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DirecTV CEO: Dish Merger 'Tough Hill to Climb'

Light Reading
LR Cable News Analysis
Light Reading
5/27/2011

Here's a rundown what's making cable waves as the holiday weekend approaches.

  • DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) CEO Michael White downplayed talk about a potential Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) merger, saying it would be "pretty tough hill to climb." (See Dish CEO: DirecTV Merger Possible.)

  • More corporate synergy is afoot between Dish and Blockbuster Inc. as the latter revs up a promotion that offers "thousands" of in-store movie rentals for 99 cents a day. (See Dish Puts Blockbuster to Work.)

  • Cox Communications Inc. began running interactive ads from Canoe Ventures LLC in Tulsa, Okla., where it also added a "fuel gauge" to DVRs that indicate how much storage space is left. (See Canoe Boots Up Interactive Ad Campaign .)

  • More results of the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-NBCUniversal LLC deal: Comcast Interactive Capital and the Peacock Equity Fund have combined to form Comcast Ventures . Former Comcast Interactive Media (CIM Labs) President Amy Banse is heading up the venture, which will manage about US$750 million in investments.

  • Following news that Facebook is looking at integrating content with Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), there are reports today that FB wants to add widgets that let users share their favorite music and TV shows with friends. (See Netflix Pops on Facebook Integration Buzz .)

  • ESPN is converting to all-MPEG-4 distribution on June 30, joining HBO, Showtime, Starz, MTV, Turner and other networks that have dropped MPEG-2 feeds. (See HBO Bets Big on MPEG-4 .)

  • Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is trying to restore FiOS Internet and phone service in the Syracuse, N.Y., area, after suffering an outage.

  • CNBC rival Bloomberg TV complained that new NBCU owner Comcast is violating an FCC order related to the merger since it won't carry the channel in the same "neighborhood" as other networks.

  • With SNL Kagan predicting that the retrans fees cable operators pay broadcasters will jump 28 percent this year to $1.46 billion, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) pitched the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a plan to keep fees in check. Cablevision, which has battle scars from recent retrans battles, argues that broadcasters shouldn't be able to package cable networks in deals to carry local TV stations. (See A Drop in the Bucket? )

  • ESPN launched its WatchEPN App for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPad. It's available to Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS TV subscribers.

  • Former XL Group PLC executive Irene Esteves joined Time Warner Cable as CFO, the MSO confirmed.

    — Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable, and Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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