So Long, Ma Bell
AT&T, long a synonym for the U.S. telephone system, announced it would no longer seek new residential customers for its long-distance services. The company said it could not compete with regional giants such as Verizon after regulations were overturned that had forced those carriers to give AT&T and other rivals discounted access to their networks. AT&T will continue to serve existing customers while focusing on business clients.
The House passed a bill to block proposed accounting rules forcing companies to count stock options issued to employees as expense items. The Financial Accounting Standards Board is pushing for the change, but technology firms are lobbying fiercely against them. Prospects are less certain in the Senate, where Banking Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) favors keeping Congress out of the business of setting accounting rules.
'I Do' Anyway
Walt Disney Co. firmly rejected cable giant Comcast as a marriage partner, but they can still date. Comcast will pay an undisclosed sum for Disney programming and stream it online to its roughly 5.7 million high-speed Internet customers. Programming will include ABC News and a special Disney channel for kids. Comcast customers will get most of this at no charge, but Disney hopes to sell them other special online packages.
A good old-fashioned family fight is brewing over the proposed mega-merger between the Adolph Coors Co. and Canada's Molson Inc. The union would create the fifth-largest brewer in the world, but a cousin of Chairman Eric Molson is balking. Ian Molson has repeatedly clashed with his relative and resigned from the board in May. But Ian owns about 10 percent of the company's shares and vows to fight the merger.
Just a Blip
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan assured Congress that despite a raft of negative economic numbers in June, the expansion had merely hit a "soft patch." Nonetheless, the Fed lowered its 2004 forecast to 4.5 to 4.75 percent growth, down from 5 percent. As usual, Greenspan declined to discuss specifics of further interest rate hikes. He said he likes President Bush's tax cuts but still worries about the deficit.