General Mills Reverses Change to Legal Terms After Backlash

General Mills expanded its privacy policy last week to require that all disputes be resolved through arbitration or informal negotiation. According to the change to its legal terms, consumers who engage in online interactions such as downloading coupons, liking the brand’s Facebook page, or entering a company-sponsored sweepstakes would give up their right to sue. Due to public outrage over the changes, General Mills announced over the weekend it was voiding those terms. Continue reading General Mills Reverses Change to Legal Terms After Backlash

Mario Batali to Kickstart New Dailymotion Original Programming

In an effort to attract more U.S. viewers, Paris-based online video site Dailymotion is pushing new original programming that it hopes will help the service compete with Google’s YouTube. Dailymotion plans to initially commit between $3 million and $4 million to produce up to six series this year that will include leading personalities from industries such as food, music and entertainment. The company is also courting U.S. firms as potential investors. Continue reading Mario Batali to Kickstart New Dailymotion Original Programming

DirecTV in Talks with Disney for New Licensing Agreement

Following this week’s news of a first-of-its kind licensing agreement between Disney and the Dish Network, DirecTV said it is in similar talks to license the rights to offer Disney channels as part of an Internet-based product. The rights are part of a larger programming deal that would replace a current agreement slated to expire in December. In related news, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said he expects to reach a streaming deal with Netflix and hopes to partner with content providers for a broadband-only video service. Continue reading DirecTV in Talks with Disney for New Licensing Agreement

HBO Chief Exec on a Standalone Version of HBO GO Service

During a Q&A session at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco yesterday, HBO CEO Richard Plepler indicated that the company has considered offering a standalone version of its HBO GO service. However, the prospect of offering broadband-only distribution will depend largely on demand, and only a small percentage of subscribers currently use HBO GO. The traditional model is still working for the premium channel, which reported subscriber gains of 2 million in 2013. Continue reading HBO Chief Exec on a Standalone Version of HBO GO Service

Japanese Companies Developing Technology for VR Broadcasts

Japanese telecom giant NTT and video network NicoNico Douga have co-developed a 360-degree broadcast video system designed to replicate live events such as concerts. The “interactive” system is expected to connect to existing head-mounted displays, so that viewers will enjoy some degree of personalized viewing. Through the collaboration, live video content recorded in Tokyo has been developed alongside broadcast tech intended to optimize both the video and audio quality. Continue reading Japanese Companies Developing Technology for VR Broadcasts

FCC Scheduled to Begin Wireless Airwaves Auctions This Week

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to conduct its first major auction of wireless airwaves in six years today. Telecom analysts at New Street Research estimate that national wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile — along with satellite TV operator Dish Network — will spend at least $46 billion on spectrum over the next two years in a series of auctions. Next year, the government plans to sell coveted spectrum in the 600 megahertz band, used by TV stations, to be resold for wireless use. Continue reading FCC Scheduled to Begin Wireless Airwaves Auctions This Week

Deal Update: Vodafone and Verizon Agree on Financial Terms

Last week we reported that Verizon Communications had scheduled a board meeting to discuss the possible acquisition of Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, a deal that would be the second-largest acquisition on record and potentially lead to additional mergers across the global telecom industry. Vodafone confirmed late yesterday that terms of the deal call for Verizon to pay $130 billion. If approved by both boards, the deal could be announced as early as this afternoon. Continue reading Deal Update: Vodafone and Verizon Agree on Financial Terms

Verizon-Vodafone Deal Could Potentially Upend Telecom Market

Verizon Communications is reportedly in talks with Vodafone Group to pay as much as $130 billion for Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. The deal, which could be completed within a week, would be the second-largest acquisition on record and could possibly lead to a new round of mergers across the global telecom industry. According to people familiar with the matter, Verizon has scheduled a board meeting to discuss the deal. Continue reading Verizon-Vodafone Deal Could Potentially Upend Telecom Market

AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security and Monitoring

AT&T announced that it has launched its Digital Life home security and monitoring service in 15 U.S. cities with plans to expand to 50 locations this year. Built on the telecom’s 2010 acquisition of Xamboo, it will compete with security offerings by companies like ADT and various startups building devices for the connected home. Digital Life will provide visual access via Web-connected cameras and sensors hooked up to a broadband connection. Continue reading AT&T Launches Digital Life Home Security and Monitoring

Telecom: FCC Approves Dish Network Plan to Convert Spectrum

Many hedge fund and telecom execs have bought up various bands of spectrum in hopes of converting it for wireless networks. The FCC has denied several requests, keeping its strident allotment for airwaves, but the commission recently gave the rare green light to Dish Network.

“Late Tuesday, the FCC unanimously approved [Dish Chairman Charlie] Ergen’s plan,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Under the order, Dish would be required to not use a portion of its spectrum to avoid interference with neighboring airwaves, according to FCC officials. The company would also be required to cover at least 70 percent of the new network in each of its geographic license areas within seven years.”

Ergen started assembling the spectrum five years ago through government auctions and investments in flailing satellite companies, spending roughly $3 billion. “At a stroke, the FCC has now raised its value to as much as $12 billion, according to some analysts’ estimates. Mr. Ergen has to do the hard work of putting that spectrum to use or getting FCC approval to sell it,” the article states.

“Wireless service could give Dish an important new line of business in a mature U.S. pay TV market, where its cable TV rivals are able to sell popular ‘bundles’ of telephone, television, and high-speed Internet service.” Rather than building its own network, Dish could partner with a carrier like Sprint Nextel, or potentially even an outside company like Google, to offer wireless service with the spectrum.

“Consumers, meanwhile, could benefit whatever Dish decides, as the FCC’s decision frees up more bandwidth for data-hungry devices like smartphones and tablets,” explains WSJ. “The drawn-out process of converting that spectrum also highlighted how slowly regulators have moved to put much-needed airwaves to more valuable uses.”