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Roundup; TV ads can't blare anymore; FCC proposes text-to-911; Redbox takes on Netflix; more

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Shhhh! A new law says ads can't blare anymore from your television

TV viewing could soon sound a little calmer. The CALM Act, which limits the volume of TV commercials, goes into effect on Thursday. CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. The act is designed to prevent TV commercials from blaring at louder volumes than the program content they accompany. The rules govern broadcasters as well as cable and satellite operators. The rules are meant to protect viewers from excessively loud commercials. The Federal Communications Commission adopted the rules a year ago, but gave the industry a one-year grace period to adopt them. Suspected violations can be reported by the public to the FCC on its website.

Rail operator Carload Express of Oakmont expands in Ohio

Shortline railroad operator Carload Express Inc. of Oakmont and a New York real estate company said Wednesday that they'll run the 12.2-mile Omal freight line in Monroe County, Ohio, part of the lucrative “wet gas” area of the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. The railroad will provide access to the Hannibal Industrial Park, owned by Hannibal Real Estate of White Plains, N.Y., and to the adjacent Ormet aluminum plant, and will tie in with the Norfolk Southern Railway. In addition to the new Ohio Terminal Railway Co., Carload Express also runs the Allegheny Valley, Southwest Pennsylvania and Camp Chase railroads.

Apple, wireless carriers to offer text-to-911 under proposal

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed requiring all wireless carriers and providers of some Internet-based messaging services, such as Apple Inc., to let people send emergency text messages to 911 call centers. The proposal would build on an agreement among the nation's four largest wireless carriers to accelerate so-called text-to-911 service. Under the voluntary schedule announced last week, AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. agreed to make the feature available nationwide by May 15, 2014, according to the FCC.

Baggage complaints increased at major airlines in October

Major airlines' bag handling records worsened to 2.83 complaints per 1,000 passengers in October from 2.65 complaints per 1,000 passengers the year earlier, said the Department of Transportation on Tuesday. But the three busiest carriers serving Pittsburgh International Airport held their ground or improved. US Airways' complaint ratio improved to 1.96 in October from 2.27 the year earlier. Southwest Airlines' complaint ratio improved to 2.78 from 3.25. Delta Air Lines' complaint ratio essentially held steady at 1.94, vs. 1.90.

Bauer ranks 5 credit unions in region as ‘problematic'

No banks in Western Pennsylvania were ”troubled” or in “problematic” shape as of Sept. 30, according to the latest report from Bauer Financial Inc., which rates financial institutions' safety and soundness. The Coral Gables, Fla., company evaluates such measures as net income, assets and capital adequacy, and assigns ratings from one (“troubled”) to five (“superior”). But five credit unions in the Pittsburgh area were listed with two stars, or “problematic.” They are: Beaver Avenue Federal Credit Union, in Pittsburgh's Chateau neighborhood, with 733 members and $3 million in assets; Iron Workers Federal Credit Union, in the Strip District, with 3,295 members and $5 million in assets; CGH Federal Credit Union, in New Kensington, with 933 members and $3 million in assets; Newell Federal Credit Union, in Newell, Fayette County, with 1,366 members and $5 million in assets; and Southwest Communities Federal Credit Union, with 2,275 members and $11 million in assets.

Honda recalls more than 870,000 minivans and SUVs

Honda is recalling more than 870,000 minivans and SUVs worldwide because they can roll away even though drivers have removed the keys from the ignition. The recall announced Wednesday affects older-model vehicles sold mainly in the United States. Problems with the ignition switches have plagued Honda for years. It has recalled nearly 2.3 million vehicles for the problem since 2003. Models affected are 347,000 Odyssey minivans and 277,000 Pilot SUVs from the 2003 and 2004 model years. Also 247,000 Acura MDX SUVs from the 2003 through 2006 period.

Redbox Instant streaming plan takes on industry giant Netflix

DVD kiosk operator Redbox is starting a challenge to Netflix's streaming-video supremacy. Later this month, Redbox will offer its own unlimited streaming-video plan that includes four nights of physical DVD rentals for $8 a month. That's even lower than the $10-a-month DVD and streaming plan that Netflix abandoned a year ago in an unpopular price hike that caused customers to defect. Redbox kiosks offer the latest DVDs from the major studios, while its streaming plan will feature movies from Warner Bros. and Epix, the pay TV channel owned by Paramount Pictures, MGM and Lionsgate. The service, called Redbox Instant by Verizon, could have limited appeal for forgetful folks. DVD renters who neglect to return discs will start having to pay $1.20 a night after the four nights per month.

Foreclosure filings fell 31% in November, report says

The number of home foreclosure filings in the seven-county Pittsburgh region in November dropped about 31 percent from October, and more than 10 percent from November 2011, said a report Wednesday. RealtyTrac Inc., Irvine, Calif., said the filings – from default notices to sheriff's sales – dropped to 521 last month from 759 in October, and 582 in November 2011. The main reason was that the number of mortgage default notices decreased. Nationally, the number of default notices last month, 77,494, was the lowest since December 2006, said RealtyTrac. The falloff pulled down total national foreclosure filings by 3 percent from October levels, and about 19 percent from November 2011.

Other business news

• J. Brett Harvey, CEO of Consol Energy Inc., has been named Industrialist of the Year and will be presented with the award by the Western Pennsylvania Chapter Society of Industrial & Office Realtors. on Feb. 19. Last year, Dr. Jared L. Cohon, president, Carnegie Mellon University received the award and in 2010, the winner was James Rohr, CEO, PNC Financial Services Group.

• Delta Air Lines plans to add one weekly flight between Pittsburgh and Orlando starting in mid-February, said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Delta will offer the seasonal flight on Saturdays for seven weeks from Feb. 16 through March 30.

— Staff and wire reports

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