multichannel connect
all access


Through the Wire

1/26/2007 7:00 PM Eastern

Goal: Luring Viewers on Super Sunday

Sure, the lion’s share of viewers will be fixated on Miami on Feb. 4, rooting for either Da Bears or the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. But many cable networks will be ready to tempt away any viewers who aren’t interested in football or cutting-edge commercials.

And yes, one of those alternatives once again means puppies!

In the counter-programming wars, Animal Planet will once again place its bets on rookies on the field in its third annual Puppy Bowl, interrupted only by the Bissell Kitty Halftime. Added this year: a tailgate party with the likes of Choop the Chihuahua and T-Rex the Poodle.

Spike TV will take on an animal theme, too, during its counter-programming block, “Spike the Ball Weekend.” Content includes two hours of When Animals Attack, followed by When Good Pets Go Bad and three hours of World’s Most Shocking Videos.

The Travel Channel will appeal to armchair travelers with 10 hours of Passport to Europe With Samantha Brown, while TLC turns its airwaves over to What Not to Wear for 10 hours.

Lifetime, not surprisingly, has scheduled a movie marathon with such classic chick flicks as Lies He Told (11 a.m.), Another Woman’s Husband (7 p.m.) and The Three Lives of Karen (9 p.m.).

A Knitty Gritty marathon on DIY Network Sunday evening encourages viewers to knit squares that later can be sewn into blankets for the needy, via the organization Warm Up America!

At halftime, Hallmark Channel will air a half-hour special saluting cherished Hallmark ads.

And if there’s not enough mayhem on the football field, viewers can always tune to the Surgery Saved My Life marathon on The Discovery Channel, among many counter-programming options available on cable.

Role in Sundance Block Not So Sweet for 'Honey’

The Sundance Channel’s new programming block dedicated to environmental issues doesn’t even debut until April 17, but two big names have already lost jobs because of it.

One is Todd Thomson, the head of Citigroup’s wealth management group, who was ousted by CEO Charles O. Prince for allegedly wasteful spending.

Among the causes of his ire, as reported by The Wall Street Journal: $5 million that would be spent on a program that would look at interconnections between business and the environment. This was part of a series that would run in the block.

Host of that part? Maria Bartiromo, well-known anchor and signature financial reporter for business-news channel CNBC.

In a Journal report last Wednesday, Thomson also came under fire for putting a wood-burning fireplace in his office, to impress clients. And for shuttling Ms. Bartiromo — whose nickname, wanted or unwanted, is the “Money Honey” — to luncheons with clients in Hong Kong and Shanghai; and bringing her back on a company jet.

By Jan. 12, when the Sundance Channel announced the launch of its programming block addressing the food, architecture, fashion, fuel and waste of a small planet, Bartiromo’s name was nowhere to be found.

By Jan. 22, Thomson was removed as head of Citigroup’s private banking unit; and was replaced by chief financial officer Sallie Krawcheck.

The name of the Sundance Channel programming block? A common environmental — and business — term.

“The Green.”

Metcalfe Flies Ethernet Flag But Avoids 'Dissing’ Cable

Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, the keynoter at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers’ Conference on Emerging Technologies in Houston last week, touted his baby as growing bigger in everything from embedded devices to metro-area networks — but stopped short of saying Ethernet would ultimately replace cable data networking technologies.

As he often does in such presentations, Metcalfe dwelled on the ongoing kudzu-like growth of his brainchild, Ethernet, which he created in 1973. “Ethernet has been winning for 34 years,” he said. Metcalfe, now a general partner at Polaris Venture Partners, noted that the networking technology is expanding in metropolitan-area networks and replacing synchronous optical network (SONET). He also pointed to the fact that several cable operators have joined the Metro Ethernet Forum consortium.

But Metcalfe shied away from opening up the debate of whether Ethernet will supplant Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS). “DOCSIS is Ethernet,” he claimed. “It’s HFC [hybrid fiber-coax] Ethernet.” The debate, according to Metcalfe, isn’t DOCSIS versus Ethernet — it’s a shared network versus a switched network.

Not everyone in the crowd was satisfied with that position, and one audience member pressed Metcalfe on what need there would be for DOCSIS protocols in a switched network.

Metcalfe all but begged for a pardon. “I can’t say just throw that out to these people — they built all this stuff,” he said, gesturing to the cable attendees. “I’m willing to be obnoxious, but not rude.