Cable, DBS Get in CES Stew

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Las Vegas— As the Consumer Electronics Show got going in Las Vegas, cable — though a bit player in the gadget fest — made noise by helping make TV programming mobile, enhancing home digital video recording options and advancing the cause of standards-based, two-way digital TV.

Delphi Corp. and top MSO Comcast Corp. said they would work together to let consumers find programming they want and transfer it to Delphi’s wireless-enabled rear-seat video system for vehicles.

Microsoft Corp. — whose chief software guru, Bill Gates, gave his annual address Thursday — trumpeted a few deals, including one with MTV Networks to figure out ways to deliver news, music videos and more to Microsoft’s Portable Media Centers.

“You can’t be a media company without being immersed in the technology,” MTV Networks Chairman Judy McGrath said in a keynote speech at CES, the first time a cable-network executive has addressed that convention.

MTV is emblematic of a brand that searches to place its content on all the platforms used by its viewers, from TVs to PCS, cellular phones, PDAs and media centers. “MTV is in a unique position to be their navigator” in the digital world with new digital devices, she said. MTV Networks plans to launch a digital music service later this year

Microsoft also showed off MSN Video Downloads, making TV shows and video clips available to Windows Mobile-based devices.

Content providers include Fox Sports, CNBC, MSNBC and Food Network.

DirecTV is making 125 video channels available to customers using a KVH Industries automotive antenna, and will resell Starz Entertainment Group programming into the vehicle market.

DirecTV also signed a deal to use Ucentric Corp. software to enable multiroom digital video recording.

Time Warner Cable will offer surplus DVR storage to customers via a Maxtor Corp.-supplied hard drive “sidecar,” and formally disclosed plans to work with Samsung Electronics on two-way digital TV sets that comply with the OpenCable Applications Platform.

LG Electronics also signed license agreements with CableLabs to build OpenCable-compliant middleware into TV sets and set-tops.

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