National / International News

AT&T reportedly pursuing acquisition of DirecTV

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 06:13

AT&T is reportedly discussing an acquisition of DirecTV, according to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Comcast already has a $45 billion merger pending with Time Warner Cable -- it’s being scrutinized for anti-trust implications by the Federal Communications Commission. Comcast would end up with 30 million subscribers if the merger is approved. AT&T would reach approximately 26 million pay-TV subscribers with DirecTV, the biggest satellite TV provider, ahead of rival Dish Network. DirecTV could cost $40 billion to purchase, according to the Journal.

A merged Comcast-Time Warner Cable would become the nation’s biggest cable company (Comcast already has the largest number of subscribers), and would also be a dominant player in the broadband internet market. AT&T already has a mid-sized pay-TV business, as well as delivering video to its large mobile-phone subscriber base. If AT&T were to absorb DirecTV, it would have a bigger national footprint for delivering mobile television and video to smart-devices.

Regulators and lawmakers are scrutinizing the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal. An AT&T-DirecTV deal, if it happened, would likely raise significant antitrust concerns as well.

On the plus side, AT&T could argue that a merger will enable the company to better compete with a new cable-broadband internet giant, Comcast-plus-Time-Warner. On the other hand, fewer pay-television providers nationwide would shrink the competitive playing field and leave consumers in many markets with few providers to choose among, says technology analyst Carl Howe, vice president at the Yankee Group.

“The FCC is faced with a very difficult choice,” says Howe. “They can try to prohibit such mergers, which leaves a lot of smaller companies that may not be terribly competitive in the market. Or, they can allow these mergers and end up with monopolies. Neither choice is necessarily great for consumers.”

Howe says we could end up with a big-three of internet-telephone-cable-TV companies in the end -- Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon -- just like there were once three over-the-air broadcast networks -- ABC, NBC and CBS -- that dominated media delivery to American households. The new media-telecom behemoths could bundle all their services together for one low -- or not so low -- price, says Howe.

Imola circuit holds Senna silence

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 06:09
The Imola circuit where Ayrton Senna died 20 years ago today is holding four days of tributes to the Brazilian.

Heroin 'role' in Geldof death

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 06:04
Heroin is "likely" to have played a role in the death of TV presenter Peaches Geldof, 25, an inquest hears.

Day in pictures: 1 May 2014

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:58
News photos from past 24 hours: 1 May

Protester hits Nigel Farage with egg

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:57
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage is hit by an egg as he campaigns ahead of the European elections.

AUDIO: Celebrity fashion endorsements rise

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:45
Fashion merchandising expert Maria Malone says the use of celebrity endorsements is becoming "more prevalent".

Tear gas at Turkish May Day protests

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:40
Riot police in Turkey use tear gas and water cannon to prevent demonstrators defying a ban on protests on Istanbul's central Taksim Square.

Ukraine To Expel Russian Diplomat Reportedly Caught Taking Classified Info

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:40

Moscow's unnamed military attache was caught red-handed, according to officials in Kiev.

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School rebuilding: £2bn funding

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:40
A school repair programme in England is allocated £2bn, to fund rebuilding work between 2015 and 2021.

Mystery of YouTube's box clips grows

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:35
Who is posting thousands of weird shapes and sounds, and why?

VIDEO: Where is inequality gap heading?

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:20
French economist Thomas Piketty is causing a stir with his new book about the gap between rich and poor. Newsnight policy editor Chris Cook talks you through some of Piketty's analysis and his controversial policy suggestions.

VIDEO: Labour launches election campaign

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:15
Labour leader Ed Miliband has launched his party's campaign for local council and European elections.

Allardyce vows to carry on at Hammers

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:09
Manager Sam Allardyce says he is delivering what the West Ham owners want despite unrest among some fans.

Nigeria parents plead for help

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 05:04
Parents of the 230 schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria march in their hometown of Chibok to plead for more help to find their daughters, residents tell the BBC.

Woman has Caesarean ordered by court

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:58
A mentally-ill woman gives birth after a High Court judge ruled doctors could perform a Caesarean section.

Police quiz Adams on woman's murder

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:50
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams continues to be questioned by Northern Ireland police in connection with the 1972 murder of widow and mother-of-10 Jean McConville.

McCanns tell of police 'frustrations'

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:47
Missing Madeleine McCann's parents express frustration at the lack of a joint police inquiry into the case and her mother says she still walks the resort's streets to feel closer to her daughter.

Sinn Fein Leader Questioned In 40-Year-Old Murder Case

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:46

Gerry Adams, the political group's longtime president, says he rejects "malicious allegations" tying him to the kidnapping and killing of an alleged British spy in Northern Ireland in 1972.

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Google heads to Hacker School

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:44

There's an urban legend in the tech community that goes like this: The School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University used to keep track of how many of their undergraduates were men named Dave versus how many were women. And it was considered an accomplishment when they got the ratio down to one Dave for every woman. Here is the latest installment in our series about the tech industry's diversity challenges called “I am not a Dave”.

Hacker School is not as dangerous as it sounds. In fact, it is a 12 week program based in New York which takes 60 participants who want to learn how to be better programmers. Students work on everything from developing their own operating system, to designing apps, to understanding the tools that make complex integrated circuits. Rose Ames is one such student.

Ames is from a small, rural town in Ontario, Canada with a population of only about 700 people. She found a love of math and programming through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and eventually learned enough to apply and be accepted to Hacker School. Participants attend the program for free, but New York is not an inexpensive place to live. Ames, a mother of four, says she would not have been able to attend were it not for the $5,000 grants given to qualified female programmers by Google. It's part of an effort to address the notorious imbalance of men and women in the tech industry.

For her part, Ames does not think that getting the tech industry to hire more women would drastically change how things are done. To her, it just makes sense that if companies want to have the best programmers, they have to open the field to as many candidates as possible:

"I think you have to judge each person on their own merits. I don’t think you’re going to see a huge difference in tech by getting it to be 50 percent female, except of course overall you’re choosing from a bigger pool so you’re going to have more talent available to you."

VIDEO: Kate McCann's solace from Portugal trips

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-01 04:41
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have told the BBC of their frustrations over the inquiry into their daughter's disappearance.
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