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Forecast > Google, Web major figures in 2007 media II January 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media.

Three strikes for Stringer. Sony Corp. returns to Japanese management when Chief Executive Howard Stringer retires after a series of high-profile embarrassments.

After going to the mat to lead a buyout of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony last year was dropped by the legendary studio as its primary film distributor, its prize in the deal, because of a loophole in the $4.9-billion acquisition agreement.

Then, Sony’s second-quarter profit was decimated when almost every major laptop computer maker recalled the company’s lithium ion batteries because of safety concerns.

Sony’s PlayStation 3, designed as a Trojan horse to establish its Blu-ray high-definition DVD format as leader, became so difficult to manufacture that the game box was seriously delayed and then trounced in holiday sales by the niftier Nintendo Wii.

Staggs for president. Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger is in no hurry to name a president, but the board’s incoming chairman makes succession an issue.

Iger bypasses the higher-profile hotshot Anne Sweeney, who oversees the Disney Channel and ABC, in favor of Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs, who is well liked on Wall Street.

AT&T savors the Dish. After buying BellSouth Corp., AT&T Inc. pursues EchoStar Communications Corp., owner of the Dish Network satellite TV service. The acquisition would give AT&T a national TV brand overnight, relieving the phone giant of pressure to build its own.

But AT&T Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. has a short window of opportunity: Cable mogul John Malone wants Dish too.

For Malone, deja vu. Malone gets the chance to become a major shareholder of AT&T a second time (the first was in the 1990s, when he sold his cable company to the phone giant). He sells DirecTV to AT&T for stock, but only after combining the satellite leader with Dish.

What does he tell regulators who nixed the Dish-DirecTV combo in 2002? That without a deal, neither could withstand new competition from phone behemoths such as AT&T.

Big Media scores again. The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission narrowly votes to loosen media ownership restrictions, making media companies happy but angering the new Democratic majority in Congress, which tries to fight back with legislation.

TV station values jump as the rules allow companies with newspapers to own broadcasters in the same city. But the changes are too late for Tribune, which had snapped up newspapers including The Times expecting restrictions to melt away sooner.

Murdoch lands the Journal. News Corp. adds to its stable of newspapers by buying Dow Jones & Co., owner of the Wall Street Journal, to bolster Rupert Murdoch’s nascent business news cable channel, a companion to his Fox News juggernaut.

Some investors are furious that Murdoch would spend $5 billion on an old-line media acquisition when a purchase of CNet Networks Inc. could fill a similar need for a fraction of the price.

A MySpace for kids. Walt Disney Co. launches a social networking site for children, hoping that tykes take to it as teens did to MySpace. But like its ToonTown multi-player game for kids, the initiative gets little traction. Toddlers drawn to Disney characters such as Winnie and Mickey do not spend their days at the keyboard.

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