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October 2, 2007

360AM: Oct. 2 Programming, Online News & More

E! steps up for producers; John Malone increases Discovery stake; and more Tuesday news.

• PROGRAMMING

In a first for E! (and in shades of Knocked Up), the Comcast-owned network will extend health benefits to freelance TV producers who work for at least 200 consecutive days, a move that follows meetings with the Producers Guild of America. Reports the Los Angeles Times, the PGA agreement could cost E! and Comcast "millions of dollars." While complaints spiked under E! president Ted Harbert's predecessor, Mindy Herman, "Nobody was breaking down the door with axes," Harbert says. "We're doing this because it's the right thing to do."

ABC Family is promoting Lincoln Heights with a faith-based marketing program that includes church screenings in Atlanta, coordinated by The Adkins Agency for Results Inc.

CMT is dispatching street teams of 60 stay-at-home moms across 21 markets to promote reality series I Want to Look Like a High School Cheerleader Again, which launches Saturday.

CNBC's Tim Russert-hosted weekend series is moving to MSNBC this weekend as CNBC rejiggers its schedule in anticipation of Fox Business Network's Oct. 15 launch.

Comedy Central renewed Lil' Bush and Mind of Mencia, with new episodes to premiere in the spring. South Park returns on-air tomorrow night; upcoming episodes will be available (uncensored) starting Friday on iTunes, xBox, Amazon Unbox, Walmart.com and Bittorrent.com.

Discovery Holding Company chairman John Malone bought $1.6 million worth of DHC shares, adding to the $2 million-plus of Class B stock for Discovery Communications' parent he just purchased, according to SEC filings.

ExerciseTV and Lionsgate will co-produce and distribute workout videos (starting with a Star Trainers series) that will be available online at Exercisetv.tv; on ExerciseTV's VOD channel on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and other cable operators; and on DVD through retail outlets.

Eye Music Network, an IPTV and cable network start-up, launches today on Raketu.tv.

Fox Business Network aims to keep the jargon to a minimum. Other business networks "use a kind of claptrap terminology, or they use a kind of lingo that is unapproachable by the man on the street," anchor David Asman says in a video clip sneak peek that went live on FoxBusiness.com yesterday. Reuters updates FBN's pre-Oct. 15 launch.

Fox Reality Channel will premiere controversial British reality series, There's Something About Miriam, on Oct. 31. Spoiler: the dating series features a transgender finale twist.

HBO Family will premiere Canadian youth reality series Ghost Trackers in January. [World Screen]

Here! greenlit second seasons of The Lair and The DL Chronicles and a third season of Paradise Falls. In other upcoming projects for the gay programmer, Chad Allen will star in two new movies slated for its Donald Strachey mystery movie franchise; Here! parent Regent Films is producing 12 eco-disaster movies, the first of which — Solar Flare — will premiere on Here! a week after their theatrical release; and it's preparing a second title in a 12-movie strand based on Edgar Allen Poe's tales. [Hollywood Reporter]

HGTV fans can follow its Green Home construction project on HGTVPro.com.

Lifeskool TV is holding a Show Us Your Sickest Trick contest to determine the best in-game video trick. The VOD/broadband programmer's first prize is $1,000 and a trip to NYC.

MTV signed a new production deal with Ken Mok, creator of America's Next Top Model and MTV's Making the Band.

National Geographic Channel offers a VOD preview of Dog Whisperer starting Thursday on NGC On Demand, ahead of Friday's season premiere.

The NFL Network will air a live college game Sunday, when Florida A&M meets Winston Salem State University at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Outdoor Channel (now in almost 31 million homes) renewed its distribution agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative, signing a new five-year deal with the NCTC.

Oxygen's Snapped returns for a sixth season Sunday at 10pm ET, to be followed by new true-crime series Captured at 10:30pm.

Sundance Channel acquired six documentaries that will premiere in the fourth quarter on The Green, its weekly eco-programming block: We Feed the World (Oct. 9), Energy War (Oct. 23), Radiant City (Nov. 6), Before the Flood (Nov. 20), Strange Culture (Dec. 11), and Somba Ke: The Money Place (Dec. 18).

TLC adds Street Customs, a six-part car makeover series from Craig Piligian's Pilgrim shingle, to its Thursday night Turbo block starting Oct. 11.

Tube Music Network is no more — details are here.

Univision launched an online and on-air PSAs campaign to educated Hispanic consumers about the upcoming DTV transition.

V-me is launching in the Bay Area with Comcast and KQED.



• ONLINE

Computer scientists who helped lay the foundation for the Internet, dismayed with bandwidth issues and other concerns about the Web, are coming up with solutions such as former Cisco CTO Len Bosack's plan to allow businesses to connect to underground cables with 100x the capacity of current telecommunications pipes. [Wall Street Journal]

Online video and local search will drive a 30% growth in global Internet ad spending, to $33.72 billion this year, according to projections from ZenithOptimedia. [MediaPost]

Apple's iTunes Tagging feature now allows listeners to CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Cumulus, Cox, Entercom and Greater Media stations to purchase tunes with one touch of an enabled HD radio receiver.

Break.com expanded its use of Panache's Web video ad technology.

CBSNews.com SVP and GM Betsy Morgan is joining The Huffington Post as CEO, replacing co-founder Ken Lerer. [New York Times]

Google released AdSense for YouTube video sponsors. [TechCrunch]

Joost shed its beta status and flung open its online doors yesterday, co-founder Janus Friis confirmed in a blog post addressing Skype's flame-out with eBay. Joost is still restricted regionally so that Canadian viewers can't access U.S.-only video, notes Canada's Globe & Mail.

Major League Baseball tapped Teletrax for digital watermarketing and broadcast TV tracking.

The NFL will present a new digital proposal at a meeting of team owners Oct. 22 in Philadelphia that would allow the league sell advertising across all 32 team Websites while clubs would keep sponsorship space for themselves, reports Sports Business Journal.

Starz licensed more than 100 movies from Screen Media Ventures for its Vongo movie downloading service.

Tape It Off The Internet, an online video search guide with social recommendations, launches today, notes NewTeeVee.

TVGuide.com launched a still-in-beta online video guide.

Yahoo relaunched its search engine in a bid to out-Google Google with universal search and smarter results. [Wall Street Journal | TechCrunch]

YouTube announced its first international film competition, with H-P sponsoring and director Jason Reitman judging.



• TECH

BendBroadband is using Alloptic's Micronode products for its FTTP rollout.

Broadband over Powerline competitors the HomePlug Powerline Alliance and consumer electronics giant Panasonic are working together on a new joint IEEE standards proposal to help speed BPL. [Internet News]

TiVo tapped The Bachelor host Chris Harrison for its HDTV contest, Hook Up With TiVo.

The Frontline wireless consortium has asked the FCC to bar Verizon from competing in the agency's January auction of 700 MHz spectrum. [Wired | Ars Technica]



• IN OTHER NEWS

NAMIC announced a deadline of Oct. 31 for entries in its 2008 Vision Awards; details are at namic.com.

The Writers Guild of America yesterday asked its TV writer membership to authorize strike action if a new deal with producers and studios isn't struck by the WGA's Halloween deadline.

Analyst Lydia Loizodes voices her frustrations with cable operators and VOD advertising on her MediaPost blog.

Comcast and the Northern California Golf Association are co-sponsoring a public affairs program for kids 5-17 called Youth on Course, which blends life skills with $2 rounds of golf.

In a story on how former convicts get second chances in the workforce, the Wall Street Journal looks at (as an example) how Comcast hired a 30-year-old computer tech "soon after he completed a 13-year sentence for reckless endangerment and handgun use last spring." Comments a Comcast spokesperson, "We conduct background checks as far back as state law permits — up to a maximum of 10 years." Before hiring a former inmate, Comcast HR seriously "weighs the nature of the crime, evidence of rehabilitation and other factors."

Ad Age looks at the top 100 media companies, based on Kagan estimates and 2006 revenues, here.

Disney's Anne Sweeney is #15 on Fortune's 2007 50 Most Powerful Women ranking, down two spots from last year, while MTV Networks head Judy McGrath dropped from #12 to #18. The full list is here.

Don't forget to nominate cable's fearless females for CableWorld's 2007 Top 50 Women list — CW's online nomination form is here, and this year's winners will be announced Nov. 12.

More top headlines this morning >







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