Category: gaasbluo

  • Harshly critical EU tells Turkey to commit to neighbourly relations

    first_imgThe European Commission on Tuesday urged Turkey to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes, while the EU’s top official said the country if moving rapidly away from the path of European Union membership as Brussels delivered its harshest criticism yet of Ankara’s shift towards authoritarianism.In its 2018 Report on Turkey, the Commission urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action against a member state, or source of friction or actions that damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.The report follows recent violations of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone by Turkish navy vessels that intercepted ENI’s Saipem 12000 drillship last February while it was en route to a site in offshore block 3 where it was scheduled to drill an exploratory gas well.The report refers to Turkey’s expressed support for the talks on the Cyprus settlement and for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and his Special Adviser.“A Conference on Cyprus, convened in Geneva in January 2017 and in Crans-Montana in July 2017, closed without an agreement,” it said.While couched in diplomatic language, the report blamed Ankara for a broad, collective and disproportionate crackdown following a failed 2016 coup attempt.It warned that years of progress towards European Union standards in human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law were being lost and that Turkey had seen a weakening of local democracy as presidential powers increased.Turkey “continues to take huge strides away from the EU, in particular in the areas of rule of law and fundamental rights,” European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who oversees EU membership bids, told a news conference after publishing the report.“The Commission has repeatedly called on Turkey to reverse this negative trend as a matter of priority and makes very clear the recommendations on this in today’s report,” he said.The report also called for Turkey to lift the state of emergency that allows President Tayyip Erdogan and the government to bypass parliament in passing new laws and to suspend rights and freedoms.Turkey began talks to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying and while a series of issues, notably Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, slowed negotiations, membership talks have been stalled since 2016.However, Erdogan said last month he remained committed to seeking EU membership.The report stressed that Turkey has still not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus.“There was no progress on normalising bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus,” it said.Negotiations, it said, will not be opened on eight chapters relating to Turkey’s restrictions regarding Cyprus and no chapter will be provisionally closed until the Commission confirms that Turkey has fully implemented the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement.It said that tensions in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean were not conducive to good neighbourly relations and undermined regional stability and security.“Bilateral relations with several EU Member States deteriorated, including at times offensive and unacceptable rhetoric,” it said, adding that in March 2018, the European Council strongly condemned Turkey’s continued illegal actions in the region.Turkey, the report said, “needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations, international agreements, and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice”.You May Likemnn.com by Georgia-Pacific#SeeHer: This female forester is comfortable in her skin (and muddy boots)mnn.com by Georgia-PacificUndoFitness Engage7 Foods You Can Eat and Not Gain WeightFitness EngageUndoUniversityBuzzo9 Tuition-Free Colleges That You Didn’t KnowUniversityBuzzoUndo Iran’s Revolutionary Guards publish purported exchange with British warshipUndoAt least 20 killed, 50 injured in attack on VP candidate’s office in KabulUndoFilms and food at RialtoUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

  • Cyprus takes part in ICT exhibition in Egypt

    first_imgCyprus participated in the biggest ICT exhibition themed Driving Transformation, hosted by Egypt between November 15 and 28, 2018.Under the umbrella of COIN (Collaboration Innovation Network), Cyprus, Greece, and Egypt joined forces with the aim of boosting innovation and entrepreneurship in the three countries.The Cypriot delegation included representatives from the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency, and three start-ups that won a ticket to participate through a national selection process as part of COIN.The three winning teams, Abacio (digital banking), Zygos (Services Software) and Embio (food safety) were given the opportunity to explore new business avenues in Cairo through B2B meetings, as well as to promote their services to investor networks.Constantinos Loizou (L), CEO of EMBIO talking with the Egyptian minister Dr TalaatThe exhibition was opened by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi along with CIT Minister Dr Amr Talaat, who showed interest in the Cypriot start-ups, which have developed innovative products in IoT (Internet of Things), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.During his meetings with the Cypriot start-ups, Dr.Talaat said technology is the main pillar of an international economy and sustainable development.Egypt is one of the fastest growing markets that invest in young people and the development of their skills in all fields.COIN also arranged some B2B meetings between the parties of the COIN consortium with the aim of striking business collaborations and partnerships between the countries. You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoSecurity SaversWindows Users Advised To Do This TodaySecurity SaversUndo Turkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoThe Deniz boat incident showed clearly the intentions of the Turkish sideUndoConcern over falling tourism numbersUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

  • With goodwill on all sides Gesy will be realised says minister updated

    first_imgWith goodwill on all sides, convergences can be reached that will lead the National Health Scheme (Gesy) forward, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Sunday.“It is a common aim of all those involved in the health sector to implement a National Health Scheme,” the minister said. “Our aim as the health ministry is to implement Gesy as envisaged in the law and its timetable, which is November 2019 for the first phase.He was speaking after a resolution setting out the conditions under which doctors will take part in the scheme was approved by more than 1,000 members of the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) on Saturday night during an extraordinary general meeting.The resolution calls for an increase in the Gesy budget so that it reaches the EU average to ensure the quality of health services provided, patient safety and the sustainability of the scheme.Clear timetables, as well as measures to support both public and private doctors, as well as nurses in both the public and the private sector, are required, the doctors said.“Doctors are an important pillar in the implementation of Gesy and we take their worries seriously. We have offered as the ministry to mediate between the private doctors and the Health Insurance Orgnisation (HIO) as we have done many times in the past,” Ioannou said.Regarding doctors’ fees for taking part in Gesy, they should be in accordance with the proposals CyMA has already submitted, the doctors said. A guaranteed unit price is also required for specialist doctors involved in outpatient care in addition to inpatient fees per medical procedure.The doctors are also asking for clear explanation and written, legal guarantees which cover the terms under which both private and state doctors take part in Gesy, in addition to the freedom of private doctors in Gesy to practise as they see fit.Phase one of Gesy, which is primary health care, will kick in on June 1, 2019. Inpatient care will be introduced in phase two which is expected to be introduced in June 2020. Contributions of beneficiaries will come into force in March.Ioannou said he would call the president of the doctors for a meeting on Monday before calling a meeting between all sides to see how to proceed.He said there is still time for negotiations to be held with the doctors. “We are, after all, talking about a scheme which has been discussed, studied and designed for at least 20 years, but now a timetable has been voted into law which we are obliged to follow. The timeframes can be met if there is goodwill”.You May LikeSecurity SaversWindows Users Advised To Do This TodaySecurity SaversUndoMBA Degrees | Search AdsMBA Programs Online – See For YourselfMBA Degrees | Search AdsUndoPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoThe Deniz boat incident showed clearly the intentions of the Turkish sideUndoIsraeli rape suspects freed, woman who alleged assault arrested (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

  • Governor ceremonially signs Jenkins crowdfunding bill

    first_img30Jan Governor ceremonially signs Jenkins’ crowdfunding bill State Rep. Nancy Jenkins (third from left), R-Clayton, and Gov. Rick Snyder hold Public Act 264’13, which was ceremonially signed recently and establishes equity crowdfunding in Michigan. The idea for Jenkins’ legislation was first brought to her by Chris Miller as a way to benefit small businesses in Lenawee County and throughout the state. Miller and Tim Robinson (third and fourth from right, respectively), director of operations for Lenawee Now, also joined Jenkins at the Capitol for the bill signing. Categories: Newslast_img

  • Committee approves Rep Maturens bill to ensure equitable assessments

    first_img Categories: Maturen News The House Committee on Tax Policy today approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Dave Maturen to improve the approach used by the Michigan Tax Tribunal when it considers an assessment dispute.“Recently, the Michigan Tax Tribunal has allowed old, vacant structures with deed restrictions to be used as comparable properties when determining the assessed value of new big box stores,” said Rep. Maturen, who is the only real estate appraiser in the Legislature. “Most licensed appraisers would not consider these properties to be comparable because they don’t have the same highest and best use.”In some cases, the “dark store” approach has brought the assessed value for the entire property – a brand new building and the land on which it was built – to less than the cost of the land alone.“This approach is unique,” said Rep. Maturen, R-Vicksburg. “Values on similar properties in other locations – even the states where big box stores are based – are 200 or 300 percent higher than in Michigan.”House Bill 5578 will require the entire Tribunal to make its own, independent determination of the highest and best use of the property that is the subject of the appeal and ensure that comparable properties have the same use. “Looking at the ‘highest and best use’ of a property is the industry standard, and it’s fair to all parties involved,” Rep. Maturen said. “It’s common sense to require the Tribunal to follow the same solid principles appraisers have used for decades.”HB 5578 now heads to the full House for consideration.#####PHOTO: Rep. Dave Maturen, R-Vicksburg, testifies about House Bill 5578 before the House Committee on Tax Policy. 18May Committee approves Rep. Maturen’s bill to ensure equitable assessmentslast_img read more

  • Rep Sheppard announces December district hours

    first_img Categories: Sheppard News State Rep. Jason Sheppard of Temperance invites residents of the 56th District to meet with him during his December in-district office hours.The times and locations are as follows:Friday, Dec. 8 from 8 to 9 a.m. at Tim Hortons, 107 Cabelas Blvd. E. in Dundee; andMonday, Dec. 11 from 8 to 9 a.m. at Gander’s Family Restaurant, 4219 Luna Pier Road in Luna Pier.For those unable to attend, Rep. Sheppard’s legislative office can be reached at (517) 373-2617, by email at JasonSheppard@house.mi.gov and online at RepJasonSheppard.com. 05Dec Rep. Sheppard announces December district hourslast_img

  • Rep Marino state Legislature approve tax cuts for Michigan families

    first_img15Feb Rep. Marino, state Legislature approve tax cuts for Michigan families Categories: Marino News,News Rep. Steve Marino of Harrison Township this week joined the state Legislature in approving bills to provide broad-based tax relief to families in Macomb County and all across Michigan.The legislation preserves and increases personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on their income taxes.“This is a well-deserved victory for families in Macomb County and our entire state,” Marino said. “It’s been a long time coming. But we are delivering relief to everyone who pays the income tax – including the people who protect us and put their lives on the line every day, our teachers, seniors and factory workers. It helps people from all walks of life.”The legislation ensures Michigan taxpayers will be able to continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. In addition, the bills increase the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.The technical fix related to the federal reforms saves $170 per person per year — or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides $102 in additional relief for a family of four.Senate Bills 748 (sponsored by Sen. Jack Brandenburg) and 750 advance to Gov. Rick Snyder for his consideration.###last_img read more

  • Hernandez legislation to help fix Michigan roads advances to Senate with strong

    first_img Lansing – Today, Representative Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) praised his Michigan House colleagues for advancing the three bill package to help fix Michigan roads with strong bipartisan support.  HB 6013 (Hernandez), HB 6014 (Sheppard), and HB 6015 (Noble) all passed easily on Tuesday and are now headed to the Senate for consideration.“I want to thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for putting politics aside and supporting this package which will help ensure Michigan drivers see better results for their tax dollars,” said Hernandez. “Improving Michigan roads is not a partisan issue, and new innovations should not be advanced or held back based on which elected official you know, but rather on what is best for Michigan drivers and taxpayers.”The bill package is expected to improve Michigan roads by dedicating a small portion of existing road budgets ($15 million of the $4.8 billion transportation budget) to funds administered by experts outside of the Michigan Department of Transportation who would review, publicly post, implement, and test ideas they receive on ways to improve Michigan Roads without increasing state spending.Examples of how the funds could be spent include (but would not be limited to): new road additives, experimental machinery/techniques, different concrete or asphalt mixes, or any other ways Michigan could improve road quality.Throughout the committee process, Hernandez stressed the importance of transparency which is why a list of current projects under consideration would be publicly available online, and a clear application process would exist for anyone to submit ideas directly to the board overseeing the funding.“We as a state cannot simply continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results,” Hernandez continued.  “Taxpayers I talk with are very clear – Fix our roads without raising taxes.  I believe this legislation is a very important step to do just that.”### Categories: Hernandez News,News 13Jun Hernandez legislation to help fix Michigan roads advances to Senate with strong bipartisan supportlast_img read more

  • Clean Energy Fdn Draws Social Investors to Nonprofits Solar Project

    first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesOctober 1, 2014; WTTW-TVRecently, Chicago’s Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) partnered with investors leading to the operation of the second-largest number of solar panels in Chicago. Thanks to funding from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and social investors, the organization purchased and installed 485 solar panels for its 93 year-old landmark building. The panels will reduce the building’s dependence on external energy sources for electricity by 23 percent.By empowering individuals to invest in the project, ICA is following its mission of encouraging people to be agents of social change. The project will save the organization $16,000 in energy costs per year and is part of a nonprofit trend in developing creative new revenue sources and funding opportunities. Working with a small number of investors, the ICA funded the 40 percent match required for the $600,000 project. In return, each investor will receive a four percent annual return on their investment for the next ten years. After the ten-year period, the organization will be relieved of its debt. The funding model is similar to planned giving opportunities.The ICA is a member of ICA International and is the only nonprofit of its kind in the U.S. Its mission is “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth through empowering cultural dimensions of the social process.” ICA’s programs include leadership development and service learning. The ICA’s eight-story building is home to diverse nonprofit organizations, including an interim housing program for homeless women and a dental clinic. The building is the largest nonprofit social service center in the Midwest, serving over 1,000 clients every week. Additionally, thirty-four people live in the building as part of an intentional or shared residence.The project was part of a Retrofit Chicago Commercial Building Initiative. Of the 48 participants, the ICA is the only building outside of the Loop or downtown area and the first nonprofit to participate. This project is the organization’s first step toward environmental sustainability; the next is the development of a BioShaft system as a waste water solution.—Gayle NelsonShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

  • Another School Reform Failure When Will We Ever Learn

    first_imgShare8Tweet3ShareEmail11 Shares February 26, 2019; New York TimesSchool improvement is not easy. If more proof is needed, we can turn to New York City, where earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the Renewal Program, his approach to improving the educational results in 100 targeted schools, had not met expectations and would not go forward as planned. This should not be surprising since, like many other improvement efforts tried over the last two decades, it promised unrealistic results and avoided taking on the difficult core issues that are tied children’s educational success.Underscoring how hard it has been to improve urban school systems, the New York Times began its coverage of the change in NYC’s educational strategy by observing that “no large school system has cracked the code, despite decades of often costly attempts. As education fads have come and gone, politicians have flipped between school improvement models based on punitive measures like closure and teacher firing and softer approaches that rely on pouring resources into schools.”Like many efforts at educational reform, the Renewal Program sought to radically change direction. Rather than the harsher efforts that marked the approach of former mayor Michael Bloomberg, one that relied on test results, school closures, and teacher bashing as the secrets to success, the Renewal Program was based on the belief that schools “would improve if children were given a wide array of social services and teachers were better trained. The city paid for an extension of the school day, professional coaches for teachers, and a suite of social supports such as mental health clinics, dentists and food pantries on site.”The Renewal Program set about implementing a program that would provide these supports to its targeted schools, but politics and the pressure for faster results made it impossible to invest the needed time and money. Complex human problems can take years of slow, steady work to address, and that reality is a hard message to deliver in our instant-gratification world.While New York’s educational leaders told the mayor these difficult truths about school improvement, he was not ready to share this message as the program launched: “In order for these schools to reach their targets for 2017, the interventions would need to produce truly exceptional improvements…historically, it has been quite rare for schools to improve that much in two years.”Changes to a complex bureaucracy require time to be managed effectively, and new initiatives need time to be field-tested. Yet, the mayor sold this effort with a promise to deliver dramatic improvement in just four years.Even if the approach had been given more time, the program did not directly address the societal issues that many experts believe are key factors in student success. NPQ reported in February on a NYC School Task Force that underscored the strong connection between racial/economic diversity and student performance, an issue the Renewal strategy ignored:All students benefit when they can learn from classmates who have different life experiences to share, evidenced by higher academic outcomes, stronger critical thinking skills, and increased creativity…all students benefit from reductions in prejudices and implicit biases and improved social-emotional well-being…students benefit from experiences that prepare them for an increasingly diverse society.Even in liberal New York City, taking steps to address segregation are difficult; the Renewal strategy sought to improve outcomes without doing the difficult work integration requires.Class size matters, too, but adding teachers is expensive. Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, recently told a N.Y. City Council committee that “according to our analysis, in nearly half (or 42 percent) of Renewal Schools, there was no reduction in average class size from November 2014 to November 2017.”Of the schools that did not reduce class size, the average increase in class size was more than two students per class, with some schools increasing class sizes by significantly more than that. Even among those schools which did lower class sizes, 18 percent did so by less than one student per class on average. Not one of the Renewal schools this fall capped class size at the levels in the city’s original [Contract for Excellence] plan.[…]Worse yet, in 73 percent of the Renewal schools, there were maximum class sizes of 30 or more. Bringing it to levels that experts believe would actually matter would have doubled the program’s cost to $1.5 billion.”Teachers were not popular in an environment that had them held up as the cause of failure, and school funding is hard to find, so this investment wasn’t made, either.Gillian Williams, president of the Rensselaerville Institute, which trains principals, remarks, “Let’s get through to the other side of having screwed this up and learn from it. We know enough now that we shouldn’t set up ourselves up for more of these failures.”To its credit, the city is trying to do that. A report released this week by the City reviews the data. Designated Renewal schools saw graduation rates rise from 52.4 percent to 71.9 percent in four years, far outpacing the district as a whole, but in basic subjects like math and English, Renewal school students improved less than the district average. With a price tag of $773 million, New Yorkers have the right to expect better.There was also considerable variation. The report notes that, “Of the original 94 Renewal Schools, 21 showed sufficient progress to graduate in 2018 from the Renewal program and became designated as Rise schools requiring less support. Nine of the original 94 merged with another school, and 14 closed. Those cases were largely attributable to enrollment levels that continued to decline to unsustainable levels.” One challenge, the report indicates, is that the label “Renewal school” often was read by parents as “problem school”—and drove them away.Another finding is that context matters. It will surprise no one that who the principal is matters a lot. A more significant lesson is to avoid broad reform programs altogether and instead “provide a spectrum of support structures tailored to each school’s particular needs.” Community schools with wrap-around supports, which NPQ has profiled before, were highlighted as one positive approach to adopt.—Martin LevineShare8Tweet3ShareEmail11 Shareslast_img read more

  • The UPnP Forum has reported that over 900 devices

    first_imgThe UPnP Forum has reported that over 900 devices have been certified as compliant with UPnP standards, with over 700 being publicly posted on the organisation’s website.Compared to 2009, the organisation, which promotes the adoption of uniform technical device interconnectivity standards and certifies devices conforming to these standards, last year certified three times as many devices that ‘render’ content – including television sets, speakers, audio players, electronic picture frames, PCs and printers.It said that in 2011 to date it has already certified 74% more renderer devices than in the whole of 2010.
The UPnP Forum recently introduced a new version of the UPnP certification test tool (UCTT 2.0), built by OSS specialist Comarch, for compliance testing.last_img

  • German cable operator Kabel Deutschland KDG is r

    first_imgGerman cable operator Kabel Deutschland (KDG) is rolling its video-on-demand platform out to the cities of Rostock and Wismar.The operator’s Video Select service will be available to 130,000 households in the two cities from tomorrow. Content on the platform includes movies and TV shows in both SD and HD.The additions mean that from tomorrow, 2.4 million households across KDG’s network will have access to VOD.last_img

  • BSkyBs new internet TV platform Now TV will launc

    first_imgBSkyB’s new internet TV platform Now TV will launch tomorrow, targeting the 13 million UK households that don’t currently pay for TV services.Now TV will launch with a movie offering giving access to the entire Sky Movie collection for £15 per month. The Sky Movies pass will give users a choice of over 600 movies, including recent blockbusters. Now TV customers can also access over 1,000 catalogue titles on a pay-as-you-go basis, with movies starting at £0.99 (€1.26) and rising to £3.49 for the latest releases.Now TV will be available on Android smartphones, PCs and Mac computers from tomorrow. Sky said it would launch on iPads, iPhones and Xbox 360 games consoles in the coming weeks, while talks are underway to launch on PS3s and Roku devices. Sky had already confirmed that Now TV will be available on YouView, the UK’s soon-to-launch connected TV platform.By the end of the year, Sky will add content from Sky Sports to the service, with Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Arts following next year. Simon Creasey, the director of Now TV, would not be drawn on pricing for non-movie content but told DTVE that it would be in keeping with the “flexible, non-contract approach to Now TV movies”.Speaking at a launch event this morning, Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s managing director of sales and marketing, said, “The huge success of Sky Go prompted us to think about how we expand the service. Now TV gives us the opportunity to extend our reach to the 13 million households that don’t take a pay service. It gives us the opportunity to use a new non-commitment model to deliver our services to those customers.”last_img read more

  • Content business Early moves by international play

    first_imgContent businessEarly moves by international players into the region have often involved partnerships. These have included Fox International Channels’ partnerships with Saudi-based Rotana, launching channels including Fox Movies, Fox and FX, and a separate joint venture with Abu Dhabi Media for a local free-to-air version of the National Geographic Channel. Other joint ventures include Sky News Arabia, an Arabic news channel created by the UK’s BSkyB and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation.The growing success of international formats like Deal or No Deal and Greed in MENA points to the fact that, overall, the regional independent production industry is largely underdeveloped and fragmented. Local content across traditional and digital platforms in the MENA region remains in high demand but low supply – again largely due to the lack of effective production/monetisation models. An US$800 million development in the heart of the Arabic world has sought to change this however.As Dubai establishes itself as a global marketplace, inviting an influx of Western business, this, in turn, is bringing about a change in the traditional TV market, both in terms of pay TV platforms and the production houses that supply them. Five media cities have been established in the UAE since 2001, presenting new opportunities for foreign companies. The opening of Dubai Media City (DMC) – a tax-free business ‘citadel’ – in 2001, for example, has provided a regional base for the likes of Reuters, CNN, BBC Worldwide, National Geographic and Bloomberg, as well as print players ranging from The FT to Rolling Stone. To-date, over 1,400 companies from over 75 countries reside there, covering the entire value chain; from consumer research to post production services. DMC was also instrumental in the development of DVB-H mobile TV in the UAE.Neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital, has also established a media zone. The TwoFour54 initiative was set up in 2008 with a remit to develop Arabic content for Arabic-speaking audiences and to encourage the development of local Arab media. TwoFour54, which is backed by the Abu Dhabi government, provides a media-industry zone and facilities that are designed to attract local and international companies in order to encourage local content production. The TwoFour54 name refers to the geographical coordinates of the city of Abu Dhabi.It is worthy of note that almost 60% of MENA inhabitants are under the age of 35, a statistic which has helped shape the popularity of certain content types. Furthermore, viewership increases significantly during the period of Ramadan, and programming output from the major broadcasters is scheduled to reflect this each year, not least in the production of soap operas, known as musalsalat.PiracyPay TV growth in the Middle East in particular is restricted by the ongoing popularity of free-to-air (FTA) satellite channels. The vast number of FTA channels makes it difficult for legitimate pay platforms to establish themselves. Their rise has also promoted a cultural mindset that expects to receive a wide range of TV services without payment. This perception has also assisted the rise of piracy in the region. While most countries are at least making cursory attempts to tackle the problem, anti-piracy body the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) believes problems exist across the majority of the region.Signal theft is a major problem in several countries. This practice includes illegal redistribution, decoder piracy, smart card piracy and the grey market. Other piracy problems include optical disc replication and internet downloads – especially of TV programmes that are yet to air. Since the Orbit-Showtime merger in 2009, OSN has been working on consolidating its subscription base and completing postmerger integration. With revenue being lost to signal theft via illegal Dreambox decoders, and after the failure of ‘confiscation operations’ in 2009, the company took a bold step to eradicate illicit use of the Dreambox via a swap-out of old set-top boxes for the ‘unhackable’ OSN Showbox HD. Transmission to the old set-top box was switched off in late 2010, reportedly disconnecting millions of pirate users.OSN was expecting an increase in subscription numbers to result, with former ‘pirates’ signing up to legitimate subscriptions, and its ongoing subscriber increases suggest that is occurring. It has also reported a major improvement in churn levels since the move.ART, meanwhile, despite taking a step back from direct supply to customers, has teamed up with Viaccess to provide additional protection for its Pehla pay TV channels, which have also been the subject of pirate activity. ADMC has an HD set-top supply deal with Humax. This ensures its soccer rights have strong content protection, but may hit subscriber growth as the public would prefer to buy a smartcard that can fit into existing settops.Saudi Arabia is one of the worst transgressors for piracy. It has widespread pirate distribution of pay-TV via both cable and DTH. The problem is particularly evident in compounds, where a DTH smartcard is acquired centrally then used by the management of the compound to provide pay-TV services to hundreds or even thousands of homes via internal cable systems. The problem is difficult to tackle because the owners of the compounds tend to be influential, meaning there is little government action against piracy. In its 2012 report the IIPA noted that “piracy rates are higher in the Kingdom than in any other country in the Gulf region” and in view of the regime’s inaction in imposing deterrents, the IIPA recommended that Saudi Arabia be placed back on its ‘Watch List’ for transgressor countries.Adam Thomas is Media Research Manager with Informa Telecoms & Media, leading the TV research team responsible for content on its TV Intelligence Centre and World Television Information Service (WTVIS). Middle East & Africa pay TV revenues grew significantly last year, boosted by strong growth in the MENA region, writes Adam ThomasAcross the Middle East and North Africa, pay TV subscriber numbers passed the 10 million mark during the first quarter of 2012.In the Middle East, the introduction of advanced peoplemeters in the UAE and Saudi Arabia point the way to an increasingly transparent and open market. The establishment of several ‘media hubs’ over the last decade now offer foreign businesses a location from which to gain a foothold in the region. An advanced infrastructure in some areas of the Middle East, coupled with a ‘tech savvy’ youthful demographic, allows for pockets of prosperous growth in the IPTV and OTT sectors.Market dynamicsNew research from Informa Telecoms & Media has found that there were 92.1 million TV households in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at end-2011 rising to an estimated 94.5 million by end-2012.Satellite TV dominates, being the primary TV service in 67% of MENA TV households. Some homes, particularly in Gulf States, either have two dishes or a dual LNB (amplifier) to take signals from two satellites.With satellite dominant, there has been only limited cable and IPTV activity, although IPTV, in particular, is growing fairly quickly, albeit from a very low base. Despite some signs of progress, broadband penetration in the region remains low, with 16-17% of households in the Middle East having a broadband connection. IPTV is therefore restricted from greater progress, both by this lack of broadband and also by the fact that where broadband is in place it is not always suitably robust to facilitate IPTV provision.Informa’s research shows that region-wide there were 9.9 million MENA pay TV households at end-2011, giving a pay TV penetration rate of 15% of TV households. The 10 million pay TV subscribers mark was passed in the first quarter of 2012 and was expected to push on to 11 million by end-2012.This analysis includes Turkey and Israel, which together account for 6.4 million of the 2011 pay TV total (a 65% combined share). When these are excluded, the other MENA countries share 3.5 million pay TV subscribers between them. Informa forecasts that the region will have 15.8 million pay TV subscribers by end-2017, representing 20% penetration of TV households. The ‘core’ MENA countries will account for 38% of the total, equivalent to six million subscribers.Outside of Turkey and Israel, OSN is the largest full service supplier with over 700,000 subscribers – although the Al Jazeera Sports bouquet has more than 1.3 million subscribers. Other significant players include ART, although its subscriber base has been in significant decline, plus Etisalat’s operations in the UAE. Canal Plus Overseas had added a North African dimension to its sub-Saharan pay TV service, but it failed to find an audience and has been closed.TV advertising runs at US$5-10 (e4-7.50) per capita in the MENA region compared with US$100 in western Europe.Although the Middle East is unlikely to reach European levels in the foreseeable future, there is plenty of growth potential. However, TV advertising is not growing as fast as the number of channels available, especially free-to-air ones. There were more than 600 free-to-air (FTA) satellite channels by mid-2012, up from just 100 in January 2004, although the rate of growth appears to be slowing. The major players feel obliged to launch thematic FTA channels as their core services come under threat from audience fragmentation. With so many FTA channels on offer, the incentive to subscribe to a pay platform diminishes.Monetising subscription-led content has proved difficult for pay TV providers, largely due to the wide availability of satellite-delivered free-to-air channels, exacerbated by the problem of generating steady revenue in a region with an abundance of piracy across most platforms. However, the industry overall is seeing a period of exceptional growth. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have introduced their first peoplemeters to gauge television audiences across the country, with a staged rollout beginning in July 2012. Dubbed ‘tview’, the new measurement system will include additional demographic information such as nationality, gender, location, age and socio-economic status for viewers aged four and above. The growing use of more efficient ratings systems will be particularly welcomed by content producers who, until now, have had limited confidence in the indicators they receive to measure the performance of their programming.last_img read more

  • South Africas national broadcaster SABC has been

    first_imgSouth Africa’s national broadcaster SABC has been plunged into crisis following the resignation of its chairman and deputy chairman.Chairman Ben Ngubane and his deputy, Thami ka Plaatjie handed in their resignations to South African president Jacob Zuma. The move followed a disagreement between the pair and the broadcaster’s board over the latter’s removal of Hlaudi Motsoeneng from his post as chief operating officer last month. The board named head of radio news and current affairs Mike Siluma as Motsoeneng’s replacement. Ngubane and ka Plaatjie then attempted to reinstate Motsoeneng, leading to them being called to account by the board.Communications minister Dina Pule recently asked the South African parliament to look at the fitness of the SABC board to remain in office. Opposition parties, which have criticised Ngubane and ka Plaatjie for interfering in the daily running of the broadcaster and imposing an autocratic style of leadership, welcomed the resignations.last_img read more

  • Amazonowned UKbased subscription videoondeman

    first_imgAmazon-owned, UK-based subscription video-on-demand provider Lovefilm brought two replica Viking longships along the Thames into London as part of a publicity drive for its new series The Vikings.The stunt followed Lovefilm’s dealwith MGM Television, announced last week, to exclusively air all nine episodes of the Norse action drama on the Lovefilm Instant online service.The Vikings, which stars Travis Fimmel, Gabriel Byrne and Katheryn Winnick, and chronicles the adventures of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, will premiere on Lovefilm Instant in the UK on May 24 and in Germany on June 15.last_img

  • Latvian cable operator Baltcom has acquired all sh

    first_imgLatvian cable operator Baltcom has acquired all shares in Latvia’s second-largest cable provider, IZZI.Announcing the deal, Baltcom said that the two companies would continue to run as separate legal entities.Customers will continue to receive their existing services with prices and conditions to remain the same, however they will be able to apply for a wider range of services with the potential for the firms to develop new offers, Baltcom said.“Our strategy is to be one of the leaders in the electronic communications sector and the development of new services and expanding our infrastructure coverage and services throughout Latvia,” said Baltcom chairman of the board Vojko Rovere.Rovere added that the deal will allow Baltcom to expand its telecommunications infrastructure by around 30%, offer a wider variety of services and “ensure further growth by strengthening Baltcom’s market position.”Baltcom was founded in 1991 and is one of the leading telecoms companies in Latvia, offering analogue, digital and interactive TV services, high speed internet and fixed telephony services. As of August this year it has also begun supplying electricity to homes.The IZZI deal comes after Baltcom acquired eight smaller telecom service providers in February – SIA Global DVA, SIA IME PLUSS, SIA Latvijas Datoru Tīkli, SIA Lain Net, SIA Interneta pasaule, SIA IPTV, SIA Rīgas Kabeļradio and SIA Rīgas Radiotranslācija.last_img read more

  • Belgian telco Belgacom and French service provider

    first_imgBelgian telco Belgacom and French service provider SFR are separately launching cloud services that enable users to upload and view content from multiple devices, including, in Belgacom’s case, the TV. Belgacom is launching Belgacom Cloud, enabling users to access photos, videos, music, calendars, contacts and more on the movie and via the TV.The Belgacom Cloud application is available for smartphones or tablets running Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Users of existing services such as Dropbox will be able to integrate them in the new service.The service will, however, also be available via Belgacom’s TV service. Subscribers will be able to access their cloud content from their own TV and also from those of family members or friends who subscriber to Belgacom TV.The service will be fully launched in 2014, but is made available on a trial basis to 10,000 users from mid-December. Test customers will receive 2GB of cloud storage capacity free or 5GB if they have a proximus subscription.The service will be offered to Belgacom’s Pack customers with fixed internet, while subscribers that incorporate their mobile subscription in their Pack will receive extra volume free of charge.SFR has meanwhile launched SFR Cloud, offering up to 100GB of space.SFR Cloud will enable subscribers to upload documents and make them available to devices including smartphones, tablets and computers. Users can view photos and photos and videos direct from their mobile device to the cloud.SFR is providing a dedicated cloud app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 devices and for PCs and Macs.The price of the service is included in the operator’s 4G packages. A version of the service offering 10GB is available for other subscribers. The 100GB version is available to these subscribers for €5.last_img read more

  • Finnish telco DNA now has over 300000 pay TV cust

    first_imgFinnish telco DNA now has over 300,000 pay TV customers across its cable and terrestrial networks, while overall cable TV numbers have slipped slightly to 591,000, down 1,000 on the previous quarter.DNA’s combined fixed-line voice, broadband and cable TV base fell to 1,016,000, down from 1,027,000 a year earlier.Pay TV numbers were boosted by the September 2013 acquisition of PlusTV, which is now being renamed using the Welho brand already used for cable services.DNA posted year-end net sales of €766.4 million, flat year-on-year, while EBITDA was also flat at €190.7 million.last_img

  • The European Broadcasting Union has today expresse

    first_imgThe European Broadcasting Union has today expressed concern over plans to disband the Israeli Broadcasting Authority and the country’s license fee and said the move is ‘regrettable’.On Sunday, the Israeli government approved a draft bill that would see the IBA closed and replaced. Should the bill receive the final green light the move to close the public broadcaster and replace it with a “slimmer and more efficient organisation” would take effect next year.The authorities in Tel Aviv have set a ten month deadline for the initial transition phase from the IBA to the new broadcasting entity, which the EBU says is an ‘extremely ambitious’ timeframe.“It is deeply regrettable that such drastic steps have had to been taken,” said EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre. “We shall watch vigilantly as the situation develops in Israel, to ensure that the Landes report’s commitment to public service broadcasting will be honoured.”Deltenre added that governments are frequently unrealistic when implementing audiovisual reforms, and overlook the need to meet several key conditions for public service media to function.“Scrapping the licence fee is a step in the wrong direction,” she said. “The Landes Report attributed many of IBA’s problems to political interference, but a broadcaster that is entirely dependent on direct state budget funding will logically be even more vulnerable to political interference.”last_img read more