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Tech wrap: HBO hack (+ video); $12B Scripps-Discovery deal; Lyft ridership surges; SC nuke plants KO'd; Charter passes on Sprint; fast heart attack care

Bulldog

Jul, 31 2017, 1:35 PM

In WTW's latest Bulldog wrapup of technology and life science news:

The details:

HBO has had some of its programming stolen in what is being described as a cyber incident.

The company says that it is working with law enforcement and cybersecurity firms.

[VIDEO: Watch Entertainment Weekly's report about the hack at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvqnSXKxmcc ]

HBO CEO Richard Pepler says in an email to the network's employees that "proprietary information" was stolen in the hack. Spokesman Jeff Cusson would not comment on which specific TV episodes, movies or other video the hackers made off with.

Hacking Hollywood can have significant repercussions. Sony struggled in the aftermath of its huge hack in 2014, which leaked employee emails as well as films.

In April, a hacker claimed to have released episodes of Netflix's "Orange is the New Black" before their release by the streaming site.

Discovery Communications will buy Scripps Networks for close to $12 billion, tying together two powerful stables of TV shows ranging from Animal Planet to the Food Network.

The deal, announced Monday, puts the combined company in a stronger position to draw more women viewers and to navigate an increasingly chaotic entertainment landscape, where cable companies and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu fight for eyes.

Discovery owns TLC and the Discovery Channel. Scripps owns HGTV and the Travel Channel, among others. The combined company will house five of the top pay TV networks for women and account for more than 20 percent share of women watching prime-time pay TV in the U.S.

By combining the content of each company, Discovery has more power to create "skinny bundle" options for viewers, which offer fewer channels and are cheaper for people unwilling to shell out for a big, monthly cable bill.

The companies on Monday said they will produce approximately 8,000 hours of original programming each year, and possess 300,000 hours of library content. They have the potential to generate 7 billion short-form video streams monthly, according to Discovery.

Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps by Uber.

Ridership through June surpassed the record 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016, Lyft said Monday. A spokeswoman wouldn't give an exact number.

The company has made its gains as some people avoid Lyft's much larger rival, Uber. Both companies are based in San Francisco.

Uber has been without a CEO since June when company co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down under pressure from the board. The departure took place after investigations by outside law firms uncovered widespread sexual harassment at the company. Kalanick also was captured on video in a profanity-laced tirade toward an Uber driver, and the company is under federal investigation for allegedly using software to thwart city inspectors who were trying to monitor its drivers.

And finding a replacement for Kalanick has not gone smoothly. The reported front-runner, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman announced on Thursday that she would not take the job. Media reports say some board members are now talking to outgoing General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. The New York Times reported Monday that Kalanick may attempt to regain an operational role in the company he helped to create.

Lyft wouldn't comment on Uber but says it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.

Uber says it's given more than 5 billion rides worldwide since 2010.

Lyft confirmed its 2017 ridership numbers for the first time Monday while announcing the appointment of a new board member. Former Obama administration senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is the board's 10th member. She was assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs for his entire term, according to Lyft.

Charter, one of the largest cable companies in the U.S., says it's not interested in buying wireless carrier Sprint.

Sprint, the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., is unprofitable and has a lot of debt. According to published reports , Sprint had proposed an acquisition by Charter. Sprint didn't answer a request for comment Monday.

Sprint's CEO has also talked this year about the benefits of combining with T-Mobile, the No. 3 mobile carrier. The two walked away from doing a deal during the Obama administration because of regulatory opposition.

Telecom companies are eying one another as consumers are increasingly drawn to watching video on their phones. Combining forces could help companies sell packages of cellphone, home internet and video service. Companies could also save money as they invest in higher-speed networks.

South Carolina's state-owned utility voted Monday to stop building two billion-dollar nuclear reactors, likely ending the project.

The reactors were set to be among the first new nuclear reactors built in the U.S. in decades, but the project has been plagued by delays and cost overruns.

Santee Cooper's board said the decision to end construction will save customers an estimated $7 billion. Completing the project would have cost an additional $8 billion and $3.4 billion in interest and it likely wouldn't be finished until 2024. The first reactor was supposed to be online in August 2019.

Santee Cooper owns 45 percent of the project. South Carolina Electric & Gas owns 55 percent. That utility planned to update state regulators on Tuesday.

The project has been shrouded in doubt since earlier this year, when primary contractor Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection.

The utilities announced last week that Westinghouse's parent company, Toshiba Corp., agreed to jointly pay them $2.2 billion regardless of whether the reactors are ever completed.

The reactors were planned for the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. Construction began with state approval in 2009, and the project was about one-third completed.

There's never been a better time to be treated for a heart attack. U.S. hospitals have set a record for how quickly they open blocked arteries, averaging under one hour for the first time since these results have been tracked.

More than 93 percent of patients now have their arteries opened within the recommended 90 minutes of arrival.

"Things have definitely improved" from a decade ago, when less than half of heart attack patients were treated that fast, said Dr. Fred Masoudi, a University of Colorado cardiologist who led a recent report examining response times.

It's based on records from about 85 percent of U.S. hospitals that do the artery procedure, angioplasty . Through a blood vessel in the groin or an arm, doctors guide a tube to the blockage causing the heart attack. They inflate a tiny balloon to flatten the clog, and leave behind a mesh tube called a stent to prop the artery open.

The sooner blood flow is restored, the less chance of permanent damage.

"It's one of the few things in medicine where time, literally seconds, is of the essence. It's where the phrase 'time is muscle' comes from," said Dr. Ajay Kirtane, director of the lab that performs angioplasties at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

The risk of dying goes up 42 percent if care is delayed even half an hour beyond the 90 minutes that U.S. guidelines say patients should be treated after arrival.





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