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Roundup: DISH agreement ends WTAE blackout; NRC won't expand safety buffer around nuke plants; more

| Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Agreement with DISH ends WTAE blackout

Hearst Television Inc. and DISH Network reached a transmission agreement on Wednesday that ended a temporary blackout for Hearst stations that DISH carried, including WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. DISH began carrying the stations by early afternoon, said Tom Campo, spokesman for New York-based Hearst. It picked up WTAE between 11 a.m. and noon, said Ed Everest, creative services director at WTAE. The blackouts affected viewers in 25 markets, including Baltimore, Harrisburg and New Orleans, DISH said. The previous agreement between DISH, based in Englewood, Colo., and Hearst expired on March 1. Service extensions during contract negotiations ended at 10 p.m. Tuesday, WTAE said. Neither company would comment on the terms of the deal or the specific reasons for the dispute. WTAE President and General Manager Charles W. Wolfertz III was out of the office, his office said, and could not be reached.

NRC won't expand safety buffer around nuke plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not expand safety and evacuation zones around nuclear power plants. The commission rejected a request from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and three dozen others to expand three types of zones around plants and make changes to evacuation plans. The tightest emergency planning zone around reactors is a 10-mile radius. The groups in 2012 asked to expand that to 25 miles and to increase the size of larger zones in response to the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan. “The NRC concludes that the current size of the emergency planning zones is appropriate for existing reactors and that emergency plans will provide an adequate level of protection of the public health and safety in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant,” the commission wrote in a Federal Register explanation posted on Wednesday.

Foreclosures decline in Pittsburgh area

The number of residential mortgage foreclosures in the metropolitan Pittsburgh area in March declined 14.67 percent from the same month last year, according to a report released on Thursday. Foreclosure actions were taken locally on 785 mortgages that month for the seven-county region, compared with 920 for March 2013, according to a report by Realty Trac of Irvine, Calif. Allegheny County had the highest number of foreclosure actions for both years, 467 this year and 619 in 2013. Next was Westmoreland County with 149, compared with 154 last year. Butler County increased, from 10 last year to 39. Nationally, foreclosures fell 23 percent, Realty Trac reported. Foreclosure actions include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions.

RBS pays to end dividend agreement with U.K. government

The Royal Bank of Scotland said Wednesday that it will pay $2.52 billion to end an agreement with the British government, in a move that will help clear the way for the bank to be privatized. The British government rescued the bank during the financial crisis, leaving it 81 percent owned by taxpayers. RBS has been working toward becoming privatized by mid-2014. RBS said it will cancel the dividend access share arrangement, which entitled the government to certain dividend payments. This allows the bank to streamline its dividend policy and makes it more attractive to investors. Ross McEwan, RBS Group's chief executive, said the agreement is a vote of confidence in rebuilding the company. The agreement must be approved by RBS shareholders.

Treasury raises $2.38B in Ally stock sale

The Treasury Department has raised $2.38 billion by selling a large chunk of its stock in Ally Financial Inc. as part of the government's ongoing effort to recoup the billions of dollars spent bailing out companies during the 2008 financial crisis. Treasury said Wednesday that it got $25 each for the 95 million shares it sold in an initial public offering. The IPO was priced at the low end of the forecast range of $25 to $28 per share. The sale brought the amount it has recouped from the bailout of Ally to $17.7 billion, slightly more than the $17.2 billion the government had put up. The Detroit-based former financing arm of General Motors ran into trouble by making bad bets on subprime mortgages. With the stock sale, the government's ownership of Ally's common stock will drop from 37 percent to about 17 percent. Further sales of government-owned stock are expected in coming months.

Other business news

• BNY Mellon appointed J. Kevin McCarthy senior executive vice president and general counsel as of April 15, the bank announced on Wednesday. McCarthy, the bank's senior deputy general counsel, succeeds Jane Sherburne, who left the bank after four years to pursue other opportunities.

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