MEDIAViacom to Offer Free Video OnlineViacom plans to deliver free content online through Joost.com in a bid to protect copyrights while challenging sites such as YouTube.com. The two companies didn't disclose the terms of the multiyear agreement. Joost's Web site is expected to launch next month. On Joost, content creators and viewers must both download free software, which limits sharing. Viacom content is to include full-length Paramount movies and cable TV shows, Viacom spokesman Jeremy Zweig said. LEGALWyeth Ordered to Pay $3 MillionWyeth was ordered to pay $3 million in damages after a jury found that the company's menopause treatment Prempro helped cause an Ohio woman's breast cancer, the biggest loss in five trials involving the drug. The state court jury deliberated more than two days before also finding that Wyeth "failed to provide an adequate warning" to plaintiff Jennie Nelson about the links between Prempro and breast cancer. The verdict is Wyeth's third loss in five trials. The award included $2.4 million in compensatory damages for Nelson, 67, and $600,000 for her husband, Lawrence Nelson, 79. The judge in the case had ruled out punitive damages.
Wyeth may appeal, said Wyeth attorney Barbara Binis.
McGuireWoods Accuses LawyerA former McGuireWoods lawyer allowed clients' restricted private placement shares to be publicly traded through accounts he controlled, the Richmond-based firm claimed. McGuireWoods said the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the conduct the firm attributed to Louis W. Zehil, a partner in the firm's private equity practice from 2004 until he resigned last week. McGuireWoods did not identify any clients whose shares were involved.
The firm said it thinks Zehil acted alone. The firm has notified the clients, launched an internal investigation, retained outside counsel and notified the SEC, with which it's cooperating, according to the firm's statement.
Montana Man Admits to CheatingA Montana man with a high-school equivalency degree admitted to cheating lawyers, including Martha Stewart's, of as much as $311,000. Michael Lair, 46, of Bozeman, pleaded guilty in New York federal court to four counts of wire fraud. Lair admitted offering to sell lawyers evidence that opposing attorneys and litigants had broken the law. He had no such information. Lair faces 27 to 33 months in prison when he is sentenced March 21.
US Airways CEO Gets 1 Day in JailUS Airways chief executive Doug Parker, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence and is to spend March 15 in jail. Prosecutors asked that a second DUI charge and a speeding charge be dismissed. Parker was fined $1,646.25 and was ordered to be screened by a doctor to determine if he has a problem with alcohol addiction.
REGULATORSPepsi Says Probe Is OverPepsiCo said the Securities and Exchange Commission ended an investigation into whether two of its employees assisted improper accounting at the former Kmart. The investigation was completed and no enforcement action was recommended, PepsiCo said in a regulatory filing. The company learned of the decision Dec. 6. The filing marks the end to a probe that began almost three years ago and related to Kmart's accounting in 2001. CONSUMER SAFETYConAgra Assesses Recall CostsConAgra Foods said its nationwide recall of peanut butter that was linked to a salmonella outbreak would cost $50 million to $60 million, hurting its third-quarter earnings. ConAgra announced last Wednesday that it would recall all Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter made at its Sylvester, Ga., plant.
Hewlett-Packardsaid its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 26 percent, to $1.55 billion from $1.23 billion in the comparable period a year earlier, after it won consumer sales away from Dell. Sales in the three months ended Jan. 31 rose 11 percent, to $25.1 billion. Chief executive Mark Hurd nabbed the PC market lead from Dell for the second straight quarter.
T-bill rates were mixed.The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to the highest level since January 2001, to 5.035 percent from 5.025 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills fell to 4.95 percent from 4.965 percent. The annualized return to investors is 5.171 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,872.73, and 5.148 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,749.75. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, was unchanged at 5.07 percent last week, the same as the previous week.