President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday he will meet next week with the Special Representative of UN Secretary General in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar to assess the prospects for the resumption of the settlement talks.Anastasiades, who is reportedly to contact Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci next week in a bid to resume stalled reunification talks, said that during his meeting with Spehar, they will ‘explore’ whether there are prospects that ‘could give hope for a dialogue on the correct basis, on what had been agreed’.“I will do my utmost, whatever is possible to see whether the prospects are there,” he said.His next move on the settlement talks will depend, he said, on the basis of public statements and prerequisites set out and on the stances of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey.He also urged Turkish Cypriots to realise ‘that they also need to recognise the anxiety and expectations and concerns of the victims of the invasion’.On when he is to convene the National Council, he said, this would happen ‘as long as there are some developments, before any meeting (with Akinci)’.According to daily Politis, Anastasiades plans on seeking a meeting with Akinci towards the end of next week. Media reports in the north said Akinci will agree to a meeting with AnastasiadesGovernment spokesman Nicos Christodouldies said on Friday the president will ‘engage in certain actions’ after meeting party chiefs. He said the meeting will take place soon but did not disclose what the actions would be.Turkish Cypriot daily Detay, said that despite the hardline rhetoric used by the Turkish side on the Cyprus problem, Akinci will accept an invitation from Anastasiades.It also said it was highly probable that the two leaders would be having dinner together.The UN, the daily said, is not expected to mediate for a meeting at this stage, as the aim will be to exchange views on how to proceed.Sources cited by Politis said it will take time for the two leaders to find common ground due to lack of trust, but also because thorough preparation is necessary before a new conference on Cyprus is convened.Finding common ground could be difficult however. Greek Cypriots want things to pick up where they left off, while the Turkish Cypriot side has been calling for a new approach.In an interview with the Athens News Agency, Anastasiades said he is determined to continue the dialogue as soon as possible, ‘at least concerning the internal aspects’.Anastasiades said he hoped he would not be faced with a similar attitude during his meeting with Akinci as the one exhibited by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said last week that new negotiations based on the same framework would be doomed.If it was up to the Greek Cypriot side he said, ‘we would not have reached the unfortunate results’ of the settlement talks last year in Switzerland.If Turkey’s positions are not known beforehand and if they are not in line with the parameters of the UN Secretary-General, a new conference on Cyprus ‘will again be led to failure’.Anastasiades stated on several occasions that the problem lies in the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot negotiating side’s refusal to compromise on the issue of Turkey’s right to intervene, and on the presence of Turkish troops on the island.Akinci has said that he is not thinking of appointing a new negotiator at the moment, as he does not want for negotiations to drag on in the same way for another 50 years. He called for a results-oriented procedure and not an open-ended one.Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary General Farhan Haq, said on Friday that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres continues to see what influence the UN can have to bring the Cyprus talks forward.“Guterres continues to be advised, including from Elizabeth Spehar who is our senior official currently dealing with the Cyprus file about all the events, and he continues to see what influence we can have to bring the talks forward,” he said. You May LikeLiverMD | SupplementTop Doctor Recommends Liver Health SolutionLiverMD | SupplementUndoDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Turkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoConcern over falling tourism numbersUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
A 34-year-old was remanded for seven days by the Paphos district court on Wednesday after he was spotted unearthing 124g of cannabis from a field in Yeroskipou.The 34-year-old was arrested at 8pm on Tuesday night by members of the drug squad who were staking out an empty field in the Yeroskipou industrial area after receiving a tip.The 34-year-old was spotted digging out of the ground a package containing 124g of cannabis, believed to have been buried in the field by another person.A sum of €380 found on the 34-year-old was confiscated. Nothing else was found during a police search of his vehicle and home.Police said that they have had multiple dealings with the 34-year-old in the past, though the suspect denied involvement in this specific case. You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoIcePopMan Notices A Strange Hole In This Lake, So He Gets A Drone, Flies It Inside And Captures ThisIcePopUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
State Rep. Julie Calley today voted to pass a multi-bill House reform plan aimed at protecting the retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees in Michigan.The plan uses recommendations from a task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year. The task force explored Michigan’s underfunded local government employee retirement systems and urged changes to help reduce unfunded liabilities, which are fast approaching $20 billion statewide.Heeding the concerns surrounding this problem and following up on recommendations supplied through the task force, the House plan calls for greater financial transparency and standardized data collection to provide an early detection system for both local governments and the state when situations of underfunding arise.“The work completed by this task force, with input from local representatives and state officials, clearly illustrated the scope of this problem,” said Calley, of Portland. “It’s important for our police officers and fire fighters that benefits promised to them are there when they need them. In some areas of the state, that is in doubt. I cast my vote on these bills to see those benefit plans funded.”The detection system outlined through the task force recommendations should lessen the chances a community approaches bankruptcy – an outcome in which a federal bankruptcy judge would determine the fate of post-employment benefits for local government retirees. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities are not meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts. The system will provide local governments with analyses so localities can act quickly to mitigate their funding issues. In addition, transparency will help residents determine the employee related liabilities of a local board.House Bills 5298 and 12 companion bills advanced to the Senate for further consideration. Categories: Calley News,News 07Dec Rep. Calley vote calls for system to avoid financial trouble at local level, protect retirees
17Jan Rep. Leutheuser: Committee post provides great opportunity to help Branch, Hillsdale counties State Rep. Eric Leutheuser will have a unique opportunity to influence a wide range of policies improving life in Branch and Hillsdale counties during the 2019-20 term in the Michigan House.Leutheuser will serve on the newly created House Ways and Means Committee. He was assigned to the post this week by House Speaker Lee Chatfield.“This committee has a special place in the process of making southern Michigan and the entire state a better place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Leutheuser, of Hillsdale. “Job providers and workers, students and teachers, doctors and patients – the Ways and Means Committee will have the opportunity to help them all through legislation moving Michigan forward.”Topics reviewed by Ways and Means could include workforce development, education, tax policy, insurance, health policy, and many others.During this two-year term, the Ways and Means Committee will be one of a select few panels with the authority to report legislation to the House floor for consideration. Reviewing proposals that previously have been considered by other House policy committees will improve debate, analysis and accountability.Leutheuser, in his third term representing the 58th House District, brings a wealth of experience to this new role. He has served on several House committees during his tenure, including a position leading the Commerce and Trade Committee during the 2017-18 session.##### Categories: Leutheuser News,News
14Mar Rep. Bollin, Michigan House: Cheers to 100 years of the American Legion Legislature celebrates historic milestoneThe Michigan House of Representatives today approved a commemorative resolution authored by state Rep. Ann Bollin, paying tribute to the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.In March 1919, after a group of American World War I soldiers gathered in France to discuss how to bring their service to their country to greater heights, the American Legion was created. Since its inception, the American Legion has been the country’s largest veterans service organization dedicated to helping veterans and the public, and preserving the American way of life.Bollin’s House Resolution 37 commemorates the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, honors America’s 19.8 million military veterans, and calls upon Michigan residents to recognize the occasion.“We will forever be in debt to the American Legion for its 100 years of many wholesome programs, services and unwavering devotion to our community’s service members and veterans,” said Bollin, of Brighton. “This is an admirable, historic milestone to celebrate, and I look forward to many more years of the Legion’s service to our state and military heroes.”The American Legion has 3 million members who have not only invested their lives serving our country, but have continued to serve after returning home from deployment. Michigan is home to 390 American Legion posts statewide.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Ann Bollin delivers a speech on the House floor Thursday regarding her resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Legion. Categories: Bollin News
Share28Tweet1Share6Email35 Shares“Jim DeMint” by Gage SkidmoreMay 2, 2017; PoliticoAs NPQ reported earlier this week, the knives were out for Jim DeMint, the former U.S. senator who resigned his seat in 2013 to become president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. As anticipated, DeMint’s forced resignation was accepted at a board meeting on Tuesday. Co-founder, trustee, and only former president Ed Feulner will take over as interim president of the $93 million 501(c)(3) foundation.The official statement from board president Thomas Saunders III, posted on the Heritage website and emailed to the foundation’s 500,000 members after the board meeting, was uncharacteristically blunt. Rather than thanking DeMint for a good job and wishing him well, Saunders said,After a comprehensive and independent review of the entire Heritage organization, the Board determined there were significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation. While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems.In his own statement, DeMint called the assessment “puzzling,” citing the board’s past praise for his work as well as steady performance bonuses for his management team and himself as part of his million-dollar compensation package. He also cited a positive independent review of Heritage Foundation’s scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania and recognition of the Heritage Foundation by Penn’s Scholarly Commons as “the 13th best managed think tank in the world in 2016.”Founded in the 1970s, Heritage reached heights of influence during the Reagan administration. Reagan himself distributed Heritage’s 20-volume, 3,000-page 1981 “Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration” at an early Cabinet meeting. Two of its authors, Bill Bennett and James Watt, became Reagan administration cabinet members. A 2016 version of “Mandate for Leadership” was produced by Heritage to aid in the Trump transition and administration.One key problem affecting DeMint was that the Heritage Foundation had strayed from its conservative think tank roots and had become too involved in dealmaking on Capitol Hill. Founding board member and former Congressman Mickey Edwards (R-OK) said, “When DeMint went in, Heritage became very political. It changed from a highly respected think tank to just a partisan tool and more ideological—more of a Tea Party organization than a think tank.” NPQ observed in 2013 that changes early in DeMint’s tenure were calling Heritage’s research integrity into question.DeMint’s intended solution to restore the foundation’s research focus included curtailing or even shuttering the foundation’s 501(c)(4) arm, Heritage Action for America, founded in 2010. The problem with this approach was that Heritage Action is headed by Michael Needham, a powerful Heritage insider who was formerly Ed Feulner’s chief of staff. The relationship between DeMint and Needham had deteriorated to the point that Needham is rumored to have thrown a chair across the room when told DeMint had changed his mind about retiring voluntarily.According to the statement, “Feulner and his successor” will work to restore the organization to being the go-to place for conservatives to find the research and policy options. The inference is that Feulner is serving in an interim capacity and that an executive search will be performed, but this is not addressed directly by Heritage. It is expected that further resignations and firings will happen as Feulner removes DeMint loyalists from the foundation’s staff.In his statement, Saunders also mentions a problem familiar to nonprofit organization leaders seeking to balance member and stakeholder transparency with the legal rights of employees.I regret not being able to let you know sooner about this change. While we were trying to resolve this matter amicably, we honored our side of the bargain to remain silent. I wanted to ensure that the Board’s decision was final before alerting you. Unfortunately, the media ran with speculation about this story before the facts could be disclosed.Needham may well end up in the foundation president’s role, or another candidate may be found, but rumors have been floated that presidential adviser and former head of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, may be in the running. Initially a high-profile Trump adviser, Bannon may have become embroiled in palace intrigue involving both Donald and Ivanka Trump as well as Jared Kushner and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. Rumors swirled earlier this year that a dignified exit strategy for Bannon was being investigated by conservative donor and activist Rebekah Mercer as well as other Bannon supporters.Bannon is a favorite of Rebekah Mercer, who serves on the Heritage board and has guided the donation of more than $1 million to Heritage in recent years. Through her family’s foundation (of which she is the sole officer), Mercer is also a major donor and board member of Bannon’s own nonprofit, the Government Accountability Institute, which NPQ addressed in a story late last year. Bannon is a former board member of Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis and strategic communications company heavily financed by Mercer and her father, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.—Michael WylandShare28Tweet1Share6Email35 Shares
Share6Tweet2Share9Email17 Shares“Women’s Soccer vs. Colorado.” Photo by Charlie Magovern/Neon Tommy.May 6, 2017; New York TimesFor all who reside in Michigan, there is a choice to make: maize and blue or green and white. College sports, predominately from the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, are a way of life. As a significant moneymaker for the universities, the athletic programs are given top-of-the-line facilities, equipment, and resources. At the University of Michigan alone, a $168 million complex is currently under construction for the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The field hockey team is playing in a $13.5 million complex. Michigan Stadium, home of the increasingly popular football team, recently had a $226 million renovation.The University of Michigan’s women’s club ice hockey team, however, pays to participate in their sport. They receive no support from the athletic department, pay $1,600 per year to play plus $20,000 to rent ice time at Yost Ice Area, and need to fundraise for their own equipment. In fact, this team is not even recognized as a varsity team. The question becomes, “Why does this team get less recognition and no support from the university’s $160 million annual athletic budget?”According to the federal law known as Title IX, a varsity female ice hockey player must receive the same protective equipment that a varsity male ice hockey player would receive, inasmuch as the protective equipment is the same. For this to take place, however, the University of Michigan would need to add women’s hockey as a varsity sport. If that took place, the university would also need to add a men’s sport or cut a women’s team to keep the number of male and female athletes even under Title IX guidelines.According to the Women’s Sport Foundation,Even though female students make up 57 percent of college student populations, female athletes received only 43 percent of participation opportunities at NCAA schools, which is 63,241 fewer participation opportunities than their male counterparts.Although the gap has narrowed, male athletes still receive 55 percent of NCAA college athletic scholarship dollars (NCAA-designated Division I and II institutions), leaving only 45 percent allocated to women.When examining median expenses per NCAA Division I institution, women’s teams receive only 40 percent of college sport operating dollars and 36 percent of college athletic team recruitment spending.Median head coaches’ salaries at NCAA Division I-FBS schools are $3,430,000 for men’s teams and $1,172,400 for women’s teams. This is a difference of $2,257,600.Even with this information, it all comes down to numbers, and most women’s sports do not generate enough revenue for a college athletic department to be able to sustain the cost of maintaining a team. At the University of North Dakota, the women’s varsity team costs $2 million per year. According to the university’s president, $60 million would need to be raised to endow the program. Ticket and merchandise sales for the sport would not come close to reaching the $2 million annual operating cost, much less contributing to funding an endowment.The difference does not stop at collegiate sports, however. Professionally, women’s sports still fall behind men’s in popularity. The three-time WNBA Champions (2003, 2006, 2008), the Detroit Shock, couldn’t sustain a viable following up against the Detroit Pistons, who won the 2004 NBA Championship, and were moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2009. Detroit currently has no dominant professional women’s athletic team.So, why is there less exposure and support for women’s sports? According to an article in the Economist, sponsors are unwilling to finance individuals and teams that do not have good media exposure: “The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) estimates that in 2013, women’s sports received 7 percent of coverage and 0.4 percent of the total value of commercial sponsorships.” This makes for a cycle that is difficult to overcome—less coverage equals less sponsorship, which equals less coverage.In March 2016, CNN reported that a poll conducted by Always indicated that, “a significant percentage of both women and men said men are better at sports, with 32 percent of women feeling that way and 47 percent of men.” While this could be one explanation, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming, who has devoted her career to the advancement of girls and women in sports, states, “This connection with sports and masculinity is a very tough nut to crack. People have been trying to crack it for a long time.”While a simple explanation or solution to the gender inequalities in sport isn’t easily produced, identification that there are gaps in recognition and support may be the first step. Mercedes Reyes, a junior forward with the University of Michigan women’s club hockey team, may have said it best—“It would just be nice so that people know we exist.”—Erin ShankieShare6Tweet2Share9Email17 Shares
Share18Tweet2ShareEmail20 Shares CoA: File:Coat of arms of Pennsylvania.svg, User:NiagaraUser:Connormah [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 22, 2019; Penn LiveThe Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from Beverly Steffey that she should not pay restitution after being convicted of embezzling more than $200,000 from three nonprofits. Steffey’s position is based on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s controversial 2016 decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Michael Veon. The Veon decision allowed state Rep. Michael Veon to avoid paying back the money he stole from a state-funded nonprofit because the nonprofit was not human and therefore could not be a victim as outlined in Pennsylvania’s restitution law.The Supreme Court stated in its decision, “Every relevant noun unequivocally describes a human being, not a government agency, and nowhere else is there a relevant definition that persuades us to broaden the common understanding of these words.” This decision has drawn a great deal of criticism, especially as several individuals in high-profile embezzlement cases successfully used the it to avoid restitution to local towns and municipalities.While the Veon decision appears to be broadly applicable to just about any organization, Law360 notes, “The Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld Steffey’s restitution order in August 2018 on the grounds that while the Supreme Court in Veon’s case had said the government was not a person eligible for restitution, the Pennsylvania law the higher court cited in its decision defines corporations and nonprofits as ‘private, non-natural persons.’” Existing law appears to undercut Steffey’s arguments by providing specific protection to nonprofits, especially those not connected to the government.In October 2018, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed Act 145, a direct response to the Veon decision. The new law seeks to clarify the legislature’s intent for the use of restitution as well as addressing the shortcomings identified by the Supreme Court in the law’s original language. Victims, nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, and estates are now clearly defined as restitution eligible. Governor Tom Wolfe signed the legislation into law on October 24, 2018.Between Act 145 and the Superior Court ruling, Steffey’s case appears to face long odds for success. What Steffey’s case does do is highlight the need for nonprofits to have robust financial control measures in place. Organizations should have policies to control and monitor income and expenses. The executive director and board should review these policies regularly. An independent, third-party auditor should evaluate a nonprofit’s financial systems and books annually. Also, management and the board of directors should determine adequate insurance coverage to protect against losses due to employee/officer/board member wrongdoing. Good financial systems help protect a nonprofit from financial losses, positively impact standing among rating agencies and build confidence with donors and partners.—Skip LockwoodShare18Tweet2ShareEmail20 Shares
Online streaming service Netflix is to spend up to US$300 million (€223 million) on original content as it ramps up competition with premium broadcasters including HBO.Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told the annual UBS Media and Communications conference in New York that it would ramp up original production following the commission of series including David Fincher’s House of Cards, new episodes of quirky sitcom Arrested Development and Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black. He said that it would spend between 5% and 15% on exclusive and original content.“HBO and Netflix both spend between $1 billion and $2 billion on content a year. If you are not willing to spend at those levels, it is going to be pretty hard to compete with us or with HBO,” he said.However, acquisitions and commissions would be based on data from its 24 million subscribers. “We are very much the ‘Moneyball’ of content acquirers,” he added.Hastings said that its priority next year is global expansion with launches in countries including the UK and Ireland. “There is a huge, global addressable market for Netflix, as long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot anymore,” he said. This comes as the company announced that its European headquarters would be based in Luxembourg.
Candidates have until tomorrow to submit proposals for six new HD digital-terrestrial TV frequencies on offer in France.According to financial daily Les Echos, commercial broadcaster TF1 plans to submit a proposal to obtain a slot for its lifestyle channel Stylia, rather than TV Breizh, as previously expected. TF1 will also submit proposals for a fiction channel and a generalist channel codenamed Channel 4, according to the paper.Rival commercial broadcaster M6 is expected to propose the launch of its movie and entertainment channel M6 Famille and a shopping channel. Thematic broadcaster NRJ plans to submit female-oriented Chérie HD, Nostalgie TV and one other channel, while NextRadioTV will proposes RMC Sport HD. Other potential candidates include rival sport channel L’Equipe HD.Pay TV operator Canal Plus has said it plans to propose a general entertainment channel focused on movies and original productions, and would also move its Canal Plus Family channel from pay to free-to-air. However, if the latter’s acquisition of Bolloré’s Direct 8 and Direct Star channels is completed it may be forced to give up existing frequencies in order to keep its DTT allocation below the seven channels prescribed by law.
Twitter has signed a new partnership deal with Comcast and NBCUniversal that will let Comcast’s Xfinity TV subscribers click to access TV shows, movies and sports directly from a tweet. The ‘See It’ functionality was created by Comcast engineers, is due to roll out in the US next month with shows from NBCUniversal’s networks, and is designed to offer a closer connection between Twitter users and the TV.Comcast said that the See It feature was designed to integrate with other video distribution partners, television networks and websites.Both Comcast and Twitter are currently in discussions with other distribution partners and television networks that will use this feature to promote their content in the coming months.“Twitter is where television viewers come to talk about what they’re watching on TV when they’re watching it. Millions of users are exposed to the live conversation that unfolds on Twitter while a show is on the air and now, with See It, they’ll be able to tune in directly from a Tweet,” said Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo.Comcast Corporation chairman and CEO, Brian Roberts, added: “See It is a simple yet powerful feature that creates an instant online remote control. Comcast is taking a leap forward in social TV by enabling Twitter users to more easily find and view the shows they want to watch and discover new shows.”At the same time, NBCUniversal and Twitter announced that they will be working together on a new ad partnership as part of Twitter’s Amplify social TV program, extending ad campaigns onto the microblogging network. Earlier this week, Viacom International Media Networks signed a similar deal with Twitter in Europe.
Russian conglomerate Sistema has bought an additional US$60 million (€43.9 million) shares in telco MTS. Announcing the deal, Sistema, which already owns 53% of MTS, said it bought the additional shares between September 5 and October 15 2013.The transactions amounted to 6.425 million shares, or 0.3% of MTS ordinary shares on the open market between, according to the firm.MTS claims to be the leading telecoms group in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, offering mobile, fixed-line, broadband, pay TV, content and entertainment services.Sistema invests in and is a major shareholder of companies serving more than 100 million customers in the sectors of telecoms, technology, oil and energy, radars and aerospace, banking, retail, mass-media, tourism and healthcare services.Founded in 1993, the company reported revenues of US$8.5 billion for the second quarter of 2013, and had total assets of US$44.4 billion as of June 30, 2013.
Freetime by FreesatUK free-to-air satellite platform Freesat has added an extra 24,000 new households in the first six months of the year, taking its total to 1.85 million homes in the UK.Sales of Freesat’s Freetime boxes now account for 47% of all Freesat set-top box sales, after tripling in a single year.Freesat has also enhanced its TV Guide and Remote Record App offering by adding an Android version to its existing iOS app, which has already seen more than 220,000 downloads since it launched earlier in the year.Emma Scott, Freesat’s managing director, said: “I’m constantly encouraged by the number of people that are switching away from paying for their TV every month to join Freesat which is subscription free. Our good start to the year has continued into the second quarter and the mixture of great programming, brilliant features and no monthly bills is proving to be a very compelling proposition.”
Bill WargaThe Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has expanded its engineering committee in a bid to “better meet the requirements of the industry.”The engineering committee has expanded to 15 members, including for the first time the chairs of each of the five standards subcommittees: data; digital video; interface practices; network operations; and energy management.Liberty Global’s vice president, technology, Bill Warga – who joined the SCTE board of directors last year – leads the committee.In what SCTE described as a second significant development for its standards program, it has also earned reaccreditation under new SCTE Standards operating procedures by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).“These two developments together bring tremendous value to our industry. By expanding the number of individuals and companies involved in the prioritization of standards work and by shortening the approval time, we’re able to accelerate availability of standards that best answer the global needs of the cable industry,” said Dean Stoneback, senior director, engineering for SCTE.
Arabsat has partnered with Siemens Convergence Creators to install a new communication system monitoring (CSM) at its Dirab Earth Station near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.The system will monitor all traffic within the Arabsat satellite fleet and is intended to provide a round the clock monitoring cycle for radio frequency and quality of service measurements.
Google app developer Appfour has launched a YouTube video player for Android smartwatches, enabling users of the devices to watch YouTube videos from their wrists.The app features full Bluetooth headphone and speaker support and the ability to cast videos to Chromecast dongles and use the watch as a remote control for the TV.It also enables users to search videos and provides predictive search capability along with links to related videos and video view descriptions.The app also features pause, resume, seek and change volume functions, while the full version of the app enables users to customers their YouTube viewing by choosing channels to show on their watches. It also includes the ability to make in-app purchases of premium videos.The app works with devices featuring Android 4.3 and above.
Zappware, a provider of digital TV products for pay TV operators, has added a personalised home screen to the user interface of its end-to-end DVB/IPTV/OTT platform.The new personalised home screen lets users browse both live and on-demand content, with the size and the position of the items indicating the appropriateness for the viewer based on their user profile.The new screen is available on both Android and iOS devices, with the personalisation made possible through the integration of the Zappware platform with Ncanto, XroadMedia’s content discovery and recommendation solution.Ncanto finds relevant content according to the consumers’ behaviour, interest and social profiles and lets service providers “maximise their revenues streams by blending business goals with user profiles.”“In order to turn viewers into consumers, we are continuously researching new user experiences that re-discover the simpleness of TV,” said Marc Vervoort, creative director at Zappware.“The new personalised home screen allows end-users to discover new relevant content in an intuitive and stress-free way. By simplifying decision making for the end-user, it lowers thresholds for accessing content and hence increases consumption.”Adolf Proidl, CEO of XroadMedia said: “Personalisation is becoming the key differentiator for content and service providers.“By pre-integrating Ncanto into Zappware’s platform we are able to offer content and service providers an advanced off-the-shelf tool to increase ARPU and consumer satisfaction rates for their products and services.”Zappware is exhibiting at IBC on stand 1.A81
Viacom-owned UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 5 has rebranded Demand 5, its video-on-demand service, to My5.The broadcaster has expanded the range of content available to viewers on demand, with a range of My5 exclusives and box sets in addition to the ability to catch up with programmes from across the Channel 5 family of channels – Channel 5, 5Star, 5USA and Spike.My5 will be rolled out across all iOS and Android phones and tablets, and on a new website, My5.tv. the service will eplace Demand 5 across smart TVs, set-top boxes, games consoles and other platforms in the coming months.My5 will offer Channel 5’s catch-up content including Celebrity Big Brother, The Yorkshire Vet, Gotham and Lip Sync Battle UK. However, the line-up will be bolstered by My5 exclusives, including Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters, a prequel to the new series coming to 5Star on February 16.The new service is launching at the same time as a rebrand across the Channel 5 portfolio of channels and the launch of a new channel5.com website.“Consumers increasingly expect a much more televisual and immersive experience from on-demand services. We’ve designed My5 to enable viewers to focus on finding and watching great programmes and nothing else,” said James Tatam, director of digital media and commercial development for Channel 5.
Lowell McAdamVerizon has agreed to buy Yahoo’s core internet operations for US$4.83 billion (€4.4 billion).Yahoo will be integrated with AOL under Marni Walden, EVP and President of the Product Innovation and New Businesses organisation at Verizon.The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents, called the Excalibur portfolio. These assets will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing and become a registered, publicly traded investment company.A New York Times report said that these remaining investments are worth around US$41 billion.US mobile operator Verizon will reportedly combine Yahoo’s operations with AOL, which it acquired last year.Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who joined the firm from Google in 2012, is not expected to move to Verizon as part of the deal.The news follows reports last month that claimed Verizon planned to submit a US$3 billion second-round bid for Yahoo’s core web assets.“Just over a year ago we acquired AOL to enhance our strategy of providing a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers. The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising, ” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO.“Yahoo is a company that has changed the world, and will continue to do so through this combination with Verizon and AOL. The sale of our operating business, which effectively separates our Asian asset equity stakes, is an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo. This transaction also sets up a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising and social,” said Mayer.
Some 73% of US broadband homes now connect one or more TV entertainment devices to the web, according to Parks Associates.The research firm said this marked an 11% increase, compared to the beginning of 2015, in the use of connected in-home entertainment platforms – such as smart TVs, gaming consoles, streaming media players, Blu-ray players, and digital video recorders.According to the research, games consoles were the most popular streaming device, with consoles the primary streaming device for 32% of homes that connect at least one device to the web.Smart TVs were second most-popular streaming device, followed by streaming media players, smart Blu-rays players and DVRs.The research also noted that consumers are using smaller screens for streaming, with 25% of US broadband homes using a tablet to access online video content and 20% using a smartphone.“Consumers continue to accumulate streaming options for homes, including smart TVs, which are on track to surpass connected gaming consoles as the primary streaming tool in the home,” said Barbara Kraus, director of research, Parks Associates.“People aren’t buying TVs solely for the smart functionality but within the standard replacement cycle, and those new TVs are likely to be smart. New owners of smart TVs will try out the smart functionality in the new TV and continue to use it if it meets expectations.”