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EC Clears Cisco's $5B NDS Buy

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news snapshot.

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s proposed $5 billion acquisition of U.K.-based video software and security company NDS Ltd. cleared a hurdle Tuesday when the European Commission granted its conditional approval of the deal. The EC said it found only "limited overlaps" between the companies' video hardware and software products, that the combined entity would continue to face strong competition and that their customers -- primarily pay-TV providers -- would still have alternative suppliers for items such as set-tops, conditional access systems, digital rights management software, and interactive program guides. The only concern raised was some vertical relationships between NDS's video software and Cisco's set-top box activities, but the EC decided the merged company wouldn't have the market power or the incentive to raise costs for those products. (See Cisco Bets $5B More on Video With NDS and Cisco's Video Game-Changer .)

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) lost a net of 96,000 broadband subscribers in the second quarter after shedding 649,000 DSL customers and adding 553,000 U-verse high-speed Internet users. AT&T attributed the losses "partly due to seasonality," a condition that cable also tends to see in the traditionally tough second quarter. However, the telco did better with video, adding 155,000 U-verse TV customers during the period, taking its total to 4.1 million.



  • American Cable Association (ACA) Chair Colleen Abdoulah, who is also WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) chair and CEO, will tell the Senate Commerce Committee today that the 1992 Cable Act is sorely in need of an update as many smaller cable operators face mounting programming costs and what she views as broken retransmission consent rules. Among her proposals are new rules that would use arbitration to solve retransmission disputes in lieu of blackouts. According to her prepared testimony, there have been 69 blackouts in 2012, a figure that's already 35 percent greater than 2011's totals. (See ACA: Little Cable Faces Some Big Issues.)

  • Several U.S. pay-TV providers teed up their coverage plans for the Summer Olympics in London on Monday, led by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which all plan to show 5,535 hours of coverage of all events on several networks, including NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, Bravo and Telemundo, with some also offering coverage in 3-D format and live streaming at NBCOlympics.com. Charter Communications Inc. 's expected to offer 4,523 hours of coverage, plus access to VoD and Web streaming content on PCs and mobile devices.

  • Buckeye CableSystem has chosen Azuki Systems 's media platform to power a TV Everywhere service that will pipe on-demand and linear TV programming, including the operator's own Buckeye CableSystem Sports Network (BCSN), to a range of tablets, PCs, smartphones and other IP-connected devices. Buckeye will work with Azuki on a custom-made, multi-screen user interface.

  • The National Cable Television Cooperative Inc. (NCTC) has named OpenVault LLC as an approved Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) vendor for the co-op, which represents more than 900 independent U.S. cable operators. The NCTC says several of its members are already using OpenVault's software-as-a-service to provide real-time broadband usage data analytics and policy management.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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