News briefing for Thursday, April 10, 2008 Yahoo may finally get an offer from Microsoft that it can’t refuse—unless that offer comes too late. News Corp. is negotiating with Microsoft to help the software giant raise its asking price for Yahoo, the New York Times says. If Microsoft and News Corp. put together a deal for Yahoo that the Web technology company couldn’t say no to without shareholder revolt, the combined forces of MSN, News Corp.’s MySpace and Yahoo could present Google with a serious challenge. Yahoo, still looking for a way to maintain its independence, is testing a search advertising partnership with Google. Also, Yahoo and Time Warner are said to be working on a deal to combine the operations of Yahoo with AOL and shut out Microsoft completely. Got that? [New York Times | Wall Street Journal]

The U.S.’ information technology infrastructure is now the fourth-best in the world, according to a new World Economic Forum study, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In the previous year’s study, the U.S. was ranked seventh. A steady flow of venture capital in Silicon Valley and the slowed growth of other nations’ infrastructure helped the U.S. jump three places, said a co-editor of the study. [San Francisco Chronicle]

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric may leave the network after next year’s presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reports. Her contract is set to expire in 2011. Ratings for Couric’s newscast trail ABC’s and NBC’s by “wide margins.” [Wall Street Journal]

The National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) announced the recipients of its 2008 Next Generation Leaders Awards. They are: Keith Dawkins, GM, Nicktoons Network, and SVP, programming partnerships, Nickelodeon; Marge Jackson, VP, marketing & sales, New Jersey region, Comcast Cable; and Veenod Kurup, VP, data product services, Cox Communications. Scheduled for Monday, May 19, the Next Generation Leaders Awards will be presented in conjunction with The Cable Show in New Orleans.

Briefly Noted
MySpaceTV content will be distributed on linear TV outside the United States, Reuters reports. [Reuters]

The Golf Channel is launching its Father’s Day Dream Trip, an initiative honoring America’s dads and the network’s biggest promotion ever. The winner of an essay-writing contest will travel to the home of golf, St. Andrews, Scotland, with his or her father, courtesy of The Golf Channel. Incidentally, Golf is on a roll, recording its best month (February) and best quarterly ratings, up 18% vs last year’s Q. PGA Tour ratings on broadcast nets remain relatively flat. 

LATE STORIES
One of the hottest items in town here in DC is a ticket to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass next Thursday at the new Nationals baseball park. Now Comcast Cable and EWTN are offering the next best thing. They are partnering to provide Comcast Eastern Division customers the chance to watch free 2 of the Pope’s masses On Demand. The events include the Papal Mass at Nationals Park here on Thursday, and the Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20, concluding the Pope’s visit to the US. Each Mass will be available On Demand beginning the same day as the live telecast on EWTN, and through April 27.

Congrats to our buddy Darren Campo, who survived the takeover of Court TV by Turner and today was upped to the top programming job at truTV, as SVP of Programming, Production and Development. Yes, we’re biased, but Campo’s one of the brightest lights in this business. 

Time Warner Cable joined Cablevision in offering  Caller ID on television to 50,000 customers in the NYC area, The NY Post said. [NYP]

Comcast’s Versus,  the national home of the NHL, and Comcast SportsNet, regional home of the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers, will team to offer viewers added coverage of playoff games between the teams. Comcast SportsNet viewers in Philly and the DC area will see several minutes of content from Versus, including highlights and wrap-ups. Conversely, Comcast SportsNet will provide Versus viewers with augmented post-game reaction from DC and Philadelphia, including player comments and post-game press conferences.  Ain’t synergy great? Got a tip? Contact sarenstein@accessintel.com and sgoldstein@accessintel.com.

Yesterday’s top stories.

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