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    Comcast Corp's board was meeting late on Thursday to finalize plans to abandon its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc, according to a person directly familiar with the matter. An announcement is expected as early as Friday, the person added, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

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    Mexican broadcaster Televisa, the world's biggest provider of Spanish-language TV content, on Thursday reported a 70 percent increase in its first-quarter net profit on a one-time payment it received from Univision. The company reported a net profit of 1.453 billion pesos, up from 853.9 million pesos in the same quarter a year earlier.

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    When Indiana passed a “religious freedom” law last month, state business leadersexpressedconcern about whether the rule would hurt their bottom lines.In the Virginia governor’s mansion, a certain set of gray eyebrows perked up.The tension in Indiana was just the opening that Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) needed. The former banker and serial businessman got on the phone and called eight or nine of the companies that publicly lamented the law.“Where a major company says I’m unhappy with something or I don’t want to be here anymore or I’m not going to expand, I see that. That’s open fishing for me,” McAuliffe said. “I get my rod and my reel, and I get out there.”He could use a big haul. Despite his occasional assertions that the state’s economy is “booming,” a year into his governorship McAuliffe is overseeing an economy in which its largest employer by far, the Defense Department, has been battered by cutbacks.Overall, 13 of the top 20 employers in the state are public agencies or contractors dependent on public spending — a troubling over-reliance on the government for jobs.In Northern Virginia, county budgets are suffering from write-downs of commercial property values as near-record office vacancies pile up. In Arlington County, officials closed the money-losing Artisphere complex and put nearly $1 million of the money saved into economic development efforts.Given those troubling indicators, and with his top legislative priority dashed in Richmond, McAuliffe in January reworked his objectives to accentuate economic development, an arena in which he could unleash his relentless — some would say obsessive — appetite to make a deal.He takes prospects on nighttime tours of the state capital. To woo a craft brewing company to Richmond, he installed a Kegerator in the executive mansion. To seal a deal with a Chinese paper manufacturer, he traveled to China, gobbled up a plate of three fried cicadas — considered a delicacy — and then ordered another.[Related: Chinese paper company to set up shop in Richmond suburbs]“He will go anywhere. He will call anybody. He will invite you over the executive mansion for lunch and dinner and then he will invite you over to the state capitol and give you a personal tour,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade.“He will call some executive in the morning and say, ‘I bet the governor of Tennessee or Pennsylvania didn’t call you this morning. But guess what, you were the first person I thought about when I woke up this morning!’” Jones added. “Everyone knows it’s a joke, but it’s just one of the ways he tries to touch people.”McAuliffe became a millionaire at a young age and earned $9.5 million in 2012 alone. As a political fundraiser in private life, he pounded the phone lines asking again and again for campaign donations.As co-founder of GreenTech, an American company that bought a Chinese electric car manufacturer, McAuliffe was once on the other side of the bargaining table. He discussed incentives for the company with Virginia officials and later was criticized for allowing the company to open a manufacturing facility in Mississippi.As governor he has traveled twice to China, including once to finalize a deal for a Chinese paper-making facility, when he crunched on cicadas. He has used his expansive Rolodex to call on just about any executive he thinks might be willing to take a look at the commonwealth, including a call he placed to Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon chairman and chief executive, to aid a deal for Inova to buy Exxon’s Merrifield campus.John Boyd, a New Jersey relocation consultant who has advised companies including PepsiCo (PEP) and Dell, said that his clients that have worked with McAuliffe personally have been “very impressed.”“Terry McAuliffe is a superstar in corporate board rooms,” Boyd said. “He is very much a pro-business Democrat, and lots of powerful incentives are being created in Virginia.”The governor’s staff has tallied 362 business additions or expansions in the state since he came into office, including 256 that they say required the state’s support and 41 that received financial incentives.Among them are a $9.5 million incentive package to help the advisory firm CEB build a new Arlington headquarters and $5.25 million to persuade Stone Brewing Co. to build a brewery, restaurant and retail store in Richmond, a deal the governor sealed in part by visiting the company in San Diego and bringing in the Kegerator.McAuliffe has steered a cultural middle road in his pursuit of new business. In wooing Indiana companies, he wrote a letter saying that, “in Virginia, we do not discriminate against our friends and neighbors, particularly those who are supporting local businesses and generating economic activity.” He will fly to Cuba to promote trade.Unlike many other local Democrats, however, he has not criticized the name Redskins, a moniker many Native American groups consider a racial slur but one that is borne by a team for which he would like to build a new stadium.[Related: McAuliffe on Redskins stadium in Virginia: ‘It’s where they belong’]It may be too early to tell whether all the activity has moved the needle for the state’s economy, but there are other opportunities to grow the private sector on the horizon, upon which McAuliffe keeps close tabs.In February, Arne M. Sorenson, the chief executive of Marriott International (MAR), took many local officials by surprise when he said the company would move its headquarters, even though its lease isn’t up for another seven years. McAuliffe had already pitched him on Virginia.Harris Corp., a defense communications giant, became another top target when it announced plans to acquire McLean-based Exelis (XLS). As it stands, Harris has 13,000 employees, including 1,500 in Virginia and 400 at its Florida headquarters.Rumors of its possible consolidation in Virginia have grown to the degree that the company issued a regulatory filing saying it was “evaluating potential headquarter locations.”It’s unlikely that McAuliffe will land any of the Indiana companies he and his staff pitched, among them pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (LLY), Cummins manufacturing and furniture maker Kimball International.But he will keep working the phones and he expects county officials to do the same. At a recent tech announcement in Crystal City, with more than 100 people in attendance, McAuliffe yelled out to the county’s new economic development director, Victor L. Hoskins: “I am expecting great things out of you, buddy.”In other words: Get out there and make some calls.Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz




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    Here's the clearest sign yet of the decline of cable television: Cablevision (CVC) is offering a new broadband Internet package aimed at getting users to cut the cable cord.On Thursday the cable and broadband Internet provider announced monthly broadband Internet packages between $35 and $45 that come with a digital antenna for free local broadcasting and access to WiFi hotspots in its service area of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and parts of Pennsylvania. With the new broadband offering, users can add HBO Now for $15 a month and additional streaming subscription services. By picking and choosing streaming services, the company said, consumers will be able to replace the cable television bundle of hundreds of channels.Cablevision's announcement comes amid a dramatic shakeup of the traditional cable television industry, with Verizon FiOs also departing from the big cable bundle with new, slimmer packages at lower cost. The cable firms have seen users steadily drop cable subscriptions, and the pressure is on to adapt to new competition online as cable programming from the likes of ESPN (DIS), HBO (TWX) and  Viacom (VIA) offer their own streaming services.“As a connectivity company, Cablevision (CVC) is reimagining its relationship with its customers,” Kristin Dolan, chief operating officer of Cablevision (CVC), said in a release. “Our new ‘cord cutter’ packages take a modern approach to traditional triple-product bundles and provide real alternatives that fit new consumer lifestyles."Consumers would be charged an additional $4.95 monthly modem lease fee and taxes. The prices announced Thursday are promotional offerings and will increase after the first year.Cablevision (CVC) has been among the  most experimental of cable companies with new streaming partnerships. Its executives have long touted the company's future as a broadband Internet provider, saying the traditional cable business wouldn't be an area for future growth. Cablevision (CVC) is HBO's (TWX) only cable partner for its streaming.More reading:Fox, NBC join ESPN (DIS) in protest over Verizon's (VZ) slimmer bundlesThe FCC just dealt Comcast (CMCSA) a major blow




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    Opinion: Big cloud unit could have spin-out potential. SAN FRANCISCO-- Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), as expected, broke out for the first time the details of its cloud computing business, also known as AWS, with the disclosure that the business was also slightly profitable. Still, the news that AWS had revenue of $1.57 billion in the first quarter, and net income of $265 million, did not manage to offset Amazon's (AMZN) overall net loss of $57 million, or 12 cents a share, as it continued to spend on building new...

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    Mexico's America Movil (AMX) on Thursday reported a 41 percent drop in first-quarter net profit compared to the same period a year earlier, driven by exchange rate losses. The telecoms company, which is controlled by the family of billionaire Carlos Slim, said profit in the January-March period was 8.227 billion pesos, compared to 13.887 billion pesos a year earlier.

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    Google launched a new U.S. wireless service on Wednesday. For $20 a month, Google customers will get text, Wi-Fi tethering and international coverage in over 120 countries. The crazy amounts N.Y.C. parents are spending on kiddie entertainment.

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    Comcast Corp's (CMCSA) board was meeting late on Thursday to finalize plans to abandon its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC), according to a person directly familiar with the matter. An announcement is expected as early as Friday, the person added, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

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    Microsoft Corp.' s stock jumped 2.5% in after-hours trade Thursday, after the software giant beat fiscal third-quarter profit and sales expectations. For the quarter ended March 31, earnings fell to $6.59 billion, or 61 cents a share, from $6.97 billion, or 68 cents a share, in the same period a year ago, beating the FactSet consensus of 51 cents a share. Revenue rose to $21.73 billion from $20.4 billion, with commercial revenue increasing 5% to $12.8 billion, above the FactSet...

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    E-commerce company Amazon.com Inc's (AMZN) quarterly revenue rose 15 percent, helped by higher revenue from North America, its biggest market, and its fast-growing cloud-computing services unit. The company reported a loss of $57 million, or 12 cents per share, for the first quarter ended March 31 compared with a profit of $108 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

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    The Federal Trade Commission announced a consent order Thursday with Nomi Technologies, which it said did not abide by its own promises to allow consumers to opt out of being tracked while they shop.This is the first enforcement action by the FTC against a retail tracking company.Nomi is one of several companies that have developed ways to use consumers' cellphones to track their real world movements for commercial purposes. According to the FTC complaint, the company used censors in stores to collect the MAC address -- a code unique to each phone -- of a shopper's smartphone when the device searched for WiFi networks, a thing many phones do almost constantly by default. The movements of users both in and outside these stores were tracked by this unique ID along with the device type, when the shopper was observed and the signal strength of the device, which could be used to tell how nearby a shopper was.Nomi collected information on about 9 million mobile devices during the first nine months of 2013, the FTC alleged. It used a technique called "hashing" to obscure MAC addresses that could be used to identify a particular smartphone. But it still generated a unique code that was associated with those devices allowing them to be tracked over time and potentially revealing sensitive information about a shopper's movements, according to the FTC.The company used the tracking information to give retailers insight into their customer base -- for instance, how many repeat customers they had during a given period and how long consumers stayed in the store, the FTC said.These reports did not share information about specific shoppers, but the FTC found Nomi had violated its own privacy policy.Nomi did not provide a way for consumers an in-store way to opt out of being tracked, as it promised in late 2012, the complaint alleged -- in fact, consumers were not told they were being tracked at all. It did provide a way to opt out through its Web site, but that was not enough, according to the FTC.“It’s vital that companies keep their privacy promises to consumers when working with emerging technologies, just as it is in any other context,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in a news release. “If you tell a consumer that they will have choices about their privacy, you should make sure all of those choices are actually available to them."Under the terms of the settlement, Nomi agreed to abide by its privacy promises and not misrepresent consumers' options to block being tracked. The agreement will be open for public comments for 30 days before the commission finalizes it. The commission voted 3-2 to issue the complaint and accept the consent order, with Commissioners Maureen Ohlhausen and Joshua Wright dissenting.Nomi said in a statement that it was pleased with the agreement. "We continually review our privacy policies to ensure that they follow best practices and had already made the recommended changes in pursuit of that goal by updating our privacy policy over a year and a half ago," the statement said.




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    Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) is pitching new packages aimed at cord-cutters that combine broadband service with a free digital antenna to pick up local television signals. The move by the New York cable operator is meant to appeal to consumers who are tired of rising pay-TV bills and are dropping those connections. It comes just days after Cablevision (CVC) rival Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) launched new low-price packages for its FiOS TV service that allow customers to mix and match...

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    Mexico's telecoms regulator said on Thursday it had approved 12 commercial concessions for companies to offer a full range of telephone and television services as the country seeks to spur greater competition. Mexico's phone business has long been dominated by Carlos Slim's America Movil, with Televisa the most powerful force in broadcasting.

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    Facebook (FB) doesn't just want to be your social hub, it also wants to be a bigger part of how you communicate in general.  Now Facebook's (FB) gone a little further with the introduction of a new app, Hello.The new program, introduced Wednesday, was designed by the company's Messenger team but is essentially a calling, caller ID and search app for your phone. Available only on Android phones, the app pulls Facebook (FB) data to identify callers -- it can do this even if they aren't in your address book, thanks to Facebook's (FB) bank of phone numbers  -- and will also let you search for businesses that have put their phone numbers on the social network.The Hello announcement came shortly before the company released mixed results for its first-quarter earnings. Facebook (FB) reported lighter-than-predicted revenue of $3.54 billion for the quarter versus analyst expectations of $3.56 billion.The firm beat analyst predictions for earnings of $.41 per share, by one cent. And the company's focus on mobile has also continued to pay off, with 73 percent of its advertising revenue coming from smartphones and tablets. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg called it a "good quarter and a good start to the year" in the company's earnings call with analysts.But most of his remarks focused on Facebook's (FB) future plans for expansion, including in the world of messaging.The introduction of Hello continues a trend Facebook's (FB) been exploring for the past couple of years. From the company's 2014 acquistion of WhatsApp, to its purchase of the virtual-reality startup Oculus, or the expansion of its own Facebook Messenger app, many of the company's major moves demonstrate a deep interest in the future of communication via text, voice and video messaging.Not all of them have borne fruit yet. The Oculus Rift, for example, still isn't on the market. Facebook's (FB) attempt to catch up to Snapchat, with an app called Slingshot, has gained almost no traction. But the efforts do show where Facebook's (FB) interests lie as its core social network ages.Of course, it faces fierce competition from the likes of Twitter, Google (GOOG), Skype, Snapchat and many others. It's a crowded space. But Facebook (FB) seems happy to just be in the mix for now, with plans to keep experimenting.When talking about messaging during Wednesday's call, Zuckerberg told analysts that he's happy Facebook (FB) has "evolved from a single blue app on your phone into a family of apps" that allow users to talk to each other in a variety of ways.For example, Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp is used more as a text-message replacement for users around the world. Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, is more "focused on expression," he said. He also said he's not interested in unifying the company's many messaging services, preferring to serve these small niches rather than pulling everything together in a one-size-fits-all tool."I think that these are just going to keep on growing, is my expectation and hope," he said, "And we're excited to kind of pursue both different products to serve the different communities."