Executives at four major TV networks are reported to be in discussions with Google about licensing their content for inclusion in the Web company's...

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Executives at four major TV networks are reported to be in discussions with Google about licensing their content for inclusion in the Web company’s plans to offer video search. But Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Universal Television Group, said he’s not ready to sign up.

“We have yet to see a business proposition that recognizes what content providers bring to the table,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “We need to be adequately compensated and we need to be certain our content is protected from piracy.”

The Journal also reported Thursday that Google started copyright and licensing talks with the networks last year, and surprised the networks by announcing Google was already building a digital database of programs it was recording.

The general counsel of NBC Universal, Rick Cotton, called it a “stunning approach,” and the talks ended. “This is not the way one normally does business,” he said.


Firms reportedly discuss acquisition

Several major media companies have reportedly been in discussions to acquire CNET Group, according to a New York Post report.

“What makes CNET attractive is its huge amount of traffic,” a source said to be familiar with the discussions told the newspaper.

Investment banks are also reported vying to represent CNET in acquisition talks, the Post added. A spokesman for the Web-based technology-content publisher declined comment.

Jupiter Research

Bundling package agreeable to some

An analyst with Jupiter Research reported as many as 17 percent of adults who are online said they would be agreeable to buying bundles of security services, information and entertainment from their Internet service provider.

David Card said his firm is revising its outlook for the market of paid content.

In an “early tidbit” from the project, he said 3 to 7 percent of online adults also said they would prefer to buy such packages from a Web portal, and 8 to 10 percent from a company in the business of the product it was selling.

However, Card added in a posting on his Web log, “two-thirds weren’t interested in information or entertainment bundles from anybody.”

Consumers Union

Warning issued on digital transition

Consumer advocates have warned that up to 80 million television sets could go dark after a transition to digital broadcast signals and said the government should help owners get special converter boxes.

About 15 percent of U.S. households rely on over-the-air television signals, and about 39 percent of households have at least one television that is not connected to satellite or cable-television service, according to a survey by Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America.

Congress and the Federal Communications Commission are trying to speed the broadcast industry’s transition from analog signals to digital ones to free valuable spectrum.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would set Jan. 1, 2009, as the deadline for finishing the switch.

“The first rule Congress must abide by is do no harm to consumers,” said Gene Kimmelman, public-policy director for Consumers Union.

“We can only support a hard-date transition if the costs are not borne by consumers who have done nothing wrong and just want their TVs to work,” Kimmelman said.

He suggested that the government should subsidize converter boxes for most of those television sets, potentially costing more than $3.5 billion. Industry estimates put the cost of converter boxes at about $50 each.

Compiled from MarketWatch and Reuters