February 19, 2008 in Business

Business in brief: Toy industry gets earful on recalls

The Spokesman-Review
 

The acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission lashed out Monday at the toy industry for a lack of safety controls that led to a string of highly publicized recalls, and she warned that the industry has the obligation to regulate itself.

“I will not tolerate the industry … not complying with our regulations,” Nancy Nord said in an address at the annual American International Toy Fair expo, whose four-day run ends Wednesday.

Nord said the federal agency, under attack for not acting quickly enough to eliminate hazardous products from store shelves, is adding staff and working more closely with customs officials to stop suspect imports. But she noted that “we all need to take responsibility” to make toys safer, and she said she was “very angry” about the recalls because they showed a breakdown in quality control.

Nord’s comments came as the agency works closely with the Toy Industry Association to develop mandatory testing standards after millions of toys were recalled last year because of excessive lead content or other hazards. There were 61 toy recalls last year, compared with 40 in 2006, she said.

SINGAPORE

Fuel costs cut into airlines’ efficiency

Improved efficiency has helped airlines better prepare for a possible global economic slowdown compared with the last major recession, but expensive fuel continues to hurt bottom lines, an airline industry group said Monday.

Since 2001, the industry has seen labor productivity rise 64 percent, while nonfuel unit costs have dropped 16 percent and sales and marketing costs have decreased by 25 percent, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The group’s chief executive, Giovanni Bisignani, said that it’s still too early to forecast the impact on airlines’ revenues that a U.S. or global slowdown would have and warned that tough times were ahead.

CHICAGO

Analog cell phone service wanes

The abandonment of analog TV for all-digital broadcasts that will come next year has gained much attention, while something similar happening now has kept a lower profile.

Cell phone carriers can now phase out their analog service, freeing up spectrum for digital communications. Unlike broadcast TV, where the vast majority of sets in use were built for analog service, embracing all-digital service isn’t a big deal for cell phones because nearly all wireless customers have had digital handsets for years.

An order adopted five years ago by the Federal Communications Commission allows carriers to phase out their analog service as of Monday.

A few folks who held onto their big, old analog phones for a decade or more will just have to get used to a new, sleeker digital model, but their numbers aren’t great.

No stock listings

Today’s business section contains no stock listings since the financial markets were closed for the Presidents Day holiday Monday.

The next stock market holiday will occur March 21, when markets are closed in observance of Good Friday.


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