news digest


FCC clears Liberty's DirecTV takeover

WASHINGTON — The FCC on Monday approved Liberty Media's takeover of DirecTV, the nation's top satellite TV broadcaster, settling a long-running dispute between Rupert Murdoch and John Malone. Under the deal, Malone will give up Liberty's 16.3% stake in News Corp., pay $550 million in cash and give three regional sports networks to News Corp. Although the FCC cleared the way for the deal, it added a few strings, requiring that Liberty and DirecTV abide by program access, program carriage, Regional Sports Network arbitration and retransmission consent arbitration conditions. The conditions are similar to the ones imposed in 2003, when the commission approved the transfer of DirecTV from Hughes to News Corp.

Netflix mum on Microsoft speculation

Netflix declined comment Monday on speculation that it soon will announce a deal with Microsoft to offer downloadable feature films via Xbox Live. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings joined the Microsoft board of directors a year ago, and bloggers recently began posting surveys sent to Netflix subscribers asking whether they would be interested in watching movies and TV shows on their Xbox 360 consoles. "Netflix intends to be on many devices that get the Internet to the TV," a Netflix spokesman said.

CBS scores with Comcast, Bresnan

NEW YORK — CBS Sports said Monday that it has struck deals with Comcast and Bresnan Communications for VOD highlights of March Madness games. CBS Sports and CBS College Sports Network will create VOD highlights of 63 games from the NCAA men's basketball tournament that will be available in high and standard definition. They will include key moments of each game as well as interviews and news conferences. Highlights from previous tournaments will be available on VOD beginning in early March; the first games are March 20.

HBO content comes to YouTube channel

NEW YORK — Time Warner's HBO launched a branded channel on Google's YouTube on Monday featuring mainly promotional content. The channel will feature full-length episodes of "In Treatment" and promo clips from "Flight of the Conchords," "The Wire," "Def Comedy Jam," "Real Time With Bill Maher," "Extras" and "Entourage" along with content from HBO-produced films and documentaries.

'Monk' finale strong for USA

"Monk" ended its sixth season on a high note. The USA Network series averaged 6.9 million total viewers at 9 p.m. Friday, making it the show's most-watched episode ever by 8%, according to Nielsen. It also was "Monk's" second-most-watched episode in the adults 18-49 demographic and the most-watched installment in adults 25-54 since August 2004. "Monk" also spurred USA to beat ABC and CBS in the time period in both demos.

Halvorson takes it 'From the Top'

WGBH Boston said Monday that Emmy-winning director Gary Halvorson has signed on to produce and direct "From the Top: Live From Carnegie Hall," which is returning for its second season in May on PBS. The series showcases musicians ages 8-18 in performance at Carnegie Hall, in rehearsal and in their homes. Christopher O'Reilly hosts the program, which is co-produced by WGBH, From the Top and Don Mischer Prods. in partnership with Carnegie Hall.