Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Top Stories Sponsored Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Kahlon said Oren’s comments reflected his personal views only, and praised Obama for supporting Israel.Oren said Obama abandoned longstanding principles of U.S.-Israel relations by openly disagreeing with Israel and not coordinating with it over changes to Mideast policies.U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby called Oren’s account “absolutely inaccurate.”Traditionally strong U.S.-Israeli ties have been strained under Obama and Netanyahu, who are divided over nuclear talks with Iran and peace efforts with the Palestinians.“Michael Oren is not a member of the government. His recent article in the Wall Street journal reflects his own views,” a senior official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said anonymously according to protocol.“Netanyahu has consistently expressed his appreciation…for all that President Obama has done for Israel’s security.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s finance minister distanced himself on Thursday from claims by the country’s former ambassador to the U.S., a member of his party, that President Barack Obama is purposely damaging bilateral relations.Moshe Kahlon said in a letter to America’s ambassador to Israel that he “summoned” Michael Oren, now a lawmaker in his Kulanu party, to his office after learning that Oren had expressed his views in an op-ed this week in the Wall Street Journal. The Associated Press on Thursday received a copy of the letter. Comments Share
by Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press Posted Oct 9, 2018 7:11 am PDT Last Updated Oct 10, 2018 at 5:20 am PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Taylor Swift performs “I Did Something Bad” at the American Music Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP) Taylor Swift wins big at AMAs and encourages fans to vote Taylor Swift kicked off her week with a rare political post on social media, and at the American Music Awards she continued the conversation by encouraging fans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.Swift won four honours including artist of the year at the fan-voted show on Tuesday in Los Angeles, beating out Drake, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons and Post Malone for the top prize.“This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people,” she said, “the midterm elections on November 6.”Swift announced on Sunday that she was voting for Tennessee’s Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, breaking her long-standing refusal to discuss anything politics.Voting was a hot topic at the AMAs. Host and Golden Globe-winning “black-ish” actress Tracee Ellis Ross wore a shirt that said, “I am a voter,” and comedian-actor Billy Eichner told the audience, “The biggest election of our lifetime is happening.”“Please grab your friends and tell them to vote. Now is the time. If you believe in equality for women, for people of colour, for the LGBTQ community. If you believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it,” he said onstage before presenting an award.“And you can go to Vote.org like Taylor Swift told you to,” he added.Swift made history by becoming the most decorated woman in the show’s history with a total of 23 AMAs. Despite having the year’s top-selling album and three No. 1 hits, Drake didn’t win a single award. He did not attend the show but tied Cardi B with most nominations walking into the AMAs.Swift kicked off the show with a performance of “I Did Something Bad,” while Cardi B — who won three honours — picked up the night’s first award, favourite hip-hop/rap artist, which she dedicated to her daughter.“I really want to thank my daughter,” said Cardi B, who gave birth to Kulture Kiari Cephus in July. “I gotta prove people wrong. They said I wasn’t going to make it after I had a baby.”The rapper hit the stage to give a festive and colorful performance of her No. 1 hit, “I Like It,” where she was joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, who was wheeled onstage inside a shopping cart. Cardi B’s husband, Offset of the rap trio Migos, danced along in the audience with group member Quavo as Cardi B worked the stage with vibrant dance moves, including the salsa.Cardi B returned the favour, screaming happily when Migos was named favourite pop/rock duo or group, beating out Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons, later in the show.“We did not know we was winning this at all,” said Quavo, also giving a shout-out to group member Takeoff, who didn’t attend the AMAs.“I want to thank you sexy lady,” Offset said, pointing to Cardi B.Like Cardi B’s performance, rising newcomer Ella Mai also won over the crowd when she sang the year’s biggest R&B hit, “Boo’d Up,” starting the performance as she walked down the aisle of the Microsoft Theater. Khalid, Quavo and Offset were some of the audience members dancing along, while others sang and some even filmed her with their phones.Others who shined onstage included R&B singer Ciara, who showed off her skilled dance moves and was joined by a fierce Missy Elliott. Carrie Underwood was in perfect form vocally, and Camila Cabello — who tied Swift with four wins — gave a heartful, touching and vocally impressive performance of the ballad “Consequences,” earning her a standing ovation.The three-hour show closed with a rousing tribute to Aretha Franklin, who died in August. Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans were among the musicians who paid tribute to the Queen of Soul’s gospel roots and her iconic album, “Amazing Grace.”Rapper-singer XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in June, was also honoured: He won favourite soul/R&B album for his 2017 debut, “17.” It was days after he was named best new artist at the BET Hip-Hop Awards.His mother, Cleopatra Bernard, said she was honoured to accept the award on behalf of her son. “I’m so nervous,” Bernard said as the audience cheered her on.Kane Brown swept the country categories with three wins, including male artist, album and song.Post Malone, who wore a baby blue suit and performed, won favourite pop/rock male artist, Underwood was named favourite country female artist and Khalid picked up favourite soul/R&B male artist.Other performers included Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Shawn Mendes and twenty one pilots.
26Oct Rep. García welcomes ‘Junior Representative’ to State Capitol Categories: Garcia News,Garcia Photos State Representative Daniela R. García is joined by Tyler at the State CapitolState Representative Daniela R. García today welcomed Zeeland homeschool student Tyler Scholtens to serve as ‘Representative for a Day,’ and to shadow her in Lansing.Tyler became eligible for the special visit based on his participation in Representative García’s summer reading contest. The contest invited students to track the books they read during the summer and submit a contest bookmark in drop boxes at their local libraries in Holland, Hudsonville and Zeeland by Sept. 1.Tyler was selected at random as the winner via a live drawing in the representative’s office. A recording of the drawing can be found on Representative García’s website, www.repdanielagarcia.comTyler and his family joined Representative García for today’s legislative activities, attending committee meetings, and joining her in session on the floor of the Michigan House Chambers.“It was a privilege to host Tyler and his family at the Capitol,” García said. “Tyler and students like him represent the next generation of leaders in Michigan.###
Categories: Albert News,Lower News,News 30Nov Reps. Lower, Albert lead reforms to protect local government retiree benefits and public services State Reps. Jim Lower and Thomas Albert today led the introduction of a landmark reform plan aimed at protecting public services and the retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees in Michigan.The plan will help identify the local governments most at risk of bankruptcy due to unfunded retirement plan liabilities and set up a system to help them avoid financial crisis.“Local governments across Michigan have nearly $20 billion in unfunded liabilities connected to their employee retirement systems,” said Albert, of Lowell, after introducing legislation in the House. “This debt is a cancer eating away at communities and the quality of life across the state.”Lower, of Cedar Lake, said urgent action is needed to prevent problems from growing worse across the state.“We must act now to safeguard the retirement benefits of police officers, firefighters and all other local government employees across Michigan to the fullest extent possible,” Lower said. “We must act now to protect funding for the essential public services we all rely on. And we must do it in a way that won’t pass along debt to our children and grandchildren.”Albert participated on a task force earlier this year, assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder, to explore the critical challenges posed by Michigan’s underfunded local government employee retirement systems. The Michigan House is following up the task force report with a 19-bill package to address mounting local retiree healthcare and pension costs.The legislation creates a reporting system with uniform financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help local governments and the state identify potential funding problems and act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts.Local governments will have plenty of opportunity to address issues on their own. But if that fails, a financial management team (FMT) with local and state representation will step in to force changes to put programs back on firm financial footing.“Each community is going to be starting from a different place within this problem and will face their own unique challenges,” said Albert, of Lowell. “That is why we must offer a solution with flexibility and local input in mind.”Added Lower: “If we don’t fix this problem now, communities with dangerously underfunded retirement systems could go bankrupt and fail to keep promises made to retirees. This plan heads off that problem and gives local governments a warning system to prioritize and safeguard the benefits retirees and current employees expect.”PHOTO INFORMATION: State Reps. Thomas Albert (seated, center), of Lowell and Jim Lower (third from right), of Cedar Lake, are joined by colleagues from the Michigan House of Representatives during the introduction of a multi-bill package on Thursday. The bills address mounting municipal retiree benefit system debt and bolster revenue sharing funding throughout the state.
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares May 19, 2014; Boston GlobeA newswire NPQ published last week took a look at segregation in schools on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. the Board of Education. These graphs created by the Civil Rights Project provide another way to look at the rapid regression to segregated schools that we have seen in this country in the last thirty-five years.In the graphs below, the term “highly segregated” is used to designate schools where more than 90 percent of students are non-white. As you can see, where in 1980 only one black student in fifty attended a highly segregated school, now the ratio is one in four: And the picture for Hispanic students is slightly worse: Additionally, Evan Horowitz, who authored this article, asserts that eighty-five percent of students in highly segregated schools are low-income, whereas right before the turn of the century only 70 percent were low-income. Horowitz observes, “As a society, we seem to have lost faith in the old instruments of equalization, like court mandates and citywide busing. Yet, we haven’t found any new, more popular approaches, which means for now we are just watching as our schools become more and more segregated.”—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares July 15, 2014; CNNGrantmakers for children and youth might find the news of the day overwhelming—so much so that they don’t have ready analyses and responses.According to an Associated Press story in Stars and Stripes, four Palestinian youths between the ages of 9 and 11, all cousins, were killed by an Israeli airstrike while they played soccer on a beach in Gaza. “It’s a cold blooded massacre,” the boys’ uncle said, according to AP. “It’s a shame who come they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.” Apparently, the four were killed due to shelling from an offshore Israeli naval vessel. The Israeli military announced it would investigate the incident to determine how children on a beach became additional casualties in the warfare between Israel and Hamas, which as of Wednesday had reached at least 213 Palestinians and one Israeli killed.With the already constricted access points in and out of Gaza basically closed, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the area is simply getting worse, especially for the children of Gaza. Ruth Gledhill in Christian Today reports that Oxfam and Christian Aid have decried what Gledhill describes as Israel’s bombing of schools and killing children. Oxfam country director Nishant Pandey says that 90 percent of the water in Gaza is unsafe to drink, exacerbated by airstrikes damaging a water pipeline to the Beach Refugee camp and two wells in Gaza City. In addition, Israeli strikes have badly damaged Gaza City’s sewage treatment plant, worsening the sanitation conditions in the densely populated area, and other facilities, including a health center operated by an Oxfam partner agency and over a dozen schools.It doesn’t require taking a position on the issues between the Netanyahu government and Hamas in order to see a massive, looming humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with particularly devastating effects on kids.The impact of living in a war zone on children cannot be ignored. A study of Palestinian children in Gaza from 2008, conducted by researchers from the UK’s University of Hertfordshire, found that every child surveyed for the study had suffered exposure to at least three traumatic events (the most common being humiliation of themselves or a family member, exposure to the sound of bombs and explosions, witnessing someone’s funeral killed due to warfare, and witnessing shelling by tanks, artillery, and aircraft). Forty-one percent of the children were deemed to be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders. Confirming and going beyond the Hertfordshire research, a 2013 study by researchers from the University of Granada in Spain examining Palestinian children in Hebron (in the West Bank) found that over 77 percent of the children showed symptoms of moderate to severe PTSD and more than 20 percent met the DSM-IV criteria for chronic PTSD.Sorry, consider us bleeding hearts for kids, no matter where they might be, including here in the U.S. when anti-immigration protesters show up in places such as Oracle, Arizona, and Murrieta, California with the intention of demonstrating to unaccompanied undocumented immigrant children that they are unwelcome. Three quarters of these unaccompanied minors—52,000 since October alone—are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, fleeing poverty to be sure, but rampant gang violence.The anti-immigrant, or perhaps more accurately, anti-children protestors show up, according to CNN, screaming at the buses of children (mistaking one bus of YMCA campers for immigrant kids in Oracle recently) and waving signs that display such heartwarming slogans as “Send ’em to Coyote Obama.” Communities around the nation, whether faced with temporarily accommodating unaccompanied immigrant kids or not, have turned these children into the new face of NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard), reflected in questions and opposition from governors and mayors in Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, Washington state, and Virginia. One of the more striking examples occurred last month in Lawrenceville, Virginia, a town of 1,400 people, where the federal government had reached a deal with local authorities that would have provided temporary accommodations for unaccompanied immigrant kids on the vacant campus of a historically black college (the defunct St. Paul’s College), only to reverse course when 1,000 people showed up to protest.Expert educators note that the vast majority of unaccompanied immigrant children now attending U.S. schools suffer from PTSD. The response of the U.S. government? A proposal for $3.7 billion in funding from the Obama administration and an initiative from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to expedite the process down to seven days for getting immigrant children into immigration courts.The situation in Gaza is old, not new. Children in Gaza have been suffering privation for a long time due to the generally closed border crossings and Israel’s naval blockade. The situation of unaccompanied immigrant children is also old, not new. The surge in unaccompanied immigrant minors began in 2012, but only now, with the overcrowded holding facilities, is it getting national attention. Guidance, both from the leaders of institutional philanthropy and from the affinity groups whose topical priorities are children, is needed. NPQ will report what foundation trade associations, affinity groups, and thought leaders have to say about the national and international dimensions of the crisis of children.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 2, 2014; Bangor Daily NewsUnited Mid-Coast Charities is the fundraising mechanism of a federation of charities in the Camden, Maine area. It says it has no paid staff. Its 43 board members—yes, 43—are all unpaid. An endowment pays for expenses such as office supplies. It says that 100 percent of the money it raises is distributed to grant recipients.So how is it that the organization raised $3.9 million between 2004 and 2012 but only distributed $2.8 million? In late September, a board member happened to come across a “financial discrepancy” and confronted the 17-year president of the charity, Russell “Rusty” Brace, who had stepped down in August. Subsequently, the organization announced that Brace had engaged in the “substantial embezzlement of donations.” On Friday, United Mid-Coast Charities filed suit against Brace, claiming that over a thirteen-year period, he had stolen $3.8 million, “depositing checks payable to UMCCinto an account set up for Braces business, Brace Management Group.” As of Friday, no criminal charges had been filed, but new board president Steve Crane, in a statement posted on the organization’s website, said “law enforcement authorities, including the FBI, had been notified.”In an odd move, the charity hired a Portland-based public relations firm called Savvy, Inc., whose representative, Dennis Bailey, suggested that differences between amounts raised versus amounts distributed in specific years shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as specific evidence of wrongdoing, as money raised in one year might have been distributed the following year. However, Bailey, whose firm was described as a “crisis management” entity by the Free Press, did confirm “a substantial amount of money was taken over the course of many years.” The organization’s annual finances year-by-year were as follows:YearTotal revenuesTotal contributionsProgram servicesTotal expenses2012$307,814$226,255$330,787$437,1492011$434,989$313,825$282,418$380,3692010$438,417$358,724$279,026$378,3482009$390,037$392,522$236,472$329,3582008$726,401$703,151$359,757$453,4372007$536,250$451,301$395,171$497,8492006$405,074$360,655$419,424$492,6682005$1,066,493$1,051,255$498,332$564,8902004$614,660$607,319$645,729$695,2222003$621,616$613,455$634,997$686,2612002$677,950$655,895$574,006$624,8452001$589,624$560,841$409,515$4559292000$410,582$384,931$301,879$352,3821999$455,164$421,917$274,768$317,3241998$470,010$319,382$150,915$178,674TOTAL$8,145,081$7,421,428$5,793,196$6,844,705By our review, in only four of the years from 1998 through 2012 did the organization’s program services, that is, grant distributions, exceed total revenues. In some years, the gap was particularly sharp: in 1998, $470,010 in revenues compared to $150,915 in program services; 2005, with $1,066,493 in revenues but only $498,332 in program services; and 2008, with $726,401 in revenues but only $359,757 in program services. In these and other years, there is no indication that the following year’s program services were increased as a result of the previous year’s surplus.Some fifty charities in Waldo and Knox counties look to the fundraising of United Mid-Coast Charities for support. Obviously, the deal in which donations to United Mid-Coast would go out 100 percent to the federation members didn’t happen as planned. Money seems to be missing, and whether or not Brace took that money, the pattern of expenditures over more than a decade suggests that the board of directors was asleep at the switch. On one hand, a 43-member board is usually a less than excellent governance structure—too much dissipated responsibility. On the other, it would seem that someone on the board over a period of many years—given turnover, many more than 43 people—might have been interested enough to look at the agency’s finances and notice the income and output discrepancies.Whether or not the authorities end up pinning the embezzlement on Brace, there is no question that the entire board of United Mid-Coast Charities has an element of culpability for failing to provide anywhere near the fiduciary oversight that it should have.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Portuguese pay TV operator Zon Multimédia added 20,000 subscribers to its high-end Iris triple-play offering in the last quarter, taking its total for the service to 70,000 since launch. Iris is based on a new TV user interface designed by NDS.The third quarter saw Zon turn in a respectable operational performance, with stronger revenue-generating unit growth than in previous quarters, with 43,800 net adds. Zon had 688,800 triple-play customers at the end of the quarter, up 14.1% year-on-year, giving it a triple-play penetration of almost 60% of its base. RGUs increased 5.9% year-on-year to 3.257 million. However, ARPU was up only slightly to €36, despite a recovery in premium sports subscriptions in the last quarter.Basic subscribers fell year-on-year by 1.2% to 1.554 million, with a loss of 3,100 satellite customers in the last quarter offset by a gain of 4,600 basic cable customers. Broadband subscribers were up 8.8% to 725,000 and fixed telephony subscribers grew by 15.3% to 844,000. Mobile customers were up 27.4% to 133,400.Operating revenues were down 3.6% to €213.7 million. EBITDA rose by 0.1% to €79.6 million.
Panasonic last week unveiled a new social TV app that will be available on its Viera Connect TVs in North America. The app will provide viewers with access to one or more social media sites including Twitter and Facebook while watching programmes at the same time.In addition to the social TV app, Panasonic also announced the addition of a new gaming application from PlayJam and a Bollywood-themed movie/video-on-demand channel, BigFlix. The three new apps are available at no additional fee.
Turkish pay TV provider Digiturk has launched a 4K demonstration channel in partnership with satellite operator Eutelsat Communications. Digiturk said that the channel helps “lay the foundations for the next step change in television broadcasting” and marks the first time the super-HD format has been shown in Turkey.Digiturk first started testing the channel with a broadcast at its headquarters in Beşiktaş earlier this month, transmitted via the Eutelsat 7A satellite – which is also home to Digiturk’s regular pay-TV platform.“We have 4K capability as of now and aim to be ready for commercial broadcasts once standards of this ecosystem are finalised and consumer equipment is available in the market. This demonstration channel gives us a powerful platform to show the vivid experience afforded by Ultra HD and will enable us to build the broadcasting chain from content production to home viewing,” said Emre Uysal, Digiturk’s product development and broadcasting systems operations manager.
Eutelsat Communications has successfully launched its Eutelsat 3D satellite, which will serve customers in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.The satellite was launched yesterday by an ILS-supplied Proton Breeze M rocket and will initially operate at the 3° East location until the deployment of the Eutelsat 3B satellite to this position in 2014. It will then continue service at 7° East.Eutelsat 3D will address high-growth video, data, telecom and broadband markets and serve customers through a configuration of Ku and Ka transponders connected to three footprints. A fourth service area in the Ku-band will serve markets in sub-Saharan Africa.With the launch, Eutelsat said that it has also signed a new contract with ILS for a satellite to be launched between 2014 and 2016. This will be the eighth satellite to be launched for Eutelsat by the Proton launcher.Proton released Eutelsat 3D into geosynchronous transfer orbit following a 9-hour, 13-minute flight. The partial deployment of the satellite’s solar panels was successfully completed from Eutelsat’s control centre in Rambouillet 3-hours and 15-minutes after separation from the rocket.
Muriel MoscardiniDigital video technology company Fluendo has teamed up with German research body the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute and is acquiring Fraunhofer’s H.265/HEVC decoder in order to extend HEVC support to Fluendo’s cross-platform multimedia Oneplay software products. Barcelona-based Fluendo works with cross-platform software open source framework GStreamer, providing products including proprietary codecs, together with their respective patent licences, a streaming server, and the Fluendo DVD Player.Fraunhofer has been a significant contributor to the H.265/HEVC standard.“Supporting HEVC through our solutions is the next logical step for our customers who want the best HD video playback capabilities,” said Muriel Moscardini, CEO of Fluendo. “By adding Fraunhofer’s decoder to Fluendo’s proven multimedia player, Oneplay becomes one of the few media players in the world that is able to support HEVC, which we expect to be the future de facto video format globally.”“With the addition of our HEVC decoder, Fluendo’s Oneplay player will be able to support 4K, the new ultra-high definition resolution currently emerging in digital video,” said Benjamin Bross, H.265/MPEG-HEVC specification text main editor at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute. “We are happy that Fluendo chose our technology to use widely in the different markets that the company operates in.”
Almost half of US adult broadband users engage with a mobile video app at least once a month, according to a new report from The Diffusion Group.According to the report, 49% of adult broadband users engage with some form of mobile video app monthly, while 17% do so on a weekly basis and 16% do so on a daily basis.Younger consumers are more likely to use mobile video, with 63% of 18-24 year-olds using apps at least once a month compared with 56% of 25-34 year-olds, 55% of 35-44 year-olds and 41% of 45-54 year-olds.Two in five users engage with mobile video apps on a portable computer, compared with 30% who do so on a tablet and 22% who use a smartphone.Online video service apps are used by two in five broadband users, while broadcast network apps are only used by one in four and cable network apps by one in five. Only 16% of users engage with TV operator apps, despite the high penetration of pay TV in the US.
Sky Deutschland has slashed the price of its online video service Snap to just €3.99 per month, ahead of Netflix’s planned launch in Germany next month.From this week, Sky said it will make Snap – which currently include more than 5,000 TV and movie titles – available to everyone for just €3.99.A new ‘Snap Extra’ option will also let users access Snap on two devices simultaneously, and download movies and series to iPad and iPhone, for €6.99 per month.Snap’s content catalogue includes HBO series such as Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and The Sopranos, children’s programmes from the likes of Disney, as well as Hollywood movies such as Sherlock Holmes, Inception and R.E.D.The entire Snap catalogue is also available to access within Sky Go, the online service for Sky TV subscribers in Germany and Austria, with Sky claiming that Snap and Sky Go combined will offer more than 25,000 hours of content over the next year.“For those seeking an enormous selection of new movies and hit series in a flexible online video service with a monthly contract, Snap is just the right thing: for only €3.99, we are offering customers unbeatable value, backed up by years of experience from Sky’s programming team,” said Oliver Lewis, senior vice president, product management at Sky Deutschland.Previously, Snap was available to non-Sky subscribers for €9.90 per month with only a month-to-month commitment. Existing Sky customers can also access the service for an additional €4.90 per-month, acting as a compliment to Sky Deutschland’s Sky Go and Sky Anytime VOD offerings.Sky said that with the price change, Sky subscribers who are currently using Snap for €4.90 will continue at this price and have the Snap Extra option automatically included. Snap standalone customers will see their price reduced from €9.90 to €6.99 and also receive the Snap Extra option.
Source: Ofcom’s International Communications Market ReportThe UK leads EU countries for the use of internet-connected televisions, with almost a quarter (22%) of UK consumers saying they have a smart TV, and the vast majority of these (84%) having connected it to the internet, according to UK regulator Ofcom’s latest International Communications Market Report.According to the report, one third (32%) of the online population in the UK use the internet to watch TV programmes or films at least once a week, the highest of any European country surveyed.However, individuals’ TV viewing declined more in the UK last year than in any other comparator country, the Ofcom report found. The average UK resident watched three hours 52 minutes of TV per day in 2013, slightly above the average for the countries surveyed, but a fall of 3.7% or nine minutes per day since 2012. This was the greatest decline of any country, ahead of Sweden and China where viewing fell by 3.0%. However, Ofcom posited that viewing numbers for 2012 may have been boosted by the Olympic and Paralympic Games and a wet summer. It also suggested that economic recovery in 2013 may have been a factor in the fall in daily viewing, as people returned to employment or spent more disposable income outside the home.The report found that the UK leads the EU’s five biggest economies for broadband take-up, usage and high-speed broadband coverage. Almost eight in 10 UK homes are now able to access broadband that provides connection speeds of 30Mbps or above. At the end of 2013, a quarter of UK fixed broadband connections (25%) fell into this category, a higher proportion than in France (9%), Germany (16%) and Italy (18%), but lower than in Spain (33%).Among the top five EU countries Germany had the highest proportion of mobile connections that were 4G at the end of 2013 followed jointly by the UK and FranceTwo-fifths (40%) of advertising spending in the UK is online – more than any of the other countries analysed.
Arjan HoekstraHipster brand Vice has hired Arjan Hoekstra to run its fast-growing channels operation.Hoekstra took over running Discovery Asia from Tom Keaveny in 2014 before exiting last March. Prior to that he was in charge of sports net Eurosport in Asia.At Vice he oversee the expansion of Viceland, the linear channel Vice has launched in North America, and which will hit the UK and Ireland later this year.As general manager, Europe, Hoekstra will ‘guide the aggressive expansion of the network across the European market’, Vice said.“I have witnessed Vice’s meteoric rise to establish themselves as the most dynamic, creative and quite frankly, most exciting media brand and content studio on the planet,” Hoekstra said.“I am delighted to be joining the team during this period of expeditious growth as we look to launch Viceland across Europe.”Viceland rolled out in North America in February and the UK and Ireland launch is slated for September. The US channel is run as a joint venture with A+E. The UK channel, which is not a JV with A+E, will launch on the Sky platform.The media company, which started out as a magazine publisher, has been producing video content for several years. Its current slate of originals includes travel series Gaycation, food series F*ck, That’s Delicious and cannabis series Weediquette.It has been ramping up its production activity and recently bought UK-based production company Pulse. 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company and A+E Networks have all invested in Vice.
Vodafone España has struck deals with Sony Pictures Television and Paramount Pictures to offer 4K UHD movies as part of its Videoclub offering.Vodafone will offer movies from both studios in 4K as part of its offering, including the likes of Passengers, T2: Trainspotting 2 and Smurfs: The Lost Village.Sony Pictures will make 16 premiere titles available as part of the on-demand offering at a price of €6.99, along with 52 catalogue titles.From Paramount, the service provider will make available 11 titles in total, including four premiers and seven catalogue titles.Since the launch of its 4K offering, Vodafone has aired content including the last El Clasico football fixture between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and has said it will air the final of the current Champions League tournament in the format.“Vodafone España’s total commitment to 4K is being made real with these agreements, thanks to which we are adding to our Videoclub offering the best VOD premiere movies and other classic titles [and] giving ourselves a greater ability to showcase the qualities of 4K, offering a unique experience to our customers,” said Ignacio García-Legaz, director of Vodafone TV.“We have been the first to offer 4K in our country and we are going to follow up with this, working to increase our catalogue in this resolution, which we are convinced is the resolution for now and the future.”
More than a fifth of Netflix subscribers consider the SVOD provider’s original content as “absolutely critical” to their decision to keep using the service, according to The Diffusion Group (TDG).Netflix original series, NarcosThe ‘Big-Three SVOD and the Original Content Arms Race’ report claims that 21.0% of polled Netflix subscribers said its originals were “absolutely critical” and another 40.7% said this content was “very important” for keeping the service.A further 24.4% said originals were “somewhat important” in keeping them locked into the service while just 14.0% said Netflix’s originals were “of no importance”.TDG said that much like HBO decades ago, the big three US subscription video-on-demand providers – Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video – now have a much better understanding of the limits of licensed content and the benefits of a slate of originals.“The big three SVOD players own 60% of TV streaming time,” said Brad Schlachter, TDG senior advisor and author of the new report.“They are looking to grow this share by creating compelling originals that serve both to attract new users and retain existing subscribers even as subscription rates increase.”“Of course, not all originals find an audience or generate a huge buzz. But when they do, it can change the fortunes of a company. Just look what The Handmaid’s Tale did for Hulu, or what House of Cards did for Netflix.”TDG predicts that ‘the big three’ SVOD players will triple the amount they invest in originals to US$10 billion annually by 2022.In its Q4 earnings announcement last week Netflix said that it plans to spend US$7.5-US$8.0 billion on content overall on a P&L basis in 2018.
Liberty Latin America, the cable and telecom operator that split off from Liberty Global and which provides services across Latin America and the Caribbean, has named Vivek Khemka as its new chief technology officer, starting in September.Vivek KhemkaKhemka, whose full title will be SVP and chief technology and product offer, was previously EVP and chief technology officer for US pay TV outfit DISH Network.Liberty Latin America said that Khemka would lead its technology and innovation team across the regions in which it operates. The new unit has been tasked with driving IT, product development and network platforms across the 40 countries in which the company provides services to about 2.7 million customers.At DISH, Khemka was responsible for the deployment of the company’s Hopper whole-home HD DVR service, among other things.“Vivek will play a key role in the continued development of Liberty Latin America’s future technology leadership, strategy, and vision. I am confident that Vivek will be successful in leading our technology function unlocking growth opportunities as we continue to invest in our customers through network expansion, new products, and enhanced experiences,” said Liberty Latin America CEO Balan Nair, who served as Liberty Global’s chief technology officer before taking over at the Latin American company after its split off.“This position is important to our business strategy with technology being one of the foundations to our success. He shares our ambitions for commitment in innovation and operational excellence, and we are thrilled to welcome him to our leadership team. Vivek will report to me and will work closely with our executive management team to drive innovation and explore new business and technologies.”Khemka said, “I am thrilled to be joining the team. Liberty Latin America presents one of the few growth opportunities in the industry and I am looking forward to working with an extremely passionate and talented team to build a best in class product portfolio and bring innovation and new products and services to our customers to grow the business.”
UK public broadcaster the BBC needs to go further in acting transparently, particularly in relation to the potential competitive impact of its activities, according to regulator Ofcom.According to Ofcom’s first annual report on the broadcaster since taking over as independent regulator, the BBC “does not routinely explain planned changes in its public service activities in sufficient detail to potentially affected parties”.Ofcom cited the example of the BBC’s recently announced plans to make changes to its iPlayer on-demand service, where it said the corporation “did not provide adequate information on what the changes were”.“This makes it harder for the BBC to understand its likely impact on competition, including on the activities and plans of other broadcasters,” said the regulator.“In addition, the BBC has not always provided Ofcom with sufficient detail about its longer-term plans, so that we can assess them in a timely way.”The regulator called on the BBC Board to make more effort to ensure that the pubcaster engages with other UK broadcasters.Ofcom also raised concerns about the governance of the BBC’s commercial activities, which it said needed to be more transparent.Ofcom also said that the BBC needed to maintain its commitment to original UK programmes, while it found that “overall…the BBC is distinctive”, it said that the broadcaster’s investment in first-run UK-originated programming has been declining, falling by almost a quarter overall in real terms since 2010.Ofcom said that first-run original comedy output from the BBC had declined by 38% in that period, while kids content was down 38% and entertainment down 11%.While the BBC has teamed up with the likes of Netflix to finance shows such as Collateral, Ofcom said that “this kind of funding is largely for programmes with global appeal, as distinct from content which specifically reflects the lives and issues of UK audiences”.It called on the corporation to “be more innovative and take more risks, including in relation to how it makes original UK content and with whom”.Other areas of concern for Ofcom include the ongoing decline in use of the BBC by young people. The regulator said that the pubcaster needs to “take significant steps” to engage with young people, without offering specific solutions. Referring to the BBC’s main vehicle for targeting younger viewers, the online-only BBC Three channel, it noted that “few young people watch BBC Three online”.Ofcom also said that the BBC needs to take further action to improve how it represents the whole of UK society, including better representation of people not from middle-class backgrounds, disabled people and people from the nations and regions.In a generally positive review, which found that the BBC is “generally delivering on its remit for audiences”, Ofcom estimated that audiences spend an average of around two hours 45 minutes a day viewing the corporation’s content, with 68% expressing satisfaction with BBC TV and three quarters expressing satisfaction with radio and online output.Some 56% of people rate the BBC highly for taking risks and being innovative, while 66% rate it highly for delivering high-quality content. Some 68% rate the BBC highly for providing informative content, and 63% rate it highly for distinctive content.