In an effort to build its brand throughout Europe, Los Angeles-based Stratus Media Group Inc., which produces and promotes sporting events, car shows and concerts, recently acquired Swiss-based Exclusive Events S.A. in a cash and stock transaction valued at about $1.6 million.


Exclusive Events organizes noncompetitive auto racing experiences for high-end corporate and private clients throughout Europe, Dubai and Southern Asia providing professional race-car driving coaches, high-performance Ferraris and Formula 1 race cars and the tracks they race on.

The acquisition of Exclusive Events provides Stratus with an office in Geneva and expands its VIP Stratus Rewards programs to Europe. The rewards program offers luxury travel, hotel and culinary benefits to those who have a Visa White Card or Visa Signature credit card.

Paul Fuller, chief executive of Stratus Media, said the company plans similar agreements with the Grand-Am and Indy racing associations in the United States.

Stage Craft

Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the people behind the cameras that do the heavy lifting, are hoping that new union leadership will put some pressure on the Screen Actors Guild to agree to a contract with Hollywood's major studios.

Matthew Loeb, the alliance's former international vice president, was elected to the union's top slot last week when alliance President Thomas Short announced his retirement during the alliance's mid-summer board meeting in San Diego.

Short and the alliance have not been outspoken about SAG's leadership or its current negotiations lately, so alliance union members are hoping that Loeb will become more aggressive.

Loeb has been the director of the union's Motion Picture and Television Production division for the past decade and has long established relationships with Hollywood's major studio executives, some of whom are currently involved in SAG negotiations.

Adaptation Dilemma

Is the Motion Picture Association of America trying to tune out early adopters of high-definition technology?

The MPAA, representing Hollywood's major studios, recently urged the FCC to allow what's called "restricting technology" that would help protect high-definition movies and TV shows from being pirated on first-generation digital set-top boxes.

Many early digital cable boxes lacked the type of technology that supports advanced encryption technology that content owners want to include in new video-on-demand programming.

The Consumer Electronics Association and a consortium of consumer-rights groups argue that allowing content owners to manipulate delivery would effectively "turn off" certain boxes at will, giving them veto power over the type of equipment consumers can use to watch content that they have legally acquired as paying cable subscribers.

This is similar to what happened to consumers who purchased some of the first DVD players that came to market during the late 1990s. Beginning in 2000, several major studios began adding additional encryption technology to their discs. First-generation DVD players could not read the advanced encryption coding, rendering most of those DVD players obsolete by 2005.

A final ruling by the FCC is pending a response from the MPAA.

Christian Media

There are a plethora of job search engines online but few are based on one's religion.

Camarillo-based Salem Communications Corp., a national Christian radio broadcaster and Internet content provider, recently acquired another Christian focused job search engine called Intercristo.com for an undisclosed sum.

This latest acquisition comes on the heels of Salem's purchase of ChristianJobs.com and ChurchStaffing.com. The jobs posted on these three Web sites are populated by what Salem executives call "Christian-friendly" companies and organizations.

Odds and Ends

Santa Monica-based Lions Gate Entertainment recently acquired the domestic home entertainment distribution rights to Marvel's animated "Wolverine & The X-Men" series Walt Disney Co.'s subsidiary ESPN is launching ESPN Action Sports Network a group of sports-specific Web sites such as ESPN Skate, which will then be linked with other Web sites such as Surfline.com, Vans.com and Active Ride Shop, among others Al Corral, former vice president and news director at Telemundo's KVEA & KWHY, has joined Napoli Management Group as a talent agent, representing on-air talent Time Warner Cable and Verizon will carry select high-definition programming from Si TV channel beginning this month The MPAA filed lawsuits in federal court in Los Angeles last week against Fomdb.com and MovieRumor.com, for facilitating copyright infringement by providing access to protected content on the Internet that consumers can then view on-demand.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226

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