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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for Nov. 14, 2001

World's Major CD Pirates - Each year as part of U.S. trade law, there is a "Special 301 Review" conducted to identify countries that fail to protect U.S. property. This time the property is compact discs and the RIAA has praised the Bush administration for its efforts in combating music piracy around the world. The leading counterfeit CD pirate is the Ukraine, followed by Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia. Movie piracy is also widespread, with Russia and Brazil high on the list with massive counterfeit operations. Russia, for example, had over 655,000 pirated videocassettes and 170,000 illegal CD-ROMs snatched up by the Russian Anti-Piracy group last year. Hollywood big cheese Jack Valenti said that Russian's pirate operation was largely managed by organized crime there, and that the burden of stopping it rests on the will of the Russian Government. An administration spokesman said the Ukraine's laxity in dealing with the CD pirates could "eliminate any become a member of the WTO in the near term."

Merger of the Two Major U.S. Satellite TV Providers Faces Challenges - Consumer groups are already complaining loudly about the proposed merger of Hughes Electronics' DirecTV and EchoStar Communication's DISH Systems. The idea of combining the two system has been in the works for many months now since an early offer from Ruppert Murdock was withdrawn, but if the new deal falls thru, insiders see the Aussie media titan in there ready to pick up the pieces. The combined satellite company would have 16.7 million subscribers and proponents claim it would be able to offer even more channels to choose from. They also claim that concentration of the satellite companies is necessary to compete against cable TV monopolies such as AT&T Broadband. Satellite providers already have the edge over cable services in rural areas, where it doesn't pay to run video cable for just a few subscribers far apart. Detractors say the proposed combine would lead to reduced competition, higher prices, and poorer service. One analyst stated that ultimately there will be some types of compromises required to get the deal through.

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