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The Morning Fix

DirecTV's sports tax! 'Hobbit' knockoff knocked out. Strahan scores.

December 11, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • DirecTV is imposing a sports surcharge for some new subscribers.
DirecTV is imposing a sports surcharge for some new subscribers. (Associated Press )

After the coffee. Before pumping myself full of medicine.

The Skinny: On Monday I said I wanted to stop my cold in its tracks. With that in mind I'm working from home today. One benefit is I won't have "Zero Dark Thirty" spoiled for me by all my co-workers who were at Monday's premiere. (I'm not that cool.) Tuesday's stories include a sports surcharge from DirecTV, a judge putting the brakes on a Hobbit knockoff and gossip heating up about what new chief Jeff Zucker has in store for CNN.

Daily Dose: Clear Channel, the big radio station owner, is donating the license and transmitter for WDTW-AM in Detroit to the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, a partner with Clear Channel in an initiative to increase minority ownership of radio stations. The council plans to use the revenue from the sale of the station to fund its operations. 

Sports surcharge. DirecTV, which has close to 20 million subscribers to its satellite-TV service, is charging some new customers a $3 monthly surcharge if they want a programming package that includes local sports channels. The surcharge only applies to markets that have more than one regional sports network. (Los Angeles has four.) The $3 is on top of whatever other costs of the channels DirecTV is already passing on to subscribers. Consumers who don't want to pay the $3 can subscribe to a package whose only sports network is ESPN. More on DirecTV's sports fee from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Busted! Movie company Global Asylum, which specializes in knockoffs of big-budget Hollywood films, has been thwarted in its effort to release "Age of the Hobbits" at the same time the Warner Bros. movie  "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" comes out. A judge issued a temporary restraining order barring Global Asylum from releasing "Age of the Hobbits," saying it violates the "Hobbit" trademark -- stemming from the work of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien -- held by plaintiffs Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Saul Zaentz Co. So much for imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. More on the ruling from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter

Talking Telemundo. For years, Telemundo was something of a step child at parent NBCUniversal. But since Comcast Corp. took over the media company, it has made raising Telemundo's profile a priority. Still second place to Univision, the Spanish-language broadcaster has seen some ratings growth and is spending more on programming and beefing up its local stations. The Los Angeles Times looks at the new leadership there and what it has planned for Telemundo.

Rumor has it. Jeff Zucker hasn't even officially started as president of CNN Worldwide but already the speculation about what changes he will make is starting. The New York Post reports that Piers Morgan, who succeeded Larry King in the 9 p.m. time slot, may be headed to late night. Given how much Morgan and the rest of CNN's prime time lineup have struggled, it'd be surprising if Zucker didn't consider such a move.

Strahan scores. Former football great Michael Strahan has effortlessly taken over for Regis Philbin as permanent co-host of the newly christened "Live with Kelly & Michael." Ratings are very strong and Strahan so far is having no problem juggling the rigors of co-hosting a daily morning show in New York and being anchor for Fox's NFL coverage in Los Angeles every Sunday. Broadcasting & Cable spends some time with Strahan.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Singer Jenni Rivera, whose plane crashed over the weekend, was on the verge of taking her career to the next level when tragedy struck. Silicon Valley's Kaleidescape has struck a distribution deal with Warner Bros.

Follow me on Twitter where no one can hear me cough. @JBFlint.

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