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Monday, February 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Technology Briefs

Broadband use grows in rural areas

The use of high-speed Internet services is growing fast in rural America, partly closing the gap between country and city, a survey released Sunday shows.

Last fall, 24 percent of rural Americans had broadband Internet access at home, more than double the 9 percent rate in 2003, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported.

By comparison, 39 percent of urban and suburban dwellers had broadband last fall, up from 22 percent in 2003.

Lower rural adoption appears linked to availability, the study said. But Pew noted country dwellers are on average older, less educated and poorer than urbanites and suburbanites, factors associated with lower levels of Internet use.

However, rural Americans with broadband are almost as likely as others to use it on a given day. Adding in people who use dial-up or access the Internet only at work, 62 percent of country dwellers use the Internet, compared with 70 percent elsewhere.

Rural users are slightly more likely to participate in online education and to download games, and less likely to bank online or buy travel tickets.

DreamWorks SKG

New CEO comes from Universal

Universal Pictures Chairwoman Stacey Snider will quit and join Paramount Pictures-owned DreamWorks SKG as its co-chairwoman and chief executive, Paramount said Sunday.

Snider will be responsible for overseeing four to six film releases per year and will run the day-to-day operations at DreamWorks.

Snider's future has been the subject of speculation in Hollywood in recent weeks.

Her rumored departure was blamed in media reports on Universal's failure to buy DreamWorks, after protracted negotiations left DreamWorks' founders Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg seeking a new buyer.

Snider, 44, one of the most successful women executives in Hollywood, will join DreamWorks when her Universal contract ends in December.


Korean tobacco king spurns Icahn bid

KT&G, South Korea's largest tobacco maker, today rejected an unsolicited bid from U.S. investors Carl Icahn and Warren Lichtenstein valuing the company at $10 billion, the country's biggest takeover.

The last unwelcome bid by a foreign investor in South Korea failed in 1997.

Icahn and other investors had last week offered $62 a share for the company, which produces tobacco products and items related to the ginseng root.

But Chief Executive Kwak Young-kyoon said the board rejected the proposal "because it is presumptive and lacks certainty," according to the company statement.

A showdown on the bid is expected at the company's annual shareholders' meeting set for March 17.

Nippon Sheet Glass

$3.8 billion deal for U.K.'s Pilkington

Nippon Sheet Glass of Japan has sealed a $3.8 billion deal to acquire Pilkington of Britain, a global company that makes glass for cars and buildings, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The acquisition of Pilkington would give Nippon Sheet Glass, which is smaller than its British rival, manufacturing operations in 24 countries as well as sales in more than 130 countries.

Pilkington's main U.S. office is in Toledo, Ohio.


6-cent retreat probably brief

The U.S. gasoline pump price fell 6 cents in the past two weeks to an average $2.24 a gallon, Trilby Lundberg said Sunday, citing her survey of about 7,000 filling stations.

The highest pump price for self-serve regular was $2.59 a gallon in Honolulu. The lowest was $1.99 in Portland,

But an upswing is likely soon Lundberg said, noting that in the latter half of the two-week period covered by her survey, crude prices jumped almost 10 percent in New York.

They closed Friday at $62.91 a barrel after a foiled attack on an oil-processing facility in Saudi Arabia.


National Archives films offered online

Google has started offering films from the U.S. National Archives as part of an effort to expand the content on its online video service.

The free clips include World War II newsreels and the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, Google said Friday. The agreement, which includes a pilot program of 103 films, isn't exclusive.

Google released its video site a year ago and in January started offering shows including "Survivor" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

"We're talking to Google and others about putting more of our resources online," said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives.

"We have tens of thousands of films and more than 9 billion paper documents, and we'd ideally like to have them all online."

Google has digitized the films at no cost to the government, she said.


Branded computers aimed outside China

Stepping up competition in the PC industry, Lenovo Group, the world's third-largest computer maker, is introducing its first Lenovo-branded computers to be sold outside its home base of China.

The new products — low-priced desktops and notebooks targeted at small businesses and consumers — will mark Lenovo's first brand foray in the United States and other countries since completing its purchase of IBM's ailing PC business in May 2005.

There will be two lines of desktop computers, starting at $350 while a new laptop line will start at $599. The products will be available immediately from Lenovo's Web site and through its business partners. Analysts say they also likely will include retailers.

Compiled from Reuters, Bloomberg News and The Associated Press

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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