15Jan MacMaster named ‘Legislator of the Year’ Categories: News,Photos State Rep. Greg MacMaster, center, was recently presented the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association’s first ever “Legislator of the Year” award by the association’s executive director, Amy Frankmann, and Matt Smego of Michigan Farm Bureau.The Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) named Rep. Greg MacMaster as its first ever Legislator of the Year.The 105th House District lawmaker was recognized for his work on House Bill 5228, which the governor signed as Public Act 231 of 2012. The law changed Michigan trucking regulations for small business trucking and trailer combinations.“Through his efforts, Rep. MacMaster revolutionized Michigan’s Green Industry by correcting a bad law that was costing our family-owned businesses a great deal of time, money, and aggravation,” said Amy Frankmann, MNLA executive director. “The changes that he enacted have already resulted in our members investing the dollars that they would have spent trying to comply with this faulty law, back into their firms by hiring additional employees and purchasing needed equipment and supplies.”The law exempts Michigan companies and operators with eligible vehicles from:Annual and ‘spot’ traffic stop inspections;Federal registration and the display of USDOT numbers;Maintenance of operator log books and other miscellaneous records; and,Minimum bonding requirements.MNLA highlighted three reasons for MacMaster’s recognition: HB 5228 passed both the House and the Senate by unanimous votes; the law was enacted during MNLA’s 90th anniversary year of representing Michigan’s Green Industry; and MacMaster is the first legislator to receive the MNLA’s award.“I am honored to receive this award from the nursery and landscape professionals, especially since it’s their first one in almost 100 years,” said MacMaster, R-Kewadin. “Removing the red tape and obstacles that can hamper small business operations has been part of reinvigorating Michigan, and I’m glad to have been able to help our Green Industry be part of the state’s rebound.”The Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association, established in 1922, represents over 8,000 licensed Green Industry firms that comprise Michigan’s largest specialty crop and contributes $5.715 billion to the state economy.
13-year-old Charles Williams, Jr. attends meetings, session with lawmakerTecumseh resident Charles Williams, Jr. today joined state Rep. Nancy Jenkins in Lansing to job shadow the lawmaker.“Charles is very interested in politics and how things work at the Capitol, and I was excited to have him join me,” said Jenkins, R-Clayton. “It’s always great when young people are interested in what goes on in Lansing, and I hope that Charles learned a lot today.”Williams met with Jenkins and other state representatives to learn more about the state budget, sat in on meetings with Jenkins and was recognized on the House floor.“I am grateful for this opportunity,” Williams said. “Not many kids get the chance to experience something like this. I know it’s a hard job, but I’d like to be a representative someday. It would be tough but worth it.”### Categories: News 31Jan Tecumseh resident joins Jenkins at Capitol
playpause Categories: Audio,News – 0:00:00 / 0:00:00Update RequiredTo play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. 12Jun Legislative Update for June 12, 2014 House Republicans look at the state’s 2015 Fiscal Year budget as it passes through the House. Legislative Update for June 12, 2014 [ 2:54 ] Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (143)
The American Flag represents over 240 years of freedom. However, that freedom has come at a heavy cost, from the Revolution to the Global War on Terrorism. As a nation, we have sacrificed much to protect the freedoms we hold dear and to promote democracy in every corner of the world.Everyday across the United States of America, we proudly fly the flag to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our great heritage of freedom and opportunity. When we swear allegiance to our flag it is not mere tradition but a solemn and sacred vow to those heroes who have shed their blood in exchange for our freedom. It is a promise that their sacrifice was not in vain.The flag is a symbol of freedom and hope. Hope, that in spite of the struggles we may face, our children will have a bright future, free from oppression and full of promise and liberty.As we approach Flag Day, June 14, I would like to share some guidelines for showing the proper respect to our flag, the symbol or our great nation.No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.When displaying the American flag, the U.S. flag is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered. No other flag should be hoisted above it, and no other flags may be larger.During the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem, citizens should stand and face the flag, remove any headdress and either salute or cross their chest with their right hand.The American flag should fly only from sunrise to sunset; however, the flag may be displayed for 24 hours or more if it is properly illuminated through the night hours.The American flag should never touch the ground nor should it be written or drawn on, disfigured or defiled in any way.When a flag is worn or tattered and can no longer serve as a symbol for our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Many American Legion posts conduct dignified burning ceremonies, often on Flag Day. If you have such a flag, I encourage you to take it to your local post and let it be retired with the respect it deserves.Remember that we say the pledge, not to a piece of cloth, but to the ideals that it represents, “to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”I hope you will join me in reminding others to give our flag the honor it is due, not just this Flag Day, but every day of the year. Categories: Kahle News 14Jun Our Flag, Reflections on Flag Day
Categories: Iden News,News 20Dec Michigan Legislature approves Rep. Iden’s plan making schools safer, OK2SAY permanent The OK2SAY webpage tip system can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/ok2say.The school safety package includes House Bills 5828-29 and 5850-52, along with Senate Bills 882, 982-83 and 990-91. The state Legislature today gave final approval to Rep. Brandt Iden’s proposal making the OK2SAY program a permanent part of Michigan’s strategy to improve school safety.OK2SAY allows the confidential reporting of tips on potentially harmful or criminal activity directed at students, school employees or school buildings. The system helps distribute important information to law enforcement, mental health service programs and others – receiving more than 16,000 tips since its debut in 2014.Under Iden’s plan – which is headed to the governor for his consideration — the OK2SAY program would become permanent. An expiration date included in current state law would be eliminated.“OK2SAY has proven its worth, and is becoming a more important piece of our school safety strategy every day,” said Iden, of Oshtemo Township in Kalamazoo County. “Kids across the state have a way to help keep themselves and their classmates safe because of this program.”The Legislature previously authorized an expansion of OK2SAY with increased funding.Iden’s measure is part of a comprehensive school safety proposal headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for review. The plan establishes a statewide commission to review and help upgrade building security, enhances law enforcement training, and establishes reporting procedures for incidents in schools.###
17Jan Rep. Frederick to play key role in effort to reform auto insurance Categories: Frederick News State Rep. Ben Frederick has been appointed to serve on a new committee specifically tasked with crafting a solution to lower auto insurance rates for Michigan drivers.Frederick, of Owosso, said the temporary House special committee will focus on auto insurance and work to deliver a lasting remedy to one of the most pressing issues facing the state – Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation car insurance premiums.“Nearly every day I hear from people who are sick and tired of paying sky-high premiums for their car insurance,” Frederick said. “I’m looking forward to working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this important committee to deliver a much-needed solution that lowers rates while protecting important health care services for people who are injured in car accidents.”The House Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates will be one of a select few panels with the authority to report legislation to the House floor for consideration this term.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 9, 2014; Boston GlobeBoston is a very expensive city in which to live, and that means people with less income get pushed out of neighborhoods that are more central to the city. Lucky that Boston has a great public transportation system, you might say, but it is at a price that many making lower wages struggle to afford. And when it comes to young people, they may be living in a cultural Mecca, but how do you travel to work and school, never mind to all that richness?In Boston, a wide coalition of groups is addressing this issue. The Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition writes, “We are the youth riders of Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP), Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP) and T Riders Union (TRU) of ACE, Chinese Youth Initiative (CYI) of Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) / Youth on Board and the YOUNG Coalition, El Movimiento, Dorchester Bay Youth Force, Bikes Not Bombs, The Food Project, Groundwork Somerville Green Team, Chelsea Creak Action Group (CCAG) Youth, Dorchester Bay Youth Force, and Chelsea Collaborative ECO.”Twenty-one young people associated with this coalition were arrested on Monday in Boston as they protested for a reduced-price youth pass for public transportation. Around 30 members of the Coalition participated in a sit-in outside of Secretary of Transportation Richard A. Davey’s office at the Transportation Building in Boston—staying after the offices had closed for the day—demanding that the city provide a $10 unrestricted monthly MBTA pass for people ages 12 to 21.Despite arresting most of the protestors, transportation officials issued a statement assuring that “MassDOT & the MBTA have expressed a willingness to continue to work with advocates to find ways to make public transportation more accessible and affordable.” We are not sure what that means.Secretary Davey wrote in a letter to the coalition that implementing the group’s request, even as a pilot involving just 2,500 people, would cost $1.95 million, “not including the additional costs for eligibility determination and distribution.” But the group disagrees with that estimate, countering with an assertion that young people spend under $30 a month on the T.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesAugust 21, 2014; Bloomberg BusinessWeek / June 18, 2014, SW Radio Africa In light of the revelation last week that the outcome of the 2008 Zimbabwe election that kept President Robert Mugabe in power might have been swayed by a $100 million contribution from “the largest publicly traded hedge fund on Wall Street” in exchange for platinum mines, we thought it would be a good idea to return to a story covered by Louis Altman in the NPQ Newswire about a year and a half ago concerning the threat of raids on civil society groups and NGOs to uncover “subversive material.” In doing so, we learned of another, similar raid that happened just a few months ago, in June, when agents of state security raided Radio Kwelaz, a nonprofit radio station serving the Kwekwe community.As reported in SW Radio Africa, “The security agents confiscated studio equipment, including CDs containing information on HIV/AIDS, pamphlets, newsletters, laptops and computers. Although no one was arrested, officers implied that station was broadcasting illegally, which is an offence under the country’s harsh media laws.” Officials at Radio Kwelaz were barred from their studio, with guards posted at the premises overnight.This wasn’t the first time the Zimbabwean government had gone after Radio Kwelaz; a year prior, Kwelaz Community Radio Board Chairperson Eric Musesengwe, and volunteer Emmy Maseko were both arrested—he for broadcasting without a license, and she for “practicing journalism without accreditation.” That act was soundly condemned by the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) as part of “the continuous use of retrogressive and media unfriendly laws to arrest media and human rights activists.”At the time of the arrest, Valentine Mutatu, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, serving as legal representation for Radio Kwelaz, described the police actions as victimization. After demanding the release of the seized equipment, he said the police had not charged his client or said what they were searching for. Moreover, as quoted by NewsDay Zimbabwe, Mutatu accused the police of citing a law that does not exist when seizing Radio Kwelaz’s property.“‘In your search and seizure you produced a defective search warrant…purportedly issued in terms of Section 54(1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07),’ Mutatu said. ‘We must hasten to state that the said chapter does not exist in the said Act. We, therefore, suspect you are using an Act belonging to another jurisdiction.’”Three investigators from two official Zimbabwean media regulatory authorities were brought in to ascertain whether any illegal broadcasting was going on.“A three-member team comprising technicians from Potraz [Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe] and BAZ [Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe] visited the studio yesterday morning to conduct investigations and later allowed Radio Kwelaz staff to resume work after realizing that the initiative was not carrying out any broadcasting activities. ‘They have allowed us to go ahead and use our facilities after correctly observing that there is no broadcasting going on. In short, this was an exercise in futility and aimed at intimidating our clients,’ Mutatu said.”In the end, the organization was cleared of all charges and permitted to continue operations, although we found no word whether the equipment seized was ever returned. However, what’s clear is that those who pursue what we would consider the exercise of free speech and freedom of the press in Zimbabwe are still subject to harassment and interference by state authorities.—Jason Schneiderman ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share15TweetShare16Email31 SharesBy Happypillsjr (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsNovember 16, 2015; CityLabIn “The Scourge of Sexual Harassment in Public Housing,” author Brentin Mock assembles an impressive review of incidents of sexual harassment against women living in public housing. Mock describes a lawsuit brought on behalf of public housing tenants in Baltimore who allege that they were victims of housing authority employees and that higher-ups ignored their complaints:The lawsuit states that executives in the city’s housing authority either ignored these complaints for years, or discouraged women from pressing forward with them. Women in the suit say they’ve had to go without heat and live with broken appliances because they refused maintenance workers’ sexual requests. In public housing, residents often have to rely on housing-authority staff for repair work either because they can’t afford their own handymen, or because of rules restricting them to staff help.In addition to focusing on the Baltimore case, Mr. Mock gives attention to cases of sexual harassment arising in Kansas City, Kansas; Scotland County, North Carolina; and Bossier City, Louisiana. A HUD blog posting cites some additional examples of recent cases. From the examples given, the pattern seems to be employees acting badly and administrators ignoring or covering up abuses. Still, sexual harassment in public housing is not a new story. Back in 2010, NPQ’s Rick Cohen covered the departure of Philadelphia’s head of public housing under a cloud of charges, including sexual harassment.Last month, HUD’s office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued new guidance to help define what constitutes harassment in rental housing. HUD is aiming to create uniform standards for evaluating claims of hostile environment and quid pro quo harassment in the housing context. According to HUD:Hostile Environment Harassment involves subjecting a person to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it interferes with or deprives the person the right to use and enjoy the housing. Quid Pro Quo Harassment involves subjecting a person to an unwelcome request or demand and making submission to the request or demand a condition related to the person’s housing.There are two key points for property owners or administrators. First, “owners” are responsible for the misbehavior of their subordinates. The HUD regs define this as vicarious liability, saying, “The proposed rule simply adds a provision stating that a person may be vicariously liable for the discriminatory acts of his or her agent.” Second, these new regulations cover all rental housing, not just federally assisted. This is because the Federal Fair Housing Act applies to most rental housing in the U.S. HUD’s new guidance will remain open for public comment until December 21, 2015.The problem of sexual harassment of female tenants is likely to occur in any rental housing where supply is scarce. Rent-assisted units are a frequent source of complaints, but in tight markets, tenants may tolerate harassment for fear of retaliation and possible displacement or homelessness. The current rental affordability crisis suggests that enforcement agencies can expect more cases everywhere, not just in public housing.While “quid pro quo” is pretty easy to recognize, one’s understanding of hostile environment may benefit from more specific examples, drawn from cases and tenant reports.Abusive language/bullying. A male landlord berates female tenant for being late on rent using gender-specific terms and a loud voice and menacing manner, in front of neighbors.Abuse of entry. A maintenance man (allegedly) knocks and then, without waiting, keys himself into a female tenant’s apartment finding her in her nightclothes. In another case, a maintenance man only comes to make repairs between 2:30 PM and 4 PM, when teenage daughters are home alone.Voyeurism/stalking. A maintenance man hovers outside female tenant’s ground floor window on the pretext of “doing an inspection” of the gutters by her unit. Later, he’s seen hanging around same tenant’s unit entry door after working hours.Intrusive inspection. Property owner rifles through female tenant’s lingerie drawers as a part of a “housekeeping” inspection.Banned guests. Female tenant threatened with eviction because her former boyfriend was caught trying to break into her apartment.Nuisance call evictions. A landlord evicts a female tenant after being advised by local police that the tenant was making too many calls for help.Besides the stigma of being a victim of sexual harassment and the fear of eviction as a result of bringing a charge, the issue of “proof” is always tough. By its nature, sexual harassment is normally between two people without witnesses. So how does a prospective complainant document her charge? Fair housing experts suggest:Report the harassment early and report it often. Don’t wait until you are facing eviction or termination to talk about the harassment. At that point, the assumption is that the victim is making up the charges in an effort to avoid the eviction or termination.Keep records of your complaints to the owner or manager.Make screen shots or hard copies of text messages or emails received from a harasser.Record incriminating conversations if your state law is a one-party consent state.Retain phone messages that might show evidence of harassment.Keep a diary that document encounters including the time, place, and nature of the incident.Find other victims to establish a pattern of practice of harassment. Often a victim believes she is the only one being targeted, but that is not usually the case. If you find another victim, ask her to cooperate in the investigation and report her story as well.The new HUD regs cover more than just female renters. HUD describes hostile environment as occurring when “a person is subjected to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it interferes with or deprives the victim of his or her right to use and enjoy the housing or to exercise other rights protected by the Act.” Presumably this definition would apply to any protected class under the Federal Fair Housing Act. In particular there’s a strong argument that transgender discrimination is covered by the Federal Fair Housing Act. Moreover, LGBT households are protected by federal regulations with respect to federally-assisted housing and presumably covered by the definitions in the new HUD notice.What about persons with disabilities, who are often subjected to ridicule or disparagement? Michael Kane, Executive Director of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) says, “Bullying of vulnerable tenants by both on-site property managers and occasionally other residents, is an epidemic in HUD subsidized senior and disabled housing. NAHT gets phone calls from terrified residents from across the US, and it’s a strikingly similar story. HUD has yet to acknowledge the problem, let alone take action to address it.”NAHT has convened a Task Force to recommend reforms to HUD’s Management and Occupancy Review protocols to jump-start a HUD response. These proposed regulations might provide some guidance in cases where the harassment comes from owners or agents (not other residents) and where the victim is a member of a federally protected class.—Spencer WellsShare15TweetShare16Email31 Shares
Group M is forecasting a 6.4% increase in global advertising spend in 2012 driven by a resurgent ad sector in Japan, the Olympics, European soccer championships and US presidential elections. However the growth rate is lower than the media buyer’s previous 2012 forecast of 6.8%, which was made in July.Accordingly, forecasts for key markets including the US and the UK have been downgraded. Japan is one exception as the economy recovers from the effects of the natural disasters that hit the country earlier this year.A 6.4% increase across the 70 countries that Group M covers would mean that advertising revenues will total US$522 billion (€390 billion) in 2012.“Japan’s advertising recovery has proved substantially more vigorous and resilient than we forecast in our mid-year report,” said GroupM Futures Director Adam Smith. “Additionally, the so-called ‘quadrennial effect’ of the American elections, the Olympics and European football are worth an estimated one per cent of incremental growth in 2012.”
SES’s latest satellite, SES-5, has arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it will be processed for launch, scheduled for June 19.SES-5’s 36 active Ku-band transponders and up to 24 active C-band transponders will be located at 5° East. It will feature two Ku-band beams, one serving customers in the Nordic and Baltic countries and the other one serving sub-Saharan Africa as well as two C-band beams, one with global coverage and one with hemispheric coverage over Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The satellite provides Ka-band uplink capability, allowing for operations between Europe and Africa.
Russian service provider MTS has now launched digital TV services in 150 Russian cities, increasing the number of channels in the TV packages it provides by 60%, the company has announced.MTS said it would complete the creation of unified offerings across all the regions, including cable TV, mobile TV, video-on-demand and other interactive service, soon.MTS plans to complete digitisation of its services by 2014. The company currently has about three million pay TV subscribers.
After speaking at the OTTtv World Summit, Richard Wray, BSkyB’s IPTV technology applied research manager spoke to DTVE about how the UK pay TV operator has evolved its OTT strategy since launching Sky Player in 2006.How is Sky using OTT services to increase engagement with customers?At Sky, we currently take advantage of the opportunities offered by OTT in three specific ways.Firstly, OTT enables us to package high quality pay TV content in new ways. For instance, our internet TV service Now TV takes advantage of the OTT opportunity to provide easy and flexible access to Sky content across a range of internet-connected devices with no contract, no set-up costs and no installation. Reaching out to the 13 million customers who haven’t previously taken any form of pay TV service, it helps us reach new customers with our premium pay TV content.Secondly, delivering TV through the internet enables us to add even more value to a Sky subscription, through our award-winning multiplatform TV service Sky Go. Available at no extra cost to all 10.4 million Sky TV customers, it means that that our customers can access content in line with their subscription across a wide range of smartphones, tablets, games consoles and computers.Thirdly, OTT provides us with new opportunities to enhance what the core Sky Plus set-top box experience. New experiences we offer this way include providing customers with a choice of different camera angles during Formula 1 races via the Sky Sports App for iPad, to letting fans of our most popular entertainment shows access bespoke in-app content through in-built Zeebox functionality within our hugely popular Sky Plus app.What steps has Sky taken to deliver services on multiple platforms?Having launched Sky Player on PC and Mac all the way back in 2006 and placed ourselves at the vanguard of viewing on the move through Sky Mobile TV, we’ve been involved in making our content available through multiple platforms for some years now. Such early innovations built the foundations for the huge success of Sky Go, which now offers up to 43 channels live and on demand and was used by more than 2.8 million unique users between June to September this year. Alongside this, we’ve developed a wide range of apps, including Sky Plus, Sky News for iPad and Sky Sports for iPad – and of course launched Now TV.What are the most effective ways to monetise OTT services?From our perspective, one of the biggest opportunities of OTT lies in using it to add value to our core Sky Plus service. While satellite continues to be the best way of delivering high volumes of content – especially HD and 3D – OTT provides a way of piling even more value into a Sky subscription, giving customers the flexibility so they can take Sky TV with them on the move, alongside hundreds of hours of on demand content, from the newly-launched BBC iPlayer on Sky Plus to the latest Hollywood movies.What future OTT trends are you anticipating?One of the things that will be interesting to monitor is whether advances in distribution technologies on mobile – such as the roll-out of 4G – will lead to changes in viewing patterns. Our research shows that viewers are more likely to watch longer-form content through WiFi (one of the reasons why we offer our Unlimited Broadband customers free access to more than 14,000 WiFi hotspots across the country), so we’ll be watching with interest to see whether something like 4G will also help grow viewing on the move.What role should social media play in the evolution of OTT services?We never forget that customers have a choice, which is why we continually focus on ways of making the experience of watching TV through Sky as good as it possibly can be. One of the ways we’ve enhanced this experience is through our range of companion apps, which allow customers to virtually gather round their favourite sports or programmes in a ready-made online community. By integrating social media into our range of apps, we can help viewers get closer to our content, creating a deeper and more immersive experience that customers really value.
Deutsche Telekom has committed to create 2.5 million new WiFi hotspots in Germany by 2016 as part of a large-scale global plan to give Telekom customers wider access to wireless broadband.The telco has teamed up with Fon to deliver a WLAN to Go service whereby users who share their home WiFi with other users are granted access to millions of hotspots worldwide and free of charge.“The partnership with Fon fits perfectly with Telekom’s network expansion strategy. The astonishing increase in data traffic calls for network optimisation and expansion, as well as the implementation of new high-speed networks. By the year 2016, we want to set up more than 2.5 million additional hotspots in Germany with the WLAN to Go offering. With our technology mix of mobile communication, fixed lines and WiFi, we can gradually introduce our customers to the benefits of Internet access anywhere and anytime,” said René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom.
Canal+ Group has teamed up with video sharing site Dailymotion to launch a new OTT service for Canada.The new service, Canal+ Canada, will include subscription and transactional on-demand offerings and will launch in November.Canal+ Canada, which will be part of Dailymotion’s platform in Canada, will comprise three services.The first, Le Pass Canal+, will include unlimited access to all content, including a selection of French and European films, series including Les Revenants, Maison Close and Tunnel, comedy shows including Platane and documentary shows including Les Nouveaux Explorateurs, for C$7.99 (€5.70).A second offering will offer à la carte movies on-demand from C$2.99, while a third, Le Clair, will provide free-to-view access to flagship Canal+ shows including Les Guignols, Le Petit Journal and Le Grand Journal.
Modern Times Group (MTG) has agreed to sell its 80% stake in Swedish broadband service provider Zitius to TeliaSonera in a deal that values Zitius at SEK380 million (€42 million).MTG said it had decided to sell the stake as the Swedish open access model – where multiple service providers can deliver services to end users over third-party access networks – had evolved to the point where it no longer made strategic sense to own a broadband service provider.MTG acquired Zitius in August 2012 and invested in the expansion of the company’s operations. It said that Zitius had expanded its number of connected households by 12% and the number of households that subscribed to at least one of its services by 34% in the course of 2013.“The Open Access market in Sweden has evolved rapidly over the last 16 months. The increased competition between communications operators has resulted in large contracts changing hands, as well as significant improvements in the services available in the different networks. This proves that the Open Access network model is both sustainable and benefits consumers through freedom of choice. As a result, it is no longer necessary for MTG to own Zitius,” said Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, president and CEO of MTG.“We have a platform agnostic pay-TV strategy in the Nordic region and we will continue to offer our free TV and pay TV channels to subscribers in Zitius’ networks, as well as distribute our channel packages through a broad range of other third party pay-TV networks.”
UK broadcasters the BBC and ITV have secured rights the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups.The rights package gives the broadcasters TV, online and radio rights to the tournaments. The deal continues a long-held tradition in the UK whereby the two largest broadcasters share the World Cup rights. The pair have both shown the last fourteen tournaments.The BBC said that three-quarters of the British population tuned in to the last World Cup. The announcement was made in the same week that the 2014 tournament is starting in Brazil.BBC director of sport, Barbara Slater, said: ” It is fantastic news that the pinnacle event in world football will continue to be available free of charge for everyone in the UK.
The BBC’s flagship channel, BBC One, can “sometimes feel too predictable” and “plays it too safe in parts of its peak-time schedule,” according to the acting chairman of the BBC Trust, Diane Coyle.Delivering a lecture called ‘A 21st Century BBC’ at the London School of Economics last night, Coyle admitted that the BBC faced some big challenges and detailed specific areas for improvement before the corporation’s next charter review in two years.However, she also used the speech to call for independence from government pressure, warning that the BBC is “less independent than it used to be and than it needs to be,” and defended the role of the BBC Trust in terms of the corporation’s wider management structure.Referring to a year-long Trust review into the BBC’s four main TV channels, the results of which are due to be published next month, Coyle said that there are “some big challenges, one of which is how to extend the range of new and innovative ideas at the heart of the peak schedule on BBC One.”“The channel has a particular responsibility to get the best possible programmes to the widest possible range of people. At present, though, and despite its achievements, our research shows an audience concern that BBC One plays it too safe in parts of its peak-time schedule. This covers factual and entertainment programmes, not just drama. The industry experts we’ve spoken to echo that view,” said Coyle.She also said that a recent Trust review of the BBC’s network news services showed up a “significant concern that BBC News could sometimes feel ‘distant’ from people’s everyday lives,” and should have a broader agenda and tone, making use of more regional reporters.Four key ”immediate priorities” that were set out for the BBC were: the need to improve the quality and variety of new drama on BBC One; to keep a “firm control” over headcount and continue to reduce the numbers of senior managers; to better reflect the diversity of the UK population, including increasing the number of women on air; and to make more partnerships with other cultural and creative organisations in the UK.Referring to the BBC’s public funding, Coyle argued that the principle of ‘top slicing’ funds from the licence fee “must not be baked into the next licence fee settlement before the process even starts,” and said that public support for the licence fee had risen in the past 10 years and was higher than support for advertising or subscription-based alternatives.“We will also want to put forward some ideas about how to incorporate on-demand viewing to the iPlayer into any future licence fee system,” she said.
Gerhard ZeilerTurner Broadcasting System is repositioning its Boomerang kids channel as an all-animation youth and family-targeted network.The news was announced by both Gerhard Zeiler’s international division, which runs Boomerang in 13 territories, and Christina Miller, president and general manager of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang, and means Boomerang is positioned as a ‘second flagship’ channel after Cartoon Network.Classic Turner-owned animated series such as Tom & Jerry, The Powerpuff Girls andScooby-Doo will run on the new-look Boomerang, though the rebooted Powerpuff Girls is set for Cartoon Network.Time Warner-owned TBS said Boomerang will also feature a slate of newly-acquired contemporary series from around the world, and an on-air refresh.The official roll out of the refresh began on September 29, will continue with Australia on November 3 and completes in other territories next year.“The re-launch of Boomerang as a second flagship channel is a testament to its global appeal,” said Zeiler. “We are extremely proud to see this channel move into its next incarnation – with a look and feel that conveys its quality and contemporary position. This represents a further step in our strategy to build on the success of our international kid’s network.”“Boomerang has always been a timeless favourite with multi-generational appeal,” added Miller. “We see this as a unique opportunity to not only redefine the family co-viewing experience, but to grow and leverage our overall global kids portfolio and position it across all platforms in conjunction with Cartoon Network.”The news comes after Miller replaced Stu Snyder as Turner’s kids channels executive earlier this year. Former RTL chief Zeiler has been with TBS since 2012.Turner is currently in the process of axing just under 1,500 staff as part of an effort to reduce costs, news that emerged earlier this month.
Vittorio ColaoMobile operator Vodafone announced plans to introduce TV services and residential broadband in the UK next year.Discussing the move yesterday, Vodafone said that it would use its fixed line assets acquired through its 2012 takeover of Cable & Wireless, in a move that will see it take on the likes of UK incumbent BT and mobile rival EE, which is also due to launch a TV offering.Speaking on Vodafone’s Q2 earnings call, Vodafone’s regional CEO for Europe Philipp Humm said that with the currently dormant Cable & Wireless network, Vodafone has more than 500 exchanges that deliver a “VDSL-like speed,” covering “a little bit more than 50% of the homes here in the UK.”Asked about the specifics of Vodafone’s TV plans Humm said: “We would not definitely comment on giving out set-top boxes like EE does at this point in time. We’ll have to see what we do once we have then the things ready and launched.”Vodafone already offers TV in five markets – Germany, Portugal, New Zealand Spain and the Netherlands – and now claims 9.6 million multi-screen, multi-platformTV customers across fibre, mobile and IPTV.“We have a wide, wide range of content agreements, distribution content agreements with the usual suspects and the usual big brands. So we think we have a very solid competence that we can deploy further in this area but please don’t ask me today if I’m going to bid for football rights because that’s not the priority for the time being,” said Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao.Speaking on Vodafone’s earnings call, Colao said that 4G technology is accelerating data growth and that one fifth of its mobile data in Europe is now from its 4G network.Alongside this, he said that “content is clearly important,” with Vodafone bundling Netflix with its offering in four markets.“Video and audio today is 40% of the total traffic. Video is increasing almost 90% in Europe,” said Colao, citing YouTube and Facebook as helping to drive this growth.