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May 4, 2007

360AM: Dolans Face Legal Challenge

Cablevision shareholder Mario Gabelli is ready to challenge privatization bid in court; NBCU proposes CPM alternative; Murdoch eyes WSJ TV; and other Friday news.

360AM — Morning news briefing for Friday, May 4

Cablevision shareholder Mario Gabelli wasn't kidding when he complained about the Dolans' board-approved bid to take the company private. He told Reuters he's ready to go to court because he feels the Dolans' offer undervalues the company by $15 a share. Gabelli mulled electing "dissenter rights" in order to have a court determine the company's fair value, but says he's "not sure we want to go that route" and has his "lawyers lined up already." Gabelli's Gamco Investors holds 20 million Cablevision shares on behalf of its clients.

Cablevision announced a deal with MLB today for the Extra Innings out-of-market package and the Major League Baseball Channel in 2009—details here.

ION approved a takeover offer from NBCU and Citadel Investment Group [NY Post] after rejecting EchoStar's reported $2.13 billion bid, the NY Post reported a day earlier. ION also held its first ad sales upfront yesterday. Update: the NBCU/ION/Citadel deal is official.

NBC Universal is looking at charging advertisers a "pay for effectiveness model" as an alternative to CPMs, its president of digital media and market development told a conference this week. Beth Comstock said NBCU is developing a system called TAMi, short for Total Audience Measurement interactive (small 'i', reminiscent of flopped NBCi), as a way to track how its content performs across platforms and devices. [Clickz]

News Corp. czar Rupert Murdoch tells the New York Times he's planning to rebrand his pending Fox Business Channel with the Wall Street Journal's name should his bid for Dow Jones succeed — apparently undeterred by his offer's rejection by the Bancroft family, Dow Jones' controlling shareholders.

1st quarter earnings reports this morning: Mediacom (feeling the triple whammy of Sinclair's retransmission consent dispute, ice storms and no rate hikes in the quarter); and Cable ONE owner, the Washington Post.

** The Cable Show kicks off Sunday in Las Vegas — please send announcements to sbrady@accessintel.com.



• ONLINE

AOL expanded an agreement to offer Craig McCaw’s Clearwire high-speed wireless broadband service to AOL customers. The companies's current joint distribution agreement in four markets—Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, FL, and Stockton and Modesto, CA—is now going nationwide. [Release]

Microsoft is renewing its pursuit of Yahoo, according to the New York Post; the WSJ picks up the rumor trail.

MTV and American Eagle Outfitters are creating an original Web sitcom starring NBC's Heroes' Milo Ventimiglia. It's a Mall World (featuring mall employees, including an AE greeter) will run in AE stores, on its website (as 12 five-minute webisodes) and on MTV this summer. [Hollywood Reporter]

Second Life welcomed the NBA to its branded virtual world affiliate roster; features include a 3D NBA store, a mock arena and a press center. [Mediaweek]

Swapper, a start-up software service, aims to address the bane of peer-to-peer file-swappers: upload speeds. [GigaOm]

Yahoo Photos is being folded into Flickr, which Yahoo acquired in 2005. Flickr traffic increased 22% while Yahoo Photos slipped 60% from Apr. 2006- Apr. 2007. [USA Today] Ex-Yahoo-er Nina Alter blogs on how not to "improve" customers' email experience.

YouTube promoted a handful of its most popular video contributors to "partner" status so they can share in ad revenue their submissions generate. [YouTube's blog]



• TECHNOLOGY

Tandberg Television will unveil EdgeQAM at the Cable Show in Las Vegas next week. The pitch: it "offers unprecedented density with up to 96 QAMs in a single 2RU chassis, simultaneous support of HD and SD streams, high reliability, low power consumption, and designed-in redundancy features. It has the unique ability to operate in Switched Digital Video (SDV), VOD, Broadcast, and High Speed Data (Web) applications simultaneously within the same chassis." Tandberg will also demo its OpenStream SDV product and a t-commerce application.

Vyyo will demo its ultraband platform and advanced T1 system for commercial and residential cable customers at the Cable Show. [Release]

Members of the High-Definition Audio Video Network Alliance (HANA) said this week that the specification is still on track for delivery in 2007, allowing the combination of PCs, storage devices, displays, and other CE devices to be controlled by just one remote. [eWeek]



• PROGRAMMING

E! debuts Sunset Tan, a reality series set in a Los Angeles tanning salon, on May 28. [Variety]

HBO is developing a six-hour miniseres based on Richard Ford's The Sportswriter. [Variety]

HSN drags down IAC's earnings—and Barry Diller's not happy. [St. Petersburg Times, FL | AP]

Logo introduces its first branded entertainment series on Monday: Stolichnaya Presents Be Real, a commercial-free five-part series on gay life in America, underwritten by the vodka-maker. [Hollywood Reporter]

Nickelodeon is developing a movie based on The Sopranos' co-star Steven Schirripa's book, Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family. [Hollywood Reporter]

Ohio News Network's bump to Time Warner Cable's digital tier irks former Adelphia customers in Cleveland. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Spike TV is making its own Peep Show, a UK sitcom that airs on BBC America. [Variety]

SportsNet NY launched in HD on RCN. [Release]

TBS announced its original sitcom premieres: Tyler Perry's House of Payne on June 6, The Bill Engvall Show on July 17, followed by a new season of My Boys on July 30.

TNT's The Closer returns June 18 as a lead-in to newbie series Heartland (Treat Williams). Saving Grace, a series starring Holly Hunter, premieres July 18, while CIA-themed miniseries The Company starts its run of three Sunday installments Aug. 5.

Turner is replacing Boomerang UK with its international pre-school channel, Cartoonito. [Variety]



• IN OTHER NEWS

In a first of its kind arrangement, Dedham, MA, is building a public access studio and funding three community channels with funding from all three cable TV providers in town: Comcast, Verizon and RCN. [Daily News Transcript, MA]

FCC chairman Kevin Martin supports public-private partnerships to help build out wireless networks. In a speech yesterday at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus in CA, Martin said the FCC's upcoming wireless auction could allow emergency workers to use commercial network equipment and capacity; he sees "the potential to have some synergies between the two, some public-private partnerships that would allow for cross-utilization of the spectrum." [CNET]

- Shirley Brady

• Click here for 360AM news briefing for Thursday, May 3 >>







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