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"We have been under restrictions for 40 years already, and it's time to move on." -- IBM's general counsel, Lawrence Ricciardi, on an agreement with the feds to end the last terms of a 1956 antitrust decreeEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


MARY SCHIAVO, WHO IS THE Transportation Dept.'s chief in-house critic of the FAA, might quit to write an insider's book, say well-placed figures in publishing.

They say that her agent, Suzanne Gluck of ICM, is shopping a book that publishing people expect to go into the serious safety critiques she has been leveling at the Federal Aviation Administration. Schiavo, 40, Transportation's inspector general since 1990, could resign her $115,700-per-year job if publishers show enough interest, they say. There's no evidence Schiavo is being forced out.

Before sending out the proposal, Schiavo's agent has insisted would-be publishers sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the book, say the sources. Schiavo and Gluck didn't return phone calls. Publishing insider Richard Frishman, president of publicity firm Planned Television Arts, speculates that Schiavo could land an advance of $300,000 and perhaps far more.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT $by By Willy SternReturn to top


FOR WANT OF superscript$100, MSNBC nearly lost its Internet address. On Dec. 15, the day after Microsoft and NBC announced they would spend hundreds of millions to launch a cable news channel and Web site called MSNBC (page 68), Van Nuys (Calif.)-based Micro Solutions Network Boards Corp. claimed for itself the Internet address of

The Microsoft-NBC MSNBC channel didn't discover the potential fiasco until this spring, when it tried to register its Internet address with Network Solutions Inc., which administers these things. Micro Solutions, which couldn't be reached for comment, gave up its coveted address and got in return Microsoft software worth thousands.

Then came more trouble. Turns out that Micro Solutions had never paid NSI its $100 registration fee. Since the Microsoft-NBC MSNBC took months to notify NSI it had taken over the address, NSI's dunning notices on the deadbeat account were sent astray. MSNBC finally paid its bill on June 13, but NSI erred and pulled the plug on anyway on June 25. The mess got fixed the next day, and the site is up and running again.

"There were errors on both sides," says an NSI spokeswoman. If its luck holds, MSNBC launches on July 15.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT $by By Elizabeth LeslyReturn to top


FOR NEARLY superscript80 YEARS, THE Better Business Bureau has fielded consumer phone calls gratis. Probably not for much longer. The nation's 137 bureaus now are voting on a plan, expected to pass, to charge you for checking out your plumber or complaining about the job he did.

How much? In a three-year nationwide test the bureaus ran, consumers paid 95 cents per minute by calling a 900 number, or a $3.80 flat rate using a credit card. Individual bureaus can opt out, but likely won't. The money would expand service, for example, by hiring more operators to avoid busy signals.

But Consumer Federation's Stephen Brobeck says customers may be hurt where the bureau is the only help around. St. Louis BBB Vice-President Michelle Corey, a fee foe, thinks poorer people simply won't call.

Statistics are murky on this point. The bureaus have not released results from the 12 cities tested from 1993 to 1995. Yet nationwide, calls fell 28% in 1994, to 10.6 million. (No results are in for last year.) Proponents contend that calls were miscounted.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT $by By Randi FeigenbaumReturn to top

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