Foreign ministers from across Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador are set to meet in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Tuesday to hammer out an action plan for an estimated 3,000 Cuban migrants blocked from entering Nicaragua on their way to the United States. Cuba was invited to participate but had yet to confirm on Monday.Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González, along with Immigration Director Kathya Rodríguez, will travel to San Salvador Tuesday morning to meet with counterparts at an airport Quality Inn to hash out a plan for what to do with the thousands of Cubans stuck at the Costa Rican-Nicaragua border since Nov. 15.“This is not just a problem for Costa Rica or even Central America – it’s a problem for all the countries on this migratory corridor,” González said during a news conference Monday.Costa Rica has proposed a “humanitarian corridor” through Central American that would allow the migrants — who are arriving in Costa Rica at a rate of nearly 300 daily – to pass freely through the region with temporary transit visas. González said Costa Rica would present this option but was open to hearing solutions from other countries.Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez has yet to confirm his attendance at the meeting Tuesday but previously had met with representatives from Nicaragua and Ecuador.“I hope – and not naively – that these contacts between Cuba and Ecuador and Cuba and Nicaragua could facilitate a possible solution, what with the influence Cuba has with Nicaragua,” González said.Cuban migrants have been leaving the island in exponentially larger numbers during the last several years and especially this year, amid loosened travel restrictions and fears that rapprochement between the U.S. and the island’s government could lead to a change in the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy. Under current U.S. law, Cubans who reach U.S. soil can declare asylum and apply for permanent residency after one year.After facing a first migrant overflow on its southern border with Panama, Costa Rica started issuing seven-day transit visas for Cuban migrants with the intention that they would quickly pass through Costa Rica and on to Nicaragua. On Monday, Casa Presidencial announced that the visas would be extended to 15 days.Besides extending the temporary visas for Cuban migrants, Costa Rica has continued to establish shelters, provide food, water, health care and even music and other forms of entertainment for the waylaid migrants. According to the National Emergency Commission, 1,996 Cubans are staying in 11 different shelters in La Cruz, Upala and Liberia, in northern Costa Rica. Another three have been set up in anticipation of 470 more migrants. Costa Rica renueva visa temporal a migrantes cubanos por 15 días más. Personal de Migración facilita este proceso. pic.twitter.com/A59z9yURBa— Casa Presidencial CR (@presidenciacr) November 24, 2015 Foreign Minister González said he is cautiously optimistic about the meeting but that the “humanitarian crisis” must be resolved as soon as possible.“All of these countries have been aware of this problem for years, have signed documents and resolutions. But this has stayed on paper, not in actions,” González said. “The time has arrived.” Facebook Comments Related posts:President Solís, church leaders discuss Cuban migrant crisis Cuban migrants spend a month in camps as regional leaders fail to reach solution Central American countries agree to safe passage for Cuban migrants marooned in Costa Rica Costa Rica declares ‘success’ after first airlift of Cuban migrants
Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation The Cardinals, who enter Thursday night’s nationally-televised game as one of only three unbeaten teams in the league, have clear areas for improvement in this game. Of course, the running game has been an issue for Arizona. Despite their 4-0 record, the Cardinals rank 29th in the NFL in rushing (68.0 yards per game). After giving up eight sacks in their win over Miami, the Cardinals are tied for 30th in the league in that category.In addition to the challenge of improving in those areas this Thursday against the St. Louis Rams, Whisenhunt is concerned with the truncated preparation schedule. “There’s a fine line between doing enough to get prepared and also making sure you give (the players) enough rest, because the game will be on us fast,” he said.To make things even more interesting for the Cardinals is the fact that they’re the road team.“The biggest challenge is us having to fly, I think,” wide receiver Andre Roberts said. “For us and St. Louis, we both have two days to prepare, or three days if you count Wednesday, but we’re the ones flying, so that’s probably the biggest challenge for us.”Roberts’ comments seem to have at least some validity. Road teams are 17-27 in Thursday night contests since they became a regular part of the schedule in 2006. D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Defensive end Calais Campbell doesn’t seem to think the change in the calendar is a big deal.“Usually by the time Thursday comes, I’m ready for the game to be here already,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting.” What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Comments Share Top Stories The last time the Arizona Cardinals played on a Thursday, it was pretty much a debacle from start to finish.Brian Westbrook scored three first-half touchdowns and four total as the Philadelphia Eagles completely embarrassed the Cardinals 48-20 on Thanksgiving night, 2008.“I hope we do better a better job this time, it didn’t go so well for us last time on Thursday night,” Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday. “We’ve got a schedule that we feel pretty good about, so the challenge for us is working on things that we need to improve on.”
Categories: McCready News 16Jan McCready to chair Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education Legislator to serve as vice chair of appropriations subcommittees for Human Services, Licensing and Regulatory ReformState Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, this week was appointed to chair the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education in the 98th Legislature.“Balancing a multi-billion dollar budget is no simple feat, but I’m eager to assist the process in my appropriations roles,” McCready said. “Properly and responsibly funding important aspects of state government is always a challenge, but I am prepared to work with my colleagues to make the best decisions for Michigan.”The second-term Oakland County lawmaker will also serve as vice chair of the appropriations subcommittees on the Department of Human Services and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Reform. The representative will serve on the House Committee on Appropriations and as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Police.In addition to his appropriations positions, McCready will be a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.“Making our roads safe for Michigan families and reliable for our state’s economy has always been a top priority of mine,” McCready said. “I hope to continue the work we began last term to truly reform road funding in the Great Lakes State.”Michiganders of the 40th District are welcome to contact McCready’s legislative office in Lansing by phone at 517-373-8670, via email at MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov or through his website at RepMcCready.com.###
Categories: Chatfield News 30Oct Rep. Chatfield sponsors office hours State Rep. Lee Chatfield invites residents of Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet and Mackinac counties to join him during local office hours for the months of November and December.“I made a commitment to remain accessible during my time in office,” Rep. Chatfield said. “I am proud my staff and I will have fulfilled that promise by holding 36 consecutive monthly office hours. I encourage everyone to attend.”The schedule for office hours is as follows:Friday, Nov. 109 to 10 a.m. at Alice’s Restaurant, 116 S. Main St. in Cheboygan; and10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Levering Café, 5707 U.S. 31 North in Levering.Monday, Dec. 189 to 10 a.m. at The Driftwood Restaurant, 590 N. State St. in St. Ignace; and11 to noon at Cup of the Day, 406 Ashmun St. in Sault Ste. Marie.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 email@example.com or through his website at www.RepChatfield.com.
28Feb Rep. Reilly’s plan updates how early retirement, survivors benefits are calculated for state employees and judges Categories: News,Reilly News Rep. John Reilly today testified in support of legislation to modernize how retirement benefits for judges and state employees are calculated in the event of early retirement or for survivors after a death.Reilly, of Oakland, said current law uses outdated mortality tables and assumptions to help determine benefits. The legislative package he helps sponsor would eliminate outdated assumptions about rates of return on retirement system investments to better reflect today’s reality.“People are living longer, and we must update state law to make sure early retirees and survivors receive accurate and adequate benefits,” Reilly said after testifying for the House Financial Liability Reform Committee. “If we don’t make these adjustments now, we run the risk of critically underfunding these retirement systems. Under the current system, we are essentially gambling with taxpayers’ money, and we must end that practice before it’s too late.”Reilly’s bill is part of a legislative package that would require the state to consult with an actuary and use current mortality tables to determine equivalent retirement benefits in cases of early retirement or for survivors after a death.The state now uses mortality tables from 1983 to determine those benefits. Average life expectancy has increased more than four years since 1983.The legislation remains under consideration in the committee. ###Reilly’s legislation is House Bill 5652. The other bill in the package is House Bill 5653.
Categories: News,Noble News 08Mar Rep. Noble supports bills to protect underage sex crime victims in schools State Rep. Jeff Noble today voted in support of legislation to help local school districts better protect students who are underage victims of sex crimes.The three-bill package, which Noble helped sponsor, requires schools to permanently expel students who are convicted of criminal sexual conduct against another pupil enrolled in the same school district; prohibits an expelled student from attending another public school in Michigan unless they go through a reinstatement process; and, if a personal protection order is ordered for the victim of sexual assaults, the offender would be prohibited from entering the victim’s school.“All victims of criminal sexual conduct deserve protection,” said Noble, of Northville. “No teenage survivor should ever have to change schools to avoid being in the same classroom with their assailant. Unfortunately, Michigan did not provide the protection we expect for underage victims and we need to make that change.”Currently, a school is only required to expel a student who commits a sex crime on school grounds. The legislation was prompted by a recent Livingston County case where a 16-year-old was convicted of criminal sexual conduct against multiple victims as young as 12 off of school grounds.“We have to work together to ensure we are safeguarding all our students,” Noble said. “Anyone who commits criminal sexual conduct is a threat to school communities and needs to be dealt with seriously.”House Bills 5530, 5531 and 5532 advance to the Senate for its consideration.#####
The Michigan House today gave final legislative approval to Rep. David Maturen’s plan providing equity related to a tax charged when people sell real estate.A seller whose home has lost value generally does not have to pay Michigan’s real estate transfer tax. Maturen’s legislation would extend the same exemption to someone who bought vacant land, builds a house, and then sells the house.It’s a relatively rare occurrence not adequately addressed in current state law, Maturen said.“People who buy homes and people who build homes should be on the same footing when it comes to the real estate transfer tax,” said Maturen, of Vicksburg. “This legislation provides equal footing for all sellers who have lost value in a home.”The legislation allows a property’s original state equalized value to be determined at the time a certificate of occupancy is issued for the residence. The home must qualify for a principal residence exemption.House Bill 4643 advances to Gov. Rick Snyder for his consideration.### 29May Rep. Maturen’s bill addressing fairness with the real estate transfer tax approved by Legislature Categories: Maturen News,News
Share34TweetShareEmail34 SharesOctober 7, 2015; Sacramento BeeNPQ recently promised to track how nonprofits were involved in the pricing of pharmaceuticals, so here is another twist. Three pharmaceutical companies have “donated” more than $10 million to a nonprofit trade association to defeat the Drug Price Relief Act, a ballot measure in California that would impose price controls on drug purchases funded by the state.The proposal would require that the state not pay more for drug purchases than the prices paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure would exert controls on a billion-dollar market that includes prison healthcare, Medi-Cal, and CalPERS managed care plans.The three companies who made such a generous gift last week, even before the net impact of the initiative was fully estimated, to the 501(c)(6) business league known as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, are:Johnson & Johnson, which has donated $5.8 million;Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has donated $2.9 million; andPurdue Pharma, which has donated $1.1 million.There is less money on the side supporting the proposal, spearheaded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has raised only $1.25 million to support their work. These supporters must collect a total of 365,880 signatures in the next three weeks to have the initiative qualify for the November 2016 ballot.—Ruth McCambridgeShare34TweetShareEmail34 Shares
Share53TweetShare16Email69 SharesBy Jim Pickerell, 1936-, Photographer (NARA record: 4588217) (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNovember 22, 2016; NPRA federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction stopping the imposition of changes to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The long-anticipated changes, which had been scheduled to take effect December 1, would require paying overtime to most workers making less than $47,476 a year, roughly double the current wage threshold.U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III, appointed by President Obama, ruled in favor of two sets of plaintiffs in two separate cases – one brought by business interests and one brought by 21 states – that were combined in his court. The 20-page order granting the injunction found that the U.S. Labor Department likely attempted to do by administrative rule something that requires Congressional action. The judge wrote that “[t]he State Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits because the Final Rule exceeds the Department’s authority.”Fortune magazine quoted from the order in its reporting that “The Fair Labor Standards Act says that employees can be exempt from overtime if they perform executive, administrative or professional duties, but the rule ‘creates essentially a de facto salary-only test.’”The Obama administration has the option of appealing the preliminary injunction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and it’s possible that the appeals court could remove the preliminary injunction. However, even if the appeals court were so inclined (and that’s not a sure thing, given the court’s conservative reputation and its anti-administration rulings on executive actions and immigration), the calendar is not working in the administration’s favor. December 1st is only eight days away. Donald Trump has promised to halt execution of many Obama administration executive orders. Moreover, the incoming Congress would likely move legislation such as that introduced by Democrats last summer – legislation President Trump may well sign – modifying and delaying implementation of the FLSA’s overtime provisions. Republicans in Congress could even go so far as to pass legislation specifically restricting the Labor Department’s rule-making authority in setting wage thresholds for overtime pay.NPQ has discussed the overtime rule and its moral and financial implications for nonprofits many times. Judge Mazzant’s order does not pass judgment on whether more workers should receive overtime pay; it only says that Congress, not a Cabinet department, is likely the appropriate venue to make major changes on the matter of who is eligible for overtime pay and how eligibility is calculated under existing law. – Michael WylandShare53TweetShare16Email69 Shares
Share32TweetShareEmail32 SharesProtest at Whitehaven Coal AGM / Kate AusburnJuly 9, 2018; Energy News The story is familiar: Factories leave, farms mechanize, mines close, and the community suffers and shrinks. Finding a new economic engine that can provide jobs, power the tax base, and keep the kids from leaving is a daunting task in today’s rural America. Fortunately, that’s the focus of the Just Transition Fund (“the Fund”), at least for communities hit hard by the energy transition from coal—first in Appalachia, and now in the Midwest and beyond.Three forces are responsible for a tsunami of job losses from closed mines and the shutdown of more than 130 coal-powered plants since 2015: 1) the declining cost of producing natural gas, 2) a regulatory environment that makes it more expensive for electric power generators to use coal, and 3) weak international demand. Appalachia has endured 82 percent of the nation’s coal job losses, losing 33,500 mining jobs between 2011 and 2016; coal production has fallen by nearly 45 percent in this span. Farther west, where the Power River Basin of Wyoming and Montana has historically provided 40 percent of the country’s coal, a flurry of coal mining company bankruptcies has meant widespread job and tax base loss. Mining communities in central and southern Illinois are hard hit as well.Both internationally and in the US, the new field of just economic transition is taking hold, and the Just Transition Fund is in the forefront of marshalling financial, technical, and political resources to support these communities in transition. Created in 2015 to enable community groups to quickly respond to the Obama administration’s POWER Initiative, JTF was seeded with $450,000 from the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Appalachian Funders Network, and six national and regional foundation partners. Just weeks after its doors opened, 54 applicants submitted proposals requesting over $1.3 million in new federal funds to help coalfield and coal plant-impacted communities better prepare for economic transition. To date, the Fund’s grants have helped inject nearly $19 million in federal funds to undergird and scale community-driven economic transition projects. Now this funder has expanded its mission to more broadly address the coal community transition movement. In the past year, the Fund and its partners received $3 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and a $1 million donation from Google to support their work.The Just Transition Fund sees itself as a philanthropic hybrid, both a grantmaker and nonprofit innovator. Its values and beliefs are crystal clear—that the affected communities have the wisdom and power to solve their own problems; that they need the resources, supports, and connections to make marked change; and that it’s neither solely the economy or the environment, but both.The Fund’s investments encompass a diverse set of strategies for communities hit by coal mine and coal plant closures:For the Coalfield Development Corporation in Wayne, West Virginia, to launch new businesses in real estate development, construction, wood working, agriculture, and artisan trades with former coal miners at the helm;For Rural Action in Plains, Ohio, to do a feasibility study for the Appalachian Ohio Solar Supply Chain Initiative and attract component manufacturing jobs to the region;For the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York in Buffalo, New York, to launch a labor-business-government-community effort to redevelop the region after the Huntley Coal Plant closes; andFor the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Flagstaff, Arizona, to enable the Navaho Nation to do community engagement around building sustainable economic development opportunities, particularly after the shutdown of the Black Mesa Mine.With more than 45 partners/grantees, the Just Transition Fund is truly acting as a hub for the economic transition movement and providing a viable vehicle for philanthropic engagement in the economic development challenges of our time.—Deborah WarrenShare32TweetShareEmail32 Shares
Telecom Italia has partnered with TV technology company Technicolor to help with the launch of its next generation Cubovision service, which will merge traditional pay TV content, over-the-top applications and personal media.The telco will use Technicolor’s MediaPlay set-top box platform, a hybrid pay TV/OTT media server that offers multiroom video distribution over wireless networks. Technicolor will also deliver its MediaAccess residential service gateways, which deliver high-speed bandwidth and optimised wireless for content and applications distribution within the home.The company will also provide content workflow and asset management, supporting the video infrastructure for the CuboVision offering.Michel Rahier, president of Technicolor’s connected home division, said: “This partnership with Telecom Italia demonstrates Technicolor’s ability to integrate value added video devices, software and services to deliver consumers with a leading-edge connected home experience. We are very excited to leverage these solid foundations to accompany services providers in bringing innovative services packages to themarket.”
MTV and Nickelodeon owner Viacom has seen revenues fall 6% year-on-year in its second quarter results, but is planning to invest more in original content across its improving TV channels business.Q2 revenues to March 31, 2013, were US$3.14 billion compared with US$3.31 billion in 2012, on top of operating income down 9% at US$847 million. The dips were attributed to the company’s film unit, Paramount Pictures.However, its media networks division – which houses MTV, Nick, Comedy Central among other US channels and Viacom International Media Networks – increased revenues by 2% to US$2.23 billion.Viacom will target more original productions across its channel bouquet – especially on networks with new share growth potential such as Spike TV, BET, CMT and Comedy Central, said Viacom’s chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman in an investor call with analysts.“We think there’s a big opportunity in some of those networks, which capture more share in demos where we have not traditionally had a big market share. So this is an incremental opportunity for us and one that we want to invest in.”Elsewhere, Dauman said the company was still open to a new deal with Netflix, despite the streaming service’s CEO Reed Hastings saying this week he was open to letting the agreement expire in favour of targeted programming acquisitions and more original content.Analysts have often put the popularity of Nick shows on Netflix as a key reason behind ratings falls in recent years, though the channel was 9% up YOY this quarter, according to Dauman. “We’re open to licensing content – some on an exclusive basis and some on a non-exclusive basis,” he added.Meanwhile, Viacom repurchased 11.7 million shares as part of its stock repurchase programme, at a cost of US$700 million.
Liberty Global has appointed the managing director of UPC Ireland, Dana Strong, as the next chief operating officer of Virgin Media. Strong is due to replace current Virgin Media COO Andrew Barron, who is leaving to “pursue new opportunities,” said Liberty. She is due to take up the post on July 1.Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global, said: “Dana has over 20 years of experience in the media industry and has been an integral member of the Liberty Global family for 14 years. She has a proven track record of delivering profitable growth and customer service excellence to the operations she’s led in Australiaand Ireland.”Strong will be replaced at UPC Ireland by Magnus Ternsjö, who is MD of Liberty Global’s Central European DTH satellite television business covering Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. However she will remain chairman of UPC Ireland.The announcement follows the recent appointment of UPC Netherlands MD, Robert Dunn, as Virgin Media’s next chief finance officer, and former News International chief executive Tom Mockridge as Virgin’s new CEO, who replace Eamonn O’Hare and Neil Berkett, respectively. Both will take up their roles after Liberty Completes its buyout of Virgin Media, which is due to happen by the end of this month.Neil Berkett, the outgoing boss of Virgin Media, will become chair of publishing group Guardian Media Group when his tenure at the UK cable company ends later this month, it was announced yesterday.GMG owns a range of UK media businesses. It is best known as the owner of loss-making UK quality newspaper The Guardian.
Sweden’s Svensk Filmindustri has launched a subscription on-demand service offering its library of classic kids titles and third-party programming.SF Kids Play launches on February 29, offering a monthly subscription at SEK59. All programming is available streamed or offline as a download.Programming includes titles from the Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, Saltkråkan and Pettson & Findus brands, and acquired shows such as Rory the Racecar, Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking, Thomas and Friends and Chuggington.Films and short-form content will also be offered, and parental controls will allow content to be blocked if necessary.The move is another example of content companies going direct-to-consumer in a bid to monetise their libraries and connect with audiences.We have a well-filled treasure chest with movies and series that have been packaged into a new concept for the digital world, and it feels great to be able to offer this to families with children in Sweden,” said SF CEO Jonas Fors.“The range of entertainment for children online is great, but what has so far been lacking is a safe corner with a mix of classics and news,” he added.Customers are being offered a month of SF Kids Play free of charge, a model most SVOD services have adopted.SF is one of Sweden’s oldest media group, having been founded in 1919. It now operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, and operates in TV, film and international distribution.
Liberty Global-owned UPC Slovakia has launched the group’s advanced TV offering Horizon.The service will offer a new user interface, internet TV services, seven-day catch-up TV and the MyPrime video-on-demand service with 1,600 titles available.UPC Slovakia already offers the mobile version of Horizon, Horizon Go, which has been available in the country since May last year.The full Horizon offering will provide over 170 channels, with a unified guide and search capability.The seven-day catch-up service includes 40 channels, of which 19 are HD services.Via Horizon Go, content is viewable on three mobile devices simultaneously. Horizon Go users have access to 80 channels, including 22 in HD.The Horizon platform will be immediately available to subscribers with new Kaon 700 HD boxes. Other customers will be able to upgrade to a new HD MediaBox specifically designed for Horizon, according to the company.Martin Miller, acting CEO of UPC in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, said that the offering would be expanded in the future to include additional services.
PlayStation VRSony has committed to making a variety of content “beyond gaming” following the global launch last week of its PlayStation VR headset.Speaking at MIPCOM this morning, the president and CEO of Sony Corporation, Kazuo Hirai, said that Sony is well positioned to set trends in virtual reality – both by providing an “entirely new gaming experience” and by offering other kinds of content.“We have paid close attention to audience reaction to early VR exposure and intend to respond with a variety of content beyond gaming. Across Sony, our content divisions are working on VR entertainment as we seek to grow the industry,” said Hirai.The firm has already developed VR experiences based on Sony Pictures Entertainment produced or distributed films The Walk, Goosebumps and Ghostbusters, and Sony Music is now developing a VR music experience with EDM artist Kygo.“VR provides us all an exciting and new creative frontier. We want you to share in our excitement about the possibility of VR to your respective businesses and to imagine the possibility as VR moves beyond games – to television, live sporting events, awe-inspiring documentaries and of course B2B applications as well,” said Hirai.“The perspective of my 32 years in this business tells me that there is no limit to what is possible if you stay tuned to the sensibilities and interests of the consumers and you understand where they’re going.”Hirai, who spent 10 years at Sony Music and another 15 at Sony’s PlayStation division before being appointed CEO in 2012, said that an important aspect of his strategy is to create ‘one Sony’.Under his management, Sony executives from the entertainment and electronics sides of the company meet twice a year to discuss business issues – an initiative Hirai said resulted in the development of PlayStation VR.“We just need to make sure that all the various businesses are talking to each other, sharing information and, where necessary, when it works for everybody involved, do something together,” said Hirai.In his keynote the executive also highlighted the importance of ‘kando’ – a Japanese term that refers to emotional involvement – as a means to determine both what the company should do, and why it should do it.“By sharing your ideas, we can identify or develop new technologies from state of the art cameras to improved and flexible delivery of formats that fully render what’s possible,” said Hirai.“In this multiplatform, multichannel world, viewer preferences are as personal and individual as they are. This is why our efforts over the past few years have been focused both on providing entertainment experiences that elicit ‘kando’.”Sony last week launched PlayStation VR – a headset that plugs into PlayStation 4 consoles. As well as an extensive line-up of games, there are also a number of VR video apps and experience that have already either launched or been unveiled.https://www.digitaltveurope.com/613642/sony-unveils-ps-vr-content-ahead-of-tomorrows-launch/
Tele Columbus CEO and chairman, Ronny Verhelst.Germany’s number three cable operator Tele Columbus has unveiled its new advanced TV service ahead of a commercial launch of the service in January.The service, called simply advanceTV, is based on the Comcast-driven RDK platform. Espial provided the user experience and acted as lead integrator. Cisco provides conditional access technology, with Verimatrix providing DRM for on-demand services. VOD encoding and origin server are supplied by Elemental, while set-top boxes are being provided by Humax.The 4K UHD TV-enabled IP video service will include integrated access to ProSiebenSAT.1’s SVOD service Maxdome. This will be offered as part of two bundles – HD Maxdome Plus and Maxdome Flat.In addition to Maxdome, advanceTV will provide DVR, a set of web apps and multiscreen access.Speaking to Digital TV Europe ahead of the launch, Jeff Huppertz, vice-president of marketing and business development at Espial, said that the service would include a simple user-friendly interface that will enable users to navigate direct to recordings as well as sarch for content online and on Tele Columbus’s managed VOD platform.Huppertz said that one challenging aspect of Tele Columbus’s implementation of advanced TV services was that a number of parts of its network in eastern Germany are still being upgraded.“We had to, as Espial and other technology providers, to design in the capability to work well in one way networks,” said Huppertz. He said that Espial had added enhancements to RDK, which was designed with two-way networks in mind, to enable data carousel delivery of services.Huppertz said that future customers of RDK would be able to take advantage of these enhancements.The service is multiscreen-enabled, with the box acting as a gateway. Espial developed and provided the client software for Android and iOS devices.The app store, supplied in partnership with Metrological, will will include Vimeo, Flickr, DailyMotion, Google Maps, Wikipedia, wetter.com, Deezer, TuneIn and Deutsche Welle among other services from launch.The Humax-supplied set-top, in addition to being 4K UHD-enabled, comes with four integrated tuners and a 1TB hard drive. Up to two devices can be served with streams by the box at the same time.Tele Columbus is deploying the service across the Primacom and Pepcom networks it acquired over the last couple of years as well as its own network.“Our strategy is to deliver an unsurpassed video experience to German subscribers. We see the fragmentation OTT services are driving into the marketplace and resolved to provide a compelling one-stop shop for the widest range of content available to any cable connection in Germany: 4K TV, VOD, Maxdome SVOD, a rich universe of web apps, and timeshift viewing via an integrated DVR,” said Ronny Verhelst, CEO of Tele Columbus Group.“Espial has proven to be an exceptional integration and solution partner, and we’re excited to deploy advanceTV beginning next month.”
Sports and talent management outfit IMG has launched an OTT TV service for Serie A football in Spanish-speaking Latin America and Brazil.Serie A Pass, which costs US$8.99 (€7.85) a month or US$59.99 a year, launched on Saturday with the start of the new Italian football season. The OTT TV service will include coverage of all live games, match replays and additional magazine and archive programming across 21 countries in the region.The offering will be available ion desktop, tablet and mobile and via apps on iOS and Android devices including Chromecast and Apple Airplay.Serie A is expected to have strong appeal across the region this season, following Juventus’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and the emergence of new owners committed to investing more money in clubs, according to IMG.As part of the launch, IMG has invested in producing graphics and promos for the service along with three magazine programmes – Inside Serie A, Serie A – Full Impact and The Serie A Highlights Show.South American players in Serie A include Inter’s Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martinez, Milan’s Gonzalo Higuain and Lucas Biglia, Juventus’ Paulo Dybala, AS Roma’s Federico Fazio and Diego Perotti, Fiorentina’s Giovanni Simeone and Atalanta’s Alejandro Gomez.The launch of IMG’s service follows a deal between IMG and ESPN two weeks ago covering the US market. The Disney-owned broadcaster will show 340 matches per season on its new ESPN+ OTT TV service.IMG secured the global marketing rights to Serie A last year, usurping previous holder MP & Silva. The company recently took a minority stake in two channels launched by Eleven Sports to distribute Serie A in the UK.
More than 30% of French internet users watched a subscription video-on-demand service in the past year, marking a 10-point increase compared to December 2017.Netflix’s Stranger ThingsThis is according to Médiamétrie’s latest SVOD barometer, which estimated that 13.6 million French people watch series, films, documentaries or cartoons via an SVOD service.The research said that people are both becoming more aware of SVOD and are becoming more avid viewers of these streaming services. Half of French people can now name an SVOD service, up 19-points in just six months, while eight in ten SVOD viewers watch programmes every week.Half of SVOD users said that they spend between one and two hours per day on these services. The most ardent 28% of viewers used them for between two and three hours per day.Médiamétrie said that Netflix is the most popular SVOD service in France, followed by Amazon Prime Video and Canalplay, but it did not break out user number estimates per platform.Series, spanning genres like comedy, action, thriller, science-fiction and fantasy, were found to be the “star content” of SVOD, especially among younger audiences. Some 90% of SVOD users aged 15-34 watch series, while 87% of people aged 35 and older watch films on SVOD platforms.“Money Heist, followed by 13 Reasons Why, then Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, The Walking Dead and Grey’s Anatomy are the series that SVOD users were most attracted to during the last 12 months,” according to the research.“The ranking is clearly dominated by US series, except for the Spanish series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel in the original language) which will have left a lasting impression this year. Local programmes are playing their hand well: Six out of 10 SVOD users attach importance to the French catalogue available on the platforms.”
Insight TV has expanded its coverage in Russia after striking a deal with ER-Telecom’s Dom.ru network.Insight TV’s 4K UHD channel is now available to operator Dom.ru’s digital TV viewers with Ultra HD-capable equipment.“Russia is an important region for us and we’re pleased to partner with ER-Telecom to bring our content to a greater number of viewers there,” said Insight TV’s chief commercial officer, Graeme Stanley.“This deal further underscores our huge growth in the past 12 months and our commitment to delivering immersive, 4K UHD content worldwide.”Separately, Insight TV has selected Technicolor HDR technologies to up, down and cross-convert its existing UHD content library to provide high dynamic range.Technicolor’s senior vice-president, head of HDR program, Kirk Barker, said: “After several comparison tests, Insight TV has, like many other customers, selected our dynamic conversion and distribution technologies, Technicolor HDR ITM and Technicolor HDR, to produce and deliver the best possible SDR and HDR quality for each individual image to any end-user display.”Insight TV technical director, Gavin Ho, said: “We deliver our unique immersive content to networks and platforms around the world and it’s essential that we meet all their technical requirements, while ensuring the highest possible quality of our content in SDR and HDR, UHD and HD.”