Netflix to produce exclusive series

Netflix, in discussions to expand its footprint with U.S. cable television operators, has entered into its first series production deal with a major Hollywood studio.

Netflix, which streamed political thriller “House of Cards,” said it has ordered a new psychological thriller series from Sony Pictures Television and the creators of the FX legal drama “Damages.” The 13-episode first season will premiere exclusively for Netflix members to watch instantly, the company said Monday.

“House of Cards,” a sleek political drama from a small production company led by actor Kevin Spacey, was released in a similar manner by Netflix early this year. Its success with critics elevated the stature of programming delivered solely over the Internet, a field that is attracting the biggest names in Silicon Valley and a roster of A-list Hollywood stars.

Cable TV operators have been leery of the potential competition presented by Netflix and other Silicon Valley newcomers, but that hesitation may be fading.

Netflix, which began as a video rental service, is discussing with several U.S. cable operators the inclusion of its streaming video service on their set-top boxes, a source said Monday, helping to boost the company’s shares nearly 8 percent to $324.36.

Netflix is in talks with companies including Comcast and Suddenlink Communications, said the person, who is familiar with the discussions. The talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Last month, two European cable companies — Sweden’s Com Hem and Virgin Media in Britain — struck deals to allow their customers to access Netflix through Tivo set-top boxes.

— Reuters

Finance ministers debate rescue fund

Euro-zone finance ministers on Monday sought ways to create a common fund to restructure or bail out troubled banks, an effort to keep financial problems in one country from endangering the entire 17-nation currency bloc.

The ministers’ discussions in Luxembourg were still in the early stages, not least because of resistance from Germany and other countries that have paid the bulk of Europe’s rescue programs.

The fund would complete Europe’s planned banking union and help restore market confidence, but Berlin and other capitals have concerns about its legal basis and fear that their taxpayers will be stuck with bills to clean up messy banks in weaker European economies.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings of the euro-zone finance ministers, said the discussions were meant to make progress on technical details rather than reach an overall agreement.

Before the fund can become operational, European countries aim to set up a banking authority with the power to restructure or unwind banks that go bust. That is expected to happen once the European Central Bank — in its new role as supervisor for the bloc’s biggest banks — has analyzed all balance sheets to identify possible capital shortfalls by late next year.

— Associated Press

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