news digest


Dodge & Cox ups stake in Comcast

Investment firm Dodge & Cox raised its stake in cable operator Comcast Corp. to 11.4% in a sign that it sees upside in the company's stock after a challenging 2007 for many cablers. According to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing late last week, Dodge & Cox owned 237.1 million Class A shares of Comcast; in March, it had reported owning 163.4 million Class A shares, or a 7.9% stake. Dodge & Cox disclosed the stake in a Schedule 13G filing, which indicates the investment is passive.

New England victory a win for CBS

NEW YORK — The New England Patriots took Saturday's primetime by storm for its AFC divisional playoff game on CBS. The night's Jacksonville-New England matchup averaged at least 26.2 million viewers, according to preliminary estimates by Nielsen Media Research. CBS Sports said its average overnight household rating of 20.2/33 was up 15% compared with last year's 17.6/23 for an Indianapolis-Baltimore game. The game led CBS to a win against mostly moribund programming on the other networks.

Ludia, Fremantle put 'Idol' in game

NEW YORK — Interactive entertainment company Ludia and FremantleMedia Enterprises have announced a multiyear deal to create an online gaming experience based on "American Idol" that also will incorporate social networking and online community components. The "Idol" gaming experience is slated to coincide with the show's 2009 season and will be available on and Ludia's other major online destination partners, the companies said. It will be a virtual re-creation of the "Idol" experience online. FremantleMedia Enterprises, licensor for "Idol," and Ludia declined to provide any further details.

Blue Sky finds greener grass in Conn.

Blue Sky Studios, the digital animation production company best known for the "Ice Age" franchise, is planning a move from White Plains, N.Y., to Greenwich, Conn. The wholly owned subsidiary of Fox Filmed Entertainment intends to relocate about 300 employees later this year after renovating a new 105,000-square-foot space. COO/CFO Brian Keane said the new facility will feature expanded capabilities to accommodate the stereoscopic 3-D production pipeline.

George tapped as exec vp at Starz Media

International TV veteran Gene George has been named executive vp worldwide distribution at Starz Media. He will oversee sales and distribution functions at Starz Media, including forging partnerships with domestic and international broadcasters and expanding the company's distribution to new markets worldwide.

Mungiu script so co-pro for Berlin Market

COLOGNE, Germany — "Outskirts," a new script from Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, is one of the higher-profile projects to have been chosen for the fifth Berlinale Co-Production Market, the film financing event that runs Feb. 10-12 during the Berlin International Film Festival. Fellow Romanian Anatol Reghintovschi, an assistant director on Francis Ford Coppola's "Youth Without Youth," plans to make Mungiu's project his debut feature. Other highlights among the 35 projects picked for this year's co-production market include new works from established art house directors Andrei Zvyaginstev, Agnieszka Holland and Deepa Mehta.