NEWS BRIEFING FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2008 It’s the first day of spring and the Cable 360 news staff is preparing for wind gusts of 50 miles per hour today. Good day.

Showing that two can play the local game, Verizon FiOS is making a foray into local programming to compete with cable’s local news channels and its local coverage generally, The Wall St Journal reports. The FiOS 1 Channel is taking a different strategy against cable’s local news channels. It’s started nets with a series of feel-good shows featuring uplifting human interest stories. Cable MSOs like Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable are responding in kind and with more local shows on-demand, adding to a wealth of existing local coverage. [WSJ]

Among the chattering classes in Hollywood  the name of former Discovery Channel GM Jane Root is being mentioned to replace ousted HBO Entertainment President Carolyn Strauss, The Hollywood Reporter says, slightly mocking the guessing games that have already begun for one of TV’s most envied jobs. [THR]

Comcast apparently is asking a Boston suburb to assume responsibility for local access operations in an arrangement similar to others it’s crafted. Comcast provides funds to local government so it can form a non-profit to run local access, The Boston Globe reports. Not all the cities want to do this, however. [BG]

Briefly Noted
As it promised last year, Verizon unveiled plans to open its network, allowing its 65 million wireless customers to use devices and services not sold by Verizon. [WSJ]

Liberals are more engaged with the presidential election and CNN and MSNBC are the ratings beneficiaries, MediaDaily News says. [MDN]

You knew this was coming—Disney Channel gave greenlighted a reality series for the spring about tween-teen heartthrob band The Jonas Brothers. The band is closely associated with Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana and joined her sold-out tour that ended in January. [THR]

Comcast’s Business Class service—video, Internet and voice—was named as the number one provider by readers of New Hampshire Business Review.

Actor Ivan Dixon, forever etched in our minds as electronics whiz Kinch on Hogan’s Heroes, died Sunday, aged 76. [LAT]

LATE STORIES
Lynn Grosz, former VP of Training for the former small cable operators group CATA, died in Charlottesville today from injuries suffered last month in a car accident. She was the lead architect of the Cable Industry Public Affairs Training Program from 1990-1996, successfully providing communications training to more than 5000 cable executives across the country.  

Customer service vendor Convergys inked a multi-year contract renewal with Cox.   

The History Channel changed its name to  History. [AP]

Verizon was the biggest winner in the recent FCC spectrum auction. [WSJ] Today in CableFAX Daily: Another FCC meeting on broadband network management (will Comcast’s seat fillers sleep through this one?) and is Sundance Channel for sale? [For an interesting homage to Sundance Channel, see Thomas Hine’s blog. [NYT] ]

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

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