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Tuesday
Jan182011

Comcast Close to Acquiring Control of NBC Universal from GE

Photo Courtesy - NBC Universal(WASHINGTON) -- Comcast Corp., one of the country's largest cable TV providers, could acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. as early as Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The deal is pending approval from Federal Communications Commission officials, who are expected to vote four to one in its favor, people close to the review told the newspaper.  The Justice Department has already finished reviewing the proposal and is ready to approve the deal with some conditions once the FCC gives it the green light.

The Journal reports that, as part of the deal, Comcast will provide more space for independently-owned channels, air more children's programming, keep NBC programming on free TV channels, and guarantee NBC news operations' independence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Poll: Most Americans Feel Now Is a 'Good Time' to Buy a Home

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Results from a recent Gallup poll show that 67 percent of Americans feel that now is a "good time" to buy a home.  These results are similar to previous polls: 72 percent in April 2010 and 71 percent in 2009. 

Gallup says that historically low interest rates and home prices, along with the huge supply of unsold homes and record high number of foreclosures, suggest bargains could continue to get better as the year unfolds, giving Americans "good reason" to think now is a good time to buy a house.

But Gallup also notes that today's housing market conditions may not be in favor of all home buyers.  The pollster says the housing finance system currently works in favor of cash buyers and buyers with perfect credit.  Due to the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the market is limited to potential buyers who can meet their more restrictive loan requirements or those who can buy without a loan.

"As a result," the Gallup report states, "although many feel this is a good time to buy, relatively few can take advantage of the situation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Jan172011

Delta, United Airlines Hike Domestic Fares

Photo Courtesy - Delta Airlines(NEW YORK) -- A proprietary airfare processing system used by FareCompare detected "significant domestic airfare hike activity" Monday afternoon from both Delta and United Airlines on the majority of their respective route systems, according to the airfare shopping website. 

Delta's domestic ticket prices increased by up to $20 roundtrip, while United raised domestic prices by up to $10 roundtrip.

FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney said "usually one airline leads out on a domestic hike with others deciding to match in the following 36 hours."  Seaney said Delta or United will have to adjust their hike to be in line with one another due to the recessionary competitive rule that says an airline's price hike can never be $1 more or less than their competitor's.

This fare hike is the second in 2011 and the fourth since mid-December 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Virgin America Places Airbus' 10,000th Order with 60 New Planes

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Virgin America(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Virgin America ordered 60 new Airbus A320 planes, including 30 of the A320neo, a new eco-efficient engine option.  The new request, which triples Virgin's fleet size, marks 10,000 orders for Airbus.

Virgin is also the launch customer for the fuel-saving A320neo, which is guaranteed to be the most fuel and carbon-efficient commercial aircraft in the world.  The aircraft also promises lower operating costs and reduced engine noise.

Virgin America President and CEO David Cush attributes much of Virgin's success to "having the right aircraft."

"The low operating costs, cabin comfort and carbon-efficient design of our new Airbus320 Family fleet has helped fuel our growth and success in the North American market -- and we're confident the A320neo will only build on that," he said.

It is not by accident that Virgin America is placing the first commercial order for the new Airbus eco-friendly plane.  Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO, said in a statement that achieving the aircraft-builder's 10,000th order is a "ringing endorsement of [Airbus'] product line," and "to do so with Virgin America, one of our newest and trendiest customers, is very fitting."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Jan172011

College Student Pays Tuition in Dollar Bills

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DENVER) -- University of Colorado-Boulder student Nic Ramos made his point about the rising cost of education Friday morning when he paid his $14,000 tuition entirely in $1 bills, reports Denver ABC affiliate KMGH.

The 20-year-old economics major packed 33 pounds of cash that he had withdrawn from several different bank branches over two days into a duffel bag and delivered the cash to the CU business office Friday morning.

The large cash payment has drawn an even larger amount of attention since the Boulder Daily Camera posted an interview with Ramos on YouTube.

"It might seem like it's kind of a useless cause," Ramos said in the video.  But, he said, "Just the sheer volume [of cash], just looking at this really sends a message.  Money does talk.  Tuition is extremely high for out-of-state [students] and it's only going up for in-state [students].  Maybe...people will kind of think of how much it really does cost to go to CU."

Ramos continued to tell the Boulder Daily Camera that he wanted to show the school "how much people are willing to give up" and "how much education really does cost for just one semester."

Bronson Hilliard, a spokesman for the university, told The New York Times it took three clerks nearly an hour to count the money.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Favre Moves Toward Retirement, But He's Not Done Making Money

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Hyundai Motor America(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Brett Favre spent 20 seasons in the NFL splitting his time between the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings. On Monday, multiple reports said he had filed his retirement papers with the league and that there was no indication that he would return.

Although he won't be earning a paycheck on the field, that doesn't necessarily mean he won't be making any money. Fans of Favre likely know of his website, BrettFavre.com. The future Hall of Famer allows fans to read his biography, send him fan mail, and write on a message board on his website. There is also merchandise, some of it for a premium cost, for sale on his digital domain.

While the average ticket to an NFL game in 2010 costs a fan $76.47, according to Team Marketing Report, Favre offers items that will leave a wallet much emptier. For example, one item in the Fan Store section of the site, the "Thanks for the Memories" autographed poster, costs $299.99. That's at a markdown from $399.99.

The non-autographed version sells for just $24.99.

One of the more expensive autographed items on his website is a "Brett Favre Limited Edition Football", autographed with a silver pen. The ball sells for $499.99. The site says that "a portion of the proceeds will go to the Favre 4 Hope Foundation."

Favre's NFL-record 297-game consecutive start streak was snapped on December 13, 2010. Fans can purchase several varieties of signed helmets celebrating Favre's streak, with some of them going for $699.99.

If the picky shopper can't find anything and is looking for a game-worn jersey, they'll just have to wait. The purple Vikings jersey worn by Favre on October 17th, 2010 against the Dallas Cowboys is out of stock. The jersey is listed at $12,000.

Favre sat out the final two games of the season after suffering a concussion earlier in the season against the Chicago Bears.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Economists Warn Job Creation Might Take Years

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On Wall Street this week, experts are expecting more evidence that the banks are back with record profits in the forecast, but American workers are still looking for jobs even with these corporate windfalls. 

Banks may be optimistic, but Dawn Rayner is not. "I am two months behind on the mortgage. I have enough to pay the utilities for maybe this month and then I have absolutely not a penny left," Rayner says. Dawn is a 99er, one of 1.5 million Americans who've been unemployed for 99 weeks or more and have run out of unemployment benefits. The tax bill recently signed into law doesn't extend unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks.

In rallies and online, the 99ers are organizing. The websites are part support group, part petition to Congress to pass legislation to extend benefits for people like Dawn. Even with a master's degree, and thousands of  resume submissions...still, no job. She collected her last unemployment check nine months ago. "At this point the only jobs that I see available in my area are drivers from Pizza Hut, I've sent them resumes as well." 

People out of work for more than a year only have a nine percent chance of being rehired. "I think the job market is starting to rev up at just the right time to provide these folks with some opportunity when they desperately need it" according to Mark Zandi, Chief Economist with Moody's. For the first time in more than three years, the job market is expected to show stronger gains in 2011. 

In fact, in a recent survey, forty-five percent of CEOs said they plan to add jobs this year, but Zandi says not so fast. "It is going to be a tough slog. It's going to take a while to re-employ all these people." 

Many economists say we're not talking months, but years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Apple CEO Steve Jobs to Take Medical Leave of Absence

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Monday he will be taking a medical leave of absence.

A spokesman for the Apple co-founder confirmed to ABC News the company's board of directors granted it for an undisclosed reason.  Jobs sent out an email to all Apple employees saying he is taking the leave to "focus on his health."  He also said that he will remain as the company's CEO and will "be involved in major strategic decisions for the company."

Back in 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and later in 2009, he had a liver transplant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Toyota Halts Production at Several Plants Over Heavy Snow

Photo Courtesy - Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Toyota Motor Corp. announced it would temporarily suspend operations at nearly a dozen plants in central Japan Monday as heavy snow moves into the area, disrupting auto parts delivery.

The plants affected are all in Aichi Prefecture and include facilities that assemble the Prius -- Toyota's popular hybrid vehicle.  The automaker said it will add extra working hours to make up for the delay and plans to resume production on Tuesday.

Monday's suspension is the first time Toyota has halted production at this level since 2005.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Starbucks to Offer New Supersized Trenta Cup

Photo Courtesy - Starbucks Coffee Company(SEATTLE) -- Coffee addicts have a new reason to celebrate -- Starbucks announced Sunday it will begin offering a new menu item: the 31-ounce Trenta cup.

The new size is seven ounces larger than the current Venti and will be used exclusively for iced coffee, iced tea and lemonade beverages, the company said in a press release.

For a lucky few, Tuesday is the day to supersize your favorite coffee treat. That's when Arizona, Texas, Florida and 14 other states will roll out the new size, followed by California on Feb. 1. The rest of the country will have to wait until May 3, when all of the coffee shops in the U.S. will begin serving the Trenta.

The Trenta will be an average of 50 cents more than the Venti, the next largest size.

Starbucks Corp has unveiled a variety of changes over the past several months as they step up to fend off their latest competition, McDonald's McCafe. In 2009, the world's largest fast-food chain took a new approach to their menu and offered a variety of coffee-house-style beverages, including frappes, fruit smoothies, and lattes at much cheaper prices than Starbucks' equivalents.

But Starbucks continues to stay ahead of the curve. The company is going over plans to begin serving regional wine and beer and artisan cheeses, and redesign the locations for a cozier and greener vibe, according to a new prototype by Starbucks executives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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