A Sleepy Week at the Legislature on Tonight’s Arkansas Week

I’m back on AETN’s “Arkansas Week” at 8 p.m. tonight along with the Associated Press’ Andrew DeMillo and KUAR’s Kelly MacNeil. We’ll go over the week that was at the General Assembly, including no raises for judges and lawyers, an attempt to reign in independent state agencies and redistricting. We’ll also go over the Arkansas delegation’s vote to repeal Obama health care and major news from Tyson Foods Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Got a big night ahead? Watch it right now online.

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Cable Sees Its Worst Subscriber Loss, Which Makes Perfect Sense

Cable suffered its worst video loss, shedding 711,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, as six of the eight biggest cable firms reported their most dismal three-month period. Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers shed 216,000 video customers in Q2 compared with a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier.

SNL Kagan estimates that almost 3 million U.S. households will use Hulu and other Web TV options as their primary video solution by the end of the year, up from 1.5 million in 2009. For 2011, the company expects that figure to hit 4.3 million. (There are about 115 million TV households in the States.)

– Cable’s decline an incentive for Yahoo, Hulu deal

This has been a long time coming, of course. People can only put with with subpar customer service and expensive, overstuffed channel packages for so long. Add to that the rise of Web-enabled TVs with apps that allow streaming from Netflex, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu and you’ve got all kinds of reason to dump traditional cable.

Mad Men on iTunes

No AMC? We've decided 'Mad Men' is worth paying for, so we get new episodes via iTunes.

Here’s how it’s been working at my house this summer after a move necessitated dumping Comcast. Now we get the four major networks, in HD, and any of their secondary digital channels over-the-air via digital antenna for free. We supplement  that with an $11 per month Netflix subscription, which gets us one DVD or Blu-ray at a time, plus unlimited streaming of Netflix’s Watch Instantly library.

We access streaming content via our Samsung Blu-ray player, which comes equipped with a Netflix app, along with other services like Wal-Mart’s Vudu, Blockbuster, Pandora and YouTube. It’s connected to the Web with our $35 per month SuddenLink high-speed Internet access.

Any other shows we’re missing, we can always connect the MacBook Pro to the TV to access iTunes content or, really, anything else out there for free on Web.

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Dow Plunges Nearly 1,000 Points, Recovers, on Fears About Greek Debt

Dow Jones Industrial Average

So, it was that kind of a day.

Developing here:

NEW YORK – Stocks plunged Thursday as investors succumbed to fears that Greece’s debt problems would halt the global economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrials slid almost 1,000 points before recovering to a loss of 465.

More

Plus

Like everyone else, Arkansas stocks were taken on a wild ride. Was anyone able to snap up any bargains?

A sample below:

Windstream Corp.

Windstream Corp.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Murphy Oil Corp.

Murphy Oil Corp.

Tyson Foods Inc.

Tyson Foods Inc.

Dillard's Inc.

Dillard's Inc.

(Via Yahoo! Finance)

Oil Settles Near $77 As Market Plunges

Europe Faces Debt Contagion Fear

Video: Jim Cramer, CNBC react

The Latest on Lincoln v. Halter, Tonight on ‘Arkansas Week’

Arkansas' news week-in-review

We’re back at the big table this week, talking about the Week That Was in Arkansas News.

Appearing alongside host Steve Barnes on AETN‘s “Arkansas Week” at 8 p.m. tonight: myself, Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times and Kelly MacNeil of KUAR-FM, 89.1.

On the docket, the latest Blanche Lincoln vs. Bill Halter news (maybe those two latest poll numbers will come up?), a look at the Republican race for the nomination for U.S. Senate (will a certain campaign gimmick be mentioned?), Secure Arkansas’ lawsuit to stop health care reform, Wal-Mart’s big lawsuit problem and more.

Tune in to your local AETN affiliate to watch tonight. Or look for the video link right here when it becomes available.

Wal-Mart Worries in Northwest Arkansas and Has the State Jobless Rate Peaked? in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Arkansas Business is on the racks and the InterWebs now! Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Gulp! Wal-Mart’s home office job cuts and a slow exodus of vendors — along with whispers about decentralized operations — has northwest Arkansans seeking new economic development engines for the region.

Is this as bad as it gets? Arkansas’ top economists think the state’s unemployment rate might have finally peaked. Still, it’s tough out there. Includes a look at how many jobs we’ve lost since 2007.

Banking on social media: Arkansas banks wade carefully into the waters of social media — and a sea of federal and industry regulations.

Let’s toot our own horn! Gwen Moritz on just how prescient Arkansas Business has been on a host of issues: banks pruning their branches and — of course — Asian carp!

Wal-Mart Has to Make Digital Downloads Work. Vudu is Step 1

Vudu and Wal-Mart

The Vudu that you do so well

They’ve tried movie and music downloads before, and the world’s largest retailer is about to try it again with Vudu (which some say the retailer paid $100 million for).

Wal-Mart, the biggest seller of physical media — CDs, DVDs — has known for some time that the model is dying. Check out the shrinking shelf space for CDs and DVDs at your local Superstore. It absolutely has to make a splash in downloadable content.

While its previous foray into MP3 sales was an abject failure, movies could be a different story.

If Wal-Mart can sell TVs and Blu-Ray players preloaded with this Vudu app, then they’ve got a fighting chance alongside other services like Netflix, which comes as an included feature for many Blu-Ray players these days, a possibly an advantage over cable on-demand, in that you don’t need a cable connection to receive it — only broadband Internet.

Some analysts see Wal-Mart in an uphill battle:

Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media, an independent research firm in Tampa, argues that Vudu’s offerings of downloadable movies may be too limited.

Why would consumers buy a pricey new TV or DVD player just to gain online access to movies when they can already do that with services from Netflix, Amazon.com and that little company in Cupertino, Calif. named Apple .

“The Vudu acquisition is a realization that TVs and other entertainment appliances need Internet capability. But on the whole, consumers want unlimited access, not just movies. You can already do this with a Mac mini or Windows-based laptop connected to your TV,” Leigh said.

I disagree. I think that for most consumers — particularly Wal-Mart’s bread-and-butter core customer — hooking up a Mac Mini or Windows-based laptop to a TV — to say nothing of using services like Hulu and Boxee — is still too complicated.

An app like Vudu, built right into the new HDTV you just bought for a super-low price at Wal-Mart, seems much easier to use. And with Wal-Mart muscle, you can expect Vudu’s content deals with Hollywood studios to improve.

The next possible challenge for Wal-Mart, then, would be to get broadband Internet access to more of its core customers, many of whom come from rural areas where high-speed Internet access is little more than a rumor. Could we see the world’s largest retailer throwing its weight behind rural broadband initiatives one day?

More

Wal-Mart Picks Up Digital Vudu – What’s next? [BusinessWeek]

Wal-Mart’s Buying Vudu After All [Gizmodo]

Wal-Mart Takes a Swing at Amazon [ArkansasBusiness.com]

Take My Loan, Please! Hocking the Barber Jewelry, Plus More Bad News at Metropolitan Bank in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Your latest edition of Arkansas Business is online now. Among this week’s highlights:

As the Federal Reserve slashes interest rates and banks heavy up on cash, there’s never been a better time to borrow. But an uncertain economy means fewer businesses are willing to take the risk, even at rates that are close to free. Sam Eifling examines the paradox.

Word ’round the campfire is that Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock is set to report another quarterly loss, this one in the $20 million range.

Welspun Pipes adds more than 40 acres to its property at the Little Rock Port.

Capsearch’s new iPhone app puts the entire Arkansas code in your pocket for $3.99. Nifty.

University of Arkansas basketball play-by-play broadcaster Mike Nail is hanging it up. He’ll be honored in some type of half-time ceremony at the end of this season, his 29th. Hm. Why not go for 30? More: This ArkansasSports360.com Q&A with Nail from December.

Keri Barber auctions the bling after her big Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed early last year declaring $16.3 million in liabilities, most of it connected to the defaulted loan on the Legacy Building in Fayetteville. Goodbye Lexus, goodbye Range Rover, goodbye Beluga sterling silver watch …

Mark Rose, only the third general manager ever at KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, marks 20 years at the ABC affiliate.

Gwen Moritz on Julie Benafield Bowman, Sandra Hochstetter Byrd, Benton County Judge Dave Bisbee, Wal-Mart and the appearance of impropriety.