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Archive for Thursday, December 4, 2003

Briefcase

December 4, 2003

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DirecTV merger to win FCC recommendation

News Corp.'s proposed takeover of DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite television provider, should be approved by the Federal Communications Commission with certain conditions, the FCC's staff recommended after studying the deal.

An FCC official, speaking on condition of anonymity Wednesday, said the staff backed the $6.6 billion deal if DirecTV more quickly offers local over-the-air broadcast channels to its customers and if an arbitration mechanism is set up to handle disputes between News Corp.'s Fox broadcasting arm and cable television companies.

The arbitration is designed to alleviate concerns Fox will pull its network programming off cable systems to encourage viewers to subscribe to DirecTV, the official said. Among that programming is the National Football League and major league baseball.

Topeka

Wichita hotel executive named to Westar board

Topeka-based Westar Energy on Wednesday announced that it had appointed B. Anthony Isaac to its board of directors.

Isaac is the co-founder and president of LodgeWorks, a Wichita-based hotel management and development company that operates the 18-property Sierra Suites hotel brand, nine Summerfield Suites by Wyndham, and six Hawthorn Suites hotels.

Westar is the state's largest electric utility, providing service to 654,000 customers, including Lawrence residents.

Health Care

Kansas nursing homes file for bankruptcy

Twenty more Infinia skilled-nursing facilities have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with Medicare reimbursement problems cited as part of the cause.

Three Minnesota facilities filed for bankruptcy protection last month and 20 more, including eight in Kansas, filed on Monday, said David Grant, general counsel for Infinia Inc.

The eight in Kansas are in Arma, Oswego, Smith Center, Kensington, Topeka, McPherson, Abilene and Wichita. The other facilities are in Utah, Minnesota, Nebraska and Arizona. Systemwide, Infinia provides about 2,000 beds and employs about 2,000 workers. Grant said the facilities would remain operational.

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