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Geraldine Laybourne: Oxygen Gets Airborne


In Business This Week: HEADLINER

GERALDINE LAYBOURNE: OXYGEN GETS AIRBORNE

WHEN GERALDINE LAYBOURNE RESIGNED as cable chief for Walt Disney in May, Disney amiably became a minority investor in Laybourne's multimedia venture, Oxygen Media. Now, Laybourne has landed another key partner for Oxygen, which plans to develop TV programs and other content for women and kids. On Sept. 15, America Online took an undisclosed minority stake. As part of the deal, Oxygen will get three women's sites now offered on AOL's "Women's Channel."

The three sites--Electra, Thrive, and Moms Online--will be the basis of an online women's cybercommunity Laybourne is planning. And she intends to use that community as a test market for her ideas for TV programming. She calls this "the vacuum cleaner method of getting information" on what will fly on TV because opinions and feedback flow so freely. "The media has underestimated women, the same way they underestimated kids," says Laybourne--who ought to know. In a former life, she was credited with building Nickelodeon into the top kids' cable channel.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

MOTOROLA PUTS A CHIP PLANT ON HOLD

STILL STRIVING TO RECOVER FROM PROBLEMS IN ITS TELECOM BUSINESSES, Motorola is sounding a retreat--at least temporarily--in semiconductors. Citing slumping chip demand, Motorola announced on Sept. 16 that it is postponing construction of a huge chip plant in West Creek, Va. That was to be Motorola's largest investment worldwide, costing $3 billion and expected to employ at least 2,500 workers making a range of products. But with chip sales forecast to fall 2% this year and Motorola anticipating its second straight dismal quarter, "we had to take a hard look at capital spending," says a spokesman. Motorola says it will resume construction once the industry rebounds.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

HINTS FROM A JUDGE ABOUT MICROSOFT

U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE THOMAS PENFIELD JACKSON'S Sept. 14 decision to delay the Justice Dept.'s suit against Microsoft until Oct. 15 came as no surprise: Both sides had asked for more time to prepare. But Jackson's denial of Microsoft's motion to dismiss the suit held hints about how he might approach the case. A June appellate court ruling had been expected to thwart Justice's case on Microsoft's right to bundle products. But Jackson wrote that Justice could address the tying issue if it shows that PC makers can create systems as efficient as Microsoft's when they combine a rival browser with the Windows system.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

ABBOTT'S NEW CEO HAS A YEN FOR DEALS

ABBOTT LABORATORIES TURNED TO THE DARK HORSE IN ITS THREE-WAY RACE FOR CEO: 43-year-old Miles White. And in looking to White, head of Abbott's $2.7 billion diagnostics unit, the board may be signaling plans to ramp up dealmaking. White, who will succeed Duane Burnham on Jan. 1, has used acquisitions of companies such as MediSense, a maker of testing kits for diabetics, to expand Abbott's equipment business amid intense price pressures. White says he's committed to expanding Abbott's business lines, but is "skeptical of the value of megadeals" in health care.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


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