Cable Has All the Answers, At Least on ‘Jeopardy!’

Cable has been suggesting that its future could be in jeopardy from the Federal Communications Commission’s just-approved Title II re-classification, but cable has actually already been much in Jeopardy! (“Badumbum,” followed by cymbal riff).

On the Feb. 24 episode of the syndicated game show, the first Jeopardy! board was all cable, with categories that riffed on cable channel names including “T.V.” Land, Animal Planet and Spike.

For example, some of the correct T.V. Land responses were “what is terminal velocity,” or turkey vulture or transitive verb (all containing a T and a V).

For Spike, one answer concerned the changeover to Daylight Savings Time — a time when there’s a “spike” in heart attacks.

Contestants got a bunch of those right.

By contrast, on the Feb. 19 episode, “Who is Brian Lamb?” was the correct response in a category called “Lamb-pourri” (mostly about the four-legged variety), but his picture and identification as the founder of the cable public-affairs network C-SPAN were not sufficient for any of the contestants to come up with his name.

That turned out to be just fine with him, according to a spokesperson for the channel, who relayed Lamb’s comments after seeing the show: “Thirty six years of ‘no-star’ television worked.”

Lamb and C-SPAN’s other on-air hosts do not identify themselves on-air — there is a graphic for that — in keeping with the philosophy that they are moderators, not personalities, and the focus shouldn’t be on them.

Cable Names Make List of GOP’s Black Influencers

A couple of cable executives finished among’s 2015 list of the 100 most influential African-American Republicans in the country.

The list, published last month during Black History Month, ranks National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Michael Powell No. 8 on the list, which features corporate executives, entertainers, politicians and athletes.

Also making the top 20 was Antonio Williams, who serves as director of government relations for Comcast.

Retired National Basketball Association star and NBA on TNT commentator Shaquille O’Neal came in at No. 14, while WWE superstar/actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson pinned down the 20th spot.

Renowned neurosurgeon and potential presidential candidate Ben Carson tops the list, with former Secretaries of State Colin Powell (father of Michael) and Condoleeza Rice placing second and third, respectively.

Newsmax said its 100 Most Influential African-American Republicans list has people who “have bucked the trend and aligned themselves with the party that once fought slavery, and now fights enslavement to state dependency (or is supposed to).” They range “from the famous and powerful to behind-the-scenes rainmakers, local chieftains, and energetic rising stars.”

— R. Thomas Umstead

Remnants of Aereo Are Sold for Scraps

In the case of Aereo, the once-brash and now-defunct purveyor of over-the-top subscription services that thumbed its nose at broadcasters in an attempt to disrupt the pay TV ecosystem, the sum was clearly worth more than its parts.

After deploying in several markets and signing up more than 100,000 customers before an adverse Supreme Court decision forced Aereo to shut down last June, the Barry Diller-backed bankrupt startup raised less than $2 million at auction last week — a relative pittance for a company that had raised $97 million.

A hearing to approve the auction sale is scheduled for March 11.

Instead of selling itself as a fully integrated services platform, Aereo, facing constant pressure from broadcasters during the bankruptcy process, was required to sell off its various components, from storage banks and thumb-sized digital antennas to video encoders and intellectual property.

TiVo was the winning bidder for Aereo’s trademark, customer lists and other unidentified assets. Those lists could come in particularly handy as TiVo seeks new buyers of the Roamio OTA, a product targeted to cord-cutters that mixes over-the-air broadcast TV with over-the-top fare from sources such as Netflix and Hulu.

RPX Corp., a self-described provider of “patent risk services” (so as not to confuse it with a “patent troll”), scavenged Aereo’s patent portfolio, and Alliance Technologies nabbed Aereo’s equipment.

No word as to what will come of the desks, chairs and paper clips, but a person familiar with the process noted that some elements of Aereo’s technology were left unsold that and that the company intends to explore opportunities to sell those assets at a later date.

William Baldiga, counsel for Aereo and partner at Brown Rudnick, summed it up in this statement: “We are very disappointed with the results of the auction. This has been a very difficult sales process, and the results reflect that.”

— Jeff Baumgartner

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.