Broadband Briefs for 06/19/09

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 8:00am

FCC a step closer to getting a full-time chairman
By Brian Santo

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved the nominations of both Julius Genachowski as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and Commissioner Robert McDowell for a second term on the Commission.

With the 24-1 and unanimous committee approvals, respectively, the two are likely to be quickly confirmed by the full Congress.

The Senate has not scheduled votes on the other nominee, Mignon Clyburn, nor have the Republicans nominated a candidate for the fifth and final slot on the FCC board, though press reports say that Meredith Attwell Baker is being considered.

Cox adds HD channels
By Brian Santo

Cox Communications has expanded its high-definition channel lineup with Disney Channel HD and ABC Family HD. The MSO also increased the volume of its on-demand library with the addition of content from ABC Family, Disney Channel, Disney XD and SoapNet.

"Cox is committed to offering our customers the highest-quality HD channels and on-demand shows that they want, and we are pleased to add more family-friendly programming to our high-definition lineup just in time for the summer months," said Jennifer Garrett, vice president of sales and marketing.

In addition to Disney Channel HD and ABC Family HD, Cox will also broadcast WPXV HD ION and HBO2 HD. Depending on the system, Cox subscribers may have access to up to 60 high-definition channels, Cox said. For Cox customers in West Point, New Kent and King & Queen counties in Virginia only, WUPV HD CW Richmond will be added.

Embarq, Sprint sue government over taxes
By The Associated Press

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) – Embarq Corp. and its former corporate parent, Sprint Nextel Corp., have sued the federal government to recover $31.6 million in income taxes. The two companies filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Kansas City federal court. The complaint claims Sprint paid the taxes by mistake in the 1990 through 1994 tax years.

Sprint said it mistakenly included subsidies its local telephone division received from the Universal Service Fund as taxable income. The fund helps defray the cost of running lines to rural and poor areas.

The Internal Revenue Service denied Sprint's refund requests, which were filed in 2004. Sprint's local division spun off in 2006 to become Embarq, which would receive any refunds.

Union district walks away from AT&T talks
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Union negotiators broke off talks with AT&T Inc. this week, but it appeared to be a minor move in a long process for a new contract. The Communications Workers of America district representing wireline employees in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri walked away from negotiations on Wednesday, saying they wanted issues such as health care back on the table.

AT&T last month said it had given the district its "best and final offer." It's ready to continue discussions, spokesman Walt Sharp said Thursday. CWA spokeswoman Candice Johnson said negotiations will resume in the district.

Bargaining for new contracts for AT&T's wireline workers is also underway in four other districts. About 160,000 of AT&T's 300,000 workers are unionized, making it the largest employer of organized labor in the country.

Negotiators in other districts report some progress, but the sides still appear to be some distance apart more than two months after the old contracts expired. Dallas-based AT&T is trying to get major concessions on health care, saying that it wants to bring its costs for wireline workers more in line with its other business units and the industry.

More Broadband Direct 06/19/09:
•  Canoe Ventures suspends launch of 1st targeted ad initiative
•  Thomson, Pace seek DTA waivers from FCC
•  Congress considering online privacy legislation
•  Cable does well in business services survey
•  Comcast buys rest of cable channel from Hearst
•  Sony shareholders approve new management
•  New iPhone goes on sale with less drama
•  Broadband Briefs for 06/19/09



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