Media executives question Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal

By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - One of the top executives of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc has raised questions about Comcast’s potential dominance of the U.S. broadband Internet market if regulators allow its $45.2 billion merger with Time Warner Cable to be completed.

Speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday, Chase Carey, Fox president and chief operating officer, said the “broadband issue” will be front and center when U.S. regulators review the tie-up that merges the No. 1 and No. 2 cable operators.

Asked about concerns over the merger, Carey said, “Probably the issue that will come out of it, and that will ultimately get focused on, is really the broadband issue. Is there choice in broadband? Are you really headed toward every home having simply one broadband provider, and what are the implications of that?”

If its bid for Time Warner Cable is approved, Comcast would be the Internet provider to about 40 percent of U.S. households paying for high-speed Internet access, analysts estimate.

As TV service becomes more personalized with new navigation tools and targeted advertising, broadband infrastructure, and who controls that service, will become even more critical, Carey said. There has not been any pushback so far from companies against the Coupon, he added.

"We haven’t seen any filings yet and how does that get addressed? I assume there will be aspects of that that are addressed," he said.

"Potentially, you may have for most of the country, simply one wired broadband pipe and again that’s the piece that will get, at the end of the day, most focused on," he said.

Comcast did not respond to a request for comment.

Also at the same conference, Time Warner Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes predicted a government role in bolstering post-merger competition.

"In the longer run there are some questions on competition that any deal like this will look at, the government will look at and make sure the appropriate conditions are in place to optimize competition," Bewkes said.

DirecTV’s CEO Mike White, who was already called for regulatory scrutiny of the deal, said on Tuesday, that the government will likely focus on “all the aspects of Internet, from net neutrality to you name it.”

He also said the government should consider whether Comcast is a national business instead of a local one which “requires the government to take a different perspective.”

Once Comcast files its merger documents with regulators, the Justice Department and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will both take months to review the merger’s impact on competition, focusing on antitrust and public interest concerns respectively.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Cynthia Osterman)

A Blueprint Develops As Jay Z Signs Ndamukong Suh

Clientele steadily growing for Roc Nation as it signs Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During a panel titled, “How Legal Skills Translate into Sports Agency,” hosted at Chapman University Fowler School of Law on Friday, February 7, speakers quickly migrated to the topic of Jay Z and his role in a changing sports agency landscape. Jay Z was criticized at length for entering into a field that was seemingly beyond his intellect and he was denounced for failing to land a single prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater were supposedly main targets for Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, and the rap mogul failed to land either prized prospect.

However, days later Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports signed one of the most coveted players in the NFL. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has chosen Roc Nation Sports as his on-field and off-field representatives after leaving his former agent less than three weeks ago. His prior representative was Roosevelt Barnes of Relativity Football, who had started serving on Suh’s behalf before the defensive tackle was the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Jay Z is not currently certified as an NFLPA Contract Advisor, and thus he will not be engaging in any direct negotiations with NFL teams concerning any immediate future on-field deals for Ndamukong Suh. It is not yet known whether football agent Kimberly Ann Miale, who is the representative of one NFL player (New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith) or representatives from Creative Artists Agency will be handling team contract negotiations henceforth. When the robinson cano wiki-cano/”>Roc Nation Sports entity was first announced, in conjunction with the signing of second baseman Robinson Cano as its first official client, a concurrent statement was released indicating that Roc Nation Sports established a strategic partnership with Creative Artists Agency. While Geno Smith is not represented by Creative Artists Agency, that may not be the case for Ndamukong Suh.

"Curious decision if Kim Miale is negotiating Suh’s extension because of her inexperience," said NFL contracts and salary cap expert Joel Corry on Twitter. “Cruz’s CAA/Jay-Z combo is safer.” Corry was referencing Jay Z’s representation of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, which established Creative Artists Agency as the entity charged with negotiating his on-field contracts.

What may not be so curious is Jay Z’s blueprint for developing his sports agency. Instead of focusing time, attention and money on recruiting a plethora of draft eligible players, Jay Z may be better served to sign athletes already in the NFL. Victor Cruz, Geno Smith and now Ndamukong Suh were all represented by other agents and already drafted by professional teams prior to moving over to Roc Nation Sports.

Upon hearing that Suh selected Roc Nation Sports as his new agents, one NFLPA Contract Advisor said to FORBES, “unless Roc Nation does it strictly by-the-numbers, this could be their ‘Master P moment.’” The agent was making a subtle reference to former NFL running back Ricky Williams leaving one-time agent Andrew Brandt for Master P and then Master P botching a major contract for Williams. He continued, “[the] Lions and other potential suitors must be pumped! Crazy how Suh goes from a firm with one of the best negotiation track records to one with nearly zero NFL negotiating experience.”

In 2001, Jay Z rapped, “Money pourin in, clientele growin now.” It was a line in the track called “Blueprint.” Thirteen years later, same song, different game, and still a lot of haters.

Want to learn more about the business of sports? Pre-order my book How to Play the Game and follow me on Twitter.Follow @DarrenHeitner

Staples to cut 225 locations; Will Best Buy be the store survivor? (Update)

Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014, 9:48 AM

UPDATE: “Too little, too late,” says David Strasser, analyst at Janney Capital Markets, of the latest store closings at Staples, the Massachusetts-based office-supply chain that is also the second-largest online retailer after “To close and shrink stores is the correct strategy,” but sales are falling faster than expected, and Staples’ “limited” technology and consumer electronics offerings (e.g., no Apple iProducts) and its weak store personnel “skill set” (compared, say, to Review's Geek Squad) will make Staples' store-improvement plan “tough to succeed.” Staples was “early and good” online, but now faces price-cutting, and the company overpaid for its Corporate Express acquisition, Strasser added. He's recommending clients stop buying Staples stock.

EARLIER: Staples says it plans to close another 225 of its 2,000 stores by 2014, after closing a net 40 stores last year. The chain announced the closings after reporting sales fell last year. More here. The move follows yesterday’s announcement by Radio Shack that it hopes to close 1,200 of its 5,000 stores

Best Buy re-opened after store was temporarily closed due to gas leak

JACKSON, MI - Discount is open after a gas leak temporarily closed its doors.

Shandra Tollefson, a Best Buy public relations spokesperson, said the store 1014 Jackson Crossing re-opened after being closed for about two hours.

Store employees were notified of an odor of gas outside, and contacted the Jackson Fire Department and Consumers Energy about 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The source of the leak was from a gas pipe on the roof of the building, which was heavily covered in snow, said Terry DeDoes, a Consumers Energy spokesman.

DeDoes said heavy snow and ice can create pressure inside pipes, causing a break in the fuel line.

"We recommend people keep meters free of snow and ice," DeDoes said.

When clearing pipes, DeDoes said shovels should not be used, because they can damage pipes.

Promo Codep>In the pantheon of movies based on television shows, there’s way more bad than good. Actually, now that I think about it, they probably don’t even deserve their own pantheon&;-more like a dimly lit janitorial closet or a Burger King bathroom. Sure, there’s some high-quality examples like The Untouchables or The Fugitive, but more often than not you end up with Lost in Space or Land of the Lost. When the content’s flowing in the other direction, from big screen to small, there’s a slightly better hit-to-holy-bananas-what-a-miss ratio, but still for every M*A*S*H or The Odd Couple, there’s a handful of Ferris Bueller s.

Showrunner Jason Katims, however, has a pretty snappy track record when it comes to making Movie: The TV Show. He’s responsible for turning films like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood into strong multi-season character dramas. Now, he has taken on About a Boy, the 2002 comedy-drama in which Hugh Grant broke out of his typecast as a lovably awkward wag to play a lovably curmudgeonly wag who befriends a young social misfit and his single mother. This isn’t the first time this has been tried-Patrick Dempsey starred in an attempt to adapt the film to series back in 2003, but it was dropped presumably because of excess levels of McDreaminess. In Katims’ version, which premieres Feb. 22 on NBC after the Olympics, he has replaced London with San Francisco, and Grant with Bent ‘s David Walton.

The pilot essentially takes the plot of the film and hits fast-forward: Will, a lovably rakish wag, tries to pick up a woman at a single parents support group despite the fact that the only child living in his Painted Lady is himself. Then the 11-year-old Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) and his high-strung vegan mother (Minnie Driver) move in next door and invade his life. If you’ve seen the movie, you might be better off just skipping the first episode since it’s mainly a retread, but Katims nails its sweetly wry tone-and that of the Nick Hornsby source material-and Walton is genuinely engaging as a bro-ier version of Will. Stockham, too, is great as the half-dopey, half-precocious Marcus. Overall, it’s a whole lot of premise-setting and foundation-building, but there’s enough here to be optimistic that this will be one more tick in the Good column of movie/TV synergy. B+

It’s thanksgiving time in South Korea. Friday actually is the lunar new year, which is observed in many Asian countries, but from my kids’ description of what will go on in Seoul, it sounds like Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.

Our son, Sam and his wife, Jennifer, and our daughter Elizabeth teach English at a private Korean elementary school in Seoul, and I asked them how Koreans will celebrate the year of the horse, which is the animated chinese new year cards zodiac sign for this year.

Elizabeth said that in general, people go to visit relatives.

"A lot of people will leave Seoul to travel to where their parents or grandparents live," she said. "The city gets pretty quiet around this time. Unlike the Chinese celebrations, there isn’t much to see in the streets. It’s a more private family holiday…Families basically get together to eat and do things like play cards and watch movies."

Lunar new year is called “seollal” in Korean, Sam said, and some Koreans wear traditional clothes called “hanbok” on that day.

"It’s a big family day," he said. "People travel back to their hometowns to feast and catch up with one another. Ancestral rites are also a major activity. This usually involves setting up a low table loaded with food and liquor as offerings.

"Family members, dressed in hanbok, take turns performing ritual bows to this table, which usually has pictures of the departed placed above it. Older family members give little envelopes of money to the kids."

Those nice little envelopes.

Elizabeth, who teaches first grade, said her students get excited about getting lucky money for the lunar new year and some students get excited about getting to go to their grandparents’ homes outside of Seoul.

Sam’s fourth-graders are mostly excited about “those envelopes of money.”

Thanksgiving meets Christmas, at least for the children.

The bookstores and gift shops are selling horse items like new year’s cards with horse images, Elizabeth said, and some of the department stores are selling big new year’s gifts like fruit baskets or gifts of good cuts of meat.

"There are even Spam gift boxes," she said.

I thought Sam was kidding when he said Emart completely rearranges its store every year to make way for lunar new year sets of shampoo and Spam. Apparently Koreans - or at least some Koreans - like Spam. The New York Times recently published a story about Spam’s popularity as a lunar new year gift in Korea.

Elizabeth has been in Korea since fall 2009, so this will be her fifth lunar new year there. She’s ushered in the years of the tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake.

She said she’s probably not going to do too much to celebrate this year.

"Generally it’s nice to get around the city when it’s not so crowded," she said.

Sam and Jennifer have lived in Korea for 7 1/2 years. When they arrived, it was the year of the dog. They’ve seen lunar new years of the pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake.

Sam’s still a little confused about the Korean birthday thing.

"The traditional food to eat on new year’s is rice cake soup, ‘tteokguk,’" he said. "It’s believed that eating tteokguk on new year’s adds another year to your age. Regardless of whether you ate the soup or not, every Korean turns one year older on seollal. Yep, that means they have two birthdays a year. What?"

His favorite new year’s tradition: “A popular activity on seollal is to get up early and watch the first sunrise of the new year. Koreans do this both on regular new year’s (Jan. 1) and seollal.”

No word on whether my children will be exchanging Spam gift baskets on Friday.

Sally Gray is the Advocate’s news editor.

Lenovo to buy Google’s Motorola in China’s largest tech deal

By Nadia Damouni, Nicola Leske and Gerry Shih

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Lenovo Group said on Wednesday it agreed to buy Google Inc’s Motorola handset division for $2.91 billion, in what is China’s largest-ever tech Buy Cheap as Lenovo buys its way into a heavily competitive U.S. handset market dominated by Apple Inc.

It is Lenovo’s second major deal on U.S. soil in a week as the Chinese electronics company angles to get a foothold in major global computing markets. Lenovo last week said it would buy IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion.

The deal ends Google’s short-lived foray into making consumer mobile devices and marks a pullback from its largest-ever acquisition. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola in 2012. Under this deal the search giant will keep the majority of Motorola’s mobile patents, considered its prize assets.

Shares of Google climbed 2.6 percent to about $1,136 in after-hours trading. Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said that Google would be best served by focusing on smartphone software rather than devices.

Reuters reported the deal earlier on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the deal.

The purchase will give Lenovo a beach-head to compete against Apple and Samsung Electronics as well as increasingly aggressive Chinese smartphone makers in the highly lucrative U.S. arena.

In 2005, Lenovo muscled its way into what was then the world’s largest PC market by buying IBM’s personal computer division. It has powered its way up the rankings of the global smartphone industry primarily through sales on its home turf but had considered a U.S. sortie of late.

"Using Motorola, just as Lenovo used the IBM ThinkPad brand, to gain quick credibility and access to desirable markets and build critical mass makes a lot of sense," said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.

"But Motorola has not been shooting the lights out with designs or sales volumes in smartphones. So the value is simply in brand recognition to achieve market recognition faster - and to expand the design and marketing team with talent experienced at U.S. and Western markets."


The deal is subject to approval by both U.S. and Chinese authorities.

Chinese companies faced the most scrutiny over their U.S. acquisitions in 2012, according to a report issued in December by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Analysts say political issues could cloud the Motorola sale, especially with Lenovo trying to seal the IBM deal at the same time.

Lenovo will receive over 2,000 “patent assets” as part of the transaction, the companies said, but it remains unknown which will change hands and whether they might be subject to extra scrutiny from regulators.

For Motorola, Lenovo will pay $660 million in cash, $750 million in Lenovo ordinary shares, and another $1.5 billion in the form of a three-year promissory note, Lenovo and Google said in a joint statement.

"The acquisition of such an iconic brand, innovative product portfolio and incredibly talented global team will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones," Lenovo’s chief executive, Yang Yuanqing, said in a statement.

In two years, China’s three biggest handset makers - Huawei, ZTE Corp and Lenovo - have vaulted into the top ranks of global smartphone charts, helped in part by their huge domestic market and spurring talk of a new force in the smartphone wars.

Although Huawei and ZTE have made some inroads in the United States, where the Chinese companies continue to grapple with low brand awareness, perceptions of inferior quality and even security concerns. Lenovo has until now stayed out of the U.S. market.

In the third quarter of last year, ZTE and Huawei accounted for 5.7 percent and 3 percent of all phones sold in the United States, respectively, trailing Apple’s 36.2 percent and Samsung’s 32.5 percent, according to research house IDC.

Huawei declined to comment on the Lenovo deal on Wednesday. ZTE did not immediately offer comment.

Globally, Lenovo ranked fifth in 2013 with a 4.5 percent market share, according to IDC. That’s up from 3.3 percent in 2012 and virtually nil a couple years before that.


For Google, the sale represented a solution to a persistent headache as Motorola’s losses widened in recent quarters. It also showed Google is willing to step back from the handset arena and throw its weight behind device makers that propagate its Android software, Kantar analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

"It all points to Google thinking in the short run that they’re better off betting on Samsung and keeping them close," Milanesi said. "And of course now they’re enabling a second strong runner (Lenovo) in the Android ecosystem."

In 2012, analysts saw Google’s Motorola acquisition as primarily a way to secure the company’s trove of patents amid the technology sector’s increasing legal battles - rather than a bona fide push into the handset business.

Many industry observers were surprised that Google did not immediately sell the hardware division after the deal closed, choosing instead to operate Motorola a separate company.

It did sell Motorola’s cable television set-top box business to Arris Group Inc for $2.35 billion at the end of 2012.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Google’s Page highlighted the strategic choice in selling the Motorola handset business.

"The smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices," Page wrote. "This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere."

Lenovo is being advised by Credit Suisse Group while Lazard Ltd advised Google on the transaction.

(Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

'RHOA' cast member charged with fraud? Scandal rocks Phaedra Parks' family

scandal castp>The Real Housewives of Atlanta fans are in surprise and shock about the latest allegations against Phaedra Parks’ husband Apollo Nida. The cast member who is seen often in the reality show series was charged with fraud and identity theft. According to Access Atlanta on Friday, the complaint was filed by the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Atlanta and Apollo Nida has already surrendered to authorities.

The criminal complained against Apollo Nida is very detailed on the allegations surrounding an investigation from the Secret Service. With the charges being fairly substantial, the reality star was in front of U.S. District Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill. Apollo Nida was released on a pretrial bond of $25,000 and a preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 12, 2014.

The situation for Apollo Nida looks serious for him as well as his wife Phaedra Parks. While Parks has not been named in any of the legal proceedings, the reality star is an attorney who has a very successful part on Real Housewives of Atlanta. If the producers decide that Nida is a liability, it could jeopardize Phaedra Parks’ story line.

Apollo Nida was previously imprisoned from 2004 to 2009 in charges related to auto title fraud. The outcome of this situation might have fans shocked, but also showing sympathy to Phaedra Parks.

Super Bowl Live Auction has Manning jerseys, Chili Peppers drums for sale

Peyton Manning’s grass-stained jersey. Eli Manning’s grass-stained jersey. Whatever your poison, the Coupon Code Bowl Live Auction has it.

Now through Feb. 1, an auction preview and appraisal fair is ongoing at the NFL Shop at Super Bowl, located in Macy’s Herald Square.

The actual auction is on Feb. 1, Super Bowl eve. What prices are we looking at? Anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 for Peyton’s Broncos jersey, and $5,000 to $7,500 for Eli’s Giants jersey. Hey, we know which Manning made the Super Bowl, amirite?

But shirts of the brothers Manning aren’t the only memorabilia on offer. There’s also a Colin Kaepernick-worn 49ers jersey ($6,000 to $8,000), Super Bowl XLVII opening kickoff coin ($3,000 to $5,000) and 1997 Denver Broncos Super Bowl ring (a whopping $20,000 to $30,000), in addition to a slew of other valuable items - 150 in total. Auction proceeds benefit NFL-supported charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the American Cancer Society.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will play Super Bowl halftime with Bruno Mars, are also participating in an NFL auction of a drum kit and drum sticks, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The drums will go to auction after they’ve been used in the halftime show - that auction runs until Feb. 7 at

Throughout the Hunt Auctions appraisal fair, visitors can have their own sports memorabilia valued for free. To call ahead and reserve an appraisal appointment, call (610) 524-0822.

NFL Shop at Super Bowl is in the fourth floor of Macy’s, at 151 W. 34th St. in New York; the store is also hosting a series of appearances from athletes and celebrities.

To see the auction items, visit Pre-bidding on the website ends at 6 p.m. Jan. 31. The live auction starts at noon on Feb. 1. Bids can be made either in person or by phone. Call (610) 524-0822 or email to reserve a phone line.

Amazon coupon codes 2014 Cell Phone deals discount up to 90% off

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