UN Internet Treaty Blocked

Morning Business Memo:

Hands off my Internet! A proposed global treaty that would have allowed governments greater control of the Web has been blocked by the United States and other Western nations. At a U.N. conference in Dubai, more than 20 countries joined the United States, refusing to sign the protocols by the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union meeting. Hamadoun Toure, the head of the global telecoms group, says he was "very much surprised" by the opposition. The proposals would have given national governments greater power to control data traffic and international phone calls. U.S. and European governments feared that any references to Internet regulation could be used by dictatorships to justify further crackdowns on the Web. The collapse of the draft treaty appears to safeguard the Internet as an unregulated global service.

Just two more weekends to go before Christmas and the bargain discounts at the mall continue, as retailers use promotions to get shoppers into stores. Retail sales rose in November with strong gains for many online merchants, but several big department stores reported drops in their revenues. Raechel Jackson, director at Simon-Kucher & Partners, says some stores offer too many promotions for their own good. "Price is not everything," she said. "There are a lot of other ways that retailers can and do provide value to the consumer." An exclusive focus on prices, Jackson says, means less spending on linking brick-and-mortar retailing with website initiatives. There's also the look of the store. "The way that the shelves look or it's other things inside the store like a cafe or a play area for children," she said. "There are a lot of things retailers can be creative with."

As many as two dozen companies might want to gobble up Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and other brands owned by Hostess. Walmart and Kroger are reported to be among the bidders for Hostess Brands assets. Other interested companies are said to include Campbell's Soup and Mexico's Grupo Bimbo. Bloomberg News says there are about two dozen bidders and the liquidation sale could generate as much as $1 billion. Hostess announced it would it would close its business and fire more than 18,000 workers after failing to reach agreement with its striking bakers' union.

An improvement for manufacturing in China. A new purchasing managers' report by HSBC suggests growth despite weak global demand. Chinese manufacturing activity reached a 14-month high. That helped to send Asian markets up and the main Shanghai stock index up to a four-month high. Japan's currency, the yen, fell to a nine-month low overnight.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc