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    The Black Rider

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    Saturday, April 11, 2009

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    YouTube, Universal launching music site

    Universal Music wants to do for music videos what NBC and 20th Century Fox did for TV shows online with Hulu: Turn them into a premium offering.

    Universal, the world's largest music label, on Tuesday said it will team up with Google's YouTube to launch Vevo, a dedicated online site for music videos, in a bid to better control the music viewing experience. No date for the launch has been set.

    Music videos have become "more of a commodity than we'd like them to be," says Rio Caraeff, Universal's executive vice president.

    His plan is to reach out to the other major labels to join forces, and to then license and distribute music videos from Vevo to other music sites like Yahoo Music and

    This is exactly how Hulu does it. Shows like Family Guy and The Office play on, as well as web affiliates like Yahoo, MSN and AOL.

    The idea is that all music videos will be branded online as Vevo, and labels will be able to attract higher ad revenues for the video clips.

    Greg Sterling, an analyst with Sterling Market Intelligence, says that despite YouTube's mammoth audience, advertisers are more interested in a targeted group they don't want to be lumped together with user-generated video.

    "Hulu has proven that dedicated channels are more popular with advertisers," he says. "Advertisers would welcome this model."

    Universal currently has the most watched channel on YouTube, with over 3.5 billion views, but Caraeff said that when Vevo launches later this year, its music videos on YouTube would look quite different.

    Videos will be presented in higher quality, and he promises exclusive content from his artists not seen today.

    "It will no longer be a Universal channel, but a Vevo channel, and we will control the look and feel of the pages," he says.

    David Eun, Google's head of strategic partnerships, said the Vevo deal is a "dramatic" shift in how music labels look at their business models.

    "There are many faucets people can drink from, but eventually only one well," Caraeff says. "We will be the well that powers many of those sites. This is a strategy that recognizes that scarcity is needed." So when advertisers want to reach music video fans, "We sell that audience across the web."

    CNN - Pirates seeking hijacked lifeboat turn back

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    Pirates seeking hijacked lifeboat turn back

    Pirates holding a German cargo ship returned to port Saturday after failing to reach a lifeboat containing four pirates and their American hostage, a local journalist told CNN.

    The German ship Hansa Stavanger was among several hijacked vessels that pirates were using to reach the lifeboat some 300 miles off the Somali coast, a Somali journalist told CNN.

    The ship had set sail to help the pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips, but turned back because of the U.S. naval presence, the journalist said. The Hansa Stavanger is now at the Somali port of Eyl, the journalist said.

    The Hansa Stavanger, with a crew of 24, was hijacked April 4 off the Somali coast.

    Pirates have been searching the waters off Africa's coast to try to find the lifeboat, a U.S. military official with knowledge of the situation said Friday. They are using hijacked vessels and skiffs launched from larger ships, the official said.

    The USS Halyburton, with helicopter capabilities, has now joined the USS Bainbridge in the area, and a third ship, the USS Boxer -- with a medical facility aboard -- should be there by the end of the day.

    Phillips is being held by four gunmen in the covered, fiberglass lifeboat. He jumped overboard at one point to try to escape, but one of the pirates jumped into the water after him and brought him back onboard the 28-foot boat.

    The pirates fired shots, the military official said, without providing further details.

    Phillips appeared to be tied up by the pirates after the escape attempt, a Defense Department official told CNN.

    For the U.S. Navy, bringing in more firepower is more than just a means to resolve a hostage situation, said Chris Lawrence, CNN's Pentagon correspondent.

    Attacks in the area have picked up so drastically in recent months that the Navy has to reposition some of its fleet to deal with the threats, he said.

    The pirates have shown no signs of giving in.

    Phillips' ship, the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, was on its way to Mombasa, Kenya, with a cargo of food aid when it was attacked Wednesday. It was the first time in recent history that pirates had targeted an American ship.

    The ship was hijacked about 350 miles off Somalia's coast, a distance that used to be considered safe for ships navigating in the pirate-infested waters. There were 21 American crew members, including the captain, on board at the time.

    The American crew regained control of the vessel, but the ship's owners -- the Norfolk, Virginia-based Maersk company -- would not say how.

    The Maersk Alabama resumed its journey to Mombasa on Thursday, along with an 18-person armed security detail on board. It was due to arrive at its destination Saturday.

    The U.S. Navy -- which is in charge of the situation -- requested help from the FBI to resolve the standoff.

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