News Briefing for Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Microsoft has crafted an agreement with MTV Networks, NBCU and others to sell downloads of TV shows to users of its Zune portable devices, The Wall St Journal says. But will that and allowing Zune users to share their music playlists with friends be enough to take more than a tiny piece out of Apple’s dominant iPod pie? [WSJ]

Have you been unable to sleep wondering why the devil the Dolans are in hot pursuit of Newsday? It makes perfect sense to Fortune’s Devin Leonard, who, tongue firmly in cheek, notes the Dolans’ historic interest in acquiring “growth” properties like the “ill-fated Wiz electronic store chain.” [Fortune]

Interesting point in an otherwise obvious piece about declining TV ratings: "Network TV is becoming a repository for more simple-minded comedies and reality television," says Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times, while "very complex, big ticket dramas are on cable. … I think that’s a loss because people who can’t afford cable are going to end up being deprived of great television."[MSNBC]

Talk about inflation, NBCU’s starting price for a 30-second ad during the 2009 Super Bowl will be a cool $3 million, The Wall St Journal says, citing sources. Last year’s ad price was $2.7 million for a 30-second spot. The normal ad increase is $100K, but a record audience for the Giants-Patriots contest makes NBCU confident it can get $3 million.  That game on Fox—one of the best Super Bowls ever—drew 98 million viewers, the most for any U.S. sporting event. [WSJ]

Briefly Noted
No surprise—some shareholders are irate that Jerry Yang didn’t accept Microsoft’s bid. [WSJ]

Charter soon will renew a cable carriage agreement with Hollis, NH, but a survey of 2200 cable subs there didn’t provide a ringing endorsement, nashuatelegraph.com says. Of 71 subs who responded, four said they were satisfied with Charter, 63 said they were not. [NT]

It’s a mess in Michigan over public, education and government, or PEG, fees. A loophole allows cable ops to stop paying for local access channels. In Detroit, Comcast used to supply funding for local access. It no longer does, freep.com reports. [DFP]

Oy. Sprint might drop its ailing Nextel unit, The Wall St Journal says. [WSJ]

Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly will star in Sci Fi Channel’s drama Warehouse 13, and Paula Malcomson will star in Battlestar Galactica spinoff  Caprica, The Hollywood Reporter says. [THR]

Dan Rather will anchor a discussion of politics tonight as HDNet covers the primaries. [THR] The far bigger story, though, is that he’ll be our special guest at today’s CableFaxies awards lunch in Washington, D.C. Are we biased or what?

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

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