Babies And Toddlers Should Not Watch TV, Media Screens Say US Doctors

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The best way you can help your baby or toddler learn and develop a healthy brain is to unplug the TV and other media screens, and play with them, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) whose new policy reiterates, in the light of newer data, their previous recommendation that parents and carers keep children under 2 years of age as “screen-free” as possible.

The AAP released their report and policy statement, “Media Use by Children Younger Than Two Years”, on Tuesday at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Boston. It also appears online ahead of print in the journal Pediatrics.

The new report and policy confirms the guidance the AAP provided in 1999 for children under 2: that there are more negative than positive effects from exposing this age group to TV and media screens. That policy came more from belief than hard evidence says the AAP, but the new policy, which has the same message, is based on evidence that has since emerged about children’s early brain development and how different types of stimulation and activity influence their early learning processes.

Lead author of the policy, Dr Ari Brown, who is a a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media, told the press that:

“The concerns raised in the original policy statement are even more relevant now, which led us to develop a more comprehensive piece of guidance around this age group.”

The AAP reports that in a recent survey, they found 90% of parents said their under-2s watched some form of electronic media. On average, children of this age watch TV for one to two hours a day, and by age 3 nearly one third have TVs in their bedrooms.

The survey also found that parents who agreed with the statement that educational television is “very important for healthy development” are twice as likely to keep the TV switched on all or nearly all the time.

In their new report, the AAP group set out to address two questions: Do video and TV programs offer any educational value for the under-2s? And does watching them harm this age group?

The report concludes that:
• Although many video programs aimed at babies and toddlers are marketed as “educational” there is no evidence that they are.
• Programs are only educational if children understand the content and context of what is being screened: studies have shown consistently that only the over-2s have this understanding.
• Unstructured play is more valuable for the young developing brain than watching electronic media.
• Unstructured play gives young children the opportunity to think creatively, learn how to problem solve, develop reasoning and develop motor skills.
• Free play also helps them learn how to entertain themselves.
• Young children need to interact with humans, not screens, and they learn best this way.
• Watching TV and videos with your child may increase their understanding, but he or she will learn more from a live presentation.
• Watching your own program when your young child is with you is “background media” for them and it detracts from the interaction between you: it may also interfere with their learning.
• Watching TV and videos at bedtime is not a good sleep habit: it disrupts healthy sleep which can affect mood, behavior and learning.
• Research shows that young children who watch a lot of TV and other media have a higher risk of delayed language development when they start school, although the reasons for this are unclear.
In the light of this information the policy recommends that if they choose to expose their under-2s to screen media, then parents and carers should have a strategy for managing the exposure and set limits. But it points out the AAP prefers they not be exposed to media at all at this age.

The AAP also recommends parents and carers employ other ways of stimulating children’s learning when they are busy doing what they have to do. For instance, instead of placing young children in front of a screen while you prepare meals or do chores, have them nearby engaged in supervised play, such as playing with nested cups on the floor.

They also recommend that you don’t put a TV set in your young child’s bedroom, and recognize the damage that your own media viewing can have on their learning and development.

The report calls for more research to examine the long-term effect that early media exposure can have on the physical, mental and social health of children.

Brown says the best thing you can do for your young child to help them learn and develop is to engage him or her in unstructured play: both with yourself and independently.

“Children need this in order to figure out how the world works,” he urges.

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Study: 1 in 6 UK cell phones is contaminated with fecal matter B

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
• 1 in 6 mobile phones is contaminated with fecal matter, study finds
• More than 1 in 4 Londoners’ hands have the E. coli bacteria
(CNN) — One in six mobile phones in Britain is contaminated with fecal matter, according to research made public Friday that cited poor hygiene as the cause.
“This study provides more evidence that people still don’t wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet,” Dr. Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said in the report.
In the study, researchers in 12 cities took 390 samples from mobile phones and hands, then analyzed in a laboratory what they had found.
Londoners had the highest incidence of the E. coli bacteria, which are associated with fecal matter, on their hands (28%). The bacteria can result in food poisoning and, in extreme cases, can prove fatal.
The study, which also included scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, found that Britons tend not to come clean about their hygiene practices.
When surveyed, 95% of respondents told the researchers that they washed their hands with soap where possible, but the researchers said 92% of phones and 82% of hands had bacteria on them. And 16% of hands and 16% of phones harbored the E. coli bacteria.
“People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise,” said Dr. Ron Cutler, of Queen Mary, University of London. A person can transfer fecal bacteria by touching door handles, food and mobile phones and, from there, to other people.

Examination Dates for GATE 2012 is scheduled

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The online examination for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2012 is scheduled on January 29, 2012 while the offline exam will be held on February 12, 2012, Sunday. Read on for details. Illustration by Dominic Xavier
What
The dates for Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) exam which is an all India level examination have been announced recently.
While the online examination is scheduled on January 29, 2012, Sunday, the offline exam will be held on February 12, 2012, Sunday.
GATE 2012 is jointly administered and conducted by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) on behalf of the National Coordination Board comprising of GATE, Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and Government of India (GoI).
The GATE committee, which includes representatives from the administering institutes, is the sole authority for regulating the examination and declaring the results.

GATE is conducted through the constitution of eight zones, namely:
Zone-1: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Zone-2: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Zone-3: Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Zone-4: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
Zone-5: Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Zone-6: Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Zone-7: Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Zone-8: Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Admission to postgraduate programmes with MHRD and some other Government scholarships/assistantships in engineering colleges/institutes is open to those who qualify in GATE examination.
Who can apply
If you are one of the following, you are eligible for GATE:
• Bachelor’s degree holder in Engineering/Technology/ Architecture (4 years after 10+2) and those who are in the final year of such programmes.
• Bachelor’s degree holder in Engineering/Technology/Architecture (Post-B.Sc./Post-Diploma) and those who are in the final year of such programmes.
• Master’s degree holder in any branch of Science/Mathematics/ Statistics/Computer Applications or equivalent and those who are in the final year of such programmes.
• Pursuing second or higher year of the Four-year Integrated Master’s degree programme (Post-B.Sc.) in Engineering/Technology.
• Pursuing fourth or higher year of Five-year Integrated Master’s degree programme or Dual Degree programme in Engineering/Technology.
• Hold a certificate obtained through examinations conducted by professional societies recognised by UPSC/AICTE (e.g. AMIE by Institute of Engineers (India); AMICE by Institute of Civil Engineers (India)) as equivalent to B.E./B.Tech. Those who have completed section A or equivalent of such professional courses are also eligible.
GATE qualified candidates with Bachelor’s degree in Engineering/Technology/Architecture or Master’s degree in any branch of Science/Mathematics/Statistics/Computer Applications are eligible for admission to Master’s degree programmes in Engineering/Technology/Architecture as well as for Doctoral programmes in relevant branches of Science with MHRD or other government scholarships/assistantships.
To avail the scholarship, the candidate must secure admission to such a postgraduate programme, as per the prevailing procedure of the admitting institution.
However, candidates with Master’s degree in Engineering/Technology/Architecture may seek admission to relevant Doctoral programmes with scholarship/assistantship without appearing in the GATE examination.
GATE qualified candidates can also apply for various fellowships awarded by many Government organisations.
How to apply
You can log in to http://www.iitk.ac.in/gate/gate2012/howtoapply.php
Important dates
The last date for submitting your application for GATE 2012 is October 17, 2011.
Announcement of GATE 2012 Results: March 15, 2012
M.Tech admissions 2012 will commence from March 15, 2012 and will go on till July 2012.

Spend Rs5 lakh for engineering degree, but don’t expect a job

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Despite their middle-class background, Vikas Kumar’s parents shelled out Rs5 lakh during his four years at an engineering college. His institute, however, saw just four to five firms treading in for placements last year. The companies picked only 50-60 students from a batch of 220 across streams – computer science, information science, civil, mechanical, etc.

Since he graduated a few months ago, Kumar, 22, has been knocking at every possible opportunity and shelling out over Rs55,000 in the process. “I have registered on quite a few job sites for freshers, approached the placement co-ordinator of another institute, registered in the campus pool of other colleges as well as enrolled for a course in networking,” said Kumar, who did his engineering in computer science from an institute in Chickballapur, about 56 km north of Bangalore.

To hone his potential, Kumar paid nearly Rs48,000 for a six-month networking course. He has also paid Rs4,000 for getting registered for placements with another college in Bangalore while simultaneously spending Rs3,500 for registering on two job sites.

“Despite doing all this, there is no guarantee that I might get a decent job. My college is busy with placements for the current batch and has no time to consider ex-students,” said Kumar.

Many of his classmates have also doled out similar amounts in the quest to get a job. Many are doing courses pertaining to VLSI (very large-scale integration), embedded technology, mobile communications, programming, etc, paying anywhere between Rs35,000-Rs50,000 for a duration of two to six months.

Saicharan Shetty, another fresh engineering graduate who paid over Rs4.5 lakh for graduation, did a two-month networking course in August-September for Rs22,000. He plans to shell out another Rs12,000 for giving the course exam. Passing the exam will guarantee him a certificate certified by a Nasdaq-listed networking firm. “Neither the institute from where I did the course nor my college will help in my job hunt. In short, it means investing more and more effort and money for returns which are not guaranteed,” said Shetty.

Experts said this trend is highly prevalent, especially with students hailing from lesser- known colleges. Estimates reveal that just 25% of engineering students get job offers by the time they graduate. “Three of four kids are jobless at the time of graduation. They need to then run from pillar to post to figure out ways to get jobs,” said Amit Bhatia, CEO of Gurgaon-based employability education firm Aspire.

This happens as top recruiters visit only renowned campuses, while setting yardsticks of minimum cut-offs. “Students should score not less than 60% or 70% in their semester exams to be eligible for placements is what some firms as well as colleges stipulate. This excludes several students,” said an HR official from an IT firm.

Shetty said as there was no structured guidance available on what to do post graduation, freshers end up emptying the pockets of their parents. However, in rare cases, colleges do call upon ex-students who are jobless, if they get approached by companies with a sudden requirement for talent, said Bhatia.

Adjusting, More M.D.’s Add M.B.A.

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Under heavy pressure from government regulators and insurance companies, more and more physicians across the country are learning to think like entrepreneurs.
As recently as the late 1990s, there were only five or six joint M.D./M.B.A degree programs at the nation’s universities, said Dr. Maria Y. Chandler, a pediatrician with an M.B.A. who is an associate clinical professor in the medical and business schools at the University of California, Irvine. “Now there are 65,” she said.
Mark V. Pauly, a longtime leader of the health care management program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “A light bulb went off and they realize that health care is a business.”
Dr. James S. Kuo, 47, said he was a third-year medical student at Penn when he decided to go to business school, too. After receiving his M.D. and master of business administration degrees, he jumped to a Wall Street job with a large health care venture capital firm.
Dr. Kuo went on to manage several heath care funds and later led several small health care companies.
Now he is chief executive of Adeona Pharmaceuticals, a company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that is developing innovative medicines for the treatment of serious diseases of the central nervous system.
He is also nonexecutive chairman of MSK Pharma, a private company in La Jolla, Calif., that is led by his wife, Dr. Geraldine P. Kuo.
She is a specialist in muscular-skeletal medicine at the Veterans Affairs health care system in San Diego.
“In her work, she came across a medical need and an innovation to solve that need,” he said.
One of the latest universities to consider a combined program is Creighton, a Jesuit university in Omaha, which plans to begin offering a joint degree next summer.
Anthony R. Hendrickson, dean of Creighton’s school of business, said the program would be flexible, based on each student’s academic and business experience and personal goals.
He said total tuition would be $191,688, including four years of medical school and a year of business studies. At Duke, the total cost of tuition for medical school and a year and a half of business studies is $235,244.
Creighton, like many universities with business schools, also offers part-time courses for physicians alongside its classic short courses for executives of all types.
Statistics about the joint programs are sparse, said Dr. Chandler, who is president of the Association of M.D./M.B.A. Programs. But she estimated there were as many as 500 students total in the programs.
Some, like Tufts and Texas Tech, offer the combined program in four years, she said, and many programs offer special aid packages.
“All physicians need some kind of business training,” she said. “For example, some physicians with large research grants don’t know how to manage the money.”
As for the nation’s troubled health system, “we are not running the business side very well,” Dr. Chandler said. “Part of the problem is we don’t have physicians sufficiently involved. They have a fuller insight about what is needed.”
“Cue the theme music from ‘Jaws,’ ” said Professor Pauly, of Wharton. “Entrepreneurs have to know how to navigate with the desire of payers to hold down prices and control uses in health care.”
He added: “They have to know how to please pointy-headed bureaucrats. This is going to be one of the survival skills in the future in health care.”
Not all physician entrepreneurs come from the joint programs, of course. There are also business school graduates like Dr. Wendye Robbins, a fourth-generation doctor, who did her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and later earned her M.D. at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Now she is president and chief executive of Limerick BioPharma, a small start-up in South San Francisco that works on transplant-associated metabolic diseases, specifically Type 2 diabetes. She founded Limerick with business partners in 2005.
With strong grades and support from the head of her medical faculty, she said, she was accepted as an intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and then for a postgraduate residency at Johns Hopkins University. Then she was hired as an anesthesiologist and pain doctor at the University of California, San Francisco. Through her husband, who has a business degree from Wharton, she met venture capitalists. “They offered to fund the stuff coming out of my lab,” she said.
She left academics and started her first company, NeurogesX, which commercializes pain medicines.
After five years, she left the company and took a teaching job at Stanford because, she said, she wanted to stay in touch with students and patients.
Her advice to entrepreneurs-in-waiting: “Take a risk, step into the unknown. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had plenty of disappointments.”
As recently as the late 1990s, there were only five or six joint M.D./M.B.A degree programs at the nation’s universities, said Dr. Maria Y. Chandler, a pediatrician with an M.B.A. who is an associate clinical professor in the medical and business schools at the University of California, Irvine. “Now there are 65,” she said.
Mark V. Pauly, a longtime leader of the health care management program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “A light bulb went off and they realize that health care is a business.”
Dr. James S. Kuo, 47, said he was a third-year medical student at Penn when he decided to go to business school, too. After receiving his M.D. and master of business administration degrees, he jumped to a Wall Street job with a large health care venture capital firm.
Dr. Kuo went on to manage several heath care funds and later led several small health care companies.
Now he is chief executive of Adeona Pharmaceuticals, a company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that is developing innovative medicines for the treatment of serious diseases of the central nervous system.
He is also nonexecutive chairman of MSK Pharma, a private company in La Jolla, Calif., that is led by his wife, Dr. Geraldine P. Kuo.
She is a specialist in muscular-skeletal medicine at the Veterans Affairs health care system in San Diego.
“In her work, she came across a medical need and an innovation to solve that need,” he said.
One of the latest universities to consider a combined program is Creighton, a Jesuit university in Omaha, which plans to begin offering a joint degree next summer.
Anthony R. Hendrickson, dean of Creighton’s school of business, said the program would be flexible, based on each student’s academic and business experience and personal goals.
He said total tuition would be $191,688, including four years of medical school and a year of business studies. At Duke, the total cost of tuition for medical school and a year and a half of business studies is $235,244.
Creighton, like many universities with business schools, also offers part-time courses for physicians alongside its classic short courses for executives of all types.
Statistics about the joint programs are sparse, said Dr. Chandler, who is president of the Association of M.D./M.B.A. Programs. But she estimated there were as many as 500 students total in the programs.
Some, like Tufts and Texas Tech, offer the combined program in four years, she said, and many programs offer special aid packages.
“All physicians need some kind of business training,” she said. “For example, some physicians with large research grants don’t know how to manage the money.”
As for the nation’s troubled health system, “we are not running the business side very well,” Dr. Chandler said. “Part of the problem is we don’t have physicians sufficiently involved. They have a fuller insight about what is needed.”
“Cue the theme music from ‘Jaws,’ ” said Professor Pauly, of Wharton. “Entrepreneurs have to know how to navigate with the desire of payers to hold down prices and control uses in health care.”
He added: “They have to know how to please pointy-headed bureaucrats. This is going to be one of the survival skills in the future in health care.”
Not all physician entrepreneurs come from the joint programs, of course. There are also business school graduates like Dr. Wendye Robbins, a fourth-generation doctor, who did her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and later earned her M.D. at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Now she is president and chief executive of Limerick BioPharma, a small start-up in South San Francisco that works on transplant-associated metabolic diseases, specifically Type 2 diabetes. She founded Limerick with business partners in 2005.
With strong grades and support from the head of her medical faculty, she said, she was accepted as an intern at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and then for a postgraduate residency at Johns Hopkins University. Then she was hired as an anesthesiologist and pain doctor at the University of California, San Francisco. Through her husband, who has a business degree from Wharton, she met venture capitalists. “They offered to fund the stuff coming out of my lab,” she said.
She left academics and started her first company, NeurogesX, which commercializes pain medicines.
After five years, she left the company and took a teaching job at Stanford because, she said, she wanted to stay in touch with students and patients.
Her advice to entrepreneurs-in-waiting: “Take a risk, step into the unknown. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had plenty of disappointments.”
Most of its 10,000 members work in hospitals and insurance companies as chief medical officers and medical directors.
“Many others are focused on adapting technology to health care, not just electronic medical records,” he added. “The use of social media is of great interest to many younger physicians, and so is health care analytics,” which is the study of data and information to help predict patterns of chronic illness.
“Physicians are bright people,” said Dr. John E. Prescott, chief academic officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, a trade group in Washington that represents more than 150 medical colleges. “They want to make a difference. Some do it one patient at a time. Others see a bigger impact in business applications.”
“We are in a challenging environment for physicians to practice in,” he added. “Some are looking for ways to modify it or to leave it. Most want to modify it.”
Dr. Lisa Beth Ferstenberg teaches entrepreneurship on a grant from the National Science Foundation at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. After graduating from McGill’s medical school, a residency at Mount Sinai Hospital and studies at New York University’s Bellevue Hospital Center, she had a succession of pharmaceutical industry jobs.
Her students start every class session by practicing their pitches to sources of financing, like venture capitalists. She tells students: “No one will fund you if they don’t understand what you just said.”
In the hospital world, Dr. Silbaugh said, many hospital boards are asking for physician candidates, a reversal from a few years ago when nondoctors were preferred.
“Physicians bring a unique perspective,” said Dr. Prescott. “They understand patients and their needs. They also look at ways to improve overall effectiveness and efficiency.”
In the medical device industry, for example, “physicians are the customers and can provide valuable insights to improve products,” said Aaron K. Chatterji, who teaches strategy at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. He returned to the university in August after working for 16 months in Washington as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Professor Chatterji said his course on commercializing medical devices typically drew significant numbers of physicians, some in M.D./M.B.A. programs, and many biomedical engineers, along with other business students.
Dr. Prescott quoted a saying he hears quite often these days: “Healing is an art, medicine is a profession, health care is a business.”

Dynastic secrecy protected by India’s tame media

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At last, there is some high profile questioning about why the health of Sonia Gandhi, leader of India’s governing coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has been kept officially secret since the beginning of August when she was reported to have gone to New York for an operation believed to be for cancer. The question was publicly raised over the weekend in a cover story How ill is Mrs Gandhi? published by India Today, a weekly news magazine, which provides no new answers but in effect challenges the Gandhi family’s insistence on secrecy.
Coincidentally, Gandhi yesterday her first public appearance yesterday (right) since returning from the US on September 8, when she attended events in Delhi that marked the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, India’s independence leader.
No one is questioning why Sonia Gandhi did not appear in public earlier after what is reported to have been an operation for first-degree cancer, but there is serious questioning abut whether – and why – India’s top politician should keep such an important illness and hospitalisation a secret. Alongside that, and maybe more significantly, why has the Indian media been loath to challenge that secrecy?
Gandhi’s singular political importance is beyond doubt. If there was any doubt earlier, it was confirmed while she was away by the UPA government’s erratic behaviour on the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement and on-going telecoms scandal. On both issues, prime minister Manmohan Singh failed to exert the authority that should go with his job, while Rahul Gandhi, Sonia’s son and long seen as a future prime minister, failed to rise publicly to the challenge as heir apparent.
She has now been back for just over three weeks, and some sense of normalcy appears to have returned to the running of the coalition. However, that begs a question. Did the disarray while she was away develop because the government was missing her sure touch and gift of sensing what needed to be done politically, or because ministers and officials were scared to make decisions that might arouse her (or Rahul’s) wrath later? Or, as a political observer put it to me on Saturday, was it because the Gandhi dynasty has taken over normal governmental channels of authority and decision making to such an extent that the cabinet and administration cannot work without its leader at the head.
Whatever the answer – and maybe it was a mixture of all three – Gandhi has managed over the past 13 years that she has been engaged in active politics to build such an exclusive and untouchable aura of privacy and secrecy, combined with ultimate authority, that few people dare publicly to question her role or criticise the supremacy of the dynasty that she heads. It could be argued that this displays a high level of dynastic insecurity and fear of being unseated, which in turn would explain why the illness was – and still is – officially a secret.
Gandhi is of course an elected parliamentarian, so it would be wrong as well as unfair to compare her with a dictator. The acceptance however of her pre-eminent position, and that of the dynasty, would be envied by many less democratically based rulers, as would her ability to rule with a minimum of public utterances – she appears in public relatively rarely, and never makes herself available for the sort of public questioning faced by national leaders elsewhere.
Even Cuba’s ruler, Fidel Castro’s illnesses were publicly discussed in 2006. Politicians in the US are accustomed to public exposure, while Manmohan Singh’s heart bypass operation in 2009 was announced. Earlier however the illnesses of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the previous prime minister, were (and still are) largely kept private.
So even if one recognises that politicians like Gandhi will maintain as much privacy as they can muster, this still leaves the question of the Indian’s media’s largely hands-off response. It is true that the media here rarely reports on the private liaisons and even offspring of top politicians, but that is surely different from failing to explore the country’s top political leader going abroad for a life-threatening operation – Gandhi’s visit to the US for treatment was first reported by the international news media, and was then only lightly covered in India.
There has been no real attempt to discover – either through an official spokesman or other sources – the nature and seriousness of the illness. Such disregard by the media of its proper role in guarding the public interest is surely not healthy for a democracy – nor on the other hand is the secrecy and aura that seems to have triggered that reaction.

Blockbuster expected to launch streaming video

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Blockbuster appears set to announce a streaming video service Friday. The company, which was recently acquired by Dish Network, invited press to a Friday event called “A Stream Come True,” CNET reported.
The move could put the company in position to challenge Netflix, as the The Washington Post reported in April, especially given recent customer attitudes toward the popular streaming site.
Blockbuster was probably Netflix’s biggest competitor in terms of the services it offered before Netflix made its decision to split into two companies. If Blockbuster announces a competitively priced flat-rate streaming service, it could quickly snap up the wave of customers who are upset about the Netflix/Qwikster split. Blockbuster could definitely use the boost as the number of its brick-and-mortar stores has dwindled.
Netflix announced Thursday that it was partnering with Facebook to provide streaming video through the social network, but said the function would not be available to U.S. users because of a 1998 law that forbids companies from releasing video sales or rental records, The Washington Post reported.