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Economy Briefs: Dish, Gannett reach deal on fees for local stations

- - Monday, October 8, 2012

Dish and Gannett said Monday they have reached an agreement in a fee dispute that had threatened to leave more than 2 million Dish subscribers in 19 cities without access to local television stations owned by Gannett.

Dish Network Corp., headquartered in McLean, had claimed that Gannett Co. was asking for a 300 percent increase in fees for the right to carry 22 Gannett stations affiliated with NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. Gannett has said it was seeking a fair deal in line with market rates.

TOURISM

Freeze, drought take toll on farming's fall attractions

INDIANAPOLIS — Devastating spring freezes and a historic drought have stripped some charm from rustic fall destinations, leaving some corn too short to create mazes, orchards virtually devoid of apples and fall colors muted.

Extreme weather has forced agritourism ventures in the heart of the country to scramble to hold onto their share of an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

GASOLINE

More pain at the pump as California prices up

LOS ANGELES — The statewide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in California rose to an all-time high Monday, the third record-setting day in a row that is prompting calls for a federal investigation into the price spike.

The average price in the state hit $4.668, according to AAA. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.

AUTOS

GM plans 1,500 new jobs for computer tech center

DETROIT — General Motors plans to hire as many as 1,500 workers to staff a new computer technology center outside Detroit.

It is part of a move to bring 90 percent of information technology in-house, which General Motors Co. believes will make the company more nimble and efficient. The carmaker plans to hire 10,000 people at four new technology centers in the next three to five years. The centers will help get breakthrough ideas into the company's cars and trucks, GM says.

ENERGY

BP sells Texas City refinery to Marathon for $2.5 billion

NEW YORK — BP finally has found a buyer for its Texas City, Texas, refinery, one of the largest and most complex in the U.S. The total value of the deal could reach $2.5 billion.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. will pay $598 million for the refinery itself and other nearby pipelines and fuel terminals. It will pay $1.2 billion for the plant's inventory of oil and petroleum products. Marathon may have to pay another $700 million over six years if certain unspecified conditions are met, the company said Monday.

BP PLC has been trying to sell refining and other assets to help cover costs associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2010, BP has agreed to sell $35 billion worth of assets, and the company expects that to rise to $38 billion by next year.

CONSUMERS

Wal-Mart, American Express team up on new prepaid card

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express Co. are rolling out a prepaid card that they say offers unique services designed to help shoppers manage and control their everyday finances.

The two companies said Monday that Bluebird, which began during a pilot program late last year, acts like a checking account but without the fees that have increasingly frustrated shoppers. The card will have no minimum balance and no monthly, annual or overdraft fees.

INTERNET

YouTube to offer original programming in Europe

LONDON — YouTube is extending its original programming initiative into Europe, with at least 60 new video channels from media companies including Britain's BBC, London-based FreemantleMedia and the Netherlands' Endemol.

The Google Inc.-owned video site said Monday the new channels, with content from Britain, Germany, France, and the United States, will be in addition to the 100 channels launched in the U.S. last year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports