News summary for 12/21/07

Fri, 12/21/2007 - 8:00am
CED Staff

CED Broadband Direct returns on Jan. 2 – Broadband Direct will go on hiatus next week, and will resume on Jan. 2. We wish our readers a joyous and safe holiday season. What do the editors of CED want for Christmas? Could you please refrain from closing any blockbuster, multimillion-dollar deals until next year? Thank you.

Comcast, DirecTV settle HD dispute
By Mike Robuck

Comcast and DirecTV have reached an agreement to discontinue their various lawsuits against each other related to HD advertisements.

"We're pleased to have settled the outstanding litigation on a basis that's mutually satisfactory," said Jenni Moyer, Comcast's senior director of corporate communications. "The specific terms of the agreement are confidential."

In May, DirecTV filed a lawsuit that took issue with a Comcast print ad campaign that utilized the headline: "Comcast wins the HD picture challenge, satellite customers agree: HD looks better with Comcast." Comcast based the ad campaign on a survey conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, which found that satellite customers preferred Comcast's HD picture over DirecTV's.

DirecTV filed a lawsuit that disputed the survey's results, but Comcast said that two other companies validated the findings in the Magid survey. In June, Comcast filed a lawsuit against DirecTV with regard to two TV ads that Comcast said were misleading.

Cox and Time Warner Cable have also reached settlements with DirecTV for lawsuits pertaining to HD advertisements or claims.

NFL wants arbitrator to get Patriots game on TWC
By Brian Santo

The saga of the NFL Network continues. The NFL has proposed appointing an arbitrator to decide how Time Warner Cable could carry the final regular season game on the NFL Network's schedule. TWC hasn't explicitly rejected the offer but has negotiated thousands of carriage deals without using arbitration, and the operator sees no need to set a precedent.

The NFL desperately needs TWC to carry the last game on the NFL Network, which TWC does not carry at all.

The game, shown exclusively on the network, is between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants; if the Patriots win this week and beat the Giants next week, they will have achieved the first perfect regular season in 35 years, only the second in the Super Bowl era. So the game has the potential to be a ratings bonanza. That would make the NFL want TWC to air the game.

But the NFL needs TWC to air the game because of political pressure. A group of senators - including Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee - have threatened to review the NFL's anti-trust exemption if the network doesn't make the game more widely available. Losing that exemption could be disastrous for the NFL.

The TWC-NFL negotiations are not deadlocked, however. TWC is amenable to carrying the game. According to statements made by TWC President Glenn Britt, the MSO has offered at least two options for carrying the game, which Britt claims the NFL has been "unwilling to discuss."

The options are likely to involve showing the game on a higher tier. Any TWC subscriber that has only the basic tier would have to pay an extra fee to subscribe to the higher tier and watch the game.

The option is distasteful to the NFL, which is simultaneously having that exact same argument with Comcast. Comcast carries the NFL Network but includes it only in an advanced tier. The NFL sued to force Comcast to put the NFL network in its basic tier, but the network lost.

Boston- and New York-area viewers will be able to watch the Giants-Patriots game via local broadcast affiliates. DirecTV also carries the NFL channel.

Cisco's Giancarlo departs
By Mike Robuck

Cisco's Chief Development Officer and EVP Charles Giancarlo has resigned "to pursue new professional opportunities."

Giancarlo was positioned as John Chambers' heir apparent.

Earlier this month, Giancarlo helped Cisco reorganize its development organization, which resulted in the establishment of the Development Council.

The Development Council, which comprises seven technology leaders, will collectively drive Cisco's development efforts and initiatives in technology development, which are key to Cisco's growth strategy.

The Development Council will report directly to Chairman and CEO John Chambers and will be responsible for the overall engineering, product and technology strategy for the company. "Charlie (Giancarlo) has been a close colleague and a good friend during the 14 years he has been at Cisco, and he has made many significant contributions to the company during that time," Chambers said.

"He has built a seasoned management team that has the strength and skills to execute against our technology vision in order to capture growth opportunities and market share. Cisco is very proud to have had Charlie as one of its leaders, and he will always be considered part of Cisco's extended family."

Arris ties up final details of C-Cor purchase
By Mike Robuck

Arris put the finishing touches on its $730 million cash and stock purchase of C-Cor when it announced the final allocation of the merger consideration for C-Cor shareholders.

Arris paid $13.75 for each C-Cor share, in cash or in a combination of cash and stock. In the merger, shareholders of C-Cor were offered a choice of receiving either cash or stock consideration, which consisted of shares of Arris' common stock and a small cash payment.

The shareholder elections were subject to proration so that approximately 51 percent of the outstanding C-Cor shares received the cash consideration, and the remaining approximately 49 percent received the stock consideration.

The cash consideration was substantially oversubscribed by the C-Cor shareholders. Cash elections were received with respect to 46.3 million C-Cor shares out of the 49.8 million C-Cor shares to be converted in the merger.    

C-Cor shareholders that elected to receive the stock consideration or did not make a valid election will receive the stock consideration and $0.688 in cash (plus additional cash in lieu of the issuance of any fractional shares) for each share of C-Cor common stock.

C-Cor shareholders that elected to receive the cash option will have their elections prorated, will receive the cash consideration of $13.75 for approximately 54.8 percent of their C-Cor shares and will receive the stock consideration of 1.0245 shares of Arris common stock, as well as $0.688 in cash (plus additional cash in lieu of the issuance of any fractional shares) for their remaining shares.

Broadstripe to use Scorecard's sub analysis tools
By Brian Santo

Broadstripe will use tools from Scorecard Systems that will provide the ability to conduct subscriber and service analysis across the organization.

Broadstripe, once it completes its recently announced acquisition of James Cable, will serve more than 160,000 customers in 13 states. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008 and is subject to closing conditions.

"With the impending acquisition of James Cable, it is essential that we have one consistent set of business rules and product definitions across the merged company," said Bill Shreffler, president and CEO of Broadstripe. "Scorecard's solution will provide one version of the truth around all customer and service activity for our video, voice and data businesses in a single application. In addition, we believe that our data quality, integrity and speed of reporting will be greatly enhanced, providing us with significantly more insight into our customer, product and bundle performance."

Scorecard Systems said its Subscriber Analysis application can be deployed within an Enterprise Data Warehouse or as a standalone analysis tool, allowing service providers to measure customer activity using a table-based, user-configurable business rules approach that leverages subscriber industry standards - all customized for an organization's needs.

ITU completes foundation for global IPTV standards
By Brian Santo

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has announced the first set of global standards for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). Work on the standards began in April 2006.

The standards developed by the ITU's Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV) include high-level architecture and frameworks needed by service providers in order to rollout IPTV services. That means there is still a great deal of work left to do before a full set of global IPTV standards are available.

The ITU said the next steps will include submitting 21 documents - covering IPTV requirements, architecture, quality of service (QoS), security, digital rights management (DRM), unicast and multicast, protocols, metadata, middleware and home networks - to another ITU-T Study Group.

FG IPTV has been collaborating with all ITU-T study groups and other forums and regional standards bodies, including ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum (IIF), the DSL Forum, the DVB project, ETSI TISPAN and the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI).

Broadband Briefs for 12/21/07

• Cablevision adds ESPN2 to HD lineup
By Mike Robuck

Cablevision has added ESPN2 to its growing roster of HD channels. With the addition of ESPN2 HD to Cablevision's HD programming lineup, the cable operator now offers 45 HD programming services at no additional cost to subscribers in its tri-state footprint.

"Cablevision is pleased to add ESPN2 HD to our high-definition programming lineup, as we approach college football bowl season and the exciting sporting events that kick off the New Year," said John Trierweiler, Cablevision's SVP of product management. "ESPN2 HD is a terrific addition to a high-definition programming lineup that has more than doubled over the last year, as our base of HD customers has continued to grow.

• Charter ups St. Louis call center personnel
By Traci Patterson

Charter Communications has expanded the customer care call center in its headquarter city of St. Louis by 35 percent, adding 187 seats. The MSO has increased its call center personnel by 55 percent since 2006. And according to Joe Stackhouse, SVP of customer operations for Charter, the operator has upped its technical personnel by 12 percent - or about 500 people - year-over-year.

• UTStarcom deploying RollingStream in Taiwan
By Traci Patterson

UTStarcom Inc. has signed a contract with Markwell Industrial Co., a provider of cable and Internet services in Taiwan. The operator will deploy UTStarcom's RollingStream end-to-end IPTV solution in the country in order to offer IPTV-enabled triple-play services.

UTStarcom's RollingStream solution currently supports more than 600,000 IPTV subscribers worldwide, and the system maintains a total system capacity of more than one million subscribers thanks to recent deployments in China, India and Japan. UTStarcom is in discussions with additional Taiwanese cable operators, and the company expects to surpass more than one million IPTV subscribers in the country by 2009.

• Toshiba, Sharp expand ties in making LCDs
By Traci Patterson

Japanese electronics rivals Toshiba Corp. and Sharp Corp. have expanded their ties in making liquid crystal displays (LCDs), according to the Associated Press.

Toshiba will purchase LCD panels from Sharp for TVs that are 32 inches or larger, and Sharp will buy more computer chips for use in LCDs from Toshiba. The companies will cooperate on developing TV technology and products, but the details still need to be ironed out.


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