News briefing for Monday, March 31, 2008 The first pitch has been thrown in the Cable360 newsroom, and it busted my Ed Kranepool bobblehead. Good day.

Showtime’s Matt Blank and Disney’s Anne Sweeney will receive the top honors when the National Cable & Telecommunications Association presents its Vanguard Awards, celebrating outstanding contributions to the cable industry, at the annual Cable Show this May in New Orleans. Blank, chairman and CEO, Showtime Networks, and Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney-ABC Television Group, will both receive Vanguard Awards for Distinguished Leadership. Other Vanguard Award recipients at the awards ceremony on May 20 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will be Bret Perkins, VP, government affairs, Comcast; Kenneth W. Lowe, president and CEO, The E.W. Scripps Company; Paul G. Allen, chairman, Charter Communications, and chairman, Vulcan Inc.; Steven Brookstein, EVP, operations, Bresnan Communications; Carol A. Melton, EVP, global public policy, Time Warner Inc.; Sam Howe, EVP and chief marketing officer, Time Warner Cable; and Michael Pohl, president, global strategies, C-COR.

NBC Universal will present its 52-week schedule of shows to advertisers this Wednesday at what it bills an “infront,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The media company has canceled its traditional May upfront presentation and is now “staggering” its TV show premieres throughout the year, rather than lifting the curtain on most of them in the fall. [Wall Street Journal]

The two actors’ unions, SAG and AFTRA, are competing to be the first to negotiate a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. On Saturday, AFTRA suspended its joint bargaining agreement with SAG. [Hollywood Reporter]

Barry Diller won his court case against John Malone, whose Liberty Media had been attempting to remove Diller from IAC/InterActiveCorp. Diller is IAC’s chief. [Reuters]

Back in the mid- and late-80s, Cable network Bravo ran contemporary and classic international movies with no commercial interruptions. Martin Scorsese himself once presented the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to Bravo viewers. Bravo is very different now, with its reality sensations Project Runway and Top Chef. These shows attract more viewers than Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus ever did, to be sure. In today’s New York Times, Bravo  president Lauren Zalaznick discusses the network’s growing popularity with urban, upscale people between the ages of 18 and 49. In the article, Zalaznick takes credit for making up the word “affluencer.” [New York Times]

Briefly Noted
Selectmen in Norwood, Mass., have issued a warning to Verizon for failing to carry local access programming on its FiOS TV service, the Daily News Transcript reports. [Daily News Transcript]

Yahoo launched a Web site for women called Shine. [Reuters]

Turner Classic Movies will celebrate the career of Richard Widmark on April 4 with three of the late actor’s films. In other TCM news, Jeopardy host Alex Trebek will be the guest programmer on April 14.

Three of cable TV’s top executive producers—Ed Burns from HBO’s The Wire, and Project Runway‘s Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth—will be on today’s episode of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the weekly Internet radio program/podcast hosted by CableFAX Daily contributor Simon Applebaum. The show runs at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT on www.nowlive.com, then archived at www.nowlive.com/television.

Late Stories
NAMIC upgraded its director slots for education, marketing and communications and fund development to VP jobs. That pushes up to VP: James Jones, Daphne Leroy and Dan McGlone.

Casey Patterson was named SVP, event production and talent development, Spike TV and TV Land. He’d been SVP of talent development and casting for Spike.

Cisco said Hallmark Channel will deploy Cisco’s MPEG AVC-to-MPEG-2 transcoding tech and use its MPEG AVC encoder to launch HD service in April with Hallmark Movie Channel HD.

Starz Entertainment today unveiled a $25 million brand and marketing initiative that will include a new logo, on-camera look and integrated advertising campaign on-camera and online. The campaign aims to tout the Starz experience.

Discovery Channel will unveil a brand campaign called The World is Just Awesome and refreshed logo during the season IV premiere of its top-rated Deadliest Catch, Apr 15, 9 pm. LA-based 72andSunny developed the campaign with Discovery.

Scripps named Freddy James VP and site director of HGTV.com, he was DIY’s vp of programming. Andy Singer was upped to VP of programming at DIY. Laura Sillars was named HGTV’s VP of original programming.

NBC Universal crafted partnerships with Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Blackberry parent Research In Motion to carry NBC U’s ad-supported mobile web sites. A similar pact was reached with Alltel Wireless in July.

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

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