FCC Advances Digital-Transition Deadline

Television manufacturers must equip all smaller sets with digital tuners by March 2007, the Federal Communications Commission ordered, seeking to speed the transition to digital TV.

The FCC's order advances the deadline four months for 13- to 24-inch sets and imposes the March 2007 deadline for sets smaller than 13 inches, the first time they have been included. Digital tuners convert broadcasters' signals to the clearer digital images and sound.

The FCC also voted unanimously to explore whether some communities are requiring phone or cable companies to pay for unrelated projects in return for allowing them to offer TV services.

MERGERS & Acquisitions

AOL Expands Music Offerings

America Online acquired the MusicNow digital music service from Circuit City Stores. Terms of the deal, which closed this week, were not disclosed.

The service will be called AOL Music Now and will compete with iTunes and Napster. It will sell songs for 99 cents each or as a monthly subscription service.


Another CFO Steps Down at Oracle

Oracle is losing its chief financial officer for the second time in less than eight months. Gregory B. Maffei, right, who took the job four months ago, is leaving for a position at an undisclosed company, according to a statement by Oracle.

Maffei replaced Harry L. You, who left in March to become chief executive at BearingPoint after just eight months as Oracle's CFO.

Broadwing of Columbia, a provider of high-speed telecommunications networks, lost $30.5 million (41 cents a share) in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $36.8 million (69 cents) in the comparable quarter a year earlier. Revenue increased 34 percent, to $218.7 million. The company said the increase reflected both internal growth and the acquisition of Focal Communications, although the volume of wholesale voice traffic decreased as prices were raised.

TeleCommunication Systems of Annapolis, which provides cellular phone services such as instant messaging and locating 911 calls, lost $2.2 million (6 cents a share) in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $3.2 million (10 cents) a year earlier. Revenue fell 9 percent, to $34.5 million.

EntreMed said its fiscal third-quarter loss widened to $4.4 million (9 cents a share) from $3.1 million (9 cents) a year earlier, when it had 35 percent fewer shares outstanding. The Rockville biotech firm's revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 jumped more than 700 percent, to $1.2 million from $142,738.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.