RelatedBest places for New Year partyingBarcelona, Edinburgh and Iceland are the places to head for the best New Year parties, say Skyscanner users.Top New Year Destinations: most popular New Year Cities for 2009Top New Year Destinations: most popular New Year Cities for 2009Top New Year Party Places: Skyscanner reveals most popular destinations for UK revellersSkyscanner reveals the most popular* New Year destinations for Brits. 1. LondonNew Year flights to London from £73 (from Edinburgh 30 Dec – 2 Jan)In recent years London has become one of the world’s most popular cities for seeing in the New Year thanks to the midnight firework display at the iconic London Eye (free), which can be viewed from across the city. If you haven’t been invited to a party with a suitable viewing area (free), several London hotels have rooftop bars perfect for the occasion.2. EdinburghNew Year flights to Edinburgh from £76 (from London Stansted 30 Dec – 3 Jan)Tens of thousands of people, snogging in the streets, and Simple Minds: what more could you wish for? ‘Hogmanay’ is one massive night of getting merry, eating steak pie and singing Auld Lang Syne. Attend the famous Street Party (£15) to be entertained by the legendary Scots stadium rockers as fireworks fill the sky. Or watch the fireworks from Calton Hill (free). You will need to act quickly as hotels in Edinburgh will be much in demand.3. BarcelonaNew Year flights to Barcelona from £110 (from Liverpool 30 Dec – 2 Jan)The Catalan capital bursts with the party spirit throughout the year, but New Year’s Eve sees the locals really extend themselves as they indulge in the ‘eating of the grapes’ tradition. When the clock strikes midnight, locals eat one grape (under two euros a bunch) per chime, each one symbolising a month of good luck. Get a cheap deal on Barcelona hotels with Skyscanner’s comprehensive search.4. ParisNew Year flights to Paris from £111 (from Birmingham 30 Dec – 3 Jan)New Year in Paris needn’t be expensive. The traditional Parisian way to celebrate on New Year’s Eve is, in inimitable Parisian fashion, to go out for dinner. Unsurprisingly, prices rocket, as many places serve special six or seven-course menus, but it’s possible to find a reasonable restaurant doing three courses for 10 euros – browse the myriad places in the maze of streets off Boulevard St. Michel on the Left Bank. Paris hotels don’t have to be expensive, unless you demand a view of the Eiffel Tower5. AmsterdamNew Year flights to Amsterdam from £111 (from Edinburgh 29 Dec – 1 Jan)The cheapest place to spend New Year’s Eve is on the streets. That’s what many, many Amsterdammers do, getting Amsterdam-aged in the company of a fine local brew – either Heineken, which is brewed in the city, or a Dutch ‘white beer’ – a refreshingly fruity delight. Partying in the streets isn’t for the faint-hearted for it is traditional, especially among the young and exuberant, to let off fireworks, so watch out! Amsterdam hotels outside the most touristy areas can be good value – try an area like De Pijp for a good deal.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map
08Mar Rep. Hughes sets high goal while celebrating March is Reading month Categories: Hughes News,News Rep. Holly Hughes read to 1,601 students in 2015 while celebrating March is Reading Month and looks to exceed that in 2016.“The ability to read at an early age prepares our kids for a lifetime of success,” said Rep. Hughes, R-Montague. “I really enjoy this month because I get to see the books I read to the kids come to life in their eyes. I appreciate the schools giving me the opportunity to come in and help encourage all of our young people to ‘Read Early and Read Often’”.Rep. Hughes is currently scheduled to visit 14 elementary school classrooms across the 91st House District in March. Any teachers or administrators that would like to have Rep. Hughes read in their classroom can contact her Lansing office toll-free at 877-633-0331 or by email at email@example.comFor more information on how to encourage reading, whether for young children or for adult personal development, Rep. Hughes encourages everyone to visit: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-28753_65803-376051–,00.htmlRep. Holly Hughes read to over 1,600 elementary school students to help celebrate March is Reading Month in 2015. She hopes to read to even more in 2016.
State Representative John Reilly of Oakland Township today introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate unnecessary regulations for Michigan businesses and residents.The bill, Reilly’s first as a member of the Michigan House, would require the Legislature to eventually review all administrative rules issued by state agencies. These regulations comprise the Michigan Administrative Code, and they are the only kind of state regulations that carry the force of law without being expressly enacted in a statute. This year, for an example, a Roseville resident was ticketed for $128 for warming up his unattended car in a driveway – running afoul of a regulation in the Administrative Code.“Regulations should be subject to the same high standard of legislative review as the laws enacted by the Legislature,” Reilly said. “This bill will provide that these regulations will eventually expire unless the Legislature decides to put them into law.”The bold proposal would spark a 10-year review of Michigan’s 770 existing sets of rules, which are authored by executive agencies. Rules would expire after 10 years unless enacted into statute or given a seven-year extension, and all future rules would expire after seven years unless required by federal law or under a state law that specifies otherwise.“The Administrative Code is an overly complex set of regulations that have made it difficult for small businesses and private citizens to stay in compliance with the law,” Reilly said. “The time has come for a full audit of the Code.“The best way to remove unnecessary regulations is for the Legislature to go through the Code with a fine-toothed comb and evaluate whether each one is justifiable,” Reilly said. “It is the Legislature’s job to make laws. While state agencies have authority to make rules within the scope of those laws, it is the Legislature’s duty to oversee that this is done properly.”###House Bill 4364 was referred to the Michigan Competitiveness Committee. Categories: News,Reilly News 15Mar Rep. Reilly calls for full review of Michigan’s administrative rules
31Mar House subcommittees advance budget plan boosting schools, public safety Michigan House subcommittees this week advanced a budget plan that prioritizes schools, public safety and workforce development while also protecting the state’s financial future. The bills approved by budget subcommittees will serve as a blueprint for the House as the process to adopt a final plan for the 2017-18 budget year continues.“The budget is a reflection of priorities, and ours are clear,” said Rep. Laura Cox of Livonia, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We want to invest in our families and our communities while forcing state government to be more efficient, effective and accountable.”Highlights of the developing House plan:Michigan’s K-12 public schools would get record funding at $14.3 billion, with a priority on keeping more money in the classroom to benefit students. School districts across the state would get $100 more per student, and the plan includes a focus on career and technical training.Local governments across Michigan would get a $12.4 million increase in statutory revenue sharing payments, which many communities use to fund public safety, roads and other vital community programs.Public safety would be further enhanced through the addition of 100 Michigan State Police troopers.Michigan’s “rainy day” fund would get another deposit of more than $266 million, pushing the total amount in the account above $1 billion.The state would help school districts build a better economic future by helping to pay down debt tied to the cost of retired employees.The House subcommittees have one final budget area to address – Health and Human Services. Chair Cox said she is excited about some of the innovative programs in that area as well.“I am proud of this smart spending plan which pumps more money into classrooms and communities where it can do the most good while paying down debt and making government live within its means,” Cox said. “We have a ways to go in this budget process, and I will continue to work hard to achieve these goals.”The budget bills advance to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.### Categories: Cox News,News
Categories: Canfield News 01Jun Rep. Canfield encourages residents to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend State Rep. Edward J. Canfield, D.O. today encouraged residents of Huron and Tuscola counties to take advantage of Free Fishing Weekend on June 10 and 11. Rep. Canfield of Sebewaing said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites residents and out-of-state visitors to fish without a license during the weekend, giving parents and grandparents an opportunity to introduce youngsters to a new and fun summer activity. “As a fisherman myself, I enjoy the many rivers and streams in the area, not to mention the excellent fishing opportunities in Lake Huron,” Rep. Canfield said. “Free Fishing Weekend is a chance to take advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds the entire Thumb region.” All fishing license fees will be waived for two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may fish on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply.For more information about Free Fishing Weekend, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing, or contact Rep. Canfield by calling 517-373-0476 or via email at EdwardCanfield@house.mi.gov.
State Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City will sponsor local office hours for the month of November. “As a representative, it is important for me to be accessible in my district,” Rep. Rendon said. “I look forward to meeting with my residents and hearing any concerns or ideas they may have for me to take back to Lansing.”The representative will be available at the following times and locations:Friday, Nov. 3Crawford County: 9 to 10 a.m. at Goodale’s Bakery, 500 Norway St. in Grayling;Kalkaska County: Noon to 1 p.m. at Trout Town Tavern & Eatery, 306 Elm St. in Kalkaska; Categories: Daire Rendon News 17Oct Rep. Rendon invites residents to November office hours Monday, Nov. 6Ogemaw County: 9 to 10 a.m. at West Branch Area Chamber of Commerce, 422 W. Houghton Ave. in West Branch;Roscommon County: Noon to 1 p.m. at Denton Township Hall, 2565 S. Gladwin Road in Prudenville; andMissaukee County: 3 to 4 p.m. at Missaukee County Commission of Aging, 1980 S. Morey Road in Lake City. No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those who are unable to attend, but would still like to speak with the representative, may contact her Lansing office at (517) 373-3817 or DaireRendon@house.mi.gov.
12Jun Michigan House approves Rep. Iden’s internet gaming bill The Michigan House today approved a plan introduced by state Rep. Brandt Iden to regulate internet gaming in Michigan.Rep. Iden, of Oshtemo Township, said his measure will allow online gaming only through currently existing land-based casinos, including any tribal casino that reworks its compact with the state to reflect the new technology.“People in Michigan are already gambling over the internet, but they are doing so at risky and illegal websites,” Rep. Iden said. “The Michigan websites will have strict state oversight, unlike the illegal and unregulated sites our resident use now, at great risk to their finances and personal information.”Only those 21 and older could play, and the websites would have built-in safety features.Rep. Iden said another benefit of legalizing online gambling is the increase in state revenue.“Our plan calls for 8 percent of gross gaming revenue to go to the state and local communities, the School Aid Fund and the Michigan Transportation Fund,” Rep. Iden said. “We are boosting revenue for essential public services without asking for more money through general taxes.”The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.##### Categories: Iden News,News Measure will make it safer to play casino games online
Categories: Reilly News 30Nov Rep. Reilly to Congress: Stop punishing schools for parents’ choices State Rep. John Reilly of Oakland Township introduced a resolution calling on Congress to amend a federal act that could penalize Michigan schools based on a factor they do not control.The Every Student Succeeds Act requires schools to maintain a 95 percent test participation rate for standardized statewide assessments or face financial penalties. However, as hundreds of parents have refused to allow their children to take the M-STEP standardized exams, Michigan public schools and academies may find their funding revoked under this requirement.“The reputations of schools would be damaged, their students and teachers demoralized and administrators forced to deal with new challenges if penalized under this requirement,” Reilly said. “Because it takes only a 5 percent opt-out rate to trigger sanctions, school officials live in constant fear that they may be punished, and so they are forced to pressure families into submitting their children to the assessments to avoid penalties.”While some parents refuse to allow their children to take the exams, Reilly noted that complying parents would also be punished when the schools are penalized as a whole. He said students, parents, teachers and schools will be unjustly harmed based on the decision of 5 percent of parents over which the school has no control.“It’s fundamentally unfair that the government forces our teachers and administrators to act as federal law enforcers, creating terrible tensions between our schools and the families they serve in the process,” Reilly concluded.Reilly’s resolution urges Congress to remove the requirement from the act to prevent negative impacts on public schools.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares March 27, 2014; ReutersIn a ruling yesterday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been ordered to disclose the name of the entity supplying them with drugs used for lethal injections.European pharmaceutical companies used to supply the department’s drugs, but they have instituted sales bans because they disapprove of the United States’ use of the death penalty. As the states have been running low on supplies, they have scrambled to try to get a pipeline, turning to lightly-regulated drug compounding companies to supply them. But lawyers have argued that drugs from compounding pharmacies can lack purity and potency and cause unreasonable suffering. This violates constitutional protections.Apparently, there are a number of risks for suppliers, including threats from the public and the potential for suits, so some states, including Texas, have been trying to keep the names of suppliers secret.Two death row prisoners who were due to be executed with a new batch of the lethal drug brought the suit. A similar suit in Oklahoma resulted in a Wednesday ruling that found that Oklahoma’s secrecy about its protocols for lethal injection was unconstitutional.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share43TweetShareEmail43 Shares“2017.02.25 Rally in Support of Affordable Care Act #ACA Washington, DC USA 01250” by Ted EytanMay 6, 2017; NPR, “The Two-Way”NPQ wants to caution its readers not to assume that elected representatives are harmless just because they’re making a public fact-free spectacle of themselves. In the case of the very serious potential consequences of a repeal-and-replace bill, there is certainly nothing to laugh about for the millions who would be placed at risk. USA Today was pithy in its quoting: “‘We want to brag about the plan,” [President] Trump said amid political fanfare typically reserved for when bills are, you know, signed.”Even as Trump prematurely celebrated H.R. 1628, the House’s 126-page repeal-and-replace bill, the fundamental elements of which will likely not see the light of day, and while pundits are predicting both that the GOP will be in deep trouble with its constituents if it does pass a bill repealing key provisions of the ACA and that it will be in “catastrophic” trouble if it does not, one man has no doubt who the House bill would benefit. It’s Warren Buffett—the Oracle of Omaha—and others of his monied ilk.At the annual shareholders meeting for his company, Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire investor/philanthropist Warren Buffett pointed out that if the healthcare repeal bill passed by the House last week had been law last year, “my federal taxes would have gone down 17 percent last year, so it’s a huge tax cut for guys like me.”The AHCA includes an estimated $600 billion in tax cuts, using the 10-year math associated with federal spending legislation. Almost all of the cuts are related to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. USA Today reports that the cuts and their impact include:Eliminating, at cost of $158 billion, the ACA provision that imposed a 3.8% tax on net investment income of individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples more than $250,000Repealing the annual fee on health insurance providers, costing $145 billionRepealing a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax surcharge on wages greater than $200,000 for individuals ($250,000 for couples) at a cost of $117 billionPostponing until 2025 a tax on the most generous “Cadillac” health benefit packages due to go into effect in 2020, at a cost of $49 billionReducing from 10 percent to 7.5 percent the threshold for deducting medical expenses from income, at a cost of $35 billionRepealing a tax on branded prescription drugs, at a cost of $25 billionRepealing a tax on medical devices, at a cost of $19.6 billionRepealing a cap of $2,500 on the pre-tax dollars workers could put into flexible spending accounts annually, at a cost of $19 billionIncreasing, to $6,550 for an individual and $13,100 for couples, the amount that could be put annually into a Health Savings Account, and providing an added bonus for those over 55 years of age, at a cost of $18.6 billionAllowing pre-tax dollars in flexible spending and health savings accounts to be spent on over-the-counter drugs, at a cost of $5.5 billionThe law also repeals the 10 percent federal surcharge on fees charged by tanning salons.One tax break targets insurance companies. Prior to the passage of the ACA, a corporation could deduct the first $1 million in compensation paid to an employee. The ACA included a provision specific to insurance companies that limited the deduction to $500,000. Restoring the $1 million deduction limit is estimated to reduce revenues to the federal government by $400 million over the next ten years.“That is in the law that was passed a couple days ago,” he said. “Anybody with $250,000 a year of adjusted gross income and a lot of investment income is going to have a huge tax cut.”But he also called the rising cost of healthcare “the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.”“If you go back to 1960, or thereabouts, corporate taxes were about 4% of GDP, I mean they bounced around some. And now, they’re about 2% of GDP,” Buffett said during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting. “At that time, health care was 5% of GDP, and now it’s about 17% of GDP.”Meanwhile, among the alarmingly out of touch behavior among the House GOP was Republican Rep. Raul Labrador’s response to a constituent in an Idaho town meeting who was asking about Medicare cuts. “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” he scoffed, to a chorus of boos. The Harvard Medical School found differently in 2009; their study showed that 45,000 people die each year due to a lack of health insurance.—Ruth McCambridgeShare43TweetShareEmail43 Shares
Share27Tweet10Share1Email38 Shares“Don’t rape,” by Richard PottsNovember 28, 2017; CBS New YorkBetween January 2015 and February 2017, 86 people showed up at the Brooklyn Hospital Center after suffering a sexual assault to receive a forensic examination they hoped might help catch their attackers. For 85 of those 86 people, the trauma of the attack and examination was followed by the insult and inconvenience of a hospital bill.The matter came to the attention of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman because one woman contacted his office after she was “billed seven different times for her rape kit, hundreds of dollars each time” and then had her bill sent to a collections agency.This week, Schneiderman announced a settlement with the hospital, in which “Brooklyn Hospital will maintain a Sexual Assault Victim Policy that prevents such improper billing and will provide full restitution to improperly billed sexual assault survivors,” in addition to paying a $15,000 fine to the New York State Department of Law.“These kits are used on what is undoubtedly one of the worst days of a survivor’s life,” Schneiderman told NBC New York. “The absolute last thing they should have to worry about is how they’ll pay for their care at the hospital.”That’s one case wrapped up, perhaps, but how on earth did this happen? Is there any scenario in which a billing department looks at a report of sexual assault and thinks the victim should be financially liable for the aftermath?Apparently, there are, and quite a few of them. Reuters reported earlier this year that 88 percent of the 1,355 women who reported being sexually assaulted in 2013 were sent a bill, with an average charge of about $950. (The study Reuters used did not include male or LGBTQ victims.) New York is actually one of the more progressive states in this respect; according to the Attorney General’s office, “New York State Executive Law Section 631(13) provides that when a hospital furnishes services—including a forensic rape examination (FRE)—to any sexual assault survivor, it shall provide such services to the patient without charge and shall bill the Office of Victim Services (OVS) directly, or alternatively, the sexual assault survivor may voluntarily opt to assign the costs to private insurance [for privacy reasons].”Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), told Reuters, “Congressional attention has been focused on making sure victims aren’t charged for the rape kit and forensic evidence, and there hasn’t been as much attention paid to making sure they aren’t charged for the other medical costs that result.”The Violence Against Women Act makes it illegal for victims to be billed for the forensic examination and collection of evidence, but many states don’t legally protect victims from being billed for medical expenses related to sexual assault. A 2014 Urban Institute report showed that in a number of states, victims’ medical bills are paid only if they agree to report the attack and cooperate with law enforcement, and definitions of cooperation can vary from state to state.A 2012 report from Æquitas shows just how complicated it is when each state has its own guidelines for what is and isn’t covered by victim compensation funds.Thirteen states cover the cost of a pregnancy test, and six of those states provide payment for emergency contraception. Fifteen states will pay for tests for sexually transmitted infections (STI). Fifteen states cover costs of medications prescribed following the forensic examination. Ten states will pay hospital and emergency room fees. Two states, Indiana and Vermont, will pay for the victim’s counseling related to the sexual assault. Five states will pay for treatment of injuries related to the sexual assault. Four states provide payment for reasonable medical care related to the sexual assault. Three states will pay for toxicology and drug testing.Some states have updated their laws and coverage since that report, but the fact remains that in most states, sexual assault victims are more likely than not to get a bill for medical care, which means that in the event of an assault, taking care of their health may result in a bill they may not be able to pay.In states where medical expenses are covered, the money often comes via crime victim compensation funds, which are administered by the state and funded through the collection of fees. This is seen as the most efficient and reliable way to handle the billing, since these agencies already deal with the intersection of police and health regulations. However, as the Urban Institute rightly points out, “No other evidence collection activities (such as autopsies, crime scene processing, and ballistics analysis) are paid for with funds meant for services to victims.” It would be unthinkable to charge a robbery victim for crime scene photographs, or a fraud victim for the time on the phone with investigators. Why is this type of crime any different?NPQ has previously highlighted where the prosecution of rape and sexual assault seems to rank low among law enforcement priorities, as shown, for example, by the inexcusably large backlog of untested rape kits gathering dust in evidence warehouses all over the country. Burdening victims with the financial costs of sexual assault in addition to the physical and emotional trauma is reprehensible and must be stopped. We hope that states will see this situation for what it is and protect future victims from this additional burden.—Erin RubinShare27Tweet10Share1Email38 Shares
Cable association Cable Europe and German electronics manufacturers’ trade body ZVEI have called on the EC to ensure that any second digital dividend in the 700MHz spectrum band ensures practical coexistence between new mobile services and the existing equipment and services already providing European consumers and business with connectivity.Cable Europe said that there had been no discussion of studying the impact of new mobile services on existing equipment and services used in Europe. Without such study, it said, existing investments by businesses and consumers in services and equipment could be threatened.“As we move to a potential second digital dividend, it is vital to ensure that no question remains as to what happens or who is liable should harmful interference occur. That question, following the adoption of the RSPP this week, remains unanswered today,” said Cable Europe in a statement. The EU’s Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) was approved on February 15.The prospect of a second digital dividend after digital switchover was raised at the recent ITU WRC-12 conference in Geneva, when Arab and African administrations called for an additional allocation of spectrum for mobile services in the 700MHz band.
The UltraViolet ecosystem will increasingly enable subscription services as well as electronic sell-through, according to Spencer Stephens, chief technology officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment, speaking at the OTTtv World Summit in London today. For businesses, Stephens said, UltraViolet supported both download to own and streaming models. “There is value for all in the ecosystem,” he said.UltraViolet not only allowed download to own but could help boost subscription VOD models via streaming, said Stephens, by offering their subscribers access to their UV locker. This could make their services stickier and their recommendation engines better because they would know what subscribers actually liked enough to buy outright.Sell-through has proved surprisingly resilient as a proportion of digital distribution business, while rental has continued to lag behind, said Stephens.Consumers are still frustrated by their inability to share content with members of their family and friends, he said. They also have concerns about the reliability of hardware and their ability to transfer content between devices.UltraViolet can provide guaranteed access through the ability to re-download content. ”This effort is going to take some time to ramp up but it is going to ramp up,” he said.Stephens said there were currently six million UltraViolet accounts and UltraViolet offered access to about 7,000 titles. Five retail or streaming services and four electronic sell-through businesses are currently using the system, he said. While Apple was not part of the initiative, UltraViolet-enabled apps including Flixter and Vudu were available on Apple devices, he said.Stephens said that the UltraViolet ecosystem was growing, with Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablet and Vudu’s disk-to-digital service being among recent additions to the family of UltraViolet-enabled devices and services.Use of a common file format enabled device manufacturers to concentrate on adding value to their devices rather than spend time enabling the viewing of multiple formats, said Stephens.Stephens said that one of the benefits of UltraViolet was that it provided a distinct value proposition for the consumer by allowing content to be viewed across multiple devices. He said that compatibility with multiple DRMs was an important aspect of UltraViolet. The standard currently covers the five most popular DRM systems, he said.
Viewers tolerance of buffering when viewing online video declined sharply between 2011-12, while UK online video publishers were only able to deliver 23.5% of video at optimal quality last year, according to a study by quality assurance specialist Conviva.Conviva said that 31% of UK viewers experienced playback problems over the last 12 months. According to the company’s 2013 Viewer Experience Report, in 2011 a 1% increase in buffering resulted in three minutes less of viewing time per view of long-form content. By 2012, the same 1% increase to eight minutes lost in viewing time per view for similar content.Conviva found that viewing on mobile phones and connected TVs was growing significantly, while iPhones and iPads accounted for approximately 12% of total online streams played globally in April 2012, leading Android devices by 10%.
US pay TV service providers together lost 366,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year, an 11% improvement on the loss posted for the same period a year ago, according to SNL Kagan.The research group said that combined cable, telco and satellite subscribers numbers remained 200,000 below the figure for the second quarter of 2012, although the total is 121,000 up on the figure for 2011.Cable increased its rate of attrition compared with the first quarter, losing 607,000 customers. However this was a slight improvement on a year ago, according to SNL Kagan. Cable’s share of combined subscribers has dropped to 55.3%, according to the research group.DTH operators lost 162,000 subscribers in the quarter while IPTV service providers gained 400,000, taking its total to about 10.7 million.
Londono: upped to president, western & northern EuropeFox International Channels (FIC) has unveiled a new structure for its management team for Europe and Africa.Under the leadership of Jesús Perezagua, president of FIC Europe and Africa, the new structure groups the Fox business into four entities, and sees the appointment of four, newly promoted executive vice-presidents.Diego Londono, who also serves as chief operating officer for Europe and Africa, will assume the role of president of western and northern Europe, with oversight of the UK, Italy, Germany and the Nordic region.Carlos Ortega, who for the past four years served as general manager of central Europe, becomes executive vice-president of central and eastern Europe, charged with the management of central European countries as well as Russia, the Balkan countries, Baltic Republics and Eurasia.Adam Theiler, who has served as general manager of several European FIC markets, becomes EVP of southern Europe and Africa, covering Iberia, Turkey, Greece and Africa.Finally, Adrian Herzkovich, who has served as general manager of FIC Argentina and most recently of FIC Netherlands, takes on the role of EVP Benelux and France.The European executive team also includes existing heads, Georgina Twiss, SVP affiliate distribution (distribution direction); Deborah Armstrong, EVP advertising sales (commercial direction); and Sergio Falcón, SVP digital media.“FIC has grown incredibly fast and has become a global leader in entertainment. We hold an enviable position in Europe and Africa, but at the same time recognise that in order to grow our business, we need to adjust to meet the demands of an increasingly complex business and organization”, said Perezagua. “Diego, Carlos, Adam and Adrian have each tirelessly contributed to FIC’s exponential growth. Their extensive track record, business acumen and dedication make them the perfect set of senior managers to take us to the next level.”
UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has awarded licences for local TV services in Swansea and Mold, Wales, in the latest stage of its regional television rollout.The licences are for Bay TV Swansea and Bay TV Clywd in Mold. Both will be broadcast on DTT by the local multiplex – a discrete amount of spectrum reserved for local TV broadcasting.Ofcom said it has now awarded 25 local TV licences, as well as the multiplex licence, which went to Comux UK last year and lasts for a period of 12 years.The first local UK TV channel began broadcasting on DTT in Grimsby on 26 November 2013.
Orange France is expanding its video-on-demand service and launching a ‘buy to keep’ and download-to-own option.Orange customers can now purchase films direct from their TV screens, allowing them to stream them repeatedly on TV, PC or Mac, with an option to download a digital copy to keep.The operator has signed deals with over 10 partners including Disney, Warner, HBO, Gaumont and France Télévisions Distribution for the new service.According to Orange, it plans to sign up all its existing video-on-demand partners for the service.Titles to be offered include Disney and Pixar titles such as Cars and Pinocchio. New titles including Monsters University, Pacific Rim and Blue Jasmine will be available from four months after their theatrical release. The service will also offer classic French titles from Les Tontons Flingueurs to Le Grand Bleu.Films can be purchased for €9.99 with series available from €2.49.Orange said it planned to extend its overall VoD offering in the coming months by signing up new partners to enrich its existing catalogue and offer a wider choice of films and series, including offering content to tablets and mobile devices.The operator said it would build a ‘Vidéoclub’-type service where customers could find and collect programmes and films from the extended catalogue.
Sony’s X9000C series of 4K Bravia TVUS 4K TV ownership will climb from 1% in 2014 to 10% by 2016, with nearly half of US homes to own a 4K set by 2020, according to Strategy Analytics. The research claims that the US will emerge as the leading market for 4K or Ultra HD TVs in terms of household penetration by 2020, followed by the leading Western European markets, Australia, South Korea and China.Global shipments of 4K, Ultra HD TVs grew by 633% in 2014 to 12.1 million units, with Asia Pacific accounting for 75% of these, followed by North America with 12% and Western Europe with 11%, according to Strategy Analytics.The research claims that global shipments of Ultra HD TVs will more than double in 2015 to 27.5 million units and reach more than 100 million annually by 2018.The “sub 50-inch” category of TV will account for the majority of Ultra HD TV shipments globally by the end of 2016, said Strategy Analytics.“Ultra HD will become the standard resolution for virtually all large screen TVs within 3 to 4 years’ time and we will see it penetrate further into smaller screen sizes as manufacturing efficiencies improve,” said David Watkins, service director, connected home devices, Strategy Analytics.“As we saw with the transition from SD to HD, it is the TV manufacturers who are leading the Ultra HD charge although significant steps are being made on the delivery infrastructure and content production parts of the value chain.”
Swisscom reported a 14.2% year-on-year increase in TV customers in Q1, with more than a third of these now subscribing to its advanced television offering, Swisscom TV 2.0.Announcing its first quarter results, Swisscom said that it now has 1.20 million TV customers, compared to 1.05 million at the same time a year earlier. In Q1 alone it added 36,000 TV customers.By the end of March, Swisscom also reported 441,000 Swisscom TV 2.0 customers and said “most of whom had upgraded from a previous Swisscom offering to a higher quality bundled offering.”Swisscom launched its TV 2.0 offering in April 2014, offering functions such as live pause, recording and channel replay, as well as online live TV and catch-up options both through the browser and iOS and Android Apps.“The trend towards bundled offerings with flat-rate tariffs continues. By the end of March 2015, the number of customers using a bundled package had increased year-on-year by 198,000 or 18.7% to 1.26 million,” said Swisscom.It also said that the number of fixed and broadband lines grew by 75,000 or 4.1% year-on-year to 1.91 million.Overall, Swisscom’s Q1 net revenue increased by 2.6% year-on-year to CHF2.89 billion (€2.78 billion). EBITDA declined by 0.9% to CHF 1.051 million and net income fell by 5.9% to CHF351 million, which Swisscom attributed to “lower operating income and higher net financial expense, which was largely attributable to foreign exchange losses.”