NCTA honors Hammer and Dolan; DirecTV's 4Q lobbying

> The NCTA is political and ecumenical so it's no surprise that it has chosen representatives from a programmer in the midst of being acquired by its biggest member, Comcast and from a cable operator fresh off a battle with a major broadcaster owned, ironically, by another programmer that was almost acquired by its biggest member as top honors recipients. Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Productions (the programmer being acquired by Comcast) and James Dolan, president-CEO of Cablevision Systems (the cable operator that won a retransmission stare-down with Disney--a programmer that Comcast also tried to buy) will both receive the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership at the Cable Show in Los Angeles. News release.

> Apparently there are some other good things about having a wireless home network. A house in Niceville, Fla. burned down after a lightning bolt hit a vent on the roof and the electricity traveled via the cable TV and telephone lines all through the house. The electricity also traveled through the cable lines to other homes which only lost service. Story.

> Zapping of another kind will be the domain of a feature-optimized single chip that STMicroelectronics is building for entry-level cable zapping boxes to be deployed in China and Asia. The chip supports all smart card-based security systems and includes a built-in smart card interface to broaden markets for pay TV services. News release.

> DirecTV reportedly spent $790,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby the federal government on everything from taxes to sports programming access. Story.