HD boxes get a break on firewire; FCC seeks net neutrality deal

> The FCC, not busy enough with the Comcast-NBC merger, a national broadband plan and devising ways to tear spectrum from still-alive hands of broadcasters, has ruled that cable's HD set-tops no longer need to include an IEEE 1394 interface (firewire) as long as they have some way access to IP content over home networks. Story.

> Unlike most government agencies, the FCC seems to be running on a 24/7 schedule these days. The Inquirer notes that the Commission is meeting with "telecom companies, some big Internet service providers and other interested parties to see if it can cut a deal on net neutrality." Story.

> Speaking of the FCC and deals (OK, this connection's a stretch), long-time NBC marketing honcho John Miller has been given the enviable assignment of handling the NBC Universal-Comcast integration. After that, he's joining Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey where he'll tame lions and tigers. Story.

> At least one money-centric person, Russell Solomon, SVP at Moody's.com isn't enthralled with Cablevision Systems' Bresnan Communications acquisition, calling it a "risky strategy because the market demographics of Big Sky country, where Bresnan operates, aren't as strong as Cablevision's home territory. Bet the guys at Cablevision didn't think of that before they put up $1.37 billion for the systems. Story.

And finally... French pay TV provider Canal+ Group has inked a deal with IBM to "transform the way it processes and delivers its programming and services to distribution channels." Translated (we think) Canal+ wants to tear down some of its backoffice silos and is using IBM as the wrecking ball. Story.