Droves leaving program to modify their mortgages

The Obama administration’s flagship effort to help people in danger of losing their homes is falling flat.

More than a third of the 1.24 million borrowers who have enrolled in the $75 billion mortgage modification program have dropped out. That exceeds the number of people who have managed to have their loan payments reduced to help them keep their homes.

Last month alone, 155,000 borrowers left the program, bringing the total to 436,000 who have dropped out since it began in March 2009.

About 340,000 homeowners have received permanent loan modifications and are making payments on time.

A major reason so many have fallen out of the program is the Obama administration initially pressured banks to sign up borrowers without insisting first on proof of their income. When banks later moved to collect the information, many troubled homeowners were disqualified or dropped out.


Affiliates want guarantees if Comcast takes over NBC

More than 200 TV stations affiliated with NBC have asked federal regulators to impose conditions on Comcast Corp.’s proposed takeover of the broadcaster to ensure they aren’t harmed in the deal.

In a letter sent by the deadline Monday, the affiliates say they want guarantees that major sports events will continue to be carried on NBC’s free airwaves and not switched to Comcast cable channels such as Versus.

The affiliates argued in a joint submission to the Federal Communications Commission that Comcast could woo new customers by putting popular sports events on channels that require monthly fees. Comcast already serves 23.8 million customers as the nation’s largest cable TV provider.

Comcast announced in December it will pay about $13.75 billion to gain control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. The government is still reviewing the deal.


Poll finds 64 percent lack confidence in overhaul

Americans aren’t convinced new Wall Street rules will prevent a future financial crisis.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll finds that 64 percent of those surveyed aren’t confident that a financial regulation overhaul before Congress will avert another meltdown.

Lawmakers concede that they can’t predict what a future emergency might look like and have designed the sweeping bill to avoid a recurrence of the 2008 financial collapse.

The legislation, now in its final stages, would force regulators to watch for financial threats, set up new consumer protections and police previously unregulated financial products.

The poll shows that Americans spread the blame for the crisis widely: 8 in 10 blame banks, while 7 in 10 blame the government. About 6 in 10 blame people who borrowed money that they couldn’t afford to repay.


Kindle, Nook e-readers near new Kobo in price

A price war is heating up in the electronic reader market, as Amazon cut the price of its Kindle e-reader below $200 Monday just after Barnes & Noble did the same with its competing Nook device.

The moves are fanning flames in the still-small but rapidly growing market that the book industry sees as a major part of its future.

On Monday, online retailer Amazon.com Inc. slashed the price of the Kindle by $70 to $189, just a few hours after bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. reduced the price of the Nook by $60 to $199 and said it would also start selling a new Nook with Wi-Fi access for $149.

Seattle-based Amazon has lowered the Kindle’s price several times since the e-reader with a grayscale screen debuted in 2007 at $399.

Both e-readers are creeping closer to the price of bookstore chain Borders Group Inc.’s new $149 Kobo e-reader, which will be available in July.