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Boston: It’s Bombastic! City Continues to Rip Cable Kingpins at FCC

6/25/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Even though the town just
hosted the Cable Show convention, Boston
continues to show no love for top cable operator
Comcast at the Federal Communications
Commission.

Now, add “enormous injury” to insult.

The Wire has chronicled Boston Mayor
Thomas Menino’s hammering of Comcast
over its rates. Hizzoner succeeded in getting
the FCC to recertify the city to regulate
the cable provider’s basic rates locally,
though Comcast has sought recertification
under a different standard. Menino also
weighed in against permitting Comcast
and other cable operators to sell wireless
spectrum to Verizon Wireless.

Then, last week Boston joined with Montgomery
County, Md., to make sure the FCC
did not provide a carve-out for online video providers
from multichannel video programming distributor
carriage and access regulations, if that meant cable
operators got to skirt public, education and government
channels and other obligations.

Guess who was the poster-company for that potentially
nefarious workaround? Comcast. That came in comments
on whether and how the FCC should define “MVPD” and
“channel” in the context of a program-access complaint by
over-the-top provider Sky Angel against Discovery Communications,
and whether online video distributors
should be subject to the same rights and
obligations as traditional video providers.

“As the commission is aware,” the city and
county said in their filing, “at roughly the
same time as it issued the notice in this matter,
Comcast announced that it would be entering
into an arrangement with Xbox that
would allow for delivery of video programming
to the Xbox via ‘private’ Internet — and
that the video programming delivered would
not be subject to the data limits that apply to
other information delivered via the Internet.
Enormous injury can follow if cable operators
can avoid obligations under the Cable Act by
using a slightly different technology to deliver
the same type of programming via the same
cable system, while maintaining the same
control over subscribers.”

Singing in Harmony:
Disney Wants ‘N.B.T.’
On Screen, on Album

Disney Channel and sister radio network Radio Disney
are teaming to hopefully land a successful one-two
punch on the cable ratings and recording album charts.

The network will showcase the winner of Radio Disney’s
upcoming N.B.T. (Next BIG Thing) music-talent
competition on Disney Channel’s comedy series Austin
& Ally
, marking the first guaranteed appearance for the
competition’s budding music star winner on the tweentargeted
network.

Disney executives hope the exposure for the eventual
winner of this year’s contest — Radio Disney listeners
will vote for their favorite 12-to-17-year-old performer
this summer — will translate into strong digital sales for
the winner’s guaranteed song recording, according to
the company.

The announcement comes on the heels of a successful
Disney Channel/Radio Disney N.B.T. collaboration for
the network’s R&B/hip hop/gospel-tinged original movie
Let It Shine. The film debuted on Disney Channel June
15 as the most watched kids’-targeted movie thus far in
2012 with 5.7 million viewers, drawing in 3 million kids
2 to 11 and 2.3 million tweens 9 to 14.

Strong singing by co-star Coco Jones — an N.B.T.
finalist in 2011 — helped propel the movie’s original
soundtrack to a No. 29 debut spot on the Billboard
album charts, and No. 2 on Billboard’s soundtrack
chart. The album peaked at No. 1 on the iTunes
soundtrack chart and ninth on the iTunes overall album
chart, per Disney.

King Must Abdicate
Perch in PEJ Sample

The Project for
Excellence in
Journalism
, which
produces weekly
and periodic news
analyses, is losing
one of its regular
stable of measured
cable news programs.

John King USA,
which CNN is pulling
the plug on
at the end of this
week, has been in
the regular rotation
of outlets PEJ
monitors to take the pulse of the national news media
on the week’s top stories and how they are covered.
CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper
360
are also sampled every few days.

At least PEJ will still have a sample of the show it has
been sampling as part of its news index. PEJ, a selfidentified DirecTV subscriber, records and burns the
shows to disk for archival purposes. King will almost
certainly be in the PEJ mix for his political coverage on
The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer or during the day,
when PEJ also samples a half-hour of CNN coverage.

At Paley Center, Some
Views From the Chair

National Cable & Telecommunications
Association

president Michael
Powell
shot from
the hip at a Paley Center
for Media luncheon in
New York last Tuesday
(June 19), addressing
such diverse topics as
retransmission consent,
old-media’s losing battle
against new media over
Internet piracy legislation
and … remote controls.

Among the memorable
lines:

Retrans: “Most chairmen,
as they leave office, hand each other a little list of
things to stay the hell out of. That would be one of them.”


Lost Causes:
“Welcome to the Web. Old-fashioned
lobbying will never be the same. I think in the case [of the
Stop Online Piracy Act], MPAA [representing Hollywood
studios] was playing the same old Jack Valenti playbook
… If the right factors come together, you can’t play the
old playbook against that element of force.”

Gizmos: “The remote control truly sucks and the interface
sucks even more … All the major cable companies
now are converting to a form of Internet protocol that
lets them put guides on your phones and your iPads. So
when I go home at Cox, the remote control still stinks,
and the guide on my screen still stinks. But the one on
my iPad is really cool.”

 

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