News briefing for Monday, Feb. 25 »

Excellent news from the Oscars—Cameron Diaz’s barber lost his license. Good day.

Disney-ABC Television Group today said it reached a major agreement allowing local affiliates to participate in a fast-forwarding-disabled VOD offering through local ad sales opportunities. The agreement also lifts ABC’s repurposing restrictions, allowing affiliates to “repurpose network programming at any time…as well as through download services, including iTunes and Xbox, with whom ABC has current distribution deals.” A news release said: “ABC will provide network programs through a local advertising-supported video-on-demand service in both owned and non-owned station markets to cable, DBS, telco and land-line operators who agree to disable the “fast-forwarding” capability. The number of commercials in the VOD episodes is still being determined, but will be [fewer] than the number featured during a live broadcast. Each broadcast affiliate will have the opportunity to insert one locally-sold, 30-second commercial spot within each half-hour of programming in those markets where ABC VOD is available." For several months, ABC and Cox have been conducting a free VOD trial in Orange County, CA, which involves disabling the fast-forward option for all ABC content. Initial research shows users of fast-forwarding disabled VOD overwhelmingly (93%) find the advertising acceptable in exchange for gaining free access to their favorite shows, ABC said. [More in tomorrow’s CableFAX Daily]

CBS Sports will partner with cable operators to deliver March Madness highlights of every game daily and historical vignettes in HD VOD. Comcast and Bresnan are the first ops to be part of the offering, CBS and its College Sports Network (CSTV) said. The content will also be available in standard def. The package will include select post-game press conference clips and interviews.

New televisions include a jack to connect the set to the Internet, setting up the scenario that could revolutionize the way television shows are distributed, says a piece on chicagotribune.com. Viewers would be able to download shows, movies, music videos or weather reports whenever they want them, it adds. Few consumers have embraced attempts to connect TVs to the Internet, and one expert quoted in the piece, George Kliavkoff, NBC Universal’s chief digital officer, says that’s because consumers don’t want to buy another device. That leaves three players to vie for consumers’ attention, he says: cable and DBS set-top boxes, video game consoles and the TVs themselves.
 [CT]

Hollywood studios are fighting the depression in DVD sales with something 20th Century Fox calls digital copy, an additional disc in a DVD box that allows consumers to download the file to a computer in five minutes, much faster than a standard Internet download. The consumer can then watch the Fox movie or transfer it to an iPod, The  NY Times reports. Experts are divided on the long-term health of DVDs in the Internet age, however.  [NYT]

Corporate America might be more diverse but the “wage gap between white men and just about everyone else persists,” The Wall St Journal reports. White men continue to hold the most power in business, it adds. [WSJ]

Yes, girls and boys, it’s a mighty slow news day when we have room for an item about Nickelodeon signing 18-year-old Lily Collins, aka Phil’s daughter, as its first roving entertainment reporter. The Hollywood Reporter notes Lily has done some on-camera work with Nick as a reporter on the Slime Across America tour last year. Her dad will make a cameo on the Naked Brothers Band series this season. [HR]

Briefly Noted
Despite gloomy economic forecasts, online ad networks Glam Media and Adconion Media Group today will announce they’ve completed additional funding rounds, The Wall St Journal says. [WSJ]

Yet another retrans dispute, this one in Topeka, KS, between Cox and WIBW-TV, The Topeka Capitol Journal reports. [TCJ]

Microsoft Platforms and Services Division chief Kevin Johnson says the company’s bid for Yahoo would create “a compelling alternative in search and online advertising,” The Wall  St Journal reports. [WSJ] Today in CableFAX Daily:  Time Warner Cable has a runner in scoring position in its battle with MASN in NC.

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

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