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Supreme Court Ditches Comcast Antitrust Suit

Welcome to today's cable and broadband news roundup.
  • More than 2 million subscribers in Philadelphia cannot pursue a class-action lawsuit against Comcast Corp. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision handed down Wednesday, denied a class-action targeting Comcast over claims the MSO had established a monopoly in the market and used that power to charge unfair prices for cable TV. Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the suit's class action status, stating: "The permutations involving four theories of liability and 2 million subscribers located in 16 counties are nearly endless."
  • Microsoft Corp. may be getting ready to sell off its IPTV middleware business. Bloomberg reports that Ericsson AB is getting close to a deal with Microsoft to buy Mediaroom. [Ed. note: an industry source tells Light Reading Cable that a deal is indeed in the works; Microsoft and Ericsson declined to comment.] According to ABI Research, the software platform claims nearly a quarter of the IPTV middleware market, and Bloomberg quotes a Cross Research forecast predicting that the sale price could land upwards of US$1 billion. In the U.S., AT&T Inc. is Microsoft's biggest Mediaroom customer, with about 4.5 million U-verse TV subs.
  • So, what would drive this deal? Given Microsoft's focus on the Xbox for video delivery, the sale of Mediaroom could be a sound strategic move for Redmond. Microsoft tried for years to break into the cable industry, but found more success targeting IPTV providers. These days, the Xbox has proven to be Microsoft's ace in the hole. Should Ericsson land Mediaroom, it would stand to improve its software credentials, rekindle Mediaroom's product roadmap, and raise the vendor's profile with pay-TV operators. (See Microsoft See Xmas Debut for Xbox TV and Microsoft's Pursuit of Input 1.)
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a reminder that new closed captioning rules for "live and near-live" programming delivered over IP will take effect March 30. The rules will apply to IP video shown on television, but not yet to prerecorded programming edited for Internet distribution, or to IP programming that is already in inventory. Requirements for prerecorded IP video delivered to the TV came into effect last September.
  • Buckeye CableSystem has given the greenlight to the APEX3000 edge QAM from Motorola Mobility, with plans to start deployment in the second quarter. The super dense APEX3000 supports 1,536 QAM channels per 4 RU chassis, and is part of the vendor's migration strategy for the budding Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP). Motorola Home is in the process of being acquired by Arris Group Inc., which could cause a competitive shift in the CCAP gear market. (See Arris/Moto Combo Poised to Sneak Up on Cisco and Sizing Up The CCAP Players.)
  • CBS Corp. is getting deeper into the cable network business. The broadcaster is going halvsies with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. to buy TVGN (former the TV Guide Network) and TV.Guide.com. The basic cable network currently reaches more than 80 million homes.

    — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable



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