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May 21, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Vivendi to buy MP3.com

Vivendi Universal will acquire San Diego-based online music distribution technology provider MP3.com for $372 million in cash and stock. The deal is structured as a reorganization that will be tax-free to MP3.com shareholders to the extent that they receive Vivendi Universal shares.

The acquisition represents a key piece of the puzzle for Duet, Vivendi Universal’s joint venture with Sony Music to create an online digital music subscription service. Duet is expected to launch this summer through a number of distribution alliances, the first being with Yahoo!

Tabacoff senior producer at Fox News Channel: David Tabacoff has been named senior producer at Fox News Channel and executive producer of broadcast specials starring Fox News star Bill O’Reilly. Mr. Tabacoff spent 24 years at ABC News and most recently was executive producer of “20/20 Downtown” until he decided to take the buyout package with which ABC parent company Disney intends to eliminate 4,000 jobs this summer.

Mr. Tabacoff, an Emmy winner who Mr. O’Reilly worked with when the latter was a correspondent at ABC News in the ’80s, reports to Fox on June 11.

A&E creates integrated marketing unit: In yet another sign that this is the year of integration in advertising and marketing, A&E Television Networks has announced the creation of a new integrated marketing department to be led by Bruce Thomas, a veteran industry executive with Internet, broadband, cable and broadcast experience.

The new department is charged with cross-platform sales for the four A&E networks — A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel and History International.

Powell blasts broadband prices: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell said Monday that cable and phone providers of high-speed Internet access may be undermining their businesses through constant price hikes of their broadband services. “The price rises — I don’t know if they’re justified or not — but they are going to hurt growth,” he said during an informal question-and-answer session at a conference in Washington sponsored by Forrester Research.

Mr. Powell declined to take a stance on the Tauzin-Dingell bill, which deregulates the Bell phone companies to make them more competitive with cable in the high-speed Internet access business. But he did say that existing communications law, including the 1996 Telecommunications Act, is pro-cable because it imposes more regulations on phone companies than on cable providers.

Sports stoke Oxygen: Oxygen Media is looking to add more muscle to its summer lineup with a slate of exclusive women’s sports events, including broadcasts of World Cup competition in swimming, mountain bike cross-country and triathlon as well broadcasts of diving, water skiing, cycling and golfing events. Oxygen’s sports division also will be offering a women’s biography series, with profiles of female athletes.

Two Way links to ConnectTV: Britain’s Two Way TV signed a five-year deal with interactive platform ConnectTV to launch a TV games channel in Hebrew. The multiplatform endeavor will give Israelis their first taste of interactive TV games this spring, launching first on digital cable networks MATAV and Tevel. ConnectTV backer Dankner Investments holds a 45 percent controlling interest in MATAV Digital cable company.

In the United Kingdom, the Two Way TV channel is already available to more than 900,000 digital cable homes and will soon go live to a further 1 million ONdigital (digital terrestrial TV) subscribers. Two Way TV Portugal will launch later this year on TV Cabo’s digital cable network.

Consumer Broadcast to serve KCOP: Los Angeles-based Consumer Broadcast Group, which provides consumer-complaint handling and resolution services to stations, has added KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, to its list of clients. Consumer Broadcast Group helps news departments on consumer issues and answers complaints within 24 hours.

‘Due East’ a go: It’s a green light for “Due East,” a Showtime original film that will star Robert Forster, Kate Capshaw and Cybill Shepherd and will be directed by actress Helen Shaver. The film, about a bookish, small-town Southern teen (Clara Bryant) and the complications of her first love, is based on “Due East” and “How I Got Him Back,” two books by Valerie Sayers. The picture is slated for first quarter 2002.

Chronicle documentary net details expansion plans: Chronicle, the all-documentary digital network from Offline Holdings, is set to launch in July with the expectation that it will be in 500,000 digital homes by the end of the year and, according to a spokesperson, in 20 million homes four years from now. Rollout dates for its three projected digital sister networks are January 2002 for Offbeat, targeted at Gen X and Gen Y; summer 2002 for Kidstuff, aimed at the kids 4 to 12 demographic; and January 2003 for Passport, a travel channel. Rick Blume, a founder of Action Pay Per View, is Offline’s president and chief operating officer.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications