A skier enjoys fantastic snow conditions at award-winning Mt Hutt. Photo credit: Nick KerrCanterbury’s favourite ski area Mt Hutt has been awarded the coveted title of New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort at the third Annual World Ski Awards.The award was announced in A-ROSA Kitzbühel, Austria on Saturday November 21 2015.The World Ski Awards is the only global initiative to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence in ski hospitality. Over one million votes were received worldwide from ski tourism professionals and consumers around the world.It’s the first time Mt Hutt, one of three outstanding ski areas owned by New Zealand ski operator NZSki, has won the prestigious award.World’s Best Ski Resorts winners include (L to R) Bob Wheaton, GM Deer Valley Resort USA, James Urquhart and Ingrid Zauner of Mt Hutt ski area, and Charlie Locke, owner Lake Louise ski resort Canada.Mt Hutt is Canterbury’s own “big mountain” offering family fun and spectacular terrain to challenge even the most advanced skiers and riders.As one of the largest and highest ski areas in the South Island, Mt Hutt attracts snow enthusiasts from Australia and further afield.Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie said he was “stoked” about winning the award.“We are absolutely buzzing. Our staff put everything into delivering the very best guest experience at Mt Hutt this season and this international endorsement is fantastic recognition.”The awards evening was the highlight of a three-day programme attended by an audience of ski tourism figureheads and market leaders from all around the world.Mt Hutt General Manager of Operations James Urquhart and ski instructor Ingrid Zauner received the award on behalf of the ski area at the glitzy gala ceremony dinner.Mr Urquhart said it was a real honour to be sharing stage with world renowned ski resorts from across Canada, the US and Europe.“This is the ski industry equivalent of the Academy Awards and while Brad and Ange stayed at home to look after the kids, players from the likes of Whistler and Aspen added some real star quality to the proceedings,” he said.“We’ve had the opportunity to network and share ideas with representatives from ski areas from all corners of the globe.”Just a 35 minute drive from Methven village, and 90mins from Christchurch International Airport, Mt Hutt is renowned for its regular and reliable snow, combined with extensive snowmaking. It consistently has one of the longest snow seasons in the South Island. NZSkiSource = NZSki
State Rep. Dan Lauwers introduced legislation urging the federal government and Great Lakes states to evaluate a proposed underground nuclear waste repository in Ontario, Canada, that threatens Lake Huron and the other Great Lakes.Rep. Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, today said House Resolution 60 and House Concurrent Resolution 9 encourage the president and Congress, the U.S. secretary of state, the Canadian government, and other Great Lakes state governments to evaluate Ontario Power Generation’s Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. He urges adoption of regulations to ensure that the Great Lakes will be protected from possible pollution caused by leaks or other disasters that may occur at the proposed nuclear waste repository.“It is an understatement to say that having a nuclear waste storage facility located this close to the Great Lakes – less than a mile from the Lake Huron shoreline – could pose the potential of a pollution incident that would be a monumental tragedy for the Great Lakes,” Rep. Lauwers said. “A breach of radioactivity from this proposed facility could damage the ecology of the lakes, upon which tens of millions of Americans and Canadians depend for drinking water, fisheries, tourism, recreation, industrial and other economic uses.”Rep. Lauwers cites an existing treaty that offers protections to the Great Lakes from pollution and encourages the U.S. secretary of state to invoke that treaty to ensure the purity of the lakes from possible nuclear pollution.“We must protect Michigan’s amazing natural resources from all types of pollution, and it seems irresponsible to locate a nuclear waste repository this close to Lake Huron. Considering how large Canada is geographically, it would seem there would be a more appropriate and safe site,” Rep. Lauwers said. “The president and Congress must take action to ensure that our grandchildren and their children will be able to enjoy pollution-free lakes.”Both resolutions were referred to the House Committee on Energy Policy.##### 28Apr Rep. Lauwers urges feds to evaluate Canadian nuclear waste burial site Lawmaker points out possible dangers to Great Lakes Categories: Lauwers News,News
04Aug Rep. Maturen to serve on Great Lakes caucus leadership committee Categories: Maturen News Lawmaker is committed to protecting the Great LakesState Rep. David Maturen has been selected to represent Michigan on the executive committee of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, a nonpartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. and Canada that focuses on issues and policy concerning the Great Lakes.“The Great Lakes ecosystem is the largest body of fresh water in the world, and millions of people depend on the natural resources it provides,” said Rep. Maturen, R-Vicksburg. “I’m honored to have been selected for a leadership role representing Michigan on the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, and I’m committed to protecting the Great Lakes as well as the inland lakes and rivers that play a significant role in the ecosystem. Of particular importance is preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, which have been wreaking havoc on our lakes.”The GLLC is operated in conjunction with the Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments, and includes representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario and Quebec.As an executive committee member, Rep. Maturen will be able to propose and vote on GLLC resolutions and policy statements concerning Great Lakes issues.Residents who have questions or concerns regarding the Great Lakes are welcome to call Rep. Maturen’s office at (517) 373-1787 or email DavidMaturen@house.mi.gov.#####
State Rep. Peter Lucido testified before the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee in support of a bill to allow parents and guardians to better protect their families by legally allowing them to monitor their minor children’s phone conversationsState Rep. Peter Lucido today testified before the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee in support of his bill allowing parents and guardians to better protect their families by legally allowing them to monitor their minor children’s phone conversations.Under current law, it is illegal to overhear, record, amplify, or transmit private conversations without the permission of everyone involved, regardless of their age.Lucido’s bill confirms the right of parents, foster parents and guardians to monitor their children’s phone calls until they turn 18 and are no longer legally responsible for their behavior.“Parents, foster parents, and guardians must be trusted to do what is in their child’s best interest,” said Lucido, of Shelby Township. “While that certainly varies based on the child, knowing who their children are talking to should not be illegal.”Lucido said parents, foster parents, and guardians are and should be responsible for their children and the opportunity to listen to the conversations is a good way to prevent children from serious danger. In Michigan, it’s legal for a participant in a conversation to record it, but not a third party who is not a part of the conversation.House Bill 4891 remains under consideration by the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee.### Categories: Lucido News 05Oct Rep. Lucido testifies on bill allowing parents to better protect their children
21Jun Rep. Miller plan to help new teachers signed into law Legislator: Educators should be focused on students, classroomsState Rep. Aaron Miller today announced his plan to help new teachers be focused on students, and not on unreasonable certification requirements, has been signed into law.“The time new teachers spend during the first few years of working with students is invaluable, but instead we’re forcing them to go back to school to meet licensing requirements,” said Miller, a licensed teacher. “They should be teaching and setting the stage for a long career working with young minds, not hustling for a piece of paper with no bearing toward improving their abilities a teacher. How does that help the students?”New teachers are issued a standard teaching certificate with a professional license available after three years of classroom experience, over 150 hours of professional development and additional post-graduate coursework. New instructors may renew their five-year standard certification multiple times, while obtaining a professional certificate may be required as early as three years into a teacher’s career.Miller noted the legislation only makes it optional for teachers to pursue the professional certification. The plan has the support of the state Department of Education, along with several other educational groups.“Teachers should be measured on the educational growth and results by their students, not which certification they have achieved,” said Miller, of Sturgis. “We’ve got to let teachers teach, not spend time worrying if they got enough professional development to earn another certificate. We don’t need to add to that, especially if they just graduated from college and are starting their career.”House Bill 4614 is now Public Act 202 of 2018.##### Categories: Miller News,News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares March 4, 2015; The New RepublicWe spotted this, too, but it was Danny Vinik in The New Republic last week who pointed out for the mainstream press how little there was in President Obama’s FY2015 budget proposal to help the long-term unemployed. Just last week, the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the number of long-term unemployed in the nation—unemployed for at least 26 weeks, but still in the labor force looking for a job—grew by a phenomenal 303,000 in February, significantly responsible for the increase in the nation’s overall unemployment rate in the month to 6.7 percent.It’s not highly likely that long-term unemployment skyrocketed due to bad weather. As of February, the number of Americans classified as long-term unemployed had reached 3.8 million—37 percent of all unemployed persons and 2.5 percent of the overall labor force. This is occurring as some of the long-term unemployed lose access to extended unemployment benefits due to the failure of Congress to reach an agreement on whether or how to pay for them. That’s well over two million people cut off from unemployment benefits.This all follows President Obama’s State of the Union address which contained much concern for the long-term unemployed and a directive to Vice President Biden to catalogue job training programs that work. Following the SOTU, the Department of Labor unveiled the $150 million “Ready to Work Partnership” grant competition. The program will pay for 20 to 30 grants in the $3 million to $10 million range, geared, according to the DOL press release, to “support and scale innovative partnerships between employers, nonprofit organizations and America’s public workforce system to build a pipeline of talented U.S. workers and help those experiencing long-term unemployment gain access to employment services that provide opportunities to return to work in middle- and high-skill jobs.”For all the public policy–tested language—“scale,” “innovative”, “partnerships,” etc.—this DOL program isn’t new. H-1B visa fees have long capitalized this grant program of training in industries that typically recruit from skilled foreign labor—for example, this announcement of grant availability for $240 million in 2011.Is anything new, bigger, or better being done for the long-term unemployed, whose ranks are growing as a proportion of the unemployed and of the total labor force? Leaving aside the congressional callousness behind the cutoff of long-term unemployment benefits, what actually is being done for the long-term unemployed beyond adding the category to existing programs and initiatives?Perhaps Vice President Biden will come across programs that have shown promise with challenges facing the long-term unemployed, such as the five-week skills training Platforms to Employment boot camp based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but operating in several other cities such as Detroit and San Francisco; the LA Fellows program; the Institute for Career Transitions launched by a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the mutual aid-oriented Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors program that began in River Edge, New Jersey; the Michigan-based Community Ventures program that matches the long-term unemployed to career opportunities; and more.But what’s in the federal budget as proposed by President Obama to significantly boost these programs and capitalize other programs at the level needed by the nearly four million long-term unemployed, not to mention others who have left the labor force entirely after their unemployment benefits ended?Not much, Vinik says:“The budget does include $4 billion for a public-private partnership, designed to provide the long-term unemployed with job training so that they can rebuild skills that may have deteriorated while they’ve been out of work. It also includes a new ‘Opportunity, Growth and Security’ initiative to invest in critical areas like research, education and public safety. More than 80 percent of the $56 billion that the White House proposes for this initiative would be spent in the first two years and some of it will certainly create new jobs. But given the current rate of long-term unemployment, that’s simply not enough.”Our own review of the president’s budget found little in response to the magnitude of the long-term unemployment problem. The president’s proposed “New Career Pathways” program is really a retooling of two existing programs, including the longstanding Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program and a Workforce Investment Act program focused on dislocated workers. The budget calls for the much-needed reauthorization and recapitalization of the Workforce Investment Act, which includes job training for adults, a workforce innovation fund ($60 million) that will be used to improve education and employment outcomes, enhanced collaborations between state governments and industries through Workforce Investment Boards, and reintegration of ex-offenders. The budget also calls for a Job-Driven Training Fund, which would include the “Bridge to Work” program in which $2 billion would be used for $100 million grants to 20 states allowing unemployed persons to receive unemployment insurance while participating in short-term job placements, another $1.5 billion for “Summer Jobs Plus” targeting disconnected youth, and the $4 billion in “Back to Work Partnerships” identified by Vinik.All of those multibillion-dollar Job-Driven training Fund initiatives are subject to PAYGO, the rule that requires these new initiatives to be funded from existing moneys or somehow be “revenue neutral.” Even if Congress were giving much credence to the President’s FY 2015 proposals, these programs would require other program cuts in order to fit into the budget. Congress last month voted to reverse the cuts in veterans’ military pensions and passed an Agriculture budget that maintained food stamps, but it somehow can’t get its act together for the long-term unemployed. Unfortunately, the good words of President Obama’s State of the Union are not matched by aggressive, commensurate proposals in his proposed FY2015 budget. The implicit message is that the long-term unemployed aren’t really quite as high on his priority list as it seemed a couple of months ago. Between Congress and the White House, it’s not hard to see what is in store for the long-term unemployed: next to nothing.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share106TweetShare21Email127 SharesNovember 3, 2015; California Association of Nonprofits“Working together, governments and nonprofits are able to address needs in our society that they can’t tackle alone,” said Jan Masaoka, the CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits. A significant case in point is yesterday’s unanimous decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to extend to Los Angeles nonprofits the new OMB standards for reimbursing nonprofits on government contract work—the OMB Uniform Guidance.The resolution was authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, who previously served as Secretary of Labor under President Obama. The Supervisors’ resolution calls on County Chief Executive Sachi Hamai to consult with Los Angeles nonprofits to develop an implementation strategy, which must be presented to the County Board within 120 days. The motion also calls for a letter to be signed by all five supervisors to urge the California’s state leaders to fully embrace and implement the OMB rules.The new OMB rules were a signature accomplishment of the pro-nonprofit lobbying of the National Council of Nonprofits, with great credit to Tim Delaney, the president and CEO, and David Thompson, the Council’s vice president for public policy. The so-called OMB “super-circular” replaces several other OMB documents that provided insufficient and often confusing direction to federal agencies (and state agencies administering federal funds) on the key issue of reimbursing nonprofit contractors and vendors for their indirect costs. The new rules require agencies to pay a reasonable share of the indirect costs incurred by nonprofits on government grants and contracts or let the nonprofits opt for an indirect cost rate of 10 percent. Some excellent materials on the OMB guidelines have been developed for NCN by policy specialist Beth Bowsky.This news isn’t simply a local matter for Los Angeles; it should resonate across the country with important lessons for nonprofits, foundations, and government.One important dimension is the decision of the Los Angeles Supervisors to get state leaders to push for strong and thorough implementation of the new OMB standards. They know, and nonprofits know, that some government agencies—through omission, commission, or more—will try to slide by in one way or another. Trying to stretch limited budget dollars, some government agencies will almost assuredly pressure nonprofit contractors to give in on contract items in order to compensate for having to pay higher indirect cost rates (even though the OMB rules prohibit agencies from asking nonprofits to waive their indirects), and some state or local agencies that administer pass-through federal funds will through lack of information or other factors convince themselves that the rules don’t apply to them. Getting strong local and state advocacy for the correct and full implementation of the OMB guidelines is essential. Rules do not implement themselves without strong nonprofit monitoring and oversight—hopefully, as in this case, in partnership with government authorities. In this case, not only are the supervisors talking to state officials, but they will also be developing an implementation strategy in consultation with Los Angeles nonprofits, which we presume, based on what we have seen as policy statements from CalNonprofits, ought to address how to ensure that higher indirect cost reimbursements do not occur at the cost of lessening service delivery.A second element is the apparently important role played by the foundation community. The president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation, Fred Ali, appears to have been a strong ally of California Nonprofits in promoting this decision by the L.A. County supervisors. On the Weingart Foundation website, Ali wrote about his own experience as a nonprofit executive prior to joining the world of philanthropy, where he had to confront the problems that the new OMB rules are meant to help address:When I was a nonprofit executive director, I was often frustrated by the fact that our grants and contracts rarely paid for the full costs of their intended work. We’ve long known that the failure to cover the full cost of work has been an ongoing and significant issue that limits nonprofit organizations’ ability to fulfill their missions and strengthen infrastructure.The lesson of Weingart, headed by a foundation executive who clearly understands the importance of full reimbursement of indirect costs for operating nonprofits, should be an example for other foundations, many of which could be pursuing comparably progressive approaches to nonprofits’ overhead needs. Many foundations apply artificially low overhead rates to their cost calculations on grants to nonprofits, and some simply don’t get the concept at all. In Ali’s words, “The County’s commitment to ensuring greater full-cost recovery is an important win-win for both government and nonprofits, and most importantly, for the communities we all care about.” That should apply no less to foundation.And a third part is about the importance of strong nonprofit associations operating at state and local levels. Supervisor Solis’s press release acknowledged the significance of the “California Full-Cost Initiative,” undertaken by the California Association of Nonprofits, under Masaoka’s leadership, in collaboration with California’s three regional grantmaker associations. It should be no surprise that the photograph accompanying the CalNonprofits statement about the motion showed Weingart’s Fred Ali and CalNonprofits policy director Nancy Berlin together speaking at a County Board meeting. It takes nonprofits working together to get governments at all levels to make changes.NPQ will be watching to see what County Executive Hamai will bring back as an implementation strategy. What Los Angeles develops might be a model for adaptation in metropolitan areas across the nation.—Rick CohenShare106TweetShare21Email127 Shares
Share9TweetShare13Email22 SharesBullseye / sean hobsonAugust 6, 2016; CNNReaders of this newswire should also see today’s feature article to get a fuller picture of the direction of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit.The IRS scandal goes on and on and on, with most of the recent events happening in courtrooms and on the websites of conservative nonprofits like Cause of Action and Judicial Watch. True the Vote, a nonprofit organization that has been seeking 501(c)(4) recognition from the IRS since 2010, sued the agency for inaction on its application and asking for information about the approval process. In a unanimous decision on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a federal district court’s 2014 ruling dismissing True the Vote’s suit against the IRS, deciding to “vacate and remand for further proceedings with respect to the equitable clams of the plaintiff-appellants.” In short, the IRS will have to defend itself in federal court after all, including participation in depositions and evidence discovery. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog:Chapman University law professor John Eastman, a lead attorney for True the Vote, said they intend to conduct a “comprehensive and systematic” discovery search of archived email communications among IRS officials to see if there was “improper communications about tax return inform to other agencies.”Two key facts are raised in the news reporting on the case. First, the IRS has committed “unconstitutional acts against at least a portion of the plaintiffs,” such as “be on the lookout” (BOLO) lists with guidelines for singling out certain applications for extended delay and special scrutiny. Second, the IRS could not prove that it had ceased the practice, for two reasons cited by the court. Not only did the IRS merely “suspend” use of the BOLO guidelines instead of cease their use, the judges wrote, “It is absurd to suggest that the effect of the IRS’s unlawful conduct, which delayed the processing of appellant-plaintiffs’ applications, has been eradicated when two of the appellant-plaintiffs’ applications remain pending.”In its ruling, the appeals court sided with the IRS when it said that no action should be taken against individual IRS employees involved in the targeting scandal.Some believe the scandal was a result of political animus against conservative-sounding nonprofit groups. Others agree with the U.S. Justice Department probe, which concluded there was “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime.” Regardless, the investigations, FOIA requests, Congressional action, and lawsuits continue to take up a lot of time and money at the IRS division that oversees nonprofit organizations.—Michael WylandShare9TweetShare13Email22 Shares
Share22Tweet6ShareEmail28 SharesPhoto: Gallaudet University websiteApril 3, 2018; USA TodayThe marginalization of a community often includes a measure of enforced subjugation, and this can happen in the “serving” of people as easily as it can in employment or any other realm. Notions of doing “for” a group rather than “with” them can be attractive for the doer and devastating to the done-to. When marginalized groups decide the contract is too dear, they rise to refuse.So it was with the young people at Gallaudet University, who in 1988 proved the power of resistance during a week-long protest to demand a Deaf president of the University. March 13th was the 30th anniversary of that action, which took place more than a hundred years after the institution was founded and led not just to its first Deaf president, but a Deaf board chair.A story by USA Today reporter Ryan Miller highlights the anniversary of the protests at the prestigious school, which has served students who are deaf or hard of hearing since the 19th century. Gallaudet became a university in 1986. The issue of representation came to a head, Miller reports, two years later:Gallaudet’s board of trustees named Elisabeth Zinser as the next president. Zinser was the only hearing candidate among the three finalists, and she did not know sign language. A majority of the board could hear.… The students expanded their protest over Zinser’s appointment beyond campus by marching to the U.S. Capitol three times and gaining national attention.[…]After a week of protests, the university caved to the student demands. Zinser announced her resignation, and Gallaudet named its first deaf president—I. King Jordan.Gallaudet’s official history also notes that the protests lead to the first deaf chair of the board, and that the “Deaf President Now” movement has “become synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing people everywhere.” But the history of deaf protest of lack of representation dates back to at least the 1880s. It is now pulled forward by such organizations as the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which advocates for sign language and the rights of Deaf people and helped conduct the first census of the Deaf population.But justice can take years to achieve, and the Deaf community still faces the stigma of economic and social marginalization, evidenced in part through a high unemployment rate. For that reason, Gallaudet has established an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute to create their own employment opportunities. This response fits well within the shape of the movement for Deaf culture, because for many, this community’s response to marginalization has been to value the culture built through what connects its members and to resist the very idea of disability. This stance may confound many outside the community in an age of technological aids to hearing, but the rejection of any notion of being lesser-than is an act of ability and choice—and that matters deeply.There’s little new in the idea that those who seek to represent others rather than stand with them in support as they represent themselves can end up saboteurs of strength-based development. But the lesson does needs to be learned and remembered, so today, we remember the DPN movement and thank them for their inspiration.—Anna Berry and Ruth McCambridgeShare22Tweet6ShareEmail28 Shares
Pay TV operator Sky Italia has decided to pull out of the competition to acquire new digital-terrestrial frequencies, alleging that the process was skewed in favour of rival broadcasters.The rules of the process, which were set under the government of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, meant that the frequencies were to be awarded after a ‘beauty contest’ between applicants. Mediaset, controlled by the Berlusconi family, and state broadcaster Rai had expected to be awarded two of the best frequencies.Sky now hopes that the new technocratic government of Mario Monti will review the rules of the process.Sky won the right to apply for DTT frequencies earlier this year after a battle in which the Italian Council of State confirmed the opinions of the EC and telecom regulator Agcom allowing it to participate in the face of opposition from the Berlusconi government.
UK free-to-view satellite platform Freesat has appointed Nagra’s vice president of product marketing, Matthew Huntington, as chief technology officer.Hungtinton is due to take up his post on May 1 and will report directly to Freesat MD Emma Scott.He will also work closely alongside Freesat’s director of product development, Dan Chronnell, who is responsible for delivering Freesat’s product roadmap.Huntington will be responsible for Freesat’s future technology roadmap, definining tech specifications and delivering new broadcast and on-demand launches for the TV service.He has more than 18 years experience developing products and services for digital and interactive television and his appointment follows the launch of Freesat’s second-generation
Video round-up from the first day at MIPCOM.
Sky CEO Jeremy DarrochMore than half of all Sky’s customers have now connected their Sky+HD box to broadband, giving them access to the UK pay TV operator’s full range of on-demand services.Sky said the total number of connected Sky+HD boxes has more than doubled in less than a year, and now stands at 5.4 million of Sky’s 10.6m TV customers.It said that the customer gains amount to 56,000 new households getting connected every week and that the new milestone follows the launch last summer of Sky’s “big push to drive take-up and usage of connected TV services.”The news was announced at the EY Sustaining Digital Leadership conference in London this morning, where Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said: “We see a widening and growing opportunity for Sky. Our market is opening up, getting bigger and broader. By innovating across different platforms, and adopting new technologies, we can create more ways to reach more customers than ever before.”“Our job is to offer customers the best possible TV experience, making sure that they can watch what they want, when they want, wherever they want. We aim to put Sky at the heart of the ‘digitally connected household’ – to meet customers’ growing desire to consume content on their terms.”Sky said that in its most recent quarter, on-demand accounted for more than 5% of viewing in connected homes – equivalent to the third most popular linear channel in those homes. On-demand downloads have also more than tripled in the last year.Sky’s connected customers can access catch-up TV content, watch box sets of series like Game of Thrones, Prison Break and 24, and can also rent or buy recent blockbusters and classic movies through Sky Store.
Canal+ is launching a new channel for the African market, A+. The channel will offer a diet of African and international content, with 80% of programmes reportedly to be made in African and the remaining 20% coming from the Caribbean or the US. At launch the channel will offer a mix of programmes, about 40% of which will be made in Francophone Africa, with the remaining 40% of African-produced content coming from the rest of the continent.A+, based in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and headed up by Damiano Malchiodi, former head of programming at Cuisine.tv, will reportedly be made available as part of Canalsat’s African bouquet costing CFA5,000 (€7.60) from October.Programming on the channel will reportedly include dramas such as Ma Famille and Docteur Boris, as well as shows such as Tundu Wundu from Senegal, Aimé Malgré Lui from Central Africa and Pango & Wally from Gabon.
Humax has launched the first UK Freeview Play device, the Humax FVP-4000T. The HD device provides access to catch-up TV, on-demand services and live TV and includes built-in WiFi.The box currently gives access to cartch-up services including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5, while a recent agreement between Humax and Netflix should also see Netflix available on the FVP-4000T models in early 2016.The device is powered by the Opera Devices SDK and has three tuners for recording functionality, with a choice of 500GB or 1TB hard drives for up to 300 hours or 600 hours of programme storage space, respectively.The box is priced at £199.99 (€270) for the 500GB model and £229.99 for the ITB model.Graham North, commercial director, Humax, said: “The new FVP-4000T range for Freeview Play gives viewers the options they want from a TV service, whether that’s on-demand viewing, scrolling back the TV guide to catch up on missed shows, playing back recordings or watching live TV. By combining seamless wireless connectivity with the advanced features of the Freeview Play service into one box, Humax continues to lead the UK’s subscription-free set-top box market.”Guy North, managing director, Freeview commented: “We believe that Freeview Play is set to become the new normal way of watching TV and it’s great news that with this launch Humax is giving even more viewers the opportunity to experience it.”
Canal+ and rival pay TV provider beIN Sports have struck an exclusive distribution agreement that will see the Vivendi-owned operator become the sole distributor of the Qatar-owned service in France, according to French press reports.According to Le Monde, the pair have struck a deal that will see beIN Sports distributed exclusively by Canal+ and Canalsat. The paper said that Canal+ filed the agreement with the competition regulator yesterday with the aim of securing approval. As a necessary step, the Vivendi-owned company also needs to secure the removal of a condition of the 2006 merger between Canalsat and TPS that prevents Canalsat from distributing a premium channel on an exclusive basis. This condition is currently in force until July 2017.According to Le Monde, beIN Sports will remain independent and an outright acquisition is not on the table. The channel is not for sale and in any case, it is believed that it could prove to be difficult to secure regulatory approval for such as move, according to sources cited by the paper.Financial title Les Echos has reported that a deal is all but done, with a possibility that it could be announced with Vivendi’s financial results today. According to the paper, Canal+ is likely to use the argument that market conditions have changed significantly since the Canalsat-TPS merger, citing the recent acquisition of English Premier league rights by SFR-Numericable as evidence of the shift.Vivendi is set to unveil its full-year results for 2015 this evening, with some analysts predicting that Canal+ will admit to having lost up to 300,000 subscribers over the year. According to Le Monde, Canal+ France is likely to post a loss of €100 million or more.beIN Sports has a subscriber base of about 2.5 million paying €13 a month, with losses estimated to be in the region o f €250 million a year. Canal+ will have to absorb the costs of the Qatar-owned channel’s deal with the French professional football league as part of thye deal. The cost of sports rights held by beIN Sports has been estimated at between €350 million and €400 million a year.
Sky is to launch its flagship entertainment channel Sky 1 in Germany, bringing content including its homegrown version of global format Masterchef along with new Sky-produced series The Tunnel and Hooten & The Lady to German viewers.Sky 1 will also air German premiers of series including Twin Peaks, 24 Legacy and Medici.The channel will be available on Sky in Germany and Austria and content will also be available on Sky On Demand, Sky Go and Sky Ticket, the new brand for Sky Online that offers a series of day, month and year passes for access to sports and entertainment content.A standard-definition version of the channel will be available in the Sky Starter package for all customers, while an HD version is available as part of the Sky Entertainment package.The German version of Masterchef is produced by Endemol Shine Germany for Sky Deutschland. The series will feature a jury comprising celebrity chefs Ralf Zacherl and Sybille Schönberger and sommelier Justin Leone.Elke Walthelm, programming head at Sky Deutschland, said that Sky 1 would bring entertainment programming including new international series, popular hits and new formats to a Germany audience.
Freesat, the UK’s subscription free satellite TV service, has added STV Player from Scottish commercial broadcaster STV to its on-demand line up. Freesat viewers will be able to catch up on shows such as Taggart and Rebus as well as STV’s flagship programmes, including STV News at six and Scotland Tonight.Available to Freesat viewers in Scotland from today and the rest of the UK on Thursday, STV Player offers catch up and live streaming access to programmes from ITV, including Coronation Street, The X Factor, and Victoria, as well as dramas from the STV archive.STV linear channel is currently available in HD and SD on FreesatJennifer Elworthy, director of marketing and communications at Freesat, said: “We’re really pleased that Freesat viewers in Scotland can now enjoy STV Player through our On Demand service, giving them even more ways to watch the best programmes from STV.”Remi Brunier, product owner at STV, said: “STV is committed to giving viewers access to first class programming, both live and On Demand. With STV Player available on Freesat, we can now offer our audience convenient online access to shows on catch up so they can watch their favourite TV whenever it suits them.”
A Spanish court has condemned Puerto 80, the outfit behind website Rojadirecta, for violating broadcaster Mediapro’s intellectual property rights by posting links whereby users could access illegal streams of Mediapro’s coverage of top-tier Spanish football.The Coruña court ordered Puerto 80 boss Igor Seoane to desist immediately from facilitating links to sites that provided live streams of matches to which Mediapro has the rights.The defendants were ordered to suspend transmissions, data hosting and access to telecommunication networks until such time as they had demonstrated they had ceased all illegal activities.The judge also ordered the website’s owners to compensate Mediapro for damages and to publicise the judgement via its website and in national media.Rejecting Seoane’s defence that he was only providing links to third-party sites and not making illegal content available himself, the judge ruled that the site was editorially curating the content it was directing users to, providing features such as a schedule of matches.Mediapro said that the judgement established an important precedent in its fight to protect its audiovisual rights and represented a decisive step in the eradication of piracy in Spain.The judgement means that Rojadirecta, the principal anchor for illegal streaming in Spain, will disappear.
The BBC’s commercial arm reported a year-on-year increase in sales and profits, but cash returns to the corporation fell for the third consecutive year.Planet Earth IIAnnouncing results for the year ending March 31, 2017, BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) said that headline sales were up 3.0% to £1.06 billion (€1.2 billion) and headline profit was up 17.6% to £157.3 million.Cash returns to the BBC amounted to £210.5 million, a decline from £222.2 million in 2015/16 and £226.5 million in 2014/15.However, excluding £15 million of returns related to the partial disposal of BBC America in the prior year’s numbers, Worldwide claimed that returns were up this year and represented a “record year for organically generated returns”.BBCWW said that during 2016/17 it made a number of small disposals and a dilution of ownership in North American SVOD service BritBox to AMC Networks.In its consolidated cash flow statement, it said that it made £2.7m from the disposal of interests in JVs and other investments during 2017/16 compared to £31.6 million the year before.“Returns of £210.5 million exceeded £200 million for a third year, flowing principally through investment into BBC-commissioned programmes and dividends paid from profits,” said BBC Worldwide chairman and BBC director general, Tony Hall.“This financial return to the Corporation is essential in allowing the BBC to commission with a level of ambition and commitment to quality that simply would not be possible with the licence fee alone.”Hall said that BBCWW and its partners provides between “one-half and fourth-fifths of funding” across flagship BBC programmes Planet Earth II, Doctor Who and Top Gear.BBCWW said it had made “good progress” on concentrating its investment and stopping non-core activity, after it refined its strategy in 2013 to focus on three core areas: premium content; global brands; and digital transformation.Strong demand from VOD customers helped Worldwide pass its internal revenue target of £400m in content sales one year early at £422.4 million – up 9% year-on-year.BBCWW’s partnership with BBC Studios was strengthened by five new equity investments in British production companies, combined with increased shareholdings in Lookout Point and Baby Cow.During the past year it also made further progress in its ‘direct-to-consumer digital approach’ with the launch of a new BBC Player TV Everywhere app in Singapore and Malaysia, and the rollout of Britbox – in partnership with ITV – in the US in March.“We begin the new year facing a complex set of conditions. The outlook remains unpredictable, but demand so far has largely held up well overall,” said CEO of BBC Worldwide and director, global, Tim Davie.“We are actively evolving our company to stay ahead of market developments. We have an exciting slate – including Blue Planet II, Top of the Lake 2 and McMafia – backed by strong relationships with producers and customers alike. We believe these are robust reasons to give our shareholder, partners and stakeholders confidence in our future prospects.”