FCC presses Fox and Cablevision on talks

Randy Michaels, head of Tribune Co., plans to resign by the end of the week after assertions that he helped foster a sexist corporate culture.
Randy Michaels, head of Tribune Co., plans to resign by the end of the week after assertions that he helped foster a sexist corporate culture. (Charles Rex Arbogast)
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday asked Fox and Cablevision to prove that they are playing fair in their negotiations over retransmission fees, a bitter dispute that has led to a blackout of Fox programming for 3 million of the the cable giant's customers.

In letters to executives of both companies, the agency asked the firms to show they are conducting their talks "in good faith" and "in an atmosphere of honesty, purpose and clarity of process."

Lawmakers and public interest groups have pushed the FCC to help break the impasse. With the World Series beginning next week, analysts say Cablevision subscribers could choose to leave their contracts in frustration.

The FCC doesn't have the legal authority to directly intervene in retransmission-fee negotiations, but Commissioner Michael Copps and public interest groups argue that the agency can intervene if it is clear that both sides aren't conducting talks in good faith and hurting consumers in the process.

Answers to the FCC's inquiry are due by the end of business Monday.

- Cecilia Kang


AIG raises $17.8 billion in IPO of Asia unit

American International Group raised $17.8 billion in the Hong Kong initial public offering of its main Asian unit, putting the bailed-out insurer on course to repay its U.S. assistance.

AIG sold 7.03 billion shares in AIA Group, or a 58 percent stake, the New York-based insurer said Friday in a regulatory filing. AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche has said the divestment of AIA and another non-U.S. division will put AIG "well within striking distance" of repaying a Federal Reserve credit line included in the company's $182.3 billion U.S. bailout.

- Bloomberg News


HP begins sales of iPad rival

Hewlett-Packard began selling its Slate 500 tablet computer on Friday, a device designed to rival the iPad and draw business users. Priced at $799 and featuring a gesture-sensitive touchscreen and no keyboard, the Slate 500 runs Windows 7, the same Microsoft operating system found on modern PCs. Like a PC, it also has a webcam, memory card slot, ports to plug in headphones and a USB port for accessories such as a keyboards.

- Associated Press

Also in Business

l Tribune ousts its CEO: Tribune Co. ousted its chief executive on Friday after a series of embarrassing news stories emboldened critics who said he tolerated a sexist and hostile workplace. The owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times said Randy Michaels offered to resign and the board would transfer his duties to a four-member committee.

Michaels was brought to Tribune by Sam Zell, the real estate developer who bought the company in 2007 with billions of dollars of debt. The company filed for bankruptcy less than a year later. Michaels became a target of opposition after a recent New York Times story that quoted numerous employees who were upset at pervasive sexual banter and profanity among the managers.

l Verizon earnings fall: Verizon Communications said Friday that third-quarter profit fell 25 percent, to $881 million from $1.18 billion a year earlier, because of a one-time charge for a pension settlement and the performance of its landline operations, which barely broke even. Revenue slipped 3 percent to $26.5 billion from $27.3 billion a year ago, mainly due to the sale of landline and wireless service areas. Verizon's landline business posted operating income of $19 million for the July to September quarter, compared with $4.9 billion on the wireless side.

- From news services

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