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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Business in brief: KREM-TV to cut at least 10 staff

Spokane’s KREM-TV handed out pink slips Tuesday to at least 10 workers, including at least one reporter.

Belo Corp. Vice President of Investor Relations Paul Fry said the Dallas media company announced in March it would lay off about 150 TV workers at 20 stations nationwide. The Spokane cuts were part of that reduction.

Belo also announced it has cut station managers’ and executives’ salaries by 5 percent and ended matching contributions for 401(k) retirement funds.

KREM station manager Jaime Aitken said most of the cuts were “behind-the-scenes” reductions. Like other media companies, KREM is struggling with declining advertising revenue, Aitken said.

Tom Sowa

Game developers release new titles

Deer Park-based online game company Mean Hamster Software has two new “casual games” being released and continues looking to add more staff, company President John Swiderski said.

Last year it released its initial online game, Pet Shop Hop.

It just released its second game, Everything Nice, which is available at

Its third game in the casual market is Ye Olde Sandwich Shoppe, said Swiderski. It will be sold on, starting in late May.

Both new games are available for $19.95.

Casual games are simple online downloads that let players spend between 5 minutes and a few hours. Swiderski said Mean Hamster now has three teams of programmers developing games.

Tom Sowa

Teck Cominco reports earnings

Teck Cominco Ltd. reported net earnings of $241 million, or 50 cents per share, during the first quarter.

The earnings, reported in Canadian currency, compared with $345 million, or 78 cents per share, during the first quarter of 2008.

The Vancouver, B.C.-based mining company reported a positive after-tax pricing adjustment of $43 million, resulting from rising copper prices, compared with $74 million in the same period last year. The mining company also recorded after-tax gains totaling $168 million from the sale of its ownership interest in a gold project and related company.

Teck Cominco owns the Pend Oreille Mine in northeast Washington, which closed earlier this year as a result of low zinc prices.

Becky Kramer


Banks offer deal for Chrysler debt

Banks and hedge funds that hold $6.9 billion in Chrysler LLC debt have proposed forgiving $2.5 billion of it in exchange for about a 40 percent stake of a Chrysler-Fiat alliance, according to two people briefed on the proposal.

The counteroffer comes as Chrysler races to meet a government-imposed April 30 deadline to swap debt for equity, cut labor costs and negotiate an alliance with Italy’s Fiat Group SpA. If it misses the deadline, government aid will end and Chrysler likely faces liquidation.

Chrysler is living on $4 billion in federal loans and could get another $500 million to survive through April. But without massive restructuring and a Fiat deal, government officials have said they won’t lend the struggling automaker any more money.

Associated Press

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