Cable and Satellite News

"Local into local" renewed: Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services can continue to beam local stations to their subscribers, thanks to a renewal of the Satellite Home Viewer Enhancement and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) by the US House of Representatives Telecommunications Subcommittee on Wednesday, April 28.

The "all or none" clause in the law requires them to carry all local stations if they carry any, and they must all be delivered to a single dish. SHVERA bars DBSers from offering local stations from other markets. Still unresolved is the issue of delivering distant digital signals to customers not yet able to get a digital signal, a service Echostar campaigned for. The FCC is studying that issue and will make a ruling sometime next year, according to Broadcast and Cable.

TBS and DISH Network: Turner Broadcasting System and Echostar Communications' DISH Network have signed a multi-year pact that will continue to provide TBS programming to DISH Network's 9.4 million subscribers. The deal includes CNN, CNN Headline News, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner South, Boomerang, CNNfn, and CNN en Espanol. Michael Schwimmer, senior vice president of programming and marketing of EchoStar, and Andrew T. Heller, president domestic distribution, TBS, Inc., announced the agreement May 1.

"Turner Broadcasting has always been a great partner for DISH Network, and we are pleased that our new contract will continue and solidify the relationship," said Schwimmer. The sentiment was shared by Heller, who commented, "We're extremely pleased to have reached an agreement that supports DISH Network's strong commitment to deliver its customers a portfolio of networks and programming that is unmatched in value and quality."

Extension for Fritts: The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has extended the presidency of Eddie Fritts for two more years. Fritts won a new contract at the recent NAB convention in Las Vegas.

Comcast's Q1 report: One of the biggest cable providers in the US, Comcast Corporation enjoyed a 9.8% increase in revenue during the first fiscal quarter ended March 31, totaling $4.6 billion; with operating income from cable more than doubling to $702 million, according to figures released in late April. The Philadelphia-based cable giant expects big growth this year, despite the investment community's generally dour perspective on the cable industry.

During the first quarter, Comcast had "robust growth in both our video and high-speed Internet services and our ability to continue to generate significant operating improvements and scale efficiencies in our cable business," according to statements made by CEO Brian L. Roberts. The company added 35,000 basic cable subscribers during the quarter, 192,000 new digital subscribers and 394,000 new Comcast high-speed internet customers, Roberts noted. Revenues from the two services increased 21% and 42%, respectively, compared to the same period last year. The average Comcast subscriber pays $42.46 per month.