Lower ESPN earnings ding Disney; Charter ready to rope in bandwidth hogs

> Uh-oh. This can't be good news for future retransmission negotiations. Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) said its fourth quarter profit was adversely affected by "decreased earnings at its ESPN cable channel" and theme parks. The second part could be good news for Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)--if people aren't going to the Disney parks, maybe they're going to the Universal attractions Comcast is purchasing with NBC. On the other hand, any indicator that cable profit is falling at Disney--and it did drop off 18 percent compared to a year ago-must set off alarum bells for cable operators who haven't yet cut long-term retransmission channels with the Mouse and its friends. Story.

> Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) is ready to tighten the reins on broadband data customers with caps reported to be set at 100 GB a month for basic service; 250 GB for Plus and Max customers; and 500 GB for Ultra customers. The company claims to be working on a tool to let customers self-monitor their bandwidth usage which, to some, is the equivalent of a calorie counter for a hungry person or an alcohol stimpmeter for a drinker. Story.

> You have to love the unbridled optimism of the folks at Qualcomm. First they tried--unsuccessfully, one might suggest--to find a mobile video model and now the company's CEO Paul Jacobs has expressed "high hopes" that the FCC will get broadcasters to relinquish their spectrum for the greater cause of wireless communications. By the way, Jacobs also says he hasn't given up on mobile video. He might want to consider looking at what broadcasters propose to do with their spectrum-if they don't give it up-with their own mobile digital TV plays. Story.

> The world is catching on to the next big thing: two Internets. One would be for everyone and the second would be for those who wanted to pay extra for the services it could bring. Blogger Gary Audin looks at some potential repercussions. Blog.

And finally... Viacom (NYSE: VIA) CEO Philippe Dauman--the man who rules MTV, BET, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon--isn't overly worried about the future of pay television. Dauman said it is "remarkable in the teeth of a powerful recession that we went through that continued viewership of subscription television has held up as well as it has. So I think there has been much ado about very little in terms of all the talk about cord-cutting." Story.

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