APPLE will reportedly offer iTunes movie rentals from Warner Bros., Fox, Paramount, and Lions Gate. Rentals will cost $3.99 for 24 hours. An announcement is expected during the Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld on January 15th.
HARVEY WEINSTEIN told reporters that WEINSTEIN CO. has signed an interim deal with the WGA. Weinstein called it a “done deal” that he expects to officially sign this morning. The self-declared “lightning rod” hopes the deal will push the major studios to return to the bargaining table.
SONY BMG has officially announced that it will sell its entire catalog DRM-free on the Amazon MP3 download service. Amazon is now the only music download service selling unrestricted tracks from all four major labels. Dropping DRM has become a tactical necessity, as the labels look for a way to break Apple’s stronghold on the music download market. Any serious iTunes competitor must offer iPod compatibility, a major benefit of the MP3 format.
ECHOSTAR received CNET’s Home Video “Best of CES” award for the TR-50, a digital-to-analog converter box. The feature-packed box includes a DVR that will record free over-the-air broadcasts of HDTV, a 7-day program guide to schedule recordings, an Ethernet connection for Internet functions and more. The TR-50 is the enhanced version of the stripped-down TR-40, a converter box that will be fully covered by the NTIA’s converter coupon program. The TR-50 offers a compelling solution for consumers that don’t have (or don’t want) cable or satellite service.
CBS will sell four TV stations to Four Points Media Group for $185 million. The deal finishes a round of medium and small market sell-offs for the network that began in 2006. CBS sold 11 TV stations and 39 radio stations during that time for almost $1 billion. It now owns 29 TV stations and 140 radio stations.
THE FCC has given approval to a deal that will take Clear Channel Communications private for $19.5 billion. As part of the deal, the company will sell off 448 of its 1,150 radio stations. Shareholders have approved the deal and are now waiting for acceptance by the Justice Department.