News briefing for Thursday, Feb. 28 »

Members of our newsroom are still shocked by reports that some of the seat warmers hired by Comcast for Monday’s FCC hearing were, at times, dozing. Good day.

Cablevision said Q4 net revenue grew 11% to $2 billion on strong growth at Rainbow, Telecom Services and Madison Square Garden. Consolidated adjusted operating cash flow rose 20% to $610 million; consolidated operating income was up 63% to $330 million. Cable Television revenue grew 9% in the Q and 12% for the full year. Rainbow’s adjusted operating cash flow grew 9% in the Q and 44% for the full year. For the year, Cablevision’s consolidated net revenue rose 11% to $7 billion. [AP]

More tumult in the b-to-b arena now that Hollywood Reporter parent Nielsen Business Media has named Gerry Byrne head of its new entertainment group, The NY Post reports. Byrne is a former publisher of the Variety group and replaces John Kilcullen, who’ll leave next month. The move will unify Nielsen’s entertainment properties, which had been spread over 2 groups, The Hollywood Reporter says. Speculation was that Nielsen was prepping to sell its trade titles. Speaking of which, last week Reed Elsevier put its Reed Media Business unit up for sale. That group includes Multichannel News, Broadcasting & Cable and Variety. Meanwhile, one analyst tells Womens Wear Daily that  Reed could have pocketed $1 billion more if it had sold its portfolio last year instead of this year. And Conde Nast is not interested. [NYP] [HR] [WWD]

Sprint Nextel today posted a large Q4 loss of $30 billion owing to lower subscriber numbers and a write down of its purchase of Nextel. It earned $261 million in the quarter last year. And the immediate future doesn’t look good. The company will not declare dividends for “the foreseeable future,” an AP story quoted CEO Dan Hesse as saying. Revenue in the Q was down 6% to $9.9 billion, vs $10.4 billion a year ago. [AP]

Marhsall Herskovitz said Wednesday that moving  Internet series quarterlife to broadcast TV should never have been made, The Hollywood Reporter says. The show about a blogger bombed in the ratings on NBC Tues, averaging a 1.3, the worst number for a prime time premiere in nearly 20 years. “It will probably end up on cable,” he said. Yes, that’s a cable number, but ouch. [HR]

Cox Northern Virginia is partnering with The History Channel and Cable in the Classroom to offer nearly 20 hours of American history programming free to Cox Digital subs in Fairfax County and the Fredericksburg region. It’s the first time a cable system is offering Cable in the Classroom fare via On Demand to consumers. Parents will be offered free discussion guides that can be used to explore issues covered in the VOD shows. The project is a pilot effort and will be evaluated for use throughout the country. [Read a blog about this item.]

Briefly Noted
Controversial former college basketball coach Bob Knight tries his hand at studio work as he joins ESPN next month as an in-studio analyst for college basketball coverage. Our guess–he’ll have a long way to go before he’s as good as Jeremy or Dick Schaap.

AT&T’s U-verse video service could be a multibillion-dollar business by 2010, an AT&T exec said. [HR]

Sir Charles Barkley extended his deal with Turner, making him part of the new Turner NBA TV package.

Liberty and News Corp completed a stock swap allowing Liberty to control DirecTV. [HR]

The star of HBO’s In Treatment, Gabriel Byrne, has become the middle-age Dr McDreamy, “a television healer-as-lust-object, a flash point for audience passions ranging from fluttery crush to full-on erotic fixation,” The NY Times’ Ruth La Ferla writes. [NYT] Today in CableFAX Daily: Charter shares hover at $1 despite strong financial news and 1 million telephone subs.

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

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The FCC has received nearly $1.3 billion in funding requests for the second application window for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The money would fund nearly 2.4 million connected

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