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Lunchtime Briefing: Halloween Edition

Frank Ahrens

Boo!

Today is Halloween, so let's talk about some scary stuff. As we survey the media/tech/culture landscape, let's take a look at who is (or should be) having the wits scared out of them:

-- Microsoft: Rolls out its iPod-killer, the Zune, next month. That's a lot of eggs in one basket up against an entrenched product with 75 percent of the market. What if Zune turns out to be a Zero?

-- Local television stations: Now that they've converted to digital signals, they've got "side channels" for extra programming. But cable and satellite companies won't guarantee that they'll put the side channels on their systems. Plus: As networks instantly repeat more of their shows on the Internet, local stations are watching repeat revenue slip away.

-- The radio industry: Revenue has been flat. It lost superstar Howard Stern to satellite radio. CBS is selling off stations. Clear Channel thinks it's at its peak value and is looking to sell out and go private. Digital radio and the promise of more choice will help, but when?

-- The satellite radio industry: Losses remain shockingly high. (XM's second-quarter loss: $229 million; Sirius's, $238 million.) Some analysts now say this young industry is already maturing, and there's not enough growth left to make it profitable.

-- HBO: What happened to the network of "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City" and "Six Feet Under?" "Lucky Louie" and Dane Cook, that's what.

What have I missed? If there are industries out there that should be terrified that they're missing the boat, let me know. What products or services have you tried recently that are mortifyingly bad?

Today In The Post:

-- Bad timing? Circulation drops off the table at the L.A. Times just as its parent company -- Tribune Co. -- has put itself up for sale.

-- Big media companies are trying to figure out: Is YouTube friend or foe? Read the story by Yuki Noguchi and Sara Goo.

-- Rick Weiss reports: Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror! How long until we realize that cats have been talking about us behind our backs?

Elsewhere Today:

-- Male contraceptive passes successful tests on rats, nears availability for humans. The question is: Will any woman believe a guy who says he's on the Pill?

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 31, 2006; 10:54 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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