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BusINess » Communications

Archives for the ‘Communications’ Category

Ad recovery boosts revenue for broadcast, cable

In this file photograph taken Sept. 2, 2005, Times Square is reflected in the Viacom logo on its headquarters in a New York. Viacom's second-quarter profit jumped almost 52 percent Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010, boosted by cost-cutting at its Paramount Pictures film studio and higher revenue from its cable channels. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

In this file photograph taken Sept. 2, 2005, Times Square is reflected in the Viacom logo on its headquarters in a New York. Viacom's second-quarter profit jumped almost 52 percent Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010, boosted by cost-cutting at its Paramount Pictures film studio and higher revenue from its cable channels. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

Americans may be fond of the Web, but they are still in love with their TV sets—and so are the advertisers who want to reach them.

Big media companies are riding a rebound in TV ad spending. This week, Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. both reported that their cable TV channels saw improvements in advertising revenue. CBS Corp. saw a similar rebound at its local television stations. News Corp. saw growth on both sides.

The companies’ results this week offer one encouraging data point for economic prognosticators. It means businesses have the money to spend on commercial time again. And they are more confident that consumers will have the money to respond to their ads at shopping malls and car dealerships.

Media executives say the rebound can keep rolling into 2011.
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Times parent reports growth in digital advertising

Digital advertising sales for Davenport-based Lee Enterprises increased 24.8 percent in the third fiscal quarter, compared with one year ago, while the decline in total revenue moderated to 3.6 percent and cash costs decreased 5.7 percent.

Digital advertising revenue on a stand-alone basis grew to $12.9 million, representing 9.2 percent of total advertising revenue, according to the third-quarter earnings report released Tuesday. Digital retail advertising revenue rose 34.3 percent and digital classified advertising increased 13.2 percent.

Earnings per diluted common share were 22 cents, compared with a loss of 55 cents a year ago. Excluding adjustments for unusual items in both years, earnings per diluted common share more than doubled to 26 cents from 12 cents a year ago.
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Professor develops feline-friendly app

Valparaiso University electrical and computer engineering professor Jeff Will has developed his own iPhone application called Here Kitty, Kitty! Will said it took him two weeks to develop the application, which plays various recordings to attract a cat. (Photograph by The Times.)

Valparaiso University electrical and computer engineering professor Jeff Will has developed his own iPhone application called Here Kitty, Kitty! Will said it took him two weeks to develop the application, which plays various recordings to attract a cat. (Photograph by The Times.)

A local college professor, with the assistance of two of his former students, has come up with a unique way to help you find your lost cat.

Jeff Will, a Valparaiso University professor of electrical and computer engineering, has developed a feline-friendly iPhone application. Here Kitty, Kitty! now is available on iTunes for 99 cents.

He developed the app for all iOS devices (including the new iPad) as a fun way for users to manage their cats with familiar sounds that will bring the feline around when they don’t come when called. It features the sounds of a cat meowing, a man calling a cat and an electric can opener readying a feline feast.

Will also felt it was a way to embark on new technological territory—that it was a cool idea and neat to see “how everything works.”
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Hugh Hefner offers to take Playboy private

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is offering to buy the remaining shares of the media empire, taking the company private, in a deal that values the company at $185 million. (AP PHOTO)

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is offering to buy the remaining shares of the media empire, taking the company private, in a deal that values the company at $185 million. (AP PHOTO)

Hugh Hefner’s offer to take Playboy Enterprises Inc. private drew the promise of a competing bid on Monday from the owner of archrival Penthouse magazine. That raises the possibility that Playboy’s 84-year-old founder could lose control of the men’s magazine he started more than half a century ago.

Playboy said Monday that Hefner has lined up backing from a little-known private equity firm to buy the shares of the media empire that he doesn’t already own and take the company private in a deal that values the organization at $185 million.

A few hours later, Marc Bell, the CEO of Penthouse owner FriendFinder, said his company will make a formal bid soon. Bell had acquired Penthouse as part of a 2003 bankruptcy reorganization that also saw the resignation of founder Robert Guccione as the company’s CEO.

Playboy, which Hefner launched in 1953, had its most popular years in the 1970s and has been struggling recently to stay profitable amid dwindling ad revenue and increased competition from free alternatives online.

The racy magazine, which still generates the largest share of the company’s revenue, sold about 311 ad pages last year, down from 765 in 2000, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Its average circulation has fallen by about a million over the same period to 2.02 million copies.

These days, most of the company’s profits come from licensing its brand for consumer products such as men’s underwear, women’s lingerie, watches, energy drinks and slot machines.
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Small company thinks global

The machinery that makes these types of mailings is manufactured at Global Web Finishing in Merrillville. (Photograph by The Times.)

The machinery that makes these types of mailings is manufactured at Global Web Finishing in Merrillville. (Photograph by The Times.)

When four professionals employed in the printing and finishing field felt the pain of the economic downturn, they pooled their knowledge and experience to create their own company, Global Web Finishing.

That twist on turning lemons into lemonade has worked for the business that recently shipped its first, from-scratch piece of equipment to a British print shop in York.

“Every business is shrinking in this economy. We are all about efficiencies,” said Michael Back, a Crown Point attorney who became a partner after doing legal work to form the company. The other partners are CEO Steve Orto, Tom Nadrchal, Tom Payer and John Nader.
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Apple `stunned’ to find iPhones show too many bars

In this June 7, 2010 photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about the composition and metal antennae band that surrounds the new Apple iPhone4 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, in San Francisco. Apple Inc. said Friday that it was "stunned" to find that its iPhones have for years been using a "totally wrong" formula to determine how many bars of signal strength they are getting. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Apple Inc. said Friday that it was “stunned” to find that its iPhones have for years been using a “totally wrong” formula to determine how many bars of signal strength they are getting.

Apple said that’s the reason behind widespread complaints from users that the latest model, iPhone 4, can show a sudden plunge in signal strength when they hold it in a way that covers a small black strip on one edge of the phone. Users have jokingly called this the “death grip” for the phone.

That drop seems exaggerated because the phone can wrongly display four or five bars of signal strength when it shouldn’t, Apple said.

“Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” the company said in a statement to users.

Yet the statement that the bar display is “totally wrong” is surprising, because there is no standard formula in the industry for translating signal strength to bars.
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IPhone insurance now available, but too expensive?

In this June 24, 2010 file photo, Piotr Kubiak of Oakland, Ill., shows off his new Apple iPhone 4, outside of an Apple store, in Chicago. Absent-minded iPhone users can now insure their device against loss or accidents. But with high monthly fees and deductibles of $199, it might make more sense to just learn to be careful. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, file)

In this June 24, 2010 file photo, Piotr Kubiak of Oakland, Ill., shows off his new Apple iPhone 4, outside of an Apple store, in Chicago. Absent-minded iPhone users can now insure their device against loss or accidents. But with high monthly fees and deductibles of $199, it might make more sense to just learn to be careful.
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, file)

Absent-minded iPhone users can now insure their devices against loss or accidents. But with a $12 monthly fee and a $199 deductible for the latest model, it might make more sense to just learn to be careful.

Asurion, an insurer of consumer-electronics products, has started a new policy that will cover iPhones that are lost or stolen, or get damaged whether dropped on the ground or into a pitcher of beer. Cracked screens, a common iPhone mishap, will be replaced, even if the phone otherwise works.

It’s the only insurance plan for the iPhone authorized by AT&T Inc., the exclusive wireless carrier in the United States for Apple Inc.’s popular smart phone.

Replacing a phone can be costly. Although the iPhone 4 costs $199 or $299 with a two-year contract with AT&T, customers would need to pay the full retail price of $599 or $699 to replace a phone in the middle of the contract.

Repairs aren’t cheap, either. Tekserve, an Apple retailer and repair shop in New York, charges $149 to replace a cracked screen and $99 for a broken microphone or charging port. (Apple didn’t responded to repeated inquiries on repair service charges at the company’s stores.)

Nonetheless, the value of the new insurance product is questionable.

“These policies aren’t worth it,” said Mike Gikas, senior editor of Consumer Reports magazine. “You are paying more than the phone is actually worth if you lose it later in the contract.”

Gikas said that the best option is to buy a used phone from a website such as eBay, or get an older one from a friend, until the contract is up. He said the overwhelming majority of users do not lose or break their phones, making the premium prices far too high.
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AT&T not selling iPhone 4 until June 29

Though Apple stores will be carrying the iPhone 4 this Thursday, you’ll have to wait until next week if you want to buy it from its official U.S. wireless carrier, AT&T Inc.

AT&T said Tuesday that it will start selling the iPhone 4 on June 29 through its stores and website to anyone who wants to buy one but was not able to order on June 15—the first day that Apple and its partners took orders for the gadget. AT&T stopped taking orders the next day because of overwhelming demand.

AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook said that because the number of early orders for the new iPhone were so high, the company “made it our priority to fulfill these orders first.”
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Diversity strategies key to business success

Human Resources representative Holly Panshyn, center talks Wednesday with job seekers during The Times Diversity Job Fair and Business Symposium at the Radisson in Merrillville. Over 30 businesses greeted job seekers and talked briefly with hundreds of candidates looking for work. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

Human Resources representative Holly Panshyn, center talks Wednesday with job seekers during The Times Diversity Job Fair and Business Symposium at the Radisson in Merrillville. Over 30 businesses greeted job seekers and talked briefly with hundreds of candidates looking for work. (Photograph by John Luke/The Times.)

Luis Sierra likened the importance of diversity being a part of a workplace to pushing a boulder up a hill.

Sierra, chief financial officer at the BP Whiting Refinery, said all members of a company need to have a hand on the boulder to make diversity initiatives work in a company, but he cautioned against them trying to do too much at once.

Panelists, which included Sierra, and attendees of The Times’ third annual Diversity Job Fair and Business Symposium on Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza discussed strategies for maintaining a workforce that reflects the community and how it can drive profitability. Times Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. said a goal of the events is to help people identify ways to use diversity and make their workplaces better.
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T-Mobile promotion to offer free phones

Wireless carrier T-Mobile plans to give free phones to customers who sign up for group calling plans at its retail stores on Saturday—just days before rival At&T will start selling Apple’s latest iPhone.

T-Mobile said Tuesday that throughout Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., new customers will be able to get free handsets of their choice by signing up for a “family plan,” which is a calling plan that has at least two users. Current T-Mobile customers can convert a single-user plan into a family plan by adding at least one user, or adding lines to a family plan they already have. You can get up to five free phones with a single family plan, though each will come with a two-year contract.

The promotion includes T-Mobile’s newest smart phones running Google Inc.’s Android operating software, such as the HTC myTouch 3G Slide, which usually sells for $180 with a two-year contract and rebate, and Garminfone, which usually costs $200 with a two-year contract and rebate. Some phones will require a mail-in rebate, T-Mobile said.
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