c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

IN FINAL SEASON, AVOIDING ‘BREAKING BAD’ SPOILERS

The hype around hit television show finales has always been intense, but what has happened with AMC’s “Breaking Bad” exemplifies a twist in the relationship between the parallel universes of live, linear television (the kind symbolized by Comcast and DirecTV) and on-demand TV (as embodied by Netflix). On-demand services are typically thought to hurt live television viewing. In this case, they are fueling it. Afraid of encountering spoilers before the finale, many have turned to on-demand services to catch up, also increasing the number of viewers who now watch live. About 6 million viewers are now watching live episodes of “Breaking Bad,” nearly double the amount of live viewers in 2012.

EXXON TO EXTEND HEALTH CARE TO MARRIED SAME-SEX COUPLES

Exxon Mobil Corp., which has drawn much criticism for policies related to its gay and lesbian workers, said Friday that it would extend health insurance to married same-sex couples effective Oct. 1. The company said it was following the policies of the federal government, which, in recent months, has begun to issue rule changes and guidance on how gay couples should be treated in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. The decision found that gay couples who are legally married were entitled to the same federal benefits as straight couples.

WITH BLACKBERRY’S FUTURE IN DOUBT, FEWER OPTIONS FOR HANDSET USERS

What is a BlackBerry user to do? After teaching the world to type on tiny buttons, BlackBerry could soon be leaving the business of making phones — leaving fewer options for a vocal minority still committed to phones with its once popular physical keyboard. The possibility that BlackBerry would exit the handset business was reinforced Friday, when the company announced disastrous financial results, including a quarterly loss of nearly $1 billion. In the past few years, most smartphone users have switched to touch-screen models, like the iPhone, that use virtual keyboards that appear on a glass screen.

FTC PLANS TO EXAMINE PATENT TROLL BUSINESSES

Stepping into a volatile debate in the technology sector, the Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it would use its subpoena power to begin an investigation of so-called patent trolls, businesses whose primary purpose is to stockpile patents and use them to sue other companies. The action, which the commission’s chairwoman recommended in June, is the first step in what is likely to be a lengthy and broad investigation. It could eventually result in antitrust enforcement against some of the companies and could provide momentum for efforts underway in Congress to tighten restrictions on such lawsuits.

SPANISH BUDGET AVOIDS AUSTERITY MEASURES

Confident that Spain is emerging from a prolonged recession, the government Friday presented a budget for 2014 that was largely free of the unpopular austerity measures of recent years. The budget is based on a forecast that the Spanish economy will grow 0.7 percent next year, up from the government’s previous forecast of 0.5 percent. Gross domestic product is expected to contract 1.3 percent this year. Calling it a “budget of economic recovery,” Cristóbal Montoro, the budget minister, forecast that the proposal would “open the door to job creation in our country” since it lacked the tax increases and heavy spending cuts of recent years.

BRITISH POSTAL SERVICE VALUED AT $5.3 BILLION IN IPO

Royal Mail, Britain’s 360-year-old postal service, could be worth as much as $5.3 billion, based on the value of its initial public share sale scheduled for next month, the government said Friday. The British government decided this month to privatize the service. It said Friday that shares would be priced at 2.60 pounds to 3.30 pounds ($4.20 to $5.30), valuing the group at 2.6 billion pounds to 3.3 billion pounds ($4.2 billion to $5.3 billion). The shares are to start trading in London on Oct. 11. “This will give Royal Mail access to the private capital it needs to modernize,” Royal Mail’s business secretary, said in a statement.

‘GMA’ BEATS ‘TODAY’ OVER A FULL SEASON

As he pushed “Good Morning America” through a heated ratings competition with NBC’s “Today” show, Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC News, had three goals: first, to win just one week; second, to win one of the television industry’s so-called sweeps months; and third, to win for a full television season. He called it “the trifecta” in conversations with colleagues. And Friday, ABC achieved it: a full-season win for “GMA” for the first time since the early 1990s. GMA now has an average of 5.3 million viewers on a typical weekday.