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Battle Lines Form in VZ Wireless-MSO Deals

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Here's a snapshot of what's making waves in the cable world.

  • Verizon Wireless , the SpectrumCo LLC MSOs and Cox Communications Inc. are fighting a request by consumer pressure groups and several service providers, including Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and T-Mobile US Inc. , to provide non-redacted details of their mobile/cable service bundling agreements. The group says they need data as they prepare to comment on Verizon Wireless's proposed purchase of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum from the MSOs. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last week, the Verizon Wireless/cable group argued that the commercial deal and the spectrum agreement are separate and that the Sprint/DirecTV contingent is merely trying "to gain access to proprietary pricing and marketing information" that they would never have access to in the normal course of business. They also point out that the commercial bundling agreements will remain intact even if license purchase deals are not approved. Verizon Wireless and the MSOs have submitted the full text of the agreements to the U.S. Department of Justice and have agreed to do the same for the FCC. Petitions to deny the AWS spectrum sale are due Feb. 21. (See Sparks Start to Fly in VZ Wireless-MSO Deal.)

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) disclosed in an 8-K document that it agreed to pony up US$9 million to settle claims that it retained customer rental history and personal data illegally. The settlement, which still requires the court's blessing, stems from a 2011 lawsuit alleging that Netflix violated the Video Privacy Protection Act and California consumer laws. (See Netflix Privacy Concerns May Spark Lawsuit.)

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is looking to bring an Apple Store-like experience to its retail locations. The MSO is testing out a new Xfinity Store concept in Katy, Texas, where visitors are met by iPad-toting greeters who feed customer data into a queue system so customers can browse the store and use service kiosks while they wait. The MSO plans to bring the concept to new or refurbished stores, reports Houston CultureMap.

  • Boxee may ask users to pay up to $15 per month for a DVR subscription service, NewTeeVee reports, citing a survey issued to Boxee users over the weekend. Boxee's been non-committal about such an addition, but company CEO Avner Ronen said Friday on a "fireside chat" streamed on the Web that Boxee will see how its new live TV dongle performs before making any decisions about adding a DVR option. "We'll probably do it hopefully this year to support some form of recording or another," he said. (See Boxee Tees Up Live TV Cord-Cutting Tool .)

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s AdWorks LLC unit has agreed to let TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) mine anonymous data from U-verse TV subs to help the DVR pioneer generate a better sampling of U.S. television habits. AdWorks is looking to link advertisers with viewership data across mobile, online and traditional TV platforms.

  • YouTube Inc. channel pages and smoother navigation are among the features Google TV is promising in its latest YouTube app update via the Android Market.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:42:53 PM
    re: Battle Lines Form in VZ Wireless-MSO Deals

    What's making this confusing is that the bundling deals and the spectrum deals are being sorta  tied together in this proceeding even though VZ Wireless and the MSOs have insisted that they shouldn't be. 

    They have agreed to give the details of the commercial agreements (the service  bundling piece) to the DoJ and the FCC just to keep the spectrum approval process moving along, but now Sprint, DirecTV, et al, think they need to see all the details of the commercial agreements as well  in order to comment on the spectrum sale proceeding. 

    By arguing that the spectrum deals are separate yet still allowing the DoJ and the FCC to look at the bundling agreements, I think the VZ Wireless/cable side has opened themselves up for this sort of request for access to the unredacted documents, though I'd be surprised if they are successful in getting them. JB

    User Rank: Lightning
    12/5/2012 | 5:42:53 PM
    re: Battle Lines Form in VZ Wireless-MSO Deals

    The spectrum deal looks like a total no-brainer:

    1. Verizon Wireless is not buying any subscribers.

    2. The spectrum is not owned by another wireless operator.

    3. There are no current or planned uses of the spectrum by the present owners.

    What's the big deal?

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