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Cable Catchup

12:15 PM -- We're at the end of another week, so it's high time to offer a roundup of news that's rippling across the cable world.

  • Com Hem AB , Sweden's largest cable MSO with 1.7 million subs, is on the block, and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) apparently is not on the list of potential suitors.

    Dagens Industri reported that The Carlyle Group LLC and Providence Equity Partners are looking to sell Com Hem for up to US$2.64 billion, with Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), TDC, and Tele 2 among the possible buyers.

  • DSL Reports points to more evidence that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) have indeed created a partnership that will see Long Term Evolution (LTE) integrated with the satellite TV company's service.

  • Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) has Starz Entertainment LLC in its streaming stable, but "we can live without it if we have to," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said at an investor conference this week. They signed that deal in 2008, and Netflix has been beefing up its streaming content ever since, most recently expanding its agreement with Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). (See Netflix Nets ABC Streaming License.)

  • Speaking of Netflix, Paid Content has an interesting story about the emergence of Vutopia, which is being billed as cable's "Netflix killer." The authenticated Web-fed video service, apparently run by MSO-backed In Demand LLC , is already deployed by Cox Communications Inc. , with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) reportedly on deck.

    The service also includes the ability to select titles based on mood, which opens up speculation that Jinni Media Ltd. is involved. Jinni, by the way, just announced its first service provider deal (with Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG)), which follows its original agreement to help power the new Google TV platform. (See Belgacom Gets Taste of Jinni.)

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has apparently had just about enough of all this bickering between MSOs and broadcasters over testy retrans negotiations that been resulting in blackouts. The recent high-profile spat between Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Fox apparently was the last straw, as the Commission this week said it would propose new rules that would let it step in and referee these disputes before they get out of hand, and reduce the number of "failed deals and dropped signals." (See Cablevision to Pay for World Series Streams.)

  • Following a test in Charlotte, N.C., during the third quarter, Time Warner Cable has gone national with SignatureHome, a premium triple-play residential offering that sells for $199.99 in its New York City market. Among the features are a whole-home DVR, remote DVR management, wireless home networking, and speedy customer service response. (See TWC Takes 'SignatureHome' Service Nationwide.)

    The new high-end tier follows TWC's ongoing tests of a no-frills video tier called "TV Essentials." (See No-Frills Cable TV .)

  • A company called Snapstick is the latest to try to bring Web video to big screen TVs in what vendors like to call a "seamless" fashion. In this instance, users with a Snapsick-enabled devices such as an iPhone can call up a video there and sort of toss it to the TV with a flip of the wrist. And it claims the method avoids blocking from sources such as Hulu LLC . Well, here's a video example of how that happens.



    Snapstick launched a private beta on Thursday. The intention is to see Snapstick's software ported to TVs with Internet connections. A spokesman says the company is in licensing discussions with makers of cable boxes, TVs, and gaming devices. The hope is to have Snapstick-powered devices out by the second quarter of 2011. Snapstick will be showing off at the Consumer Electronics Show next month, so we'll be popping by to learn more.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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