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Economy Briefs: Report says laws for credit reporting fails consumers

- - Sunday, May 6, 2012

COLUMBUS — An Ohio newspaper reports that Americans are virtually powerless to correct damaging mistakes in their credit reports owing to a failure of federal law to regulate credit-reporting agencies.

The Columbus Dispatch published Sunday the first of a four-part series looking at the three largest national credit-reporting agencies. The report says that even basic errors such as misspelled names have wrongly denied thousands of people the chance to buy homes or even open a checking account.

The newspaper analyzed nearly 30,000 consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission over 30 months beginning in 2009 and to attorneys general in 24 states.

A trade group representing the credit-reporting agencies says they strive daily to keep accurate information.

NEW YORK

Comcast looking to sell part of A&E ownership

NEW YORK — NBCUniversal is planning to sell part of its 15.8 percent ownership in A&E Television Networks to the other partners in the joint venture, Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Co. The deal could be worth about $2 billion.

Comcast Corp., which has a controlling stake in NBCUniversal, said earlier this week, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that it had exercised an option on March 26 requiring Disney and Hearst to buy back "a substantial portion" of its ownership in A&E. Each company owns about 42 percent of the network. Philadelphia-based Comcast said it expects the transaction to close in the second half of this year.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas and Hearst spokesman Paul Luthringer declined to comment Saturday. A Disney representative wasn't immediately available for comment.

Citi analyst Jason Bazinet estimated in a research note that NBCUniversal's stake is worth about $2 billion and could be used to reduce the company's debt. That could make it easier, he said, for Comcast to eventually acquire the remaining 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal held by General Electric Co.

A&E includes the History Channel, Lifetime and Biography, as well as its namesake network.

CALIFORNIA

San Franciscans bring startup plan to homeless

SAN FRANCISCO — Optimism reigns in San Francisco, especially when it comes to the seeming promise of technology to improve people's lives.

Recently, a crowd of engineers, entrepreneurs and designers came together for a weekend of intense work and little sleep to figure out how technology could help people who don't have roofs over their heads, much less Web browsers.

Projects hashed out included a mobile wash station that people could use to take showers and launder their clothes.

Another would eliminate lines for homeless shelter beds by setting up touch-screen kiosks to make and check reservations.

Organizers of the Creative Currency project surveyed community organizations, residents and businesses in the city's Mid-Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods to ensure "hackathon" participants had an informed sense of their needs.

UAE

Sky News Arabia hits the airwaves from capital

ABU DHABI — A new pan-Arab news channel partly backed by the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi has hit the airwaves.

Sky News Arabia began broadcasting Sunday evening from the United Arab Emirates capital, which hopes to rival nearby Dubai as a media hub.

The Arabic-language network will compete for viewers with established services such as Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya, broadcasting from Dubai.

Sky News Arabia is a partnership between the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp. and British Sky Broadcasting, whose biggest shareholder is media magnate Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The channel has been in the works for more than two years. It says its news management is separate from Sky's London's headquarters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports