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October 15, 2007

360AM: Fox Biz Net Goes Live; DirecTV Counts 72 HD Channels

Fox Business Network now in 30 million homes; DirecTV hits 70 HD net benchmark; and more Monday news.

Cable360AM — News briefing for Monday, Oct. 15 »

Fox Business Network launched on-air this morning (and also rang the NASDAQ opening bell). FBN is now on DirecTV, Comcast, AT&T's U-verse, Verizon's FiOS TV, Charter Communications, Bright House Networks and select Time Warner Cable markets, including New York/New Jersey, Green Bay, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Raleigh, NC. [More: CableWorld | New York Times | USA Today | Reuters | AP | Fortune | Variety]

DirecTV launched FBN's HD feed exclusively today along with newbie high-def nets HGTV HD, FX HD, Speed HD, Fuel HD and Cartoon Network HD, upping its national HD channel count to 72 by DirecTV's count (including regional sports nets and 8 high-def pay-per-view channels) in a press release this morning.

FiOS TV also added A&E HD today and launched Raj Amin's Healthination channel on VOD. Tech blogger Dave Zatz got a sneak peek at FiOS TV's next wave of features, including what other FiOS TV viewers are watching in your area.

Ralph de la Vega, new president and CEO of AT&T Wireless, discusses U-verse and more with the Dallas Morning News. And there's more on U-verse in today's CableWorld.

Cablevision investor Mario Gabelli's opposition to the Dolans' privatization offer is being echoed by ISS Governance Services, reports the Wall Street Journal. Gabelli's letter to Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan is posted on his blog.

CableWorld today announced its 2007 Top 10 Places to Work in Cable.

Cox Communications' former president and CEO Jim Robbins, who died last week at 65, overcame his biggest disappointment in 2001, when he lost "his battle with Comcast to acquire AT&T Corp.'s cable operation [AT&T Broadband], which would have made Cox the country's largest operator," writes Peter Grant in the Wall Street Journal's Robbins send-off published Saturday. Commented Robbins' wife Debby, he "bounced back from everything." Memorial services will be held Saturday in Atlanta and Boston.

Comcast was sued by a trio of Florida residents, who allege deceptive and unfair trade practices because, they claim, Comcast on Demand is frequently unavailable for "a substantial period" each month. The lawsuit was filed in Duval County circuit court and moved to federal court at Comcast's request, according to Comcast, meanwhile, is expanding its VOD lineup in Houston.

After eliminating 5,000 positions last fall, AOL starts cutting 2,000 jobs, or one-fifth of its global workforce, tomorrow — which makes this page moot. [Bloomberg | Reuters | Washington Post blog]

Discovery Communications acquired the Atlanta-based website (for $250 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.) The site's 160-person team, who will remain based in Atlanta, are now integrating Discovery's videos into its site, while Discovery Channel will launch a daily show, How Stuff Works, next summer.

Nielsen launched Nielsen Online (which merges its Nielsen//NetRatings and BuzzMetrics services) and Nielsen Mobile, based on its recent purchase of Telephia. It also just launched DemoWatch, which links demographic information from Nielsen’s overnight TV ratings with its Web-based KeepingTrac TV commercial monitoring service.

Motorola is facing another challenge from activist investor Carl Icahn, reports the Financial Times.

Scott Binder, head of Comcast Colorado, won the "Fittest CEO in the World" title after he finished first in an Ironman competition Saturday in Kona Hawaii. Binder, 45, beat 12 other CEOs by swimming 2.4 miles in the Pacific in 61 minutes, cycling a windy 112-mile route in 5 hours and 24 minutes and running a 26.2 mile marathon over lava fields in 4 hours and 23 minutes, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Sprint launched SEE (Sprint Exclusive Entertainment), which it's billing as the "only network of original TV programming on mobile." Talent includes former VH1 VJ Rachel Perry.

Verizon Wireless is launching Led Zeppelin downloads on Nov. 13 as part of the band's digital launch of its catalog on iTunes and other services. Comcast's, meanwhile, is holding a Led Zeppelin user-generated video contest.

The NFL Network is stepping up its lobbying to get on Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and other operators by sending 24 million emails to fans each week, notes the New York Post.

MTV Networks is looking to unload Tempo, its Caribbean music and lifestyle network, by either selling or licensing the brand, according to Broadcasting & Cable. continues to be the #1 news and information site, topping 1 billion minutes viewed last month.

Al Gore and Joel Hyatt's Current relaunched on the Web. now integrates TV/Web content with multimedia wiki features and more.

Nominees were announced for the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards, which will be presented Jan. 7 on the opening night of CES in Las Vegas. Nominees include Showtime's Second Life island for The L Word; DirecTV's MLB Extra Innings Interactive; MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach; ESPN MVP and Bravo to Go on mobile; Time Warner Cable and BigBand Networks' switched digital video launch; and Starz Entertainment's Vongo downloading service.

David Simon, producer of HBO's The Wire, is prepping his next series, about musicians rebuilding their lives in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, reports AP.

Drew Carey is hosting Web videos on the Reason Foundation's, starting with today's Gridlock.

One-Third of adult Americans plan to trim spending due to the subprime mortgage crisis, according to new research from TNS. Newsweek looks at Americans' belt-tightening here.

Read Friday's Cable360AM briefing >

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