Amazon Aims for Bigger Slice of TV Audience

Mar 28, 2014 8:00am

Morning Money Memo…

Amazon has big plans for your TV set. The online giant, known for aggressive marketing, is said to be on the verge of announcing a new set-top box.

It has set a news media event in New York on April 2.

Amazon has invested heavily on making TV shows and movies available to customers who pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime. But so far it’s a small player compared to Netflix and Apple. A new TV box could change that.

“Amazon’s device will compete with offerings from Apple, which has sold 13 million units of its Apple TV box; Roku, which has sold 8 million units; and Google, which has said it has sold ‘millions’ of its Chromecast sticks,” reports the tech news website Re/code.

Amazon says it has no plans to offer a free streaming media service, denying a report in The Wall Street Journal about the company’s moves. The Journal says Amazon is working on free ad-supported video streaming.

Walmart is suing Visa, accusing the card company of conspiring with banks to illegally fix and inflate transaction fees.  The world’s largest retailer says the fees cost merchants and shoppers more than $350 billion between 2004 and late 2012. The lawsuit also claims that Visa and large US banks conspired to prevent WalMart and other stores from protecting themselves against the high fees.

In December, a judge approved a settlement over card fees between 19 merchants and Visa and MasterCard. Walmart was not part of that group

Reported moves by the consumer gadgets store Brookstone to file for bankruptcy protection as soon as this weekend are the latest sign that some big retail chains are struggling.

Retail analyst Brian Sozzi, chief equities strategist of Belus Capital Advisors, tells ABC News that it’s a challenging time for many brick-and-mortar stores.

“People want to go to the store, they want the product when they want it and they want to have an experience,” says Sozzi. “They don’t want to be bothered with the stores as much as they used to.”

Retailers must adjust to the rise in online shopping. “I think these big box retail stores also become distribution centers for many retailers and were already starting to see that.”

The barge operator that spilled nearly 170,000 gallons of heavy oil into the busy Houston ship channel will be fined by Texas regulators.

Kirby Inland Marine may also face federal penalties. State records show that the company has been fined more than $51,000 for at least 77 spills since 2008. The channel was re-opened last night more than five days after the spill.

The channel links the area’s busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country.

Nearly a million jars of untainted peanut butter are being dumped at a New Mexico landfill. The decision made as part of the sale bankrupt Sunland Incorporated, the firm at the center of a 2012 2012 salmonella outbreak and nationwide recall.

Bankruptcy trustee Clarke Coll says the peanut butter was produced in New Mexico for Costco Wholesale before the plant shut last fall. But Costco refused to take shipment of the product, and it declined requests to let it be donated to food banks or repackaged or sold to brokers who provide food products to institutions like prisons even though tests showed it was safe.

Court records show the peanut butter was rejected by Costco because of leaky peanut oil.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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