Rep Coles rural roots play vital role in House GOP Action Plan

Rep Coles rural roots play vital role in House GOP Action Plan

first_img State Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona participated in a Capitol news conference this week announcing the release of House Republican Action Plan. The Action Plan provides an in-depth list of several key policy initiatives that will strengthen Michigan’s economy and provide tremendous opportunities for job creation.“The Action Plan presents an all-encompassing framework that forms a complete picture for the future of Michigan,” Cole said. “Agriculture is a driving force in northern Michigan, which leads right into tourism, which leads right back to the small businesses in which our Michigan families rely on.”In November, Cole was selected to help chart the course for the plan on the caucus’ Policy Development Workgroup, where his 15 years working in the hunting guide industry, his background as an outdoor enthusiast and his experience as an agricultural entrepreneur was beneficial.Cole also has been instrumental in formulating a plan to grow Michigan’s industries and advance agricultural assets as vice chair of the agriculture committee.Cole represents the 105th District including Antrim, Ostego, Charlevoix, Montmorency, and Oscada counties. He also serves on the following committees: Energy Policy, Judiciary, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation, Transportation and Infrastructure.The GOP’s Action Plan for the new legislative session can be viewed at gophouse.org##### Tags: #SB Categories: Cole News,Newscenter_img 06Feb Rep. Cole’s rural roots play vital role in House GOP ‘Action Plan’last_img read more

Rep Kesto property rights legislation signed by Gov Snyder

Rep Kesto property rights legislation signed by Gov Snyder

first_img Gov. Rick Snyder today signed bipartisan legislation strengthening Michigan’s asset forfeiture laws through higher evidentiary standards, greater transparency and increased accountability.State Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce, was the sponsor of one bill in the package of eight designed to address growing concerns with Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture laws. Rep. Kesto also serves as chair of the House Judiciary Committee and lead the charge for greater clarity in the law and necessary procedural reforms.“We’ve heard stories across the nation of property unjustly seized and sold,” Rep. Kesto said. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen in our state. We’ve set a high floor for an individual’s personal and property rights. Law enforcement, on the other side, has a set of clear standards when it comes to utilizing asset forfeiture.”Rep. Kesto’s House Bill 4504, now Public Act # of 2015, creates the Uniform Forfeiture Reporting Act, establishing a standard of annual reports from polices agencies, including inventory and total worth of seized property, as well as crimes to which seized properties are specifically connected. Rep. Kesto’s bill received a Senate substitute specifying that the Michigan State Police would create a standard reporting form, which the House later adopted in a concurrence vote.“As the state’s top law enforcement, the MSP will have the necessary oversight of the asset forfeiture process,” Rep. Kesto said. “We’re making sure nothing slips through the cracks.”“Today we set the bar for ethical excellence,” said Rep. Kesto. “Michigan residents will be protected. Public safety will be empowered.”##### Categories: Kesto News 20Oct Rep. Kesto property rights legislation signed by Gov. Snyderlast_img read more

Rep Chatfield announces February office hours

Rep Chatfield announces February office hours

first_img Categories: Chatfield News State Representative Lee Chatfield invites residents of the 107th House District to join him during local office hours for the month of February.“It’s important for me to meet with concerned individuals in person to really discover their needs and find ways to better serve them in Lansing,” said Chatfield. “My staff and I have held monthly office hours in every county I represent for 25 consecutive months for this very reason.”His February office hours schedule is:Monday, Feb. 20Emmet CountySmall Town Grill182 Stimpson St.Pellston, MI 497699-10 a.m.Cheboygan CountyPurple Tree Books & Coffee334 N Main St.Cheboygan, MI 4972111 a.m.-NoonMackinac CountyAng-Gio’s232 S M 134Cedarville, MI 497192-3 p.m.Chippewa CountyPickford Community Library230 E Main St.Pickford, MI 497744-5 p.m.No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. Anyone unable to attend may contact Rep. Chatfield’s office by calling (517) 373-2629, via email at leechatfield@house.mi.gov or through his website at www.RepChatfield.com.### 09Feb Rep. Chatfield announces February office hourslast_img read more

Rep Schroeder supports plan to combat state psych worker shortages

Rep Schroeder supports plan to combat state psych worker shortages

first_img Categories: Schroeder News Plan allows retired employees to return to work and keep pensionsState Rep. Andrea Schroeder today voted in support of a House plan to combat the ongoing shortage of behavioral health professionals in Michigan.The plan allows certain retired mental health professionals to come back to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) without forfeiting their pension benefits.The issue was brought to the Legislature’s attention last term during the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force statewide tour, which aimed to find ways to improve Michigan’s mental health system by listening to mental health experts, families of patients and law enforcement officials.“A lack of psychiatric professionals means a lack of available care for Michigan’s vulnerable residents,” said Schroeder, of Independence Township. “This plan ensures people receive the care they need in a timely fashion from experienced and qualified individuals.”The state already allows retired psychiatrists to continue to keep their pensions during reemployment with the state. Schroeder contends the state should extend that same opportunity to other mental health care professionals such as physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, counselors and therapists to combat serious shortages in such roles.House Bill 4156 was approved unanimous, bipartisan support and now moves to be considered by the state Senate. 16Apr Rep. Schroeder supports plan to combat state psych worker shortageslast_img read more

City Rescinds CDBG Grants Already Made NonprofitGovernment Link 1

City Rescinds CDBG Grants Already Made NonprofitGovernment Link 1

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesSeptember 4, 2014; The RecordTwo different stories from the Northeast illustrate the important close relationship between local government and community-based nonprofits and philanthropists. In one case, local charities in New Jersey were thrown for a loop when a city changed its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding formula. And in Maryland, when a local government refused to take private donations, a group of activists went out and formed their own organization to do so.In Paterson, N.J., a suburb of New York City, local city officials plan to rescind more than $800,000 in grants awarded earlier this year to 12 different nonprofit groups for various community programs, instead earmarking the money for street repairs. The North Jersey Media Group’s website says that nonprofits learned of the plan to reprogram the federal funds in letters mailed out two weeks ago.“It’s an unexpected loss of funds for us,” the director of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation told the news site. The NJCDC will lose $68,000 of federal funding that it had had been receiving for the past several years through the city to provide social services for mentally ill residents. Similarly, the Grandparent Relatives Care Resource Center said the loss of its $50,000 grant through the city could result in the program’s shutdown. Other nonprofits will also be impacted.The pulling of the grants results from the change in administration at City Hall. Paterson’s original plan for spending the CDBG funds had been crafted under the former mayor and was approved by the City Council, said the article. But after Jose “Joey” Torres took office as mayor this summer, his appointees decided that their predecessors were setting aside too great a share of the funds for “public service activities,” instead of on infrastructure improvement projects.The city’s Community Development Director blamed the rescission on the fact it was using an outdated formula for distributing the funds—the city’s CDBG funding declined from $4 million to $2.3 million, but no one made any adjustments in the amount of money allocated for public service programs.Under the proposed change, the new mayor wants to rescind about $825,000 of the public service grants and keep in place another $576,000 awarded to other groups, partly based on their track records of spending the money in timely fashion or to avoid the duplication of services. The changes in the CDBG grants still must be approved by the City Council.The Community Development Director told the news site that redistributing the public service grants towards infrastructure needs was one way to prevent additional funding from being at risk. But HUD officials said they had signed off on Paterson’s original grant awards and had no problem with the amount of money that had been earmarked for public service activities.This story and “City Rejects Philanthropic Help” point to the close relationship between local government and community-based nonprofits and why it is essential for nonprofit leaders to be engaged with their communities’ political leadership. Often it’s about funding, as in the N.J. case, but sometimes it’s about public policy, as in Maryland. In any event, what local government does or doesn’t do can have an impact on local charities and their clients. It is important for nonprofit leaders to understand that and be ready to advocate on behalf of their causes.—Larry KaplanShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

The AntiBDS Effort of Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban Gets Caught in

The AntiBDS Effort of Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban Gets Caught in

first_imgShare8TweetShare4Email12 SharesSeptember 30, 2015; ForwardNathan Guttman reports for the Forward that the alliance between Republican political financier and Nevada gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson and Democratic donor and Hollywood power broker Haim Saban seems to have come to an end. Despite Adelson’s backing of all kinds of conservative presidential candidates in the 2012 and current primaries, and Saban’s close allegiance to Bill and Hillary Clinton, they had come together despite political differences to combat efforts like the Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement that they felt were isolating Israel both in the U.S. and internationally.The reasons for the Adelson/Saban split, apparently Saban’s initiative, haven’t been publicly revealed by Saban, but the possibilities include Adelson’s focus on what one person called “a right wing echo-chamber,” pretty difficult for a moderate Dem like Saban to accept, or simply that during an election where Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner, it doesn’t look good for one of Clinton’s top donors to be too close to the likes of someone on the right wing of the Republican establishment like Adelson.The primary focus of attention for the split appears to be around the anti-BDS group known as the Campus Maccabees, funded lavishly by Adelson. One area of concern might have been the hiring of David Brog to head the Maccabees. According to Guttman, Brog formerly directed Christians United for Israel, a group founded (or recreated from a defunct organization with the same name) by the controversial conservative evangelical pastor, John Hagee. Christians United for Israel calls itself the largest pro-Israel group in the U.S. and claims to have more than two million members. The Pentecostal Hagee has been known for some untoward attitudes toward Palestinians, Muslims in general, Catholics, and, despite CUFI, Jews themselves.If Saban is distancing himself from the Maccabees, it isn’t like he is leaving the pro-Israel field. For example, he has been a generous funder of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC). According to a statement issued by a Saban spokesman, Saban will be “concentrating on the Friends of the IDF” and his longstanding commitment to the Saban Leadership Seminar that has trained 10,000 pro-Israel student leaders. He also hosts the annual Saban Forum to discuss U.S.-Israel relations, with Bill and Hillary Clinton as regular participants.However, the gap between Adelson and Saban shows up significantly in another pro-Israel organization, the Israeli American Council, a nonprofit representing Israeli expatriates (like Saban himself) living in the United States. With Adelson’s support, they made the IAC into a national operation. However, Adelson’s donations to the IAC seem to have dwarfed Saban’s over time, which ended up pushing the IAC toward Adelson’s right-wing political positions. For example, the IAC came out against the U.S. nuclear weapons treaty with Iran, a core touchpoint of every Republican presidential candidate, while Saban, though not necessarily a supporter of the agreement, views it as a done deal.Lessons for nonprofits? While Adelson and Saban clearly shared plenty when it came to their support for Israel and their opposition to the BDS efforts, it seems that partisan politics overcame their ideological comity. Even within the pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian movement, being a right-wing Republican and a moderate Democrat is too much political distance to maintain, especially when the Republicans and Democrats in question happen to be billionaire political donors.—Rick CohenShare8TweetShare4Email12 Shareslast_img read more

Disturbing Questions in New Charter School Study

Disturbing Questions in New Charter School Study

first_imgShare76TweetShareEmail76 SharesBetter Unanswered? / David GoehringDecember 10, 2015; International Business TimesIf there was a time to ask if charter schools should be part of the public education system, that time has passed. 6,723 charters currently operate in 43 states and the District of Columbia, serving 2.9 million students, or six percent of the total public school population. The Every Student Succeeds Act, the newest version of our national education policy, includes significant funding for expanding their share of the school market. Proponents of the use of market forces as the catalyst for improved school performance continue to advocate for charters to play an even greater role in public education.What still remains are many unanswered questions about how charters should be allowed to operate and how they will be effectively integrated into a coordinated public education program that serves all of our nation’s children effectively. Many of the questions center on what it means to be “public” and “accountable.” Should they be freed from many of the accountability requirements that have been placed on traditional public schools? Can they be for-profit entities? Let’s remember what has been occurring in the realm of for-profit schools in higher ed.A newly released study by the National Education Policy Center, “The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit,” provides a disturbing look how the organizational and confused regulatory nature of many charter operations provides opportunities for public funds and assets to end up in private hands.By design, charter schools are different from traditional public schools and do not have the same nature of public accountability.The charter reform is different from many other education reforms in that it does not prescribe specific interventions. Rather, it changes the conditions under which schools develop and implement educational interventions. At the heart of the charter concept lies a bargain. Charter schools will receive more autonomy over curriculum, instruction, and operations than other public schools. In exchange, they must agree to be held more accountable for results—the outcomes articulated in the charter contract. In theory, if a charter school does not meet its stated goals, its sponsor can revoke its charter or refuse to renew it when the contract expires.And the independent nature of charter schools appears to make them less accountable for their use of public funds. The NEPC study finds that the organizational complexity of charter schools creates an opaque system that may not be very efficient and moves funds from the classroom to administrators, contractors, and in the case of for-profit operators, to shareholders.Put simply, the increased complexity of charter school governance relative to traditional district governance makes it highly likely that the subsidies that actually reach the school site—the primary mission centers in question—are reduced in the process of financially sustaining various intermediate layers. Further, at various points in this system, public expenditures are transferred to the control of entities where public transparency may be compromised, including the possibility that all or nearly all public monies are transferred as a lump sum to the control of a private actor not required to provide detailed expenditure reports.The NEPC study points to “four major public policy concerns:A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies;Public assets are being unnecessarily transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future provision of “public” education;Charter school operators are growing highly endogenous, self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction which further compromise the future provision of “public” education; andCurrent disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any related legal violations, ethical concerns, or merely bad policies and practices are not realized until clever and difficult investigative reporting, whistleblowers or litigation brings them to light.For example, what might happen when charter schools acquire the facilities they need for their students? Using either third-party bond arrangements or REITs as their financing mechanisms, “the acquired property is often originally a traditional public school facility no longer in use. Such facilities start off being owned by the public and paid for with public tax dollars, first through debt financing for land acquisition and construction, and later through ongoing maintenance. The original debt financing of the facility was most likely approved by local taxpayers.”In contrast, the sale of the facility to a third party for lease to a charter operator was likely not approved by taxpayers. Nor did voters approve the charter school operator’s use of taxpayer funds (to the extent taxpayer funded operating revenue is required) for purchasing the facility for the third party. In short, what is happening is that taxpayer funds are being used, without voter approval, to purchase a property from the taxpayers themselves, for someone else. The taxpayers are buying the facility a second time, albeit from themselves, but the result is that these taxpayers will no longer own it. Worse, in the process of transferring the property, taxpayer dollars have subsidized substantial fees and interest to various parties. The icing on the cake is that the federal government has spent federal taxpayer dollars to stimulate these transactions.Even the question of who owns schoolbooks and other educational materials purchased by a charter operator can be open to debate. An Ohio school district faced this startling reality when it decided to terminate its contract with a charter school operator.When severing their contracts with White Hat, schools were faced with the prospect of having to purchase back from White Hat all of the equipment purchased while White Hat managed the schools. Since this equipment had been purchased with publicly financed operating revenue, the schools challenged White Hat in court over the ownership of the assets. However, the court concurred that the contractual language was clear that the property belonged to White Hat and that the school operators, if they wished to retain that property, would have to purchase it back from White Hat.Based on their look at how the current state of the art for charter school operations, the NEPC brief reached some very concerning conclusions:A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies;Public assets are being unnecessarily transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future provision of “public” education;Charter school operators are growing highly endogenous, self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction which further compromise the future provision of “public” education; andCurrent disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any related legal violations, ethical concerns, or merely bad policies and practices are not realized until clever investigative reporting, whistleblowers or litigation brings them to light.If the NEPC brief is on target, we have much to fix before the work of school reform is done.—Martin LevineShare76TweetShareEmail76 Shareslast_img read more

Russian conglomerate Sistema is mulling the possib

first_imgRussian conglomerate Sistema is mulling the possible launch of digital-terrestrial TV services using a 470-694MHz frequency held by its Intellect Telecom subsidiary, according to local reports.Sistema president Mikhail Shamolin told local press that the frequency was likely to be used for digital TV, but it was not yet clear in what format.Sistema already offers IPTV services via its MTS subsidiary.last_img

Cyfrowy Polsatowned Polish OTT service provider i

first_imgCyfrowy Polsat-owned Polish OTT service provider ipla has begun implementing a number of changes to its look and feel.The service has been made available on PCs with a simplified navigation system and new pay packages. The service has also introduced a new package, iplaWORLD, aimed at users outside Poland.Ipla has expanded the number of live channels available on the service to complement its VOD offering. The service is also making some Polsat content available free of charge before it airs on linear TV. Ipla is also lining up new content partners, including a deal earlier this month with Disney.last_img read more

Discovery Networks International has appointed Hea

first_imgDiscovery Networks International has appointed Hearst Magazines director Amanda Turnbull as managing director of its Middle Eastern food channel, Fatafeat.Turnbull will lead the pay TV channel from this morning and be responsible for its strategic and operational management, as well as being the primary point of contact for day-to-day business development.This comes after DNI acquired Fatafeat parent Takhayal Entertainment in 2012.Turnbull will lead Fatafeat from astudio in Dubai and work in partnership with Discovery Networks Central & Eastern Europe, MiddleEast and Africa (CEEMEA)’s senior teams in London and Warsaw.She will report into James Gibbons, senior VP and country manager, emerging business, Discovery Networks CEEMEA.Turnbull previously worked for Discovery, joining in 2007 as ad sales director, emerging markets, before taking on the role of integrated marketing and client service director, CEEMEA. She then joined Hearst as group publishing director for the mag company’s luxury division, overseeing an editorial and commercial staff of more than 60.“After an extensive search to find the right candidate, we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome Amanda to the team, ready to take on the exciting position of managing director at Fatafeat,” said Gibbons.“Amanda will be responsible for the strategic and operational management of Fatafeat, spearheading the network’s Ad Sales and overall business goals in order to cement its position as the number one food channel across the Middle East.”Discovery Communications yesterday posted international revenues for the first quarter of 2014 up 51% year-on-year at US$671 million. Much of the growth can be attributed to the billion dollar-plus acquisition of SBS Nordic, which helped sales grow 108% to US$316 million.Discovery CEO David Zaslav refused to comment on whether Discovery was close to buying UK broadcaster Channel 5 before it went to Viacom for £350 million, nor whether he was weighing up a bid for All3Media as a recent Sky News report suggested.However, he said Discovery would be “opportunistic” where possible. “We look at everything but only want to buy assets that will help us strategically.”last_img read more

Some 11 of UK homes will have at least one smart

first_imgSome 11% of UK homes will have at least one smart system – such as  automated entertainment or appliance systems they can control remotely over the web – according to Strategy Analytics.The new research says that 3.1 million households will spend a total of £715 million (€905 million) on smart home systems in 2014. This is tipped to double to £1.4bn across 7.7 million UK households in 2019.last_img

Mobile and tablet viewing now accounts for 27 of

first_imgMobile and tablet viewing now accounts for 27% of all online video plays, according to Ooyala’s second quarter Global Video Index Report. The video publishing and analytics firm said that mobile video viewing rose by six percentage points between February and June 2014.In the past year, mobile video viewing more than doubled, increasing 127% year-on-year and by a massive 400% in the past two years, according to Ooyala.Other finding in the study included: mobile viewers spend 45% of their time watching videos of six minutes or less in length; on tablets, viewers spent 23% of their time watching video of 30-60 minutes in length; and on connected TVs, viewers spent 65% of their time watching videos 30 minutes or longer.“This data is indicative of the dramatic multiscreen shift occurring in the industry. Greater consumption of high-value content across multiple device types, along with more granular data on consumption habits and trends, underscores the need for sophisticated analytics to inform programming and monetisation strategies,” said Jay Fulcher, chief executive officer of Ooyala.Separately, Cisco has forecast that by 2018 mobile video traffic could make up 69% percent of the world’s internet traffic.last_img read more

SFRNumericable has launched a new quadplay offer

SFRNumericable has launched a new quadplay offer

first_imgSFR-Numericable has launched a new quad-play offering under the Virgin Mobile brand, with a new box and a new TV service. The service provider has launched Virgin Box by SFR, which it says builds on the innovations already developed for the SFR box. The package comprises a TV Evolution decoder and a separate modem.The TV offering from Virgin Mobile comprises 170 channels, 200 optional pay TV channels, TV on-demand with 53 catch-up channels and access to 10,000 programme and film titles. The box includes a 250GB hard drive.The associated mobile offering incudes 20GB of data in 4G priced at €15 a month for Virgin Box by SFR subscribers who sign up between now and April 14.SFR-Numericable completed the acquisition of Virgin Mobile, France’s leading MVNO, at the end of last year.last_img read more

French pay TV provider Canal has secured distribu

French pay TV provider Canal has secured distribu

first_imgFrench pay TV provider Canal+ has secured distribution of its pay TV channels Canal+ International and CNews on the DirecTV platform in the US.Since March 19, DirecTV customers subscribing to the FrenchDirect option have access to both channels.Canal+ International is a new general entertainment channel aimed at Francophone viewers in the US. The channel offers a mix of original series, movies, live sport and entertainment programming.The launch of the new channel along with news service CNews on DirecTV marks the first time that Canal+ services have been available on a pay TV platform in the US market.Canal+ International will air content including Canal+ originals Pigalle La Nuit, Baron Noir, Platane and Section Zero along with Top 14 rugby and other sports and kids content from Canal+ kids channels Piwi+ and Teletoon+.Canal+ International and CNews are distributed in the US by the pay TV group’s distribution arm Thema.last_img read more

Eutelsat has issued sevenyear senior unsecured bo

Eutelsat has issued sevenyear senior unsecured bo

first_imgEutelsat has issued seven-year senior unsecured bonds for a total of €800 million, taking advantage of what it termed as a “current competitive market” for raising long-term financing.The bonds will be issued at 99.4% and will be redeemed at 100% per cent of their principal amount when they mature on October 2, 2025.“The Bonds will enable Eutelsat to redeem at maturity the outstanding bonds issued on 14 December 2011 for a total principal amount of €800 million, bearing interest on its principal amount at a fixed rate of 5.0% per annum and due January 2019,” said Eutelsat in a statement.The transaction is expected to maximise Eutelsat’s free-cash-flow and reduce pre-tax cash interest by some €24 million on an annualised basis from full year 2019-20. It will also allow Eutelsat to extend its debt maturity profile.last_img read more

The EU is likely to launch a full investigation of

The EU is likely to launch a full investigation of

first_imgThe EU is likely to launch a full investigation of Liberty Global’s planned sale of its German and central European assets to Vodafone, according to a Reuters report, citing an unnamed source.The opening of an in-depth investigation by the EU would imply that the EC will reject the request by the German competition regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, to refer the German portion of the sale to it. If the EC has decided to consider the acquisition in a broader EU-wide context, this is likely to be welcomed by Vodafone and Liberty Global. A specifically German investigation would have been welcomed by opponents of the deal such as Deutsche Telekom.The EC is scheduled to complete its initial investigation of the deal by next week.Germany’s competition watchdog, together with together with the country’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, requested the European Commission to refer Vodafone’s planned acquisition of Liberty Global’s Unitymedia unit to it last month on the grounds that the deal has an impact on markets in Germany.Andreas Mundt, the Bundeskartellamt’s president, said that the acquisition by Vodafone of Unitymedia and certain of Liberty’s central European assets would “affect Germany in particular” as it “could lead to very significant changes in market conditions in cable television and telecommunications”.Speaking after Vodafone released its last set of quarterly figures, CEO Nick Read said that the deal involved two businesses with “multi-country, non-competing, overlapping footprints” and that precedent existed to suggest that the deal should be approved.last_img read more

Satellite operator SES has been contracted to prov

Satellite operator SES has been contracted to prov

first_imgSatellite operator SES has been contracted to provide 15 free-to-air channels to viewers in Benin by the government of the West African country.As part of the agreement some HD channels will be broadcast over the country, which SES says are the first HD channels to be available via digital-terrestrial TV across Africa, making an important step forward in the planned 2020 digital switchover for the country.SES is using a spot-beam on SES-14 to feed video to the Benin DTT infrastructure, with DTH coverage used to complement this in areas where DTT coverage is lacking. The SES-14 satellite, launched last year, is positioned at 47.5° West.“SES has delivered a creative solution to us to ensure the introduction of digital television with HD channels. This is an important milestone as we move toward our deadline for the analogue switch-off. We are very pleased to be working with SES, which has both the technical capabilities and required experience to support our ambitious plans to set new standards for broadcasting,” said Darius Quenum, chairman of the DTT steering committee of the presidency of the Republic of Benin.“We are excited to be working with the committee leading the digital television transition of Benin to deliver such high-quality service to the people of Benin. Launching HD service can be complex, and we are dedicated to providing innovative solutions to respond to market needs. Launching this DTT and DTH service is an important step for Benin and we are in the best position to successfully deliver the complete set of services required,” said Clint Brown, VP, sales and market development for Africa, SES Video.last_img read more

As the CEE channel environment becomes more compet

As the CEE channel environment becomes more compet

first_imgAs the CEE channel environment becomes more competitive, with new digital launches from local as well as international players, so channel providers have to differentiate through strong content and localization to stay ahead. Stuart Thomson reports.International channel providers continue to see central and eastern Europe as a significant growth market, despite the well-publicized economic challenges faced by a number of countries in the region. As the market matures, a number of international players are moving towards establishing a stronger local presence across the region’s key markets, creating local offices and launching local production initiatives.Local presenceThe extent of building a local presence depends on the relative strength of the channel provider and on the business model. BBC Worldwide recently opened a local office in Poland and appointed former Polsat executive Jacek Koskowski as general manager. For the BBC, as for other channel providers, Poland, with the largest population amongst the central European EU states, a strong economy and a vibrant pay TV market, is the key market and test-bed for expansion elsewhere.“Poland is an important European market growing very strongly,” says Ian McDonough, senior vice-president and general manager, EMEA, BBC Worldwide Channels. BBC channels are currently present on two of the major DTH platforms – ‘n’ and Canal Plus Cyfrowy – but lost their position on the third – Cyfrowy Polsat – with which they previously had an exclusive carriage deal. BBC Worldwide also has distribution with the country’s major cable operators. According to McDonough, BBC Worldwide is “realistic and flexible – we very much prefer to have non-exclusive deals”, which gives the channels reach and opens up the possibility to developing an advertising revenue stream, but if exclusivity is preferred by the distribution partner, such a deal will be considered on its merits.While Poland is the keystone of its presence in the region, BBC Worldwide is beginning to strike deals elsewhere in central and eastern Europe for its portfolio, launching BBC Entertainment in Serbia, and is looking at other opportunities in the Balkan region. Other recent deals include the launch of the BBC HD channel on TTnet in Turkey (where it is already available on Turksat and DSmart). “HD is certainly interesting for the market – BBC Knowledge HD has worked well in Poland,” says McDonough. “It’s the most-watched channel on the ‘n’ platform.”While major players including BBC Worldwide see central and eastern Europe as a market that offers strong growth (albeit increasingly challenging from a competitive standpoint), for single-channel provider KidsCo flexibility is the key to success.   KidsCo originally launched in the CEE region because it identified a gap in the market. “Having got carriage quickly [when we launched] it’s been a bit slower than in the first two to three years,” says managing director Paul Robinson. However, while KidsCo has been focusing on making headway elsewhere of late (including western Europe), there are still a number of key operators to target in central and eastern Europe, including Cyfrowy Polsat and Cyfra Plus in Poland. The Baltic States and Bulgaria also remain KidsCo-free zones and Robinson believes there may be opportunities for distribution in both those territories. “The other part is Russia, where we now have licences and an agent,” he says. “We are now building our presence there, with Akado, Orion and some smaller operators, but there is a lot of potential. We have had to spend time investing in infrastructure and finding the right partner, but in the next year we will see good growth.”For more specialist content providers, the CEE region also remains a market characterized by growth. Adult channel provider Marc Dorcel sees considerable opportunities in the region based on multiple revenue streams from linear channels, video-on-demand and magazines. “Historically, CEE has been a very segmented market, with many small-to-middle sized analogue cable operators,” says CEO Gregory Dorcel. “Because of analogue switch-off, they will have to upgrade the networks and that requires huge investments. Quality adult content is a good way to recover these investments as it drives a demanding audience ready to pay. And I do believe that we have the most complete and comprehensive offer on the market today.” The company’s content is, says Dorcel, present on many of the major platforms in the region and it is now focusing on smaller regional platforms and on selling video-on-demand, as well as being present at trade shows including PIKE (Poland) and Tihany (Hungary). “Any country is interesting for us. Our only limit, which we have everywhere, is the legal framework for adult content distribution,” says Dorcel.One channel provider with a strong heritage in the region is Chello Zone, the international channels arm of Liberty Global’s Chellomedia unit. Chello Zone operates 13 channels: Zone Reality, Zone Romantica, Extreme Sports Channel, JimJam, Food Network, Fine Living Network, Fantasy Channel and (the latest addition to the stable) The Outdoor Channel. The division is focusing on developing its existing brands as well as the launch of Food Network and Outdoor Channel, both of which are available in HD versions. Chello Zone also recently teamed up with Polsat in Poland to launch JimJam Polsat, a dedicated Polish kids channel. The Outdoor Channel is currently available in Russia. “Well positioned channels, with a core target audience and a potentially commercial audience  are important for operators, especially as they are looking for a strong driver content for new SD packaging, VOD offerings and HD packaging,” says Louise Cottrell, vice-president, affiliate sales at Chello Zone. Outdoor Channel is therefore a good solution for platforms and has an important role in helping operators build additional revenue opportunities.” Cottrell says another channel in the portfolio may be available in HD later this year.“Quality adult content is a good way to recover these investments as it drives a demanding audience ready to pay.”Gregory Dorcel, DorcelCentral and eastern Europe as a whole is seen as “a very significant market” by Tom Davidson, managing director of AETN UK, the US channel provider’s joint venture with BSkyB, which distributes a range of brands including History, Crime & Investigation and Bio in the CEE region. While consumer purchasing power in the region clearly has a long way to go before it catches up on the West, the strong growth profile of the region makes it attractive. Davidson says that AETN has sold History across the region and penetration is growing. More recently, the channel provider has pushed its Crime & Investigation channel into new territories across CEE, including Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia. “Getting that out into the rest of the territories s a key goal, and in the longer term we are looking to get Bio and Military History into that market too,” says Davidson. He says AETN benefits from Crime & Investigation belonging to a completely different genre of channels than History – allowing it to present it to distribution partners in a different way. “It’s completely different which allows us to access a very different audience,” he says.Local productionIn addition to building an advertising business in key markets such as Poland, Davidson says that local content will be key to the channels’ success.  “The next step is local production and we have started talking to local producers both for History and C&I,” he says. This will enable the channel provider to become more relevant to its distribution partners and to build an audience for advertising too. He says that the obvious first step is to take formats that have worked well elsewhere (such as the group’s American Restoration and Pawn Stars properties) and produce local variants. “The other thing we see potential for is topics that have not really been touched on with real PR value in those territories,” says Davidson. “The feedback we get is that there are topics that people have an interest in covering but lack the money. There seems to be more opportunity in the CEE market because the local production industry doesn’t have the money to take those shows.”While local production is something that AETN has yet to build in earnest, at the very minimum its channels are launched into new markets fully versioned in the local language. Greater effort towards meaningful localization is given impetus by growing competition in the region as a whole. International players are facing competition from local channel providers as well as intensified competition from each other, as they attempt to expand their portfolio and move into new genre areas. For Davidson, competition comes not only from the big international players but from national channels attempting to build their own channel portfolios, particularly as digital switchover gets under way. “What’s really making a difference and making the market tougher is a big push by local channels to launch additional services. If you talk about competitive pressure, that’s where a lot of it is coming from,” says Davidson. He says must-carry rules implemented by local regulators can push out international players in favour of the digital channels launched by local public broadcasters, for example.For other players, local production is seen as an important way of differentiating their proposition. For premium content provider HBO Central Europe, it is a way of staying relevant to audiences and justifying the cost of subscription. Last year, HBO produced programming in five of the 14 countries in the region which it operates and won an international Emmy award for Romania-produced documentary The World According to Ion B.Local production is also seen as a significant opportunity by adult channel provider Marc Dorcel, which aggregates content from over 60 adult catalogues from US and European studios. According to Dorcel, the company produces a significant portion of its content in CEE, using local production crews and actors. VOD and subscription VOD now account for the bulk of the company’s revenues. “Adult non-linear requires special know-how and we propose most of the time to operators to manage their adult non-linear offerings,” says Dorcel. “We proceed with editorial, refresh the titles regularly, localize the interface. This is a real win-win partnership – all operators who have trusted us generate…at least a million euros of revenues each year.”Localization can also involve, more simply, dedicated feeds with content tailored to a particular market. “In large and consolidated markets we have moved towards making dedicated territory feeds available, or else regional feeds. This allows us to buy programming more specifically for individual territories,” says Chello Zone’s Cottrell. “Localisation becomes more and more important as we take our channels to an ever increasing list of countries, but it is essential to balance localization initiatives with overall channel economics, advertising opportunities and platform or audience requirements.” In Poland Chello Zone has dedicated Extreme Sports Channel and Zone Reality feeds as well as JimJam Polsat; and in Romania it has a dedicated Romantica feed. “We also have regional feeds covering one or two key areas which allows us to acquire programming on a more focused basis – for example Zone Reality has a regional feed covering four major territories, including Hungary and Romania,” says Cottrell.“The next step is local production and we have started talking to local producers both for History and C&I.”Tom Davidson, AETNRegional or territory-specific feeds also open up the possibility of developing new revenue streams, notably from advertising. “We are some way off from advertising sales overtaking subscription revenue, but by having a multi-revenue approach to key markets it allows us to develop the brands and invest in shaping them to individual markets,” says Cottrell. “Advertising spend has increased in CEE markets amongst the multi-channel environment principally in key markets such as Poland and Hungary, also Romania, as in turn audience share to these television channels has grown. Consolidation within the market has also enabled multi-channels to build strong distribution frameworks, which in turn enables ratings systems to develop to include them and advertising sales to become firmly established in this environment.”  According to Cottrell, Poland and Hungary have built strong advertising markets, enabling both domestic and international channels to get involved in ad sales, which also allows new channels to enter the market.Marketing is also increasingly key to building a channel’s presence on a country-by-country basis. KidsCo, for example, has already engaged in joint marketing initiatives with platforms including Akado, Orion (Russia), Toya (Poland), Romtelecom (Romania) and DSmart (Turkey). For the latter, the channel has made some films with a child psychologist based at the Tavistock Centre in London on the impact of media on child development. “We also launched a breakfast sequence in central and eastern Europe in April taking the key shows based on video game characters and aggregating them into a breakfast show package,” says KidsCo’s Robinson.In order to give KidsCo greater flexibility, Robinson recently set up an in-house distribution team of five (the channel was previously sold through shareholder NBC Universal). “By having our own team we can focus on achieving our objectives although we will continue to work with NBC,” he says.Robinson believes that the kids market has become more competitive, with stronger competition from the likes of Disney in particular, as well as from local players and international providers including the BBC. “Our strategy has been to be complementary. We are sticking to our proposition of targeting six-to-ten year-old boys and girls and giving them a safe environment with high-quality programming – it’s a niche that has been underserved by our competitors,” says Robinson. As the channel gains traction its buying power grows, he says – giving an international player such as KidsCo an advantage over local channels that are restricted to one particular market.One issue that faces the channel in Poland  is a growing requirement for HD. “Poland is a very advanced HD market – more than some western European countries,” says Robinson. “Poland is a special case in that sense but we are increasingly being asked for HD in other markets too.” While kids themselves are not necessarily interested in HD, the demand of operators for HD channels presents something of a dilemma to a programming genre that associates HD with high costs and few tangible commercial or creative benefits.While some channels seem ripe for localization in depth, other providers prefer to rely on the strength of their existing content libraries. So far BBC Worldwide has held back from local production and acquisition, preferring to market itself on the basis of access to the BBC’s vast library of content. McDonough says the group has “an ambition to do [local production] – but not at this stage”. In the future, he says, it is possible that the company will look at exporting formats that have worked well in the UK and developing them in particular territories.Non-linear distributionThe impetus towards greater localization is one sign of the growing maturity of the markets of central and eastern Europe. The time when international channel providers could simply pitch up with a proposition and expect to win carriage on distribution platforms is long past, but the degree of sophistication required of content providers’ offerings is rapidly converging with the demands of platform operators in more highly developed pay TV markets. Channels are increasingly bringing not only localized linear feeds to the party, but also local content, joint marketing initiatives with distributors, and non-linear content to complement the main channel.Led by forward-looking companies including UPC Broadband, video-on-demand has been gaining traction across CEE as cable operators and a few IPTV players try to upsell their subscribers to digital services.As far as non-linear distribution is concerned, BBC Worldwide has delivered video-on-demand programming to UPC in Poland. While the BBC has yet to announce which international territories will be targeted for its forthcoming international iPlayer service, McDonough says that “over-the-top is not something we are really looking at in this stage”. In central and eastern Europe, he says, the group still has a lot of work to do to catch up with more established international players in securing linear distribution for its channels with pay TV operators. BBC Worldwide is open to launching branded blocks – it has just launched a Cbeebies block on the Canal Plus Family premium channel in the Nordic market – but McDonough says that for much of the central and eastern Europe region, the story will be one of securing carriage on basic cable and on the basic tier of DTH services. “We are still at an early stage in our development and there are lots of basic cable and DTH [platforms] we should be launching on before we get into [premium],” he says.Like most channel providers, AETN believes that online and non-linear distribution only makes sense in partnership with a pay TV operator. “We are lucky to have a broad rights ownership situation across most of our shows,” says Davidson. “Compared to some of the other entertainment-focused channels we own most of the rights because most of the content is produced by our parent in the US, and we have been able to give consumers a lot more ability to access non-linear content. Demand has increased significantly when it comes to VOD particularly.”This is also a view taken by KidsCo, which plans to introduce its VOD-based recommendation engine MyKidsCo soon. KidsCo already has one deal in the pipeline with a European cable operator. “It will launch this summer and we are very excited about that,” says Robinson. “I think personalization is a trend that’s not going to go away.” However, he says, the company is currently not actively negotiating to launch this service in central and eastern Europe.On the premium side, HBO Central Europe is rolling out its recently launched HBO Go service in the region on a market-by-market basis, initially in Poland, followed by Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and, most recently, Hungary. HBO aims to make its services available across multiple platforms, including tablets and other internet-connected devices as well as PCs.Adult specialist Marc Dorcel meanwhile has invested significant amounts in developing adult 3D content – ?1.5 million to date – but Gregory Dorcel says that there are relatively few operators in central and eastern Europe geared up for this type of content yet. “We do not believe that 3D suits for a linear consumption. We prefer to reserve it for the premium universe in our SVOD offer,” says Dorcel. “First, for comfort reasons, our clips have a maximal length of 30 minutes. Then 3D remains an exceptional experience.” The company launched its 3D SVOD offer in November 2010 in France for ?30 a month and has attracted few thousands subs on each of the platforms where it is available.The appearance of 3D services – particularly sports, thanks in part to recent efforts by Eurosport – are one more sign that the more advanced markets of central and eastern Europe (including, once again, Poland) are rapidly converging with those of the western half of the continent. In many cases, providers in these markets are already leapfrogging their peers in western European markets by launching online catch-up, multiscreen and 3D services. It is true that the socio-economic profile of the region remains significantly apart from western Europe, with a much larger proportion of very low-income households for which pay TV services are either likely to remain out of reach or for whom specific low-cost or pre-paid offering must be tailored. Nevertheless there is also clearly a sizeable demographic for which such advanced services are increasingly attractive.last_img read more

Cordcutting may be ubiquitous in headlines but t

Cordcutting may be ubiquitous in headlines but t

first_imgCord-cutting may be ubiquitous in headlines, but the reality is not quite so cut-and-dried, claims a new report.According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, cord-cutting primarily depends on local market conditions.One of the major findings of the report is that cord-cutting is not taking place right across the board in Europe and is very specific to national markets. Each national market has been and is still shaped by very specific conditions, often growing from pay audiovisual services, including purchasing power, supply of free services, penetration and performance of broadband access, and regulation.The report claims that  due to the specific convergence of market factors, both pay-TV and SVOD uptakes and market shares paint a very different picture from one country to another as well as from one player to another. The European Audiovisual Observatory says that this is the result of a strong granularity of pay AV services’ market strategies.The report concludes that while cord-cutting is one of the pay AV services market realities in Europe, it is not the only one and is largely dependent on the national market conditions of a highly diverse European pay AV services landscape.Elsewhere, the report also found that Netflix, Comcast and Liberty Global are leading the European pay AV services market in terms of subscriptions. Combined, they controlled a third of all EU subscriptions to pay AV services in 2017. Almost one in three pay-TV subscriptions were signed off either to Liberty Global (UPC, Ziggo, Virgin TV, Telenet, Unitymedia TV) or Comcast (Sky), while Netflix and Amazon alone accounted for almost 80% of the SVOD subscriptions in the EU.last_img read more

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first_imgShareTweet Otwarcie wystawy: piątek 23/01/2015 o godz. 19.00!!! SERDECZNIE ZAPRASZAMY!An exhibition of Derry’s cultural diversity has been captured in a series of photographs taken by Polish artists who have made the city their home.The Polish Abroad Photo Exhibition will be launched tonight at the Cascade Gallery, Waterside Theatre at 7pm and is open to the public. exhibitionPolish AbroadWaterside Theatre POLISH ABROAD EXHIBITION OPENS TONIGHT IN DERRY was last modified: January 22nd, 2015 by John2John2 Tags:  Work in partnership with other community and charity organizations, Their Representatives and officials as well as other relevant organisations and agencies that formulate and implement strategies that constructive Encourage the promotion of the Polish community in the North West of Northern Ireland. Raise awareness among the wider community of the needs and rights and the contribution of the Polish Community in the interest of community relations in the North West. Bring together members of the Polish community that develop and advance their arts, culture and heritage. Advance the education of the Polish community in the North West by providing educational opportunities.POLISH ABROAD PHOTO EXHIBITION OPENS TONIGHT 7PM AT THE WATERSIDE THEATRE AND ARTS CENTRE, GLENDERMOTT ROAD.The Exhibition runs from January 23rd -February 6th.*The Waterside Theatre has called on any artists who would be interested in exhibiting their work in Cascade Gallery (32 metres of hanging space using the Boyer Picture Hanging System) at the Waterside Theatre please ring 02871 314000 or emailroisin@watersidetheatre.com to discuss. Polish Abroad is a non-profit community group established in 2008 in Derry-Londonderry supporting the Polish community in the North West.The aims of the group include:Contribute to the advancement of citizenship and community development through social, cultural and educational projects undertaken either independently or together with organizations sharing the same objectives. This exhibition will be an opportunity to see Derry and its environs through their eyes.Places, faces and moments captured in the frames are a manifestation of their personal experiences and a way to express themselves through the art of photography.Polish Abroad Photo Exhibition is a project funded through Derry City Council Support Grant.The Polish community in Derry City Council Area is one of the largest BME communities which over the last decade has added hugely to the cultural variety and richness of the City.last_img read more