The daily business briefing: December 5, 2017
Amazon launches in Australia, Netflix commits to resuming House of Cards production without Kevin Spacey, and more
Amazon launches in Australia
Amazon launched in Australia on Tuesday in a move that could disrupt the retail market in the world's 12th largest economy. The site opened with limited product offerings, however, and higher prices than rivals feared. Rival retailers' stocks gained ground after falling in recent months. Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey called Amazon's launch a "non-event" that fell short of the "hype" that had driven down his company's share price. "It's just amazing that this sort of thing can gather this sort of momentum and ended up so lame," Harvey said. Experts, however, expect the world's largest retailer to get more competitive in Australia soon. "It's early days — it's day one," said Jack O'Leary, a U.S.-based analyst at global retail insights firm PlanetRetail RNG.
Netflix to resume House of Cards production without Kevin Spacey
Netflix confirmed Monday that it would resume production of House of Cards in early 2018 and complete an eight-episode sixth and final season without star Kevin Spacey, who was sidelined after several men accused him of sexual assault and harassment. "We are excited to bring closure to fans," Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said. Production company Media Rights Capital shut down production in November after the allegations surfaced against Spacey, who plays the ruthless politician Frank Underwood in the show. The final season, which originally was to include 13 episodes, will star Robin Wright, who plays Spacey's equally devious wife, Claire Underwood.
Supreme Court hears arguments in 'gay wedding cake' discrimination case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case that could determine whether businesses can withhold services from gay couples, citing religious beliefs. The controversial case concerns Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who declined to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Lawyers for Phillips, whose stance is backed by the federal government, argued that the First Amendment protects Phillips' right as a creator to not produce goods that run counter to his beliefs. The ACLU, representing same-sex couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig, countered that the anti-discrimination law at issue is "content-neutral" and does not allow for exceptions. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who wrote the majority decision in the court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, is thought to be a key vote on the bench.
Patagonia to sue over Trump plan to shrink two national monuments
Outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia said Monday that it would file a lawsuit seeking to stop President Trump from reducing the size of two national monuments in Utah. "We've fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we'll continue that fight in the courts," Patagonia President and CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. The company's website homepage now reads, "The President Stole Your Land," and calls Trump's plan to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent an "illegal move" and "the largest elimination of protected land in American history."
PBS to temporarily replace Charlie Rose with Christiane Amanpour program
PBS announced Monday it will replace the now-canceled Charlie Rose with Amanpour on PBS, a global affairs interview program hosted by veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour. Rose's show was canceled last month after several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the host. Amanpour on PBS will start airing on New York PBS affiliate WNET Monday, and on PBS stations across the United States Dec. 11. PBS said it is also "finalizing plans" for an additional public affairs program to follow Amanpour on PBS at 11:30 p.m.