New Jersey‘s board of public utilities approved Verizon’s state-issued video franchise, clearing the way for FiOS TV to hit the Garden State. Verizon plans to launch FiOS in Bergen, Camden, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic and Somerset counties in the next few weeks. Its second wave will cover Essex, Mercer and Union counties with more NJ communities to be announced in early January. Cablevision‘s reaction: "Cablevision customers already receive New Jersey’s best digital television, fastest Internet and most valuable phone service, all delivered over a fiber-rich network that is here today and was built to ensure enormous capacity for tomorrow. Verizon plans to sell a me-too television product that offers nothing new to consumers, and all of its services are subject to the substantial hidden fees and taxes that people have come to expect from the phone company."

Employees at 180 Connect Inc., North America’s largest cable installation firm, are filing an EEOC lawsuit alleging racial discrimination after a noose was hung in its Long Island offices, according to a report by the Associated Press (via WCBS-TV). Its workforce of roughly 500 workers is largely African American, and has been hired as contract cable installers to companies including Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, DirecTV and Canada’s Rogers Communications.

RSN: Resorts Sports Network‘s new owners, a group of investors with stakes in some of the 105 resorts covered by the recreational lifestyle/sports channel, plan to add high definition programming according to a report in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. The Portland, ME-based channel is being sold by Advent International along with its websites, RSN.com and GoSki.com. The sale was announced last month. RSN’s former president/CEO, Bill Burke, who resigned in Sep. 2001, is now on the board of BabyFirstTV.

Canada’s CRTC federal licensing body received an application to launch the country’s first free over the air HDTV channel. The Vancouver-based HDTV Networks Inc. plans to broadcast high definition programming across the nation. Separately, Cogeco Cable this week launched A&E HD and HDNet to its subscribers in the Canadian province of Ontario.

E! Networks founding president/CEO Jarl Mohn (still remembered by many in the cable industry as Lee Masters, his radio moniker) joined Glam Media, an online hub of fashion and style-themed sites and blogs, as an investor and advisor. Mohn also ran Liberty Digital from 1999-2002 and was EVP/GM of MTV and VH1 from 1986-89.

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C-Spire’s Headed to Alabama

C-Spire signed an agreement to acquire Alabama-based Troy Cablevision . Troy, founded in 1985, offers cable, internet and fiber

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