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The Friday Five

Jeff Baumgartner
8/22/2008
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6:00 PM -- Here's our quasi-weekly look at a handful of other stuff that happened in the world of cable this week that bears sharing or repeating:

  • At least one person with previous ties to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) believes Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) stands a chance if it opts to appeal an order that calls on the MSO to halt its network management practices. (See FCC Puts Comcast on the Clock .) In a C-SPAN interview aired yesterday, former FCC chairman and present Barack Obama advisor William Kennard said the MSO has a "compelling case" and that the Commission's jurisdiction in this area are "murky" at best. Comcast said this week it's still evaluating its options. Well, Kennard's given you the green light. What else do you need?

  • Aaron Barnhart at the Kansas City Star has an interesting update and extensive rundown on that lawsuit pitting local cable sub Matthew Meeds against local cable provider Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). (See Man Bites MSO .) When reached, Meeds surprisingly had nothing to say to Barnhart, but Meeds's lawyer told the newsman that the set-top fight will center on the old Carterfone decision. The lawyer also holds that digital boxes cost the MSO in the range of $30 to $40, which is laughable if he's considering even the low-end, standard-def CableCARD boxes operators are deploying today, not to mention set-tops that provide high-def and digital video recording capabilities, as some models easily run $300 or more. Those one-way, super-simple digital terminal adapters (DTAs)? Those might be more in the lawyer's range, but TWC hasn't expressed any plans to use them.

  • The Comcast Spotlight folks declined to confirm this to us a few weeks back, but it looks like Arthur Orduna, late of Bright House Networks , has been named chief technology officer of Canoe Ventures LLC, the cross-MSO consortium that will develop a more uniform platform and process for advanced and addressable advertising. Orduna will join recently named Canoe captain David Verklin. (See Verklin Picked as Cable's Canoe Captain.)

  • "Activist investor" Harbinger Capital Partners upped its stake in Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) to 8.1 percent from 4.9 percent, no doubt as part of an effort to apply some influence on how Cablevision proceeds with those "options" it's pursuing to shore up its stock. (See Cablevision Roadshow Update. The stake increase makes Harbinger Cablevision's fourth-largest external investor, Reuters says.

  • Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) is the latest to chime in at the FCC and counter calls for the elimination of IEEE 1394 as a required interface on high-definition set-top boxes. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and some cable concerns are in favor of an Ethernet interface. (See NCTA Counters Verizon's Tru2way Claims .) In addition to arguing that costs for the interface is "insignificant" when compared to the overall cost of the set-top, the chipmaker argues that "MSO-provided digital set-top boxes block the full functionality of the 1394 interface – making 1394 very difficult to use." Ya think?


Until next week…

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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