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Some Golden Globes Sponsors Withdraw

Some prominent advertisers have pulled their sponsorships for NBC’s strike-subdued Golden Globes coverage and others were weighing their options, media buyers said Tuesday. The decisions came a day after the traditional format for the awards program was scrapped in the face of promised picket lines.

The sponsor of the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, said Monday that the winners would be announced at a news conference covered by NBC News. The Writers Guild of America, continuing the two-month-old strike that forced the format changes, intends to picket outside the event.

NBC executives met on Tuesday to try and determine the programs to run before and after the 9 p.m. news conference.

Executives close to the network, who requested anonymity because the schedule had not been announced, said they expected that the “Dateline NBC” Golden Globes preview, originally scheduled for Saturday, would move to Sunday at 7 p.m. NBC is considering showing its new reality competition “American Gladiators” at 10 p.m. A scheduling announcement could occur on Wednesday, the network said.

Trade publications reported on Tuesday that NBC would offer refunds to advertisers who had previously committed to the awards program. The awards telecast has generated $10 million to $15 million in advertising revenue in previous years.

Bush Denounces Iran Over Naval Incident

President Bush chastised Iran on Tuesday for committing a “provocative act” by confronting U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf over the weekend. The Pentagon released video showing Iranian speedboats maneuvering around the U.S. convoy.

“We viewed it as a provocative act,” Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden, just hours before he left for a weeklong trip to the Middle East. “It is a dangerous situation, and they should not have done it, pure and simple.”

The incident took place Sunday in the strategic Strait of Hormuz and was initially described by U.S. officials on Monday. They said five armed Iranian speedboats approached three U.S. Navy warships in international waters, then maneuvered aggressively as radio threats were issued that the U.S. ships would be blown up.

The confrontation ended without shots being fired or injuries.

The video runs just over four minutes and, according to Pentagon officials, was shot from the bridge of the guided missile destroyer Hopper. It supported the U.S. version of events, by showing Iranian speedboats maneuvering around and among the Navy warships, quite close to the convoy.

Amazon Consolidates In Growing Area of Seattle

Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, will soon finally have one place to call home.

The company is moving all of its administrative employees, who are now scattered in offices around Seattle, to a single location in the city. It will be the first time all of these employees are together since the founding of Amazon more than a decade ago.

The company is more than doubling its office space. It is also betting that its profits will remain high. If Amazon exercises all of its options, it may spend as much as $1.5 billion under a 16-year agreement to lease 11 buildings in South Lake Union, a lakefront neighborhood a little more than a mile north of downtown.

Construction begins this month, and Amazon’s 4,000 employees are expected to start moving in a little over two years to a campus that will eventually occupy six blocks. “The beauty of South Lake Union is that it gives us space for now and room to grow,” said Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman.

Amazon joins a long list of companies gambling on South Lake Union, a neighborhood largely controlled by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft.

In only five years, Allen, who owns 60 acres in the area through his company Vulcan Real Estate, has been quickly transforming the neighborhood from an industrial hub into a high-tech playground with soaring condominium towers, eclectic restaurants and sleek office buildings. Vulcan is the lead developer of the Amazon project.

Microsoft Bids for Search Software Firm

Microsoft bid $1.2 billion on Tuesday for a Norwegian search software company, in what analysts said was mainly an effort to add more tools to its lucrative Office products, but was also being done with an eye toward fending off Google.

Fast Search and Transfer, based in Oslo, is a specialist in the search technology used inside companies and government agencies to cull information from documents, databases and software applications. Its software helps teams of workers quickly search the corporate storehouse of information for answers about procurement, marketing, manufacturing and product design.

Fast is not a competitor in consumer Web search and advertising, a market dominated by Google and one where Microsoft is investing heavily and struggling to make progress.

Yet the planned purchase, analysts said, does give Microsoft technology that it could potentially use to enhance its Web search business. There are some significant differences between Web search and so-called enterprise search technology. In consumer searches, the popularity of a Web page, for example, is an important factor in determining its relevance, while popularity tends to be less important in ranking corporate information sources.