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theEweekly wrap: Takeovers, tracking and movie streaming

Movies on YouTube YouTube is set to launch a film rental service, allowing users to stream movies from just £1.20. Starting in May, the video site will feature on-demand blockbusters produced by three major studios: Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers. The latter has also recently signed a deal enabling users to stream movies on Facebook, directly from the film’s official fan page, for around £1.85.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Google was to invest over £60 million in producing original YouTube content, as part of a drive to monetise the site’s success. Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion (£990 million) in 2006 from founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley; this week, the pair acquired social bookmarking site Delicious, reportedly intending to merge it with their own service, Avos.

Where am i? Since reports first emerged last week of Apple’s iPhone tracking user locations, the company has decided to come clean. They protested that the file was “not tracking the location of your iPhone”, but is being used to create “a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location”. This crowd-sourced database is apparently quicker at finding a location than simple GPS.

Steve Jobs responded to the revelations by saying “we don’t track anyone”, but claimed Google do. In fact, a study in October 2010 showed that two thirds of Android apps track user locations. An Apple Q&A on the subject revealed the company is collecting locations for two purposes: an “improved traffic service” they are working on, and targeting for iAds.

The empire expands Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire – comprising publications ranging from the Times to the Daily – is set to become even bigger. The company hopes to take over the 61 per cent of BSkyB that it does not already hold, making it the outright owner. News Corp’s bid was 700p per share, but following BSKyB’s strong growth in Q1 2011, Murdoch is under pressure to improve the offer.

The deal has to be given final approval by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. It was thought the deal would go ahead last month, but now Sheila Gilmore MP has raised questions over whether it should be put on hold while the News of the World phone hacking allegations are still being investigated. Hunt responded in the Commons: “The public must have confidence that in a free press, the press uses that freedom responsibly.”

Written by Rachel Hand

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