Sharman Networks Limited has announced the passing of 100 million downloads of its free KaZaA Media Desktop software as measured by CNET Download.com marking an unprecedented achievement in P2P software distribution and highlights the consumer software of choice for sharing a variety of digital media. "We're thrilled to thank our users, partners, evangelists and development team for their joint enthusiasm in creating 100 million downloads. Since our acquisition of KaZaA.com, we have committed our efforts to deliver users the best practices, software and experience," Sharman Networks CEO Nikki Hemming said. "We pledge to continue the innovation that has attracted users throughout the world."
KaZaA has ranked as "Most Popular" on Download.com since April 2002, averaging more than two million downloads per week.
AOL Executive Is Forced Out
NEW YORK (AP) — An executive who negotiated many deals for America Online that are now under investigation by federal regulators has been forced out of AOL Time Warner Inc., a source said Wednesday.
David Colburn, an executive vice president at AOL Time Warner, left the company at the end of last week, company spokesman Jim Whitney said Wednesday. Whitney did not elaborate, but a source familiar with the matter said Colburn had been pushed out.
AOL Time Warner is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department because of a series of transactions that boosted revenues at its America Online unit.
Colburn had been head of America Online's business affairs unit, and was known for his brash and aggressive style in negotiating deals. Whitney declined to discuss the circumstances of Colburn's departure, but a source confirmed a report in The Washington Post that Colburn had been locked out of his office.
Late last month AOL relieved Colburn of his day-to-day responsibilities for business affairs and shifted him to a strategic planning job, the Post reported.
AOL Time Warner has been cleaning house at its troubled America Online unit, where questions about accounting practices and a sharp decline in advertising revenues have been causing serious headaches for the parent company. AOL Time Warner is the world's largest media conglomerate with holdings spanning Time magazine, CNN, Warner Bros. and HBO.
Last week the company named former USA Interactive executive Jonathan Miller to be the new chief executive at America Online. Miller replaced Bob Pittman, who had been dispatched to repair America Online but was later forced out as chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner last month.
Colburn's departure also came just days before Wednesday's deadline for corporate executives to vouch for their accounting statements. Chief executive Richard Parsons has said previously that the company intended to sign the statements.
Parsons has stood by the deals being investigated by federal regulators, and said that the company's outside auditor had signed off on them. Parsons said the company would cooperate with investigators.
Liquid Audio Releases Thousands Of Digital Music Downloads From BMG
Liquid Audio, Inc. is making thousands of songs from BMG artists available to consumers as digital downloads. Music fans can preview and purchase tracks in both the Liquid and Windows Media format and transfer tracks to portable devices. These new digital downloads can be found at leading retail and music Web sites in the Liquid Music Network including Best Buy (http://www.bestbuy.com/), Compact Disc World (http://www.clubcd.com/), Face the Music (http://www.facethe.com/) and Waterloo Records (http://www.waterloorecords.com/) as well as http://store.liquid.com/.
Using Liquid Audio technology, music fans can download tracks from a wide variety of BMG artists including Kenny Chesney, Dido, Eve 6, David Gray, Alan Jackson, Run-DMC, The Strokes and many more. In addition, the companies are making a new single from legendary rock star Elvis Presley, as remixed by DJ JXL, available for the first time as a digital download. The single, "A Little Less Conversation," is available to music fans in the U.S. for .98 cents and can be downloaded and burned to a CD. The track is the first single to be released from BMG's forthcoming album project, ELV1S 30 #1 Hits, available to music fans on September 24, 2002.
"This launch of new releases from BMG brings a variety of top name digital music to our growing catalog of secure a la carte downloads," said Dick Wingate, senior vice president of Content Development and Label Relations. "We're excited to be the first digital music service provider to release the Elvis worldwide smash remix and look forward to working with BMG to bring even more of their music to consumers via the Internet. 'The King' has finally gone digital."
Six Flags Shares Fall on Downgrades
NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Six Flags Inc. opened down 57 percent Tuesday morning after the Oklahoma City, Okla., company's disappointing second-quarter earnings were followed by ratings downgrades. The stock also hit a new 52-week low.
The regional theme park company posted second-quarter operating income late Monday of 8 cents a share, below the Thomson First Call analyst consensus of 16 cents. The company also warned that it didn't believe that it would achieve full-year performance goals.
New York Stock Exchange-listed Six Flags shares traded Tuesday morning at $5.25, down $6.61, or 56 percent. The stock earlier traded as low as $4.75, a new 52-week low. The previous 52-week low was $10.34, reached Sept. 21.
Six Flags owns and operates more than 30 family-oriented theme and water parks in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
On Monday, the company reported revenue in the quarter dropped to $347.8 million from the $356.5 million of the 2001 quarter, as a 9.6 percent increase in per capital spending was offset by an 11 percent drop in attendance at its consolidated parks.
On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs downgraded Six Flags to market perform from trading, Prudential Inc. cut the stock to hold from buy and Salomon Smith Barney Inc. lowered its rating to neutral from outperform.
Goldman analyst Christopher Cox said he was expecting a 2.7 percent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — or Ebitda, a cash flow measurement — but adjusted Ebitda drooped 10.4 percent in the quarter.
"Even bearing in mind the tough economic backdrop, we find the magnitude of the shortfall troubling," he said in a research note.
Prudential analyst Katherine Styponias said in a research note that she now expects a 2002 loss of 28 cents a share, wider than her previous view of an 8-cent loss. Her price target went to $11 a share from $22.
Veteran Rockettes Lose Tenure
NEW YORK (AP) — Negotiations between the union representing a group of Rockettes and the owners of Radio City Music Hall have broken down, with the owners kicking out the dancers' claim to job guarantees.
Veteran Rockette performers in New York City — like those in other places — must try out in open auditions for parts as leg-kicking dancers, under new terms that management imposed.
Cablevision Systems Corp., owners of Radio City Entertainment, had set a deadline of Tuesday night to resolve a dispute with 41 Rockettes who work in New York and are members of the American Guild of Variety Artists.
The dancers, whose contract expired in February, wanted a job security clause that would guarantee they be rehired for new shows.
Radio City plans to hold open auditions for the New York performances, as it does for such shows as the Christmas spectaculars in places like Chicago and Atlanta. About 150 Rockettes work outside the city and routinely try out for their parts.
"To present the finest show possible, dancers must be selected on merit, and all Rockettes are encouraged to be a part of that selection process," Radio City Entertainment said in a statement. "The current unfair roster system benefits only a privileged few Rockettes, some of whom have personally elected not to perform in recent years."
Rockettes who are hired in open auditions will receive pay and benefit boosts, according to the statement.
The owners offered earlier to buy out the union members from their contracts, and guarantee to rehire at least half the veteran Rockettes.
Chief union negotiator John Hall said the New York Rockettes earn between $20,000 and $24,000 for their 15-week work schedule. He said Cablevision had offered to pay them $3,000 for every year of employment.
The 10 dancers who've been employed for more than 10 years would be offered buyouts worth $45,000 under the Cablevision proposal.
Union delegate Debby Murphy, a Rockette for the past 12 years, said she hoped a deal could be reached in which veteran dancers would be guaranteed slots in the 2003 Christmas Spectacular.
"We're fighting for a legacy here," Murphy said. "We're about synchronization, keeping our legs together. A core group of Rockettes that work together on a regular basis that are able to produce the show."
Open auditions for this year's Radio City Christmas Spectacular were scheduled for Wednesday.
Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision Systems Corp., seeking to save money on many of its interests, plans to close 26 of its The Wiz stores and put its 59 Clearview Cinemas up for sale.
Chris Isaak Show Renewed For Third Season
"The Chris Isaak Show," which airs on Showtime, has been renewed for a third season and will return next year with 13 episodes.
Part comedy and part reality, "The Chris Isaak Show," which airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 PM (ET/PT), is an irreverent behind-the-scenes look at the life of a rock star, and features Isaak and his real life band members, — Kenney Dale Johnson (drummer), Hershel Yatovitz (guitar) and Rowland Salley (bass), along with an ensemble of created characters.
To date, the series has attracted such guest stars as Bridget Fonda, Minnie Driver, John Corbett, Stevie Nicks, Trisha Yearwood, Gavin Rossdale (Bush), Jay Leno, Adam Arkin, Green Day, The Goo Goo Dolls, Shelby Lynn, Steven Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), Brett Michaels (Poison), Sophie B. Hawkins, Paul Stanley (KISS), Bai Ling, Caroline Rhea, Joseph Bologna, Kathy Griffin, Joe Walsh, Vince Neil, Lisa Loeb and many others.