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DirecTV-Tribune Tiff Turns Nasty

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Here's what's pushing cable's buttons this morning.

  • The retransmission battle between DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and Tribune Company has reached the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , with the satellite TV giant complaining that Tribune reneged on a deal that would have prevented the blackout of the broadcaster's signals on DirecTV's service. The complaint, which stems from Tribune pulling 23 stations, including KTLA-TV in Los Angeles, from DirecTV, also argues that Tribune's creditors, rather than its management, is making key company decisions. DirecTV claims to have emails and phone records showing that Tribune's "constituents" had overruled the agreement, while Tribune counters that DirecTV's claims are nothing more than negotiating tactics, notes The Los Angeles Times.

  • Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett says this is more than a run of the mill retrans dispute that typically takes place in "America's hinterlands" because Tribune owns stations in major markets such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Philadelphia. He also points out that former DirecTV President Eddy Hartenstein is now the CEO of Tribune, and reckons the exec has a pretty good understanding of DirecTV's vulnerabilities in this sort of fight.

  • Pace plc has appointed Shane McCarthy to president of Pace International, replacing Mark Loughran. McCarthy will head up Pace's business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia-Pacific, and Brazil. He previously served as SVP and GM of EMEA and Asia Pacific for the set-top box maker.

  • Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) will launch Google TV products in Europe in September, NewTeeVee reports, citing a report in Les Echos. The stand-alone box will run €200 (US$266), while a version with an integrated Blu-ray player will go for €300 ($399). A second generation of the much-maligned original Google TV device is expected out later this year. (See Google TV 2.0 Tees Up CE Partners .)

  • Cox Communications Inc. has hired Ken Kraft as VP of marketing for its Cox Business unit. Kraft joins Cox from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), where he was executive director of channel marketing for the telco's mid-markets business division. He's also late of BellSouth and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S).

  • Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) has added dynamic advertising insertion capabilities to its flagship server, the MediaHawk VX. The new software lets MSOs splice in ads before, during or after video-on-demand programming. (See Comcast Signals New Ad Era for VoD.)

  • With April 1, 2012 falling on a weekend, the world was spared of an onslaught of April Fools' news hoaxes. But Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) played along anyway, poking fun at itself by bringing a nutritional twist to fiber innovation:

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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