news digest


McSlarrow to FCC: Cable report 'obsolete'

WASHINGTON — The cable industry is fighting back, lashing out Thursday at FCC chairman Kevin Martin's decision to release a commission report last month showing that the prices consumers pay for cable TV are rising faster than inflation. In a letter to Martin, National Cable and Telecommunications Assn. president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow called the report "obsolete" and asked the agency to redo it. "The public has the right to expect that the agency will collect and disseminate data in a way that is transparent, impartial and credible," he wrote in a letter mailed Thursday. "Unfortunately, a number of assertions have been made that are not supported by the facts, or, in some instances, by the 2005 'Cable Price Report' itself."

NYT Co. sells TV stations to PE firm

NEW YORK — The New York Times Co. has agreed to sell its nine network-affiliated TV stations to private-equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, known for its buyout a few years ago of drug store chain Duane Reade, for $575 million, the company said Thursday. The deal, which allows the NYT Co. to focus on its newspaper business, is expected to close in the first half. For the first 11 months of 2006, the NYT Co. reported revenue of $143.6 million for its stations group, up 12.1% compared with a year ago.

Fleming new WIF president

Jane Fleming has been elected president of Women in Film by the group's board of directors. Fleming, a producer at Shot in the Dark Entertainment, will immediately step into the post, replacing Cecelia Holloway, who resigned for family reasons. WIF also elected eight new members to its board: Holly Holmberg Brooks, Vicki Dummer, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Libby Hansen, Cheryl J. Kagan, Gabrielle Kelly, Danica Krislovich and Susan A. Simons.

Mobile service sends Par info direct to fans

Paramount Pictures launched a mobile service Thursday that gives users access to the studio's branded content and movie listings in the palm of their hand. Created in collaboration with mobile content applications provider Crisp Wireless, the service acts as a portal where users can browse theater locations, download video clips and trailers, purchase movie tickets and mobile ringtones and opt to receive other Paramount promotions. The service's mobile storefront will officially launch next month, but users who text "MOVIES" to 33287 can purchase promotional ringtones and images now.

Royo upped to CTO at Ascent Media

Jose Royo has been promoted to chief technology officer of Ascent Media Group, where he had been serving as senior vp digital services. The appointment was announced Thursday by AMG chairman William Fitzgerald. In his new role at the Santa Monica-based company, Royo will head long-term technology planning and partnership efforts and hold day-to-day responsibility for global IT operations and infrastructure.

Virgin Digital pulls plug on U.S. ops

DENVER — Like the short-lived Virgin Electronics MP3 player, the Virgin Digital subscription music service is no more, at least in the U.S. Over the holiday break, Virgin Digital U.S. e-mailed subscribers informing them that the service would be shutting down. The U.K. version of the Virgin Digital service remains active. Representatives from Virgin Digital could not be reached for comment. Visitors to the Virgin Digital U.S. Web site are redirected to the home page.