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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Abe Lincoln had Vampires while Ancient Rome fought Zombies! Disney eats healthier. Baseball makes pitch. Fight between Dish and AMC gets nastier. Union Oranizing Rights on trial in Wisconsin. Netflix expands first run content.

From the LA Times on-line. Click here for the latest industry news.

Clayton Kershaw
Major League Baseball is pitching new TV deals. Above, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. (Tom Mihalek / EPA / June 5, 2012

Daily Dose: Now that Netflix is getting into the original production business, it is starting to beef up its publicity efforts. Netflix has tapped well-regarded Sony vice president Karen Barragan to oversee promotion for its original content, which will include the political drama "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey and new episodes of the cult comedy classic "Arrested Development."

Microsoft showed off game play of "Halo 4" at its E3 2012 press conference at the Galen Center.

E3: Microsoft adds ESPN, NBA, Nickelodeon, Univision to Xbox Live

Microsoft Corp. has announced a slew of entertainment partnerships as it seeks to turns its Xbox 360 video game console into an all-purpose media device, including agreements with Nickelodeon, ESPN, the National Basketball Assn. and Univision, among others.
The announcements, made Monday at the company's press conference at USC's Galen Center kicking off the annual E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, highlights a major shift in Microsoft's positioning of Xbox as more than just a way to play "Halo" and "Call of Duty." To find out more click on More...

AMC-Dish dispute heats up
A fight between satellite broadcaster Dish and AMC Network made watching "The Killing" a challenge for subscribers. Above, a scene from TV series. (AMC / June 4, 2012)

The fight between satellite broadcaster Dish Network and AMC Networks -- parent of cable channels AMC, Sundance and WE -- took a nasty turn on Sunday night.

AMC landed the first blow when it ran a spot in its critically acclaimed drama "Mad Men" alerting viewers that Dish was planning to drop the channel at the end of the month.

AMC suggested its viewers call Dish to complain. It also gave the address to a website where people could email Dish as well as learn what AMC said was the "real reason" Dish is dropping AMC-owned channels. AMC Networks had previously said that Dish was dropping the channels because of an unrelated legal dispute the two companies are involved in. Dish has said its decision is solely based on ratings.
Dish didn't wait long before retaliating. Less than two hours after AMC's "Mad Men" notice ran, Dish relocated AMC from Channel 130 to Channel 9069 -- without warning its subscribers of its plans. People watching AMC's "The Killing" saw their screens go black. When the picture returned, AMC had been replaced by Mark Cuban's HD Net, which was showing a Nickelback concert.
Frustrated viewers had to call Dish to find out where AMC had been moved to. Some of Dish's operators did not even know themselves that the channel had been relocated or where it had gone. (Typically, when a distributor is going to move a channel, subscribers are given notice several days if not weeks in advance.) AMC's other channels were also moved to the 9000 block.

In a statement, AMC Networks said, "It is unfortunate that, in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit, DISH is punishing its customers by threatening to drop the AMC Networks, and with this sudden, dramatic change in channel position, making it extremely difficult for their customers to find and watch some of the most popular and acclaimed shows on television."

AMC said Dish has already dropped the Sundance Channel from its systems. Ironically, the cover of the June programming guide Dish sends to subscribers features a teaser promoting an article about a new Sundance series called "Push Girls," about women who have not let paralysis stand in the way of living a full life.

A Dish spokesman said the channels were moved to a location better suited to their ratings performance.

Eat your veggies! Walt Disney Co. is announcing tougher guidelines on the kinds of food and beverages for which it will accept advertising on shows aimed at kids on ABC and its cable networks including Disney Channel and ABC Family. According to the New York Times, "under the new rules, products like Capri Sun drinks and Kraft Lunchables meals — both current Disney advertisers — along with a wide range of candy, sugared cereal and fast food, will no longer be acceptable advertising material."

If the price is right. Once again tires are being kicked at CBS' outdoor advertising unit, which is one of the largest in the world and had almost $2 billion in revenues in 2011. The Wall Street Journal says investment banks are reaching out to private equity in search of buyers. However, CBS has made clear that it thinks the unit is worth at least $6 billion and that may prove to be a difficult hurdle for many suitors.

Entertainment unions are watching today's recall vote in Wisconsin. While it was a major media battle of celebrities when collective bargaining rights for public sector employees were elminiated, recent activity has been more low key. SAG-AFTRA cannot endorse or back candidates for office. While in support of collective bargaining rights, most major Hollywood unions are sitting out today's recall vote.

Get me rewrite. Horror master Clive Barker has been hired to do a script overhaul on "Zombies vs. Gladiators," a big movie from Amazon Studios. The movie is important part of Amazon's push into original content. Details from the Hollywood Reporter.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Fox has locked up TV rights for Los Angeles Kings games through 2024 in a deal valued at $250 million.

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