London high-rise fire activists hold ‘3 Billboards’ protest by The Associated Press Posted Feb 15, 2018 10:01 am PDT Last Updated Feb 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email The Community-led organisation, Justice4Grenfell, parade three billboards across Waterloo Bridge backdropped by St. Paul’s Cathedral, left, and the City of London buildings as they move around London, Thursday Feb. 14, 2018, calling for justice for the victims of the June 14, 2017, deadly apartment fire. Campaigners for victims of the deadly London Grenfell Tower high-rise apartment fire have taken inspiration from an Academy Award-nominated film to press for more action by police. (Jeff Moore/Justice4Grenfell via AP) LONDON – Activists for victims of a deadly London high-rise fire have taken inspiration from an Academy Award-nominated film to press for more action by police.Three mobile billboards were driven through the British capital Thursday on behalf of the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign. The group was set up after fire ravaged the Grenfell Tower apartment block in June, killing 71 people.The signs read: “71 dead. And still no arrests? How Come?”In the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” a mother played by Frances McDormand uses large signs to berate police for failing to catch her daughter’s killer.Justice 4 Grenfell says it hopes the billboards will “keep this tragedy in the national conscience.”Police say they are considering possible manslaughter charges in the blaze, but no one has yet been charged.
29Jan MEDC grant to bring 80 jobs to Northville Township The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced a $650,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Business Development Program to assist Zhongding U.S.A., Inc. in constructing their North American Technology Center in Northville Township.Established in 1980, Zhongding U.S.A., Inc. has locations in several states, including Michigan, Delaware and Massachusetts. The company produces rubber and metal parts for original equipment manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers around the world.“It’s no surprise that businesses are investing in unique local communities like Northville,” Noble said. “Providing this grant brings additional commerce and job growth to an already thriving community.”At a projected 30,000 square feet, the North American Technology Center will house various Zhongding divisions, including sales, marketing, engineering, research and development and testing. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $6.9 million, creating 80 jobs in Northville Township. Categories: Noble News
05Apr House lawmakers announce outcome of MSU inquiry MSU’s handling of Nassar complaints questioned by Reps. Kesto, LaSataState Reps. Kim LaSata and Klint Kesto today announced the findings and recommendations from their bipartisan inquiry into Michigan State University’s response to complaints filed against former physician and convicted sex offender Larry Nassar.Their assessment was submitted in a six-page letter to House Speaker Tom Leonard, who tasked Kesto, chair of the House Law and Justice Committee; and LaSata, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education; to lead the state’s legislative inquiry into the Nassar scandal on Jan. 19.“After reviewing the evidence, there is absolutely no doubt that Michigan State University failed to adequately protect students and patients on campus,” said Kesto, a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor. “That is a failure to every survivor of sexual assault. As the report outlines, we will be actively pursuing a broad range of legislative reforms to protect people across Michigan from sexual assault.”LaSata also called for changes in response to the inquiry.“Our inquiry confirmed this was an institutional failure with multiple lapses in policy, procedure, and culture at Michigan State,” said LaSata, of Bainbridge Township. “That must change. We have worked hard to identify a variety of tailored reforms, through policy and our state budget, which will protect our children on campuses across Michigan moving forward.”The House inquiry previously received thousands of pages of requested documents and communications pertaining to Nassar-related misconduct reported to MSU. In early March, Republican and Democrat legislators on both the Law and Justice Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education requested additional information as documentation continued to be reviewed by House attorneys.Today’s letter to Speaker Leonard included responses to the additional questions from Michigan State University.#####MSU Inquiry Letter to Speaker-FINAL Categories: Kesto News,LaSata News,News
Bill promotes conservation and safety of animals and patronsLANSING – State Rep. Thomas Albert today introduced new legislation that would provide high standards for the breeding of large carnivores to promote conservation and animal safety.“This important legislation promotes the health and safety of animals and creates high standards for conservation breeding programs in Michigan,” Albert said. “Given the enormous excitement over the new female polar bear at the Detroit Zoo and all of the press in recent months, it’s time that we update our laws so the breeding of large carnivores is no longer illegal in Michigan.”The legislation will ensure all zoos – public or private – maintain high standards and meet specific criteria to breed large carnivores in Michigan. The measure also establishes a three-person board that includes the State of Michigan’s veterinarian to approve any organization that wishes to breed a large carnivore. Any zoo wishing to have large carnivores must also be licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).“Conservation breeding programs are a key part of zoos’ education programs and conservation efforts, which is why passing this legislation is necessary for the success of our zoos,” Albert said. “This legislation will put visitor and animal safety first while preventing bad actors from mistreating animals or putting people at risk.”### Categories: Albert News 10Apr Rep. Albert introduces bill to enact high standards for breeding of large carnivores
21Aug Rep. Runestad: Students head back to school supported by record investment, increased emphasis on career prep Students across Oakland County are headed back to school supported by record state funding and a renewed emphasis on preparing for the workforce, Rep. Jim Runestad said today.“Local schools are getting more resources to help students succeed in all areas,” Runestad said. “From learning to read at an early age to training for a career in the trades, we’re giving our students the skills they need to build a better future.”During the past two years in the Michigan House, Runestad has helped deliver an estimated $11.2 million funding increase for the three Oakland County schools he represents.The foundation increase this coming school year alone amounts to an estimated $2.17 million for Huron Valley School District, $1.65 million for Walled Lake Consolidated School District and nearly $2.1 million for Waterford School District.With this increase, every school district in Michigan will receive at least $7,871 per student in the state’s basic foundation allowance this academic year. The annual per-student foundation allowance increase is the largest in 15 years.“My father was a principal, my mother was a teacher, and I graduated with an education degree from Central Michigan University before going onto work as an instructor and start my own business,” Runestad said. “My background taught me that nothing is more important than investing in our kids.”Michigan’s commitment to education goes well beyond the basic foundation allowance. The state also is allocating $100 million for the Marshall Plan for Talent, designed to expand and improve skilled trade career opportunities for students.“Our investment opens the door for more young people to learn the skills they need to succeed in all aspects of life,” Runestad said. “Improved training programs will ensure our children and grandchildren are better prepared to fill well-paying jobs that are in high demand.”More money will go to early literacy and special education programs this year, following up last year’s significant increase in funding for students who are considered at risk either financially or academically.School safety also is a high priority with $25 million set aside statewide for grants to improve building security, plus additional resources to expand the OK2SAY school safety tip reporting system and an advanced 911 secure schools program.### Categories: Runestad News
Share285Tweet4Share2Email291 SharesJoseph Sohm / Shutterstock.comJanuary 27, 2016; Weekly StandardNPQ knows a little something about veterans’ charities that aren’t very charitable. Veteran charity scams are one of the long-embedded scourges of the philanthropic world, and if you have not been following our years of coverage into the scams, we urge you to take a gander. There are hundreds of these charities that use deceptive fundraising techniques, spend generously to pay aggressive and unethical solicitation vendors, and prey on the good intentions of unsuspecting donors to net millions of dollars in donations each year. Worse yet, many scams are going on right under donors’ noses.That’s why when we heard Donald Trump was organizing a charity event for veterans as an alternative to the GOP debate Thursday night, we were intrigued. NPQ reported last September about the dubious nature of Veterans for Strong America, the charity that hosted Trump’s event on the deck of the U.S.S. Iowa.According to NPQ, “For the most part, the press was hoodwinked. Veterans for a Strong America isn’t a real organization, even if it might have had 501(c)(4) status at some time or is a Super PAC. It’s just one guy, a political operative named Joel Arends.” Like other scammers, the organization boasted numbers of some hundred thousand phantom members and falsely advertised itself as a charity despite the fact its tax-exempt status was revoked. It was a swing and a miss for Trump.Given what we, and now you, know about the pervasiveness of veteran charity scams, we dug into the spending and expense history of his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. In particular, we questioned whether Trump’s political motives and false rhetoric about veterans truly set him apart at all from the various charity scams. Perhaps unbeknownst to his supporters and eager donors who ventured to his event last night, Donald Trump’s charity has donated virtually nothing to veterans’ charities.Most tellingly, according to the available 990s from 2009 to 2014, of the more than $5 million the foundation has donated in gifts and grants to nearly 300 charities, only seven of those organizations were related to veterans issues. According to these documents, he has not donated to any veterans’ charities in the past three years. In total, these seven organizations have only received $57,000.(Update: According to the Federalist, the proceeds from last night’s events are not going directly to any veteran charities, rather they will be funneled into Trump’s foundation. If true, it has yet to be seen how or whether those donations will be delivered to veterans’ charities, the delivery of which is at the discretion of the foundation.)Trump’s minimal philanthropy has not gone unnoticed by veteran groups. “Donald Trump is not a leader in veterans’ philanthropy, unless he’s donated a lot of money that nobody knows about,” according to Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America back in July of 2015. “We were founded in New York. We are headquartered in New York. I’ve been here 10 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Donald Trump.”Rieckhoff isn’t the only one who has questioned the genuineness of Trump’s dedication to veteran issues. Veterans’ groups were in arms last year after he took a shot at former vice president John McCain, famously saying McCain was “not a war hero” because he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. McCain solemnly said at the time, “There are so many men and some women who have served and sacrificed who happened to have been held prisoner—to denigrate that service I think is offensive to most of our veterans.” Trump himself avoided the draft for the war by receiving a medical deferment.In response to Thursday’s event, Rieckhoff further reiterated his general distrust for Trump’s tactics on Twitter.If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump’s event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.— Paul (PJ) Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) January 27, 2016Yet, this event is no anomaly: This isn’t the first time Trump seems to have exploited veteran issues to benefit his public image. At the end of last year, he asked CNN to pay him $5 million to come on their debate, which he planned to donate to the Wounded Warriors Project. Heroically, he said, “I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or goes to vets.” Trump did eventually participate in the debate, but to the public’s knowledge, nothing was ever donated to Wounded Warriors.Given his questionable history with veterans’ issues and charities, Trump’s philanthropic promises seem more and more hollow the longer the media (admittedly, NPQ included) allows him to occupy space. While he may not be operating a charity scam or knowingly violating IRS rules to launder donors’ money, is he any better, with his exploitative statements and rhetoric about veterans? For whatever it’s worth, Trump’s stunts help further spotlight the issue of people and organizations illegally misusing veteran issues to solicit donations.Two veterans’ charities Trump has aligned himself with have been accused or investigated of misusing donations. While there are undoubtedly honest and hardworking members of the sector operating charities that genuinely help veterans, the pervasiveness of the scams illustrate this is an issue that deserves constant and continual state and federal vigilance.—Shafaq HasanShare285Tweet4Share2Email291 Shares
Technicolor is looking to sell its broadcast services, production and post-production activities, according to French press reports.According to financial daily Les Echos, the technology company is at an early stage of the process of looking to sell its broadcast businesses, but several possible buyers have emerged, including Ericsson.Technicolor provides international playout services for Disney from the UK, while in France it provides broadcast servies to Canal Plus Multithématiques, France 24 and TV5.
Global over-the-top media server revenue increased by 38% and unit shipments were up 68% in 2011, according to a new set-top box market report from Infonetics Research.Worldwide total set-top box shipments grew 13.7% in 2011 compared to the previous year, while revenue was nearly flat, up less than 1%, to US$13.3 billion (€10 billion). Global set-top box unit shipments grew faster (up 6%) than revenue (up 3.8%) between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. Growth in high definition and DVR sales helped keep average selling prices from declining too quickly, according to the report.Motorola, Echostar, Pace and Cisco were the top vendors in terms of global set-top revenue share in the fourth quarter of 2011.The report forecasts that IP set-top boxes and hybrid IP/DTT unit shipments will grow the strongest among the various types of set-top boxes over the next five years, increasing their share of the total market.A second Infonetics report, Video-on-Demand and Encoder Equipment and Video Subscribers, found that following annual declines in 2009 and 2010, during the global recession, the VOD and streaming content servers and video encoders market grew 6% in 2011 to US$803 million, with all major world regions except EMEA increasing spending.Sequentially from the third to the fourth quarters, the overall market was up 4% and up 6% year-on-year. The report forecasts double-digit percent revenue increases in the global video infrastructure market in 2012, with a cumulative US$1.9 billion being spent on standard and high definition MPEG-4 video encoders over the next five years, from 2012 to 2016.Huawei led the global VOD server market in the fourth quarter 2011 and for the overall year, with Motorola and ZTE vying for top sport for global VOD revenue in the fourth quarter.“Two of the most interesting trends in the video equipment and set-top box markets are, firstly, across the board, pay TV operators continue to increase their investments in MPEG-4 encoders to reduce bandwidth requirements for their broadcast channels and VOD streams, and secondly, despite healthy STB unit growth in 2011, revenue was nearly flat, reflecting the growth of lower-cost STBs in emerging markets, particularly China, combined with the increased competition we’re seeing in the more mature markets,” noted Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access and video at Infonetics Research.
Dutch cable operator Ziggo has doubled the number of channels available via its TV Everywhere service for Apple devices.From today, the number of channels offered by the Ziggo TV app for Apple devices is increasing from 14 to 28 for those subscribing to the TV Extra package. Those with the Standard package will have access to 24 channels and those taking the TV Plus package will be offered 27 channels.The app for Android devices was updated to offer all 28 channels last month.The latest Ziggo TV app also integrates with Twitter, allowing users to forward, delete and edit tweets via the shortcuts within the app. It also allows up to three devices per household to watch live TV.
HBO’s Game of ThronesCanal Plus and HBO have struck a deal whereby the latter will license all new HBO shows for the next five seasons on its premium, thematic pay TV and free-to-air channels.The deal includes the second pay window rights and free-to-air rights to HBO series including Game of Thrones. Canal Plus has secured linear and on-demand rights to all shows, covering multiple screens.Canal Plus has secured the exclusive first pay window rights to Pennsylvania-based drama Banshee, which will be aired on the Cinemax channel. Other series covered by the deal include comedy show Girls and news channel-based drama The Newsroom.Separately, French pay TV service CanalSat is to add eight new HD channels to its line-up on IPTV services.From April 9, CanalSat subscribers that receive the service via IPTV will be able to view Planète+ Thalassa HD, music channels MTV Base HD, MTV Idol HD and MTV Pulse HD, and Orange Cinéma Séries services OCS Happy HD, OCS Choc HD, OCS Novo HD and OCS Géants HD. The first four channels will also be available to CanalSat satellite customers.
Vodafone has confirmed that it has made a preliminary approach to Kabel Deutschland “regarding a potential offer” for the company. In a statement, Vodafone said that there “is no certainty that any offer will ultimately be made, nor as to the terms on which any such offer might be made.”However, the announcement confirms recent speculation that Vodafone has shown a renewed interest in the German cable operator, after reports linking the two companies first emerged early this year.Kabel Deutschland, which currently valued at around €7.12 billion, saw its shares climb by around 8% this morning after the market opened, following news of Vodafone’s interest.In February Vodafone reportedly put on hold its plan to approach Kabel Deutschland after news of the possible bid was leaked, though reports from earlier this month claimed it was taking a second look at the firm.In spite of this Vodafone Deutschland last month signed a preliminary contract with Deutsche Telekom that will enable it to deliver services including IPTV over Telekom’s fibre network. The deal will see Vodafone share the investment risk of Telekom’s fibre rollout.In April, Liberty Global was also reported to have been preparing a bid for the leading German cable operator.
Liberty Global has partnered with multiplatform technology firm ActiveVideo, opting to use the latter’s CloudTV software in its Horizon advanced set-top service.CloudTV delivers user interfaces in the cloud, offering consistent multiscreen delivery using optimised browser technology, according to ActiveVideo.“Liberty Global is using ActiveVideo’s CloudTV platform to complement its cloud UI strategy and expand Horizon-like experiences, including cloud DVR, VOD navigation and advanced applications, to STBs and connected devices,” said Liberty Global Europe managing director and CTO Aamir Hussain.Jeff Miller, president and CEO of ActiveVideo added: “Moving the user interface into the cloud reduces operational costs and time to market for advanced services and simplifies future software releases.”The CloudTV platform is designed to stream user experiences with low latency in either H.264 or MPEG2 via IP or QAM networks to any set-top, CI+ television or connected device. The service is already available on more than 10 million devices having been deployed in the United States and abroad by Cablevision Systems, Ziggo, Oceanic Time Warner Cable and other operators, said ActiveVideo.
Wuaki.tv, the Spain-based OTT service owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, will launch in France, Germany and Italy next year, with a further 10 European territory launches planned for 2015, Simon Homent, UK content director confirmed at the OTTtv World Summit yesterday. Rakuten already has a presence in four of the five countries in which Wuaki.tv will be present in Europe in 2014. Countries pencilled in for launches in 2015 include the Nordic markets.Homent said that the company had entered the UK market after its launch in Spain with the object of striking multi-territory content deals in mind. While it operates both subscription VoD and transactional service in Spain and the UK, it will initially launch only transactional services first and will launch subscription services only on “a case by case basis”, said Homent.“With SVoD you start to tread on the toes of free-to-air contracts but with transactional services you don’t get that. Beyond the first three months it’s fairly straightforward,” he said.Wuaki.tv launched in the UK in beta in June in partnership with sister company Play.com. The service came out of beta in September and is now available on the Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Xbox platforms among others. Wuaki.tv plans to add more devices next year, including Roku, said Homent.Spain’s service is available on a number of additional devices including PlayStation. However the main focus for the service is smart TVs, said Homent. He said Wuaki.tv has about 900,000 users in Spain, with a smaller number than that subscribing as well as taking transactional content.Homent said Wuaki.tv faces strong competiton from multiple players in the UK, but that its offer of both new releases on a transactional basis and subscription programming in a single place differentiates it from rival OTT services, with consumers generally unable to gain access to both from a single source. “What we see from a customer’s perspective is that they don’t understand the windowing system. From a user perspective it is quite frustrating,” said Homent.On the transactional side, Wuaki.tv offers content from the Hollywood majors as well as BBC Worldwide and ITV for purchase or rental.The Wuaki.tv service currently offers a limited selection of subscription titles. “We don’t believe we need thousands of titles. We have less than 1,000 film and TV titles but…there is no filler [material],” said Homent.
Zeinal BavaZeinal Bava, the CEO of Brazilian telco Oi, and the former Portugal Telecom chief executive, has resigned his position.Bava had been subject to criticism following Oi’s botched merger with Portugal Telecom.The Portuguese telco’s merger with the Brazilian company ran into trouble as a result of the collapse of shareholder Portuguese bank Espirito Santo International. This left Portugal Telecom with responsibility for €897 million in debt that had been lent to Espirito Santo International unit Rio Forte, leading to a revision of the terms of the merger that left the Portuguese telco with a reduced stake in the combined entity.Oi’s chief financial officer, Bayard de Paoli Gontijo, will take over as interim CEO until a new appointment is made.Bava’s departure comes as Altice, the owner of French cable operator Numericable, currently in the process of acquiring telco SFR, enters talks with Oi about a potential acquisition of Portugal Telecom.
BBC director general Tony HallBBC director general Tony Hall has spoken out in support of changing the licence fee for “the internet age” and outlined a number of planned digital innovations designed to keep the BBC relevant.Delivering a speech at New Broadcasting House in London yesterday titled ‘The BBC in the internet era’, Hall said that he supported charging viewers that only watch catch-up television via the BBC iPlayer the licence fee, and said that implementing an alternative universal household levy would also help to modernise the fee.Hall said that “the internet age strengthens the case for the BBC” and said that the corporation planned to introduce a raft of new features, including better recommendation and personalisation tools.“We face much greater competition for ideas and talent [today]. BBC services won’t be as prominent in an on-demand world. And younger audiences are using linear channels less than their parents,” said Hall.“There’s real jeopardy here. If the BBC doesn’t address these challenges, we could become irrelevant. But I’m confident that we can deal with them, precisely because each of those challenges is also a huge opportunity.”Detailing the BBC’s new digital plans, Hall said the BBC will introduce personalised recommendations on the iPlayer and homepage.“We’ll recommend news and sports stories just for you. We’ll give you your own BBC app, which will remember all your favourite programmes, artists, music, interests, DJs and sports teams. All in one place,” he said.Hall claimed that the “potential is huge” and that the audience can become schedulers.“This is the start of a real transformation – the myBBC revolution. How to reinvent public service broadcasting through data. But we’ll always be doing it our way – not telling you what customers like you bought, but what citizens like you would love to watch and need to know,” said Hall.He also revealed the name of the UK pubcaster’s new production division, BBC Studios. This will handle all BBC productions – excluding sport, current affairs and children’s TV – as part of a plan to allow the BBC to produce for other channels and to broaden the BBC’s own commissioning process.Announcing the studio, Hall rejected calls for the BBC to become a “publisher broadcaster” and end in-house production, and added: “Production is vital to the future of the BBC, but the current model just won’t last.”Hall said he would push ahead with plans for BBC Studios to ultimately become a wholly-owned but separate BBC subsidiary, but added this was subject to discussions with BBC overseer BBC Trust and the BBC’s licence fee charter renewal in 2017.Hall first outlined plans to create the new-look production unit after a series of top-level mergers and acquisitions agreements changed the face of UK independent production, and as the BBC faces various threats to its operating model.
Braxton JarrattIBM has bought cloud-based live video streaming service Ustream, in a bid to extend its IBM Cloud platform and help business customers “unlock the value of video”.Ustream claims to stream live and on-demand video to about 80 million viewers per month for customers such as NASA, Samsung, Facebook, Nike and The Discovery Channel.Initially set up in 2007 to help people in the military connect through video around the world, the service now offers video streaming to companies and broadcasters covering anything from corporate keynotes to live music concerts.IBM said that Ustream will join the newly-formed IBM Cloud Video Services unit, which brings together assets from IBM’s R&D labs and strategic acquisitions – including recently purchased Clearleap.The unit will be led by general manager, Braxton Jarratt, and will target what IBM estimates to be a US$105 billion opportunity in cloud-based video services and software.“Through this latest acquisition and the creation of a new cloud business unit, IBM will provide an end-to-end suite of digital video solutions for the first time under one roof. As a result, clients will be able to take advantage of every stage of the video life cycle through advances in customisation, digital access, visual analytics and more, all to enable the consistent delivery of video content globally,” said Jarratt.Commenting on the deal, Ustream founder and CEO Brad Hunstable said that the partnership was a “natural choice” as IBM is expanding its video portfolio offerings and Ustream is a leader in video solutions for media and enterprises.“By 2017, 80% of all the world data will be video. From programmes on Netflix to videos on Facebook, this emotional medium has permeated our lives,” said Hunstable.“For IBM, acquiring Ustream is a way to turbo-charge their video strategy: our technology and business model will become a foundation for the IBM Video Cloud organisation to rally around the cloud.”The deal was agreed for undisclosed terms.
Switzerland-based TV technology specialist, Kudelski Group, has agreed a patent license agreement with Apple, ending a legal tussle between the two firms.In a statement, Kudelski described the with patent agreement as “comprehensive” and said that under the deal the companies have agreed to “dismiss all pending patent litigation”.In 2014 Kudelski subsidiaries Nagravision and OpenTV filed claims for three patent infringements against Apple in the Düsseldorf District Court in Germany.The companies alleged that Apple infringed patents owned by them and were seeking to prevent the US technology giant from further infringement.According to Kudelski at the time, the infringements spanned Apple’s iOS mobile devices, Apple TV, the App Store and OS X-based computers.News of the new patent agreement comes after Kudelski separately settled all pending patent litigation it had with Yahoo in May this year. The two companies entered a patent license agreement whereby Yahoo agreed to make a one-time up-front license fee payment to Kudelski.Kudelski-owned OpenTV filed a patent infringement counter-suit against Yahoo in the US in April in the District Court for the Northern District of California. The group alleged that Yahoo infringed 10 US patents owned by OpenTV and identified a number of infringing products and services, including Yahoo Smart TV, Yahoo Connected TV, Yahoo TV, Yahoo interactive video advertisements, Yahoo fantasy gaming and Yahoo Screen.
The European Council has agreed there should be a minimum 30% quota on European works in the catalogue of video-on-demand service providers, including international providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, offering services in EU member states.The move represents a significant raising of the stakes the EU’s drive to make on-demand service providers raise the level of support they offer to European content creation. The European Commission’s initial proposal for quotas last year suggested a level of 20%.The European Council recommendation of 30% will now form the basis of negotiations with the European Parliament ahead of the adoption of the proposed directive.In addition to the 30% quota, the Council agreement calls for member states to be able to require a financial contribution from media service providers, including those established in another member state, with exemptions for start-ups and small enterprises.The scope of the directive has been extended to include “social media” services, where the provision of audiovisual content forms an essential part of such services.The agreement has also set a two month deadline for national regulators to respond to requests from other member states in cases of problems relating to cross-border services, for instance those arising from providers established in one country but targeting an audience in another.The Council proposal also calls for member states to comply with rules on the protection of minors and the protection of all citizens against hate speech and violence.The raised quota agreement followed an amendment tabled by Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Lithuania and Romania proposing that the level be raised. Greece had earlier called for a 40% quota.“We are very proud to have reached an agreement on audio-visual media services. This is a complex directive which touches on very sensitive issues such as the internal market, fundamental rights and freedoms, cultural diversity and the protection of minors,” said Maltese culture minister Owen Bonnici, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency. “But the marketplace and technology are developing rapidly. We have to ensure that the relevant rules keep pace with these changes. Today’s agreement in the Council constitutes a further step forward in the completion of the Digital Single Market, which is vital for Europe’s future prosperity.”EC vice-president for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said: “I am pleased that the Council adopted today a general approach on the update of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.It is essential to have one common set of audiovisual rules across the EU and avoid the complication of different national laws.We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way. Today’s agreement among Member States paves the way towards a final compromise with the European Parliament. I would like to congratulate and thank the Maltese Presidency for their hard work to find a consensus on this complex file, just one year after we presented the proposal.”
The UK government has confirmed that the BBC licence fee will increase from £147 per year to £150.50 on April 1.The move marks the second price increase in as many years, and comes after the government announced in 2016 that the fee would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 1, 2017.Last year, on April 1, the licence fee increased from £145.50 to £147 per year in what was the first price rise since 2010.Licence fee payers will receive a payment plan or a reminder reflecting the new amount when their licence is next due for renewal. Those buying or renewing a licence after 1 April will pay the new fee.All UK viewers who watch BBC television or access programmes on-demand through its iPlayer catch-up service are required to pay the licence fee.The BBC provides nine national TV channels plus regional programming, 10 national radio stations, 40 local radio stations and one of the UK’s most popular websites.
Cable operators should look to aggregate online content, invest in new smart home opportunities but in partnership with the likes of Google and Amazon, and prepare for 5G in mobile to develop new growth opportunities while maintaining the existing strength in multi-play and broadband, according to Ted Hall, director of research and analysis at IHS Markit.Ted HallSpeaking at Cable Congress in Dublin, Hall said that the rate of reduction in TV subscribers was declining, and that this reflected the fact that cable had ”weathered the digital switchover storm”, with analogue losses tailing off as analogue bases decline.Broadband remains cable’s “star performer”, said Hall. “Cable has been a real high-speed broadband pioneer in Europe,” he said. DOCSIS 3.0 services have been available in over 40% of European homes for two years.Hall said that take up of next-generation access services was growing, but that cable was facing additional competition, with cable’s market share declining.“Cable is doing a better job of maximising its return on its NGA investment,” he said.IHS Markit earlier released an update on the state of European cable that showed the number of cable revenue-generating units in the EU stood at 121.4 million at the end of last year, up from 119 million a year earlier.Cable TV subscribers were more or less flat year-on-year, with analogue subs falling from 18.9 million to 14 million, while digital subs rose from 36.7 million to 41.5 million.Broadband RGUs grew from 35.7 million to 37.3 million. Telephony subs grew from 27.8 million to 28.6 million.In Europe as a whole, analogue TV subscription revenues fell from €2.2 billion to €1.7 billion while digital subscription revenue grew from €7.9 billion to €8.6 billion. On-demand revenue grew from €389 million to €461 million.Addressing cable’s growth opportunities, Hall said that DOCSIS 3.1 will enable cable to offer downstream speeds of up to 10Gbps, which will position cable well to compete with telcos.Despite the importance of broadband, pay TV is still growing in Europe, said Hall. However, the big growth segment within pay TV has been OTT TV in recent years. Despite this, OTT TV has been additive to pay TV in Europe rather than resulting in the kind of cord cutting that has taken place in the US.Netflix now has more video subscribers in Europe than any other single provider, but Sky is still the leading player in revenue terms, followed by liberty Global, with Netflix third.Netflix has 46% of Europe’s online video subscriptions, followed by Amazon with 16%, but pay TV operators also have a significant share.“Operators are increasingly looking to original series for differentiation,” said Hall. Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Altice and others have invested in originals.However, Hall said that it makes sense for operators to team up with Netflix given the overlapping subscription bases between them.Hall said that growth in triple-play packages had been “solid”, with cable monthly ARPU almost reaching the €30 mark last year.Combining fixed with mobile and marketing quad-play services is a key current priority. Cable is responding to the acquisition of fixed network and DTH assets by telcos, he said.Hall said that the smart home could represent a fifth play for cable operators. Smart home devices are growing in popularity. However, operators will have to work with competitors in this area, he said. “For operators launching their own digital assistants, they should see devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa as part of that ecosystem,” he said.5G is another area for future-looking operators to prepare for, said Hall, cautioning that penetration of 5G is unlikely to take off before the 2020s. Key applications are still not there to drive adoption.