor companies.

Cable billionaire Amos Hostetter donated an undisclosed amount to the Cable Center to support its distance learning program, a partnership with C-SPAN and the University of Denver, through the 2007/08 school year.

The Daily


So Long, Rob Stoddard

Many years ago, Cablefax: The Magazine bestowed NCTA’ s Rob Stoddard with its first “Nicest Guy in Cable” award. It’s a moniker that stuck, despite Stoddard’s humble protests, for reasons obvious to

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