first_imgFiji Tourism Numbers on a Record HighVisitor numbers to Fiji continue to soar to new heights as a result of strategies developed and intensively implemented by Tourism Fiji in its key source markets to increase and diversify Fiji’s tourist base.As evident from the latest provisional figures released by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBoS) which show that visitor arrivals for July 2015 have reached a new monthly record of 79,494 – surpassing the previous high of July 2011 by 10.3 percent.The July 2015 arrivals figure is 8,678 or 12.3 percent higher than that of July 2014.As a result, the total visitor arrivals for the first seven months of 2015 sits at 415,011, an increase of 35,584 or 9.4 percent compared to the same period in 2014.According to FBoS figures, New Zealand has seen a prevalent increase with 16 percent more arrivals compared to the same month last year. Australia has had a 6.8 percent increase. Australia and New Zealand make up almost 65 percent of total visitor arrivals.The increases are followed by the Pacific Islands of 1,710 (54.5 percent), the United States of 880 (13.2 percent), China of 754 (27.3 percent), Other Countries of 156 (43.8 percent), Canada of 108 (8.5 percent), South Korea of 49 (10.4 percent), and Japan of 32 (6.1 percent).Tourism Fiji Executive Chairman, Mr Truman Bradley says the growth in the provisional figures released by FBoS is in line with the visitor arrivals targets set by Tourism Fiji.“The positive trend to our visitor arrivals is a reflection of the elbow-greasing done by our team across our key markets to ensure more and more people want to keep coming to our country, as well as the efforts of the Government to put in place strategies to boost the tourism industry and our economy.”Mr Bradley explains that the opening of new flight routes to Fiji from Australia and New Zealand, visitor friendly immigration policies, the Tourist Tax Refund Scheme, putting in place innovative investment policies, and improvements to the infrastructure are just some of the strategies that helps us attract more people to Fiji.“The current provisional figures for the first seven months indicate that we have achieved almost 58 per cent of our visitor arrivals target in a good way. The industry is expected to peak in the next three months and as a result we expect to achieve our target and give the much needed boost to the Fijian economy,” Mr Bradley says.Meanwhile, Mr Bradley adds that the arrival of the first New Zealand B787 Dreamliner to Fiji in October is expected to further boost tourist numbers from New Zealand – which has the second highest visitors to the country.“We have a total of 72,870 New Zealanders visit the country from January to July 2015 and we expect to see continuous inflation in those numbers. The arrival of the Dreamliner is one way for us to be able to do that and the Tourism Fiji team will be deploying campaigns to leverage the profile of what will be another historic moment for Fiji’s tourism industry.”Source = Fiji Tourismlast_img read more

first_img05Feb Bizon backs bureaucracy-busting boiler bill More veterans would be able to use their military experience toward the licensing requirements for certain occupations under a House bill co-sponsored by state Rep. John Bizon.The bill, House Bill 4134, will allow military experience to count toward the experience requirement necessary to be a licensed boiler installer, repairer or inspector.“The brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us deserve every opportunity to find a good job without having to jump through administrative hoops when they return home,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek. “As a veteran, I hope to work with my colleagues to continue providing Michigan veterans with greater access to job opportunities by removing barriers they may face.”Many automobile factories and manufacturing centers utilize boilers, as well as schools, armories, commercial businesses and municipal buildings.“Eliminating some of the red tape for these men and women will offer them with greater access to jobs while providing Michigan’s employers with dedicated and loyal employees,” Bizon said.HB 4134 has been referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee.### Categories: Bizon Newslast_img read more

first_img26Mar Rep. Sheppard: development grant will help renovate downtown Milan Categories: Sheppard News Local renovation project to revitalize 56th District communityThe Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) last week announced an $873,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program to help renovate four partially vacant and historic buildings in downtown Milan.“It comes as no surprise that businesses and people are looking to invest in our unique community,” said Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance. “This revitalization grant will undoubtedly help attract commercial activity to downtown Milan and show visitors and prospective residents that we always welcome folks with open arms.”The renovation plan retains an existing bakery and adds new space for other businesses and restaurants. The second and third floors of the four buildings will become 15 new apartments.“As our state grows, it becomes clear how important economic investments like these MEDC grants are,” Rep. Sheppard said. “People want to live here, businesses want to open their doors here. I’m grateful to the many organizations and families who have chosen to invest in our strong economic future and call southeast Michigan their home.”Wabash & Main’s Milan renovation is projected to create 25 full-time jobs and generate total capital investments of $5.3 million, resulting in the MEDC assistance.last_img read more

first_img In a legislative session that did not adjourn until 3 a.m. on Thursday, the Michigan House – with the help of Rep. Gary Howell of North Branch – approved legislation that will aid in the preservation of retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees.The legislation will help identify local governments most at risk of bankruptcy or severe financial hardship due to underfunded retirement plans. The legislation sets up a system to help guide local governments to solid financial footing, so they can continue to pay for promised retiree benefits and public services. The goal of the legislation is to prevent the loss of retirement benefits such as what happened in the Detroit bankruptcy.“I sponsored and voted for this legislation to protect the retirement benefits of our firefighters, police and other municipal employees,” Howell said after voting in favor of the package of bills. “They have worked hard to earn these benefits, and they deserve them. This legislation will start the process of making sure local governments are serious about doing what needs to be done to preserve these benefits.”Michigan’s local government employee retirement systems have unfunded liabilities fast approaching $20 billion. The legislation working its way through the Legislature aims to help communities improve their plans’ finances.The legislation utilizes recommendations from a task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year. The task force included representatives of police, firefighters, local governments, and state legislators.The reform legislation mandates some level of pre-funding to ensure every local unit has a start in paying for municipal employee retirement plans. The legislation creates a reporting system with uniform, realistic financial and accounting standards for local government retirement plans. An early detection system will help identify potential funding problems and allow local governments to act quickly to mitigate them. Communities will be vetted through a state treasurer’s fiscal impact evaluation and retirement systems will be flagged as underfunded when municipalities aren’t meeting set criteria to alleviate their debts.Howell noted that the Lapeer County Board of Commissioners, the Lapeer District Library, and the Village of Columbiaville are local examples of “great foresight and fiscal responsibility” in the area of retiree benefits.“I applaud their efforts,” Howell said. “They set good examples for local governments throughout Michigan to follow as they tackle this issue.”The package of bills, including House Bills 5308 and 5309 which are sponsored by Rep. Howell, advances to the Senate for consideration.##### Categories: Howell News,News 07Dec Rep. Howell: Reform plan will help ensure police, firefighters get retiree benefits they deservelast_img read more

first_img17Apr Rep. Hank Vaupel Weekly Column: April 16, 2018 Last week, I spoke at an Opiate Awareness Forum at the Fowlerville UB Church hosted by the Fowlerville Police Department. Awareness is critical to finding solutions and offering help to those who need it, and it was encouraging to see the great cooperation shown from local leaders, law enforcement, and organizations. I was honored to be part of the discussion as we continue working on the issue. Thank you to Fowlerville Police Chief John Tyler for organizing the event and ensuring the community is informed about opiates.***I attended several other local events over the past few weeks. Last Friday, I joined local officials and business leaders for the Emagine Movie Theater groundbreaking ceremony in Hartland. The theater will be located in the Hartland Towne Square Plaza and is expected to open this winter. It was great to welcome a new business to the community, and I am excited for continued economic growth throughout the district.I attended Good Morning Livingston with the Howell Chamber of Commerce where Congressman Mike Bishop was the guest speaker. He spoke on issues being discussed in Washington D.C., including his bipartisan work on various committees. Thank you to Congressman Bishop and the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this important update.***I recently had the opportunity to meet in Lansing with Livingston County residents attending the Right to Life of Michigan annual legislative day. I enjoy any chance to hear from the people of our community so I can better represent them in the Michigan Legislature.***I was happy to participate in a tour of the Lansing Community College (LCC) Health and Human Services facility. I am impressed by the quality curriculums available to students seeking an associate degree in the various health service programs available from the college. LCC also has a branch center in Livingston County where other courses are offered.***On Thursday, I had the privilege of welcoming the Hartland High School hockey team to the Capitol and recognizing them on the House floor. The Hartland Eagles are this year’s state champions, and it was an honor to acknowledge their excellent commitment and hard work. Congratulations, and great job to the team, coaches and staff!***I invite you to join me for my April office hours on Friday, April 20 at the following times and locations:2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Fowlerville Farms, 941 S. Grand Ave. in Fowlerville;4 to 5 p.m. at Biggby Coffee, 11325 W. Highland Road in Hartland; and5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at All Star Coney Island, 934 Michigan Ave. in Howell.I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your thoughts!***If you have any ideas, comments or questions for my office, please do not hesitate to call us at 517-373-8835 or send an email to HankVaupel@house.mi.gov. We are happy to hear from you! Categories: Vaupel Newslast_img read more

first_img Categories: Hauck News State Rep. Roger Hauck today helped advance plans to fund improvements to Island Park in Mt. Pleasant.Hauck, of Union Township, voted in favor of the Natural Resources Trust Fund plan approved by the Michigan House.The plan includes $153,000 for the development of an 8-foot wide accessible path and fitness stations in Island Park and the replacement of the 28 year-old pedestrian bridge between Island Park and Pickens Park. The trail improvements will complete the one-mile loop within Island Park, which is part of the Mid-Michigan Community Pathway. A $165,000 local match will also be provided.“The improvements will enhance accessibility and offer more options for local families to spend some time together while improving their fitness and taking in all of our area’s beautiful natural resources,” Hauck said. “This grant is a great example of how state and local governments can work together to improve the quality of life in our community.”Overall, the DNR Trust Fund plan includes nearly $50 million for 131 recreational development and land acquisition projects across Michigan. The funding is comprised of revenue from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments for the projects.Senate Bill 883 advances to the governor for consideration.### 16May Rep. Hauck votes to support funding for Mt. Pleasant park projectslast_img read more

first_img The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) would be subject to greater transparency and drivers would have more choice in their car insurance policies under plans reintroduced by state Rep. Jeff Yaroch of Richmond.Yaroch’s plan is even more urgent given the MCCA’s announcement this week it is again raising its annual fee related to the fund for catastrophically injured drivers in Michigan. The fee will increase to $220 per insured vehicle – up 15 percent – on July 1.Yaroch’s House Bill 4210 would subject the MCCA to Freedom of Information requirements. It also would require the MCCA to publicly disclose on its website all data used in computing annual per-insured-vehicle assessments, expected losses and expenses.“If we are going to reform auto insurance in Michigan we must take a hard look at the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association,” Yaroch said. “We need more transparency and accountability within the MCCA – and we need it now. My proposal should be on the table if we’re serious about helping Michigan drivers, who are paying the highest average car insurance rates in the nation.”The MCCA is a private, nonprofit entity which reimburses insurance companies for auto-related medical claims over $555,000. Michigan requires all car insurance companies to belong to the MCCA and pay an annual per-insured-vehicle assessment to fund the association. The fees are passed on to drivers.“The MCCA jacks up its fees every year, and we have no way of knowing if these increases are justified,” Yaroch said. “We’ve got to find out what is happening with the money we have to pay to drive a car.”Yaroch’s second measure, House Bill 4211, provides Michigan drivers with choice in the personal injury protection (PIP) medical coverage portions of their car insurance policies by creating a new coverage level.Under Yaroch’s plan, drivers could continue choosing the current unlimited medical coverage, or choose a PIP coverage level of $555,000 – the amount at which the MCCA currently reimburses auto insurers for auto-related medical expenses. The $555,000 coverage level would increase when the MCCA fee is scheduled to increase to ensure health care coverage protections for drivers who choose that option.“Michigan drivers should have a say in the amount of medical coverage they have on their car insurance policies,” Yaroch said. “By forcing every driver to buy unlimited medical coverage, there’s no structure in place to prevent car insurance premiums from skyrocketing. Creating a new coverage level provides long-overdue choice and will offer some financial relief to Michigan drivers.”Both of these bills are reintroductions from last session and have been assigned to the House Insurance Committee for consideration.##### Categories: News,Yaroch News 28Mar Rep. Yaroch: MCCA fee increase proves need for car insurance reformlast_img read more

first_imgShare20Tweet18ShareEmail38 SharesBy City of National City, California, Public Domain, LinkOctober 3, 2017; Next CityWith a campaign that began in 2005, National City in California made headlines as the first city in California to pioneer including environmental justice as part of their comprehensive plan. A year ago, a bill, SB 1000, authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and cosponsored by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) and the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), was signed into law by California’s Governor Edmund G. (“Jerry”) Brown, Jr.. The law took effect this January. The law requires that California cities address environmental justice in their planning, as the Civic Solutions consultancy indicates, “either through the preparation of a standalone Environmental Justice Element or through the adoption of goals, policies and objectives incorporated into other elements.”So, as Next City writer Rachel Dovey explains, California cities face several new requirements. Cities must have a comprehensive, long-term plan for development; they must identify disadvantaged communities; and plans must have an environmental justice element that will “identify objectives and policies to reduce the unique or compounded health risks in disadvantaged communities.”National City’s 155-page plan is now a model for the field and forms a key element of an upcoming toolkit, scheduled to be released by CEJA on October 9th.  National City, it would appear, has something to share with its wealthier California brethren (think San Francisco or Santa Monica, for example), which now may have to catch up with their poorer border city cousin.National City is among the state’s more economically and environmentally disadvantaged cities. According to the San Diego County Department of Health, National City is “home to 32 million pounds of hazardous substances and 870,000 cubic feet of toxic or hazardous gases.” Nearby La Jolla, with a similar population size, had 3.8 million pounds of hazardous gases. As a result, National City has an asthma rate 60 percent higher than the county average, among other environment-related health challenges.People of color dominate the city’s population. Almost 60 percent are Latinx and a little under 18 percent are Filipino; whites make up about 14 percent of the city’s population. About two-thirds of residents are renters, and nearly a quarter of its residents live below the poverty line.As Smithsonian Magazine pointed out, “the reality is that low income, diverse areas are often exposed to significantly more environmental pollutants than other socioeconomic groups and neighborhoods. Environmental discrimination is a subset of almost every other kind of prejudice.”The EPA defines environmental justice as a situation where people have:the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, andequal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.Unfortunately, after years of ignoring community health and sustainability goals in urban planning, cities have reached a point where having more money buys you not only a nicer but a healthier place to live.“When you integrate community members who may not have been planners for 10 or 20 years or may not have had access to higher education into the planning process, it creates room for things to be solved in different ways,” notes Carolina Martínez, associate director of policy at the National City-based Environmental Health Coalition.Urban planning, if done in cooperation with disadvantaged communities, can reduce other elements of injustice as well. For instance, in 2015, Rick Cohen discussed Michelle Alexander’s claim that community-based urban planning can help undo the dynamic of the “New Jim Crow,” a system of incarceration and disenfranchisement that targets Black Americans.Many cities are slow to do the periodic urban planning updates that would help them more accurately accommodate the needs of residents. “It’s a major undertaking,” Christopher Calfee from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research told the Orange County Register. “The update takes a long time, and it can be quite resource intensive, and expensive.” We then have a chicken-and-egg situation, where money is inefficiently spent due to outdated information, which then drains the pool of money to spend on updating the data that would improve spending patterns…you get the picture. Some cities in Orange County haven’t updated their plans since the 1970s.But the toolkit and the National City example provide valuable resources for those who generate the political will to take the plunge. As Dovey writes:National City’s experience, as well as the other case studies CEJA highlights from Fresno, Jurupa Valley, the Los Angeles region and Richmond, serve as instructive and inspiring examples for other cities hoping to tackle local health inequities. CEJA’s toolkit also helps cities identify disadvantaged areas in their own jurisdictions, understand the requirements of SB 1000 and locate funding sources. It will no doubt be very helpful for California cities—at least the ones that don’t ignore or willfully obstruct state law.—Erin RubinShare20Tweet18ShareEmail38 Shareslast_img read more

first_imgShare32TweetShareEmail32 SharesBy Anthonyt31201 [CC0], from Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 11, 2018; WBUR“Boston’s past and current city administrations have permitted an explosion in luxury real estate property construction that is reshaping the city’s skyline and economic composition,” write Chuck Collins and Emma de Goede in a report titled Towering Excess: The Perils of The Luxury Real Estate Boom for Bostonians, published by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), a nonprofit think tank. “With thousands of new luxury units either under construction or seeking permits, city officials ought to be seriously exploring the perils these units pose.”As Simón Rios reports for WBUR, a Boston public radio station, “The study looks at 1,805 units with an average price of $3 million.” Looking at the dates of construction of these buildings, it appears that many luxury buildings are built toward the end of economic booms and often open shortly after economic crashes. One of the twelve buildings Collins and de Goede examine opened in 1982 (itself the end of a recession). Four opened in 2000 and 2001 (i.e., after the bust of the 1990s dot-com boom), then another three opened in 2008 and 2009 (at the start of the Great Recession). In recent years (2013-2016), three have opened and one other has expanded.Now, as NPQ’s Kelly Phipps observed, a host of new luxury buildings in Boston is expected. The IPS report identifies 17 potential properties and more than 3,000 units of housing. But how big is the market for $3-million condominiums? Is Boston’s elite that flush?This is where things start to get interesting. As it turns out, most luxury condo units are not bought by New Englanders. An editorial in the Boston Business Journal explains that “many of these condos are used by wealthy elites overseas as vehicles to store wealth, rather than as full-time housing. Further, more than a third of the units in those projects are owned by limited liability corporations (LLCs) or trusts that obscure the real owners.”In fact, Collins and de Goede report that only 650 or so (36 percent) of the 1,805 condo owners claim a residential tax break. The other 64 percent of the units are either rented out, secondary residences, or investment vehicles. The result, they note, is the emergence of “towns [that] have no stoop life, less foot traffic, fewer customers for neighborhood businesses, and weakened neighborly bonds.” De Goede remarks that she “was surprised by the lack of residency in luxury buildings that are promoted as ‘communities in the sky’…these buildings are far more comparable to ghost towns than they are to integrated communities.”It is all perfectly legal, although Collins and de Goede caution that cash real estate transactions can be used to launder illicit gains. “We spot-checked some of those buildings and found there were large numbers of cash purchases by shell corporations, which is sort of a red flag for possible use of illicit funds,” Collins tells Rios.Meanwhile, 52.5 percent of Boston area renters and 35.8 percent of homeowners are presently “housing cost burdened,” with over 30 percent of their income going to housing expenses. And 21 percent of Bostonians spend more than half of their income on housing.Every fall, Northeastern University publishes its Greater Boston Housing Report Card. In its 2017 report, authors Barry Bluestone and James Huessy note that, “In the period 1996 to 2003, more than 39 percent of all permits were for affordable units [but] since 2011 the proportion has fallen to about 18 percent.”The city of Boston invests in affordable housing, funded in part by linkage fees assessed on market-rate developments. “The luxury units are giving us a ton of cash to create affordable housing through the city,” says city housing director Sheila Dillon.But as NPQ has noted, a focus on production can mask larger trends. Nonprofit advocates would do well to promote—and city leaders to implement—policies that foster a healthier housing market. No matter how much new affordable housing you build, it’s hard to keep housing affordable when the median price of housing in some Boston low-income neighborhoods increased by over 50 percent between 2010 and 2015. Overall, concludes Renée Loth in the Boston Globe, construction “is not solving the housing affordability problem.” The Boston Business Journal editorial board concurs:None of this [the report’s findings] is news to those in the business community—especially in real estate—who’ve watched over the past two decades as the city’s developers have increasingly catered to mega-rich, international buyers. Meanwhile, the city’s workforce is being forced to live farther and farther from the city, and endure longer and longer commutes, crowded out by projects like Millennium Tower and One Dalton.In their report, Collins and de Goede make a number of recommendations, including taxing luxury housing. The Boston Business Journal writes that, “While we’re always reluctant to embrace a new tax, the need to ensure an adequate workforce to fuel Boston’s growth is a bigger concern in this case. City housing experts agree that a tax on real estate transactions on properties selling for upwards of, say, $2.5 million, or some kind of tax on vacant condos—with the proceeds dedicated to building affordable housing—may well be…needed.”—Steve DubbShare32TweetShareEmail32 Shareslast_img read more

first_imgShare24TweetShareEmail24 Sharespeoplesworld / Voter ID, or Voter IDiocy?November 9, 2018; ABC-11 and FortuneLast Tuesday, more than two million North Carolina voters, 55 percent of the total, said “yes” to a state constitutional amendment that will require people to present a valid photo ID in order to vote. An earlier attempt to impose the same requirement through legislation had been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, prompting North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature to place the measure on the November ballot. Just days after the election, a recently formed nonprofit, Spread the Vote, announced it was springing into action to make sure this wouldn’t keep eligible voters from participating in the next election.Voter ID requirements are one of several contentious efforts to suppress votes. Thirty-four states have some kind of voter ID law in place, with 22 requiring a state-issued form of identification. The stated rationale is that ID prevents fraud and qualified voters can easily meet the requirements. Opponents see it as a solution to a nonexistent problem and one that’s really designed to limit the power of the poor and communities of color, for whom the cost and difficulty of obtaining the necessary documents present a high barrier.Spread the Vote’s approach is not to engage in legislative struggles to overturn these laws. Rather, it seeks to increase voter turnout and help voters meet the requirements that now face over 21 million otherwise qualified voters. Spread the Vote sees the following barriers that must be surmounted:The voter must gather documentation—things like birth certificates, naturalization papers, social security cards, marriage certificates for women who have changed their names, and proof of residence. Original copies are usually required, which can cost money to obtain. The poor face the challenge of paying for all this paperwork. The homeless lack the residential address required to register. Elderly voters who were born in rural areas may have never been issued birth certificates, and must make their way through an endless bureaucratic maze in order to prove their identities. Students and young voters may find their dormitory addresses are not accepted. Native Americans who live on reservations may find that PO Boxes are not accepted either.Within days of learning the election results, Spread the Vote announced it would expand its current five-state operations to include North Carolina. It will hire a local staff director and, by January, begin recruiting the volunteers to reach those whose right to vote is at risk. According to ABC11, “volunteers will be going to senior-living facilities, homeless shelters, and college campuses—assigning mentors to help people not just get IDs but also the vital records required to get the ID, such as birth certificates or social security cards.”Spread the Vote Founder Kat Calvin said, “IDs are hard to get. I mean they’re not free. You can’t just walk into the DMV and get an ID. You have to pay for the ID. You need birth certificates…Spread the Vote pays all the costs required to get an ID. We’ll pay for documents. We’ll pay for the ID itself. And we pay upfront. It’s not reimbursement. So that’s not something someone needs to worry about when they work with us.”The challenge that Spread the Vote has taken on is large, and their 2018 results were quite small. According to Fortune, the organization “spent $770,000 this year to help more than 600 voters in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida obtain IDs.” For 2019, they have set an aggressive goal of getting IDs for 10,000 voters and are expecting to spend more than $3 million in that effort.Calvin, perhaps recognizing that at more than $1,000 per individual, their program is costly, added another perspective to their value proposition in comments to AXIOS: “IDs are about so much more than voting. Our clients use their IDs to get jobs, housing, medical care, food at food banks, nights at shelters, and so much more.”—Martin LevineShare24TweetShareEmail24 Shareslast_img read more

first_imgVoddler has launched a movie streaming service with Dolby’s Digital Plus audio for certain smart phones.The Scandinavia-based video-on-demand operator said the service, which at launch is available on Nokia smart phones, is the first of its kind and delivers cinematic surround sound to the mobile devices.last_img

first_imgOn-demand TV software specialist Espial is acquiring IPTV technology company ANT.Espial will acquire all outstanding shares in ANT in a deal that values the company at £5 million (€6.1 million). The acquisition is expected to close during the first quarter of 2013.Espial said it hoped the acquisition would lead to increased revenues and customer base, an expanded customer footprint in Europe, North America and Asia along with additional intellectual property including client and user experience products, technologies and patents.“Multiscreen video services on set-top boxes, smart TVs, tablets, PCs and smart phones are quickly becoming the new expectation for today’s consumers. Delivering a superior user experience across these devices is a critical element to the success of TV service providers” said Jaison Dolvane, CEO of Espial. “The acquisition of ANT provides Espial with the increased scale, resources and depth of experience to extend our HTML5 market leadership. ANT provides rich expertise in delivering HTML5 user interfaces and applications as well as delivering complex vertically integrated client software solutions. We believe the acquisition of ANT will extend our capabilities to establish Espial as a clear market leader as TV service providers aggressively move to IP video delivery. We’re excited about this combination and are committed to continue working with ANT’s existing customers and partners to ensure their ongoing success”.last_img read more

first_imgSouth African pay TV operator MultiChoice has introduced a new DStv Family pack, to launch on April 9, priced at ZAR175 (€14.50) a month.The pack will include over 45 channels, 17 of which have not been on lower-tier bouquest previously. These include Sony Entertainment, Discovery TLC, Nat Geo Wild, KykNET Musiek and Cartoon Network.Two new channels – Fox and KykNET & Kie – will also be added to the DStv bouquest on April 9, available via the Compact and Premium bouquets as well as the new Family pack.Fox will feature shows including Falling Skies and The Walking Dead, while kids channel KykNET & Kie will give customers on DStv Compact and DStv Family access to some kykNET shows such as Villa Rosa, Binneland, Toks en Tjops, Enuus and Dagbreek. KykNET & Kie will absorb existing kids service KooWee, airing shows including Tjiff and Tjaff, Lappies, Pikin and Zimzim.last_img read more

first_imgPan-European sports channel Eurosport has named Philippe Denery as chairman and Jean-Thierry Augustin as CEO following the appointment of Laurent-Eric Le Lay, who combined both roles, as CEO of TF1 Publicité.Denery will remain in his current post as executive vice-president of TF1 Group finance, combining that with his chairmanship of the TF1 majority-owned sports broadcaster.Augustin (pictured, left) has been promoted from his previous position of managing director, distribution, right acquisition and development.Le Lay was last week named as the successor to Laurent Solly at TF1’s advertising arm following the latter’s departure to take over as head of Facebook France.TF1 said that the change at Eurosport reflected its ambition to enable to the broadcaster to continue developing as part of the partnership agreement signed with Discovery.Discovery has acquired a 20% holding in Eurosport, with the option to increase this to a 51% majority stake.last_img read more

first_imgTechnology firms and device manufacturers ABB, Bosch, Cisco, and LG aim have agreed to set up a smart home software platform consortium in Germany. The firms have signed a memorandum of understanding and, subject to antitrust approval, said they plan to develop an open architecture for data exchange that will allow different devices and services – ranging from security to entertainment – to exchange information with each other.The firms said that a common platform like this has not been available before now and that they aim to make different devices compatible with each other and able to communicate over WiFi and wired connections.“This consortium represents an opportunity to bring together a variety of business ecosystem partners, all working together to help make the ‘internet of things’ for the home a reality. Cisco is looking forward to participating in the consortium and creating a standard that allows consumers to experience a connected home,” said Jesper Andersen, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Service Provider Video Software & Solutions Group.last_img read more

first_imgAMC/Sundance Channel Global president Bruce Tuchman has added the role of president, MGM Channel Global to his duties.AMC Networks has handed Tuchman the role following its acquisition of Chellomedia, which had acquired the international MGM channels business in August 2012.The MGM Channel is distributed in more than 130 territories.Tuchman has a long history with MGM, having joined AMC Networks from MGM Worldwide Networks in 2011, where he oversaw the then-studio-owned cable, satellite and other networks business.Following Tuchman’s new appointment, responsibility for sales, scheduling and operations for MGM Channel will remain with the AMCN Chellomedia business units that operate the network, namely Chello Central Europe, Chello Latin America, Chello Multicanal and Chello Zone.Tuchman will coordinate these divisions and work to further develop the brand. He will continue to report to AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll and be based in New York.“Bruce has done a great job building Sundance Channel into a global brand and this new role allows us to take advantage of his long history with MGM,” said Carroll.Before joining MGM, Tuchman was at MTV Networks, where he was general manager of Nickelodeon Global Network Ventures and senior VP, Nickelodeon New Media Ventures.last_img read more

first_imgUK cable operator Virgin Media has launched a ‘Season Ticket’ offer that will give customers 10 months of access to Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4 and Sky Sports 5 for a one-off upfront cost of £150.Virgin said the offer will save customers “hundreds of pounds on the cost of watching Sky Sports channels at home and on the go,” and establishes it as the only UK provider to offer every major live sports channel in one place.“Virgin Media is now the home of all the major live sports in the UK in HD or on the go. This is the first time all the Sky and BT Sport channels will be available in one place, backed by superfast broadband, for a single great value price,” said Dana Strong, chief operating officer at Virgin Media.last_img read more

first_imgDutch telco KPN has reached an agreement with rival service provider Tele2 and pay TV provider M7 Group about access to its fixed network based on virtual unbundled local access (VULA) and wholesale broadband access (WBA) respectively, for seven years.VULA and WBA are alternatives to unbundled passive network access (MDF) that KPN currently offers to third-party providers.KPN said its VULA agreement would be considered as a reference agreement for future deals.The agreement is subject to approval by regulator the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). If consent is given, KPN will be able to upgrade its copper network, the company said.KPN’s introduction of vectoring in its DSL access network means that its network is not compatible with current forms of local loop unbundling.“We have been able to come to a commercial agreement with wholesale parties, which enables them to offer services to their customers. These agreements prove that we are able to enter into agreements for fixed access. Furthermore, this allows us to implement innovations in our fixed network in the interest of our customers,” said Joost Farwerck, COO and member of the Board of Management of KPN.last_img read more

first_imgUK free-to-air satellite platform Freesat added 6,000 new TV homes in the third quarter, taking its total number of additions this year to 25,000 households.Announcing Q3 figures, Freesat said that more than 4 million viewers watch its service each week and that it continues to be the preferred TV offering for 1.9 million households.Freesat revealled that its connected service, Freetime, has seen 60% year-on-year growth, and that the Freesat App has been downloaded more than 550,000 times to iOS and Android devices.In the last quarter, Freesat also added six new channels to its lineup – including PBS America and Fox UK’s YourTV – taking its content offering to more than 200 TV and radio channels.“It’s been another busy quarter for Freesat and we’re pleased that six new channels see the value in joining the platform. The launch of Fox’s Your TV and PBS America on free-to-air for the first time only reinforces the strength of free TV in the UK,” said Freesat managing director, Alistair Thom.Freesat’s Freetime service is available on TVs and set top boxes and lets users pause, rewind and record live TV, scroll back through seven-days of catch-up programming and access on-demand players including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5 and YouTube.last_img read more

first_imgVodafone will soft launch its pay TV service in the UK next month, according to UK press reports.UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph reported this morning that the telco giant is putting “the final touches” to its pay TV service and will launch its set top box next month.The launch of the service has been delayed but with an October rollout will have sport via the Sky Now service, although it has not got a deal in place for the BT Sport services.The Telegraph adds that Vodafone is likely to first offer its TV service to staff and then existing subscribers to work through any teething problems.Vodafone first talked about a TV service in the UK in 2014, with a 2015 launch expected, before delays put it the rollout back.A full-scale commercial launch is expected in late 2016. It will mean the telco can offer a quad-play of fixed and mobile telephony, broadband, and video.last_img read more