News Round Up: BBC Radio, smartphones, Facebook, Tesco Easter Eggs

This afternoon's round up of media, marketing and technological news includes the announcement of a rebrand for a digital BBC radio station, a successful Christmas for Facebook - and Eastereggs already hitting supermarket shelves.

Facebook shares fuel ‘red hot’ shadow market

The Times is reporting that American authorities are investigating the trading market in Facebook shares, in a move that is expected to put pressure on the social networking company to go public by the end of 2011. Recently a number of investment groups have created Facebook funds by buying up shares in the secondary market from Facebook employees, those leaving the company and early-stage venture capital investors. The social networking website is now valued by many experts in excess of $40 billion, three times the level of a year ago. The paper suggests that shares in Twitter and LinkedIn are also being traded in the same way and could face similar investigations.

BBC to launch Radio 4 sister station in spring 2011

The BBC is to launch a Radio 4 spin-off station in an attempt to encourage FM listeners to switch to digital, reports the Telegraph today. The plans involve rebranding the BBC Radio 7 digital station as Radio 4 Extra, and aligning its programmes more closely with Radio 4 itself. Industry sources told the paper that the new station will try to bring over traditional Radio 4 listeners to digital radio by tempting them with new programmes related to Radio 4 favourites such as The Archers. The new station is due to launch in spring 2011 while BBC Trust is currently conducting a review of Radios 3, 4 and 7.

Phone firms back common charger plan: smartphone users rejoice

Smartphones are notoriously difficult to keep fully charged, but that may be eased as manufacturers back common standards for chargers. The BBC reports that technical specifications for chargers drawn up by the European Commission have won the backing of 14 phone firms. Nokia, Apple and Samsung back the plan, with the first universal chargers likely to be available in early 2011. The chargers will be based around micro-USB technology and could see the end of proprietary power ports on handsets. The process began in June 2009 and the specifications only cover chargers for smartphones as the Commission predicts ownership will grow rapidly in the next two years.

Facebook attracts more U.S visitors than Google in 2010

Despite the share investigation, Facebook’s Christmas has still been pretty impressive. After the news that the social network topped Google on Christmas Day, it’s now toasting Hitwise statistics which show it was the most-visited Web page in the U.S. from January to November 2010, passing Google's search page for the first time. As reported by Business Insider, Facebook was the number-one search term for the second year running and took four out of the top ten search terms. It’s not all bad for Google though. Their ownership of YouTube means they still took the number one spot with 9.85% of all internet visits versus 8.93% for Facebook. Yahoo took up the third and fourth spots with Yahoo Mail and Yahoo.com.

And finally…

Tesco starts selling Easter eggs - two days after Christmas

The Manchester Evening News are reporting that Tesco stores have already started selling Easter eggs, just two days after Christmas. The supermarket giant have moved ahead of rivals Morrisons and Asda by stocking chocolate Easter eggs as shoppers digest their Christmas dinners. Next Easter falls on April 24 – almost five months away. Tesco told the Evening News they were responding to demand: “Customers have asked us for a small range of Easter eggs at this time of year and we’re happy to supply them”.

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