Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Morning Brief: BP claims Halliburton destroyed testing evidence; magazines scramble to adjust for the possible loss of Saturday postal service; EU to look at Apple and its book publishing agreements

The first trial involving the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is scheduled to begin on February 27 of next year, but the parties involved are already pointing the finger at each other as they hope to avoid blame for the spill.

BP has accused Halliburton of destroying evidence related to cement slurry testing and says the corporation of failing to provide computer modeling results.

"Halliburton has steadfastly refused to provide these critical testing and modeling results in discovery. Halliburton's refusal has been unwavering, despite repeated BP discovery requests and a specific order from this Court," CNN reported BP as claiming in court documents.

All this is key to the court case because the cause of the spill was laid to faulty cement at the well site. BP, which is the party responsible for the Gulf of Mexico drill site, is blaming its contractors, Transocean and Halliburton, for the accident.

AdAge's Nat Ives yesterday looked at the effect the elimination of Saturday delivery would have on some magazined. Obviously newsweeklies that attempt to deliver on Saturday, or at least in time for weekend reading would be most effected.

"We know that our readers value getting The Economist and reading it on the weekend," Paul Rossi, managing director at The Economist Group, told AdAge. "There's a direct connection between renewing customers and delivery. So it's important to us."

The bottom line seems to be that magazine publishers will simply have to live with the decision should Saturday delivery be stopped as the alternatives, such as newspaper carrier delivery are not acceptable, and most likely hugely complicated.

The BBC is reporting this morning that the European Union is looking into whether agreements between Apple and five book publishers are anti-competitive. The five publishers, Hachette Livre, Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck, reached agreements with Apple concerning book pricing for Apple's iBook store.

The Beeb reported that the UK's Office of Fair Trading has carried out its inquiry, but has yet to report any findings.

My guess is that all this comes to nothing as any company trying to start up an online store would have to come to agreements with those publishers it wants inside. Those who chose not to sign up are bound to complain about the terms, leading inevitably to calls for an inquiry. Unless those that ended up signing on also complain, I would think that it would be hard to make a case that the agreements are illegal. (But we'll see, right?)