Source = e-Travel Blackboard: D.M All-inclusive Silversea charter voyages for the incentive market are proving to be big business for the luxury cruise line with room for growth in the Asia Pacific region, according to visiting Global VP, Corporate & Incentive Sales, Sean Mahoney. Visiting Sydney earlier this week, Mr Mahoney said the Australian incentive market was poised to increase business for the cruise line, due to its already mature FIT component. “The cruise industry is already so mature here, we don’t need to sell the idea of cruising,” Mr Mahoney said to e-Travel Blackboard during an exclusive interview. Already securing two to three full-ship charters for incentives from Australian companies, Mr Mahoney said they would now focus on building further brand awareness as well as marketing to smaller incentive groups. “90 per cent of all corporate incentives are charters, but the groups’ space is also growing in this region,” he said. Mr Mahoney said Australia’s resilience to bounce back from the Global Financial Crisis has made the market more lucrative to luxury brands such as Silversea, who offer organizers direct cost- comparisons to other five star resorts. “We have already achieved 85 per cent of our targets for 2011, which in total will represent approximately 15-20 per cent of the entire revenue for the cruise line,” Mr Mahoney said. “There is room for growth, but we don’t need to discount our product to do so, which would diminish the brand” “Incentive travel is important to the success of a company, and should be part of the solution instead of the problem.” The USA market continues to be Silversea’s biggest earner for the incentive market, with the Mediterranean taking out the top spot as the most popular destination for charter groups.For more information, visit www.silversea.com Silversea’s Sean J Mahoney & Karen Christensen
State Rep. Amanda Price (right) and Diane Kooiker, interim director of Herrick District Library in Holland, hold “Flora and Ulysses,” the winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal. Price donated a copy of the book to each elementary school and library throughout the 89th House District to celebrate March is Reading Month.### 03Mar Price donates books to local elementary schools, libraries for March is Reading Month Categories: News
26Apr Rep. Hughes announces in-district office hours State Rep. Holly Hughes of Montague today announced her monthly in-district office hours with local residents, emphasizing the importance of being available to the community.“Open and honest communication with residents is crucial to having a state government that is accountable,” said Hughes. “I invite all residents to attend one of my local office hours to share their ideas and concerns.”Rep. Hughes’s office hours are as follows:Friday, May 54-5 p.m. – Norton Shores Area District Library, 705 Seminole Road, Norton Shores;Monday, May 810-11 a.m. – Montague Area District Library, 8778 Ferry St., Montague;Friday, June 28-9 a.m. – Ravenna Round Table, 12396 Stafford St., Ravenna;9:30-10:30 a.m. – Mr. Quick, 5501 East Apple Ave., Muskegon;11 a.m.- noon – Fruitport Township Hall, 5865 Airline Road, Fruitport;Monday, June 59:30-10:30 a.m. – Village of Lakewood Club Hall, 6681 Automobile Road, Twin Lake; and11 a.m.- noon – Holton Township Hall, 6511 East Holton Whitehall Road, Holton.No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Hughes’s office at (517) 373-3436 or HollyHughes@house.mi.gov. Categories: Hughes News
Share13TweetShareEmail13 Shares November 24, 2014;Minneapolis Star TribuneAfter a yearlong investigation, Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson has issued a compliance report criticizing the Savers thrift store chain for misleading the public by not fully disclosing to the public how proceeds from donations received are distributed.According to the report, the Savers chain has more than $1 billion in annual revenue and 330 stores across the United States, Canada, and Australia, with 15 of them sited in Minnesota. (The company also operates under the names Unique Thrift and Valu Thrift elsewhere in the state.) This post on the Charity Review Council website notes concerns about the chain that have been around for a number of years, particularly regarding potential confusion from customers about the stores’ for-profit status.The AG found that the Seattle-based retail chain, sometimes acting through Apogee Retail LLC, uses the names of local charities to solicit donations of goods, then resells these to the public. In Minnesota, such charities include the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, Courage Kenney Foundation, True Friends, and Vietnam Veterans of America.Those donating can deduct the expected resale price of any clothing on their taxes, but this report finds that Savers or Apogee may pay the charity only 40 cents per cubic foot of clothing donated. On non-clothing donations, nothing is passed on to charity. FREE DOWNLOAD: An Expert’s Guide to Fundraising “In this case, if you donate to a charity through Savers,” said Swanson in a statement, “only pennies on the dollar goes to benefit the charitable mission of the charity, with the vast, vast majority of the money staying with a billion-dollar, for-profit thrift store chain, which holds itself out as the biggest thrift store in the United States.”“Three bedrock principles of charities law are to respect the intent of the donor, protect charitable assets, and be transparent,” Swanson said in a news release. “This report identifies deficiencies in all three areas.”A copy of the report is being sent to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.The AG has informed Savers that it must register and report as a fundraiser so its accounts can be scrutinized, and that as long as no proceeds are being advanced to charity from sales of non-clothing donations, it should stop soliciting these donations and inform people that those donations will not be tax-deductible.The charities contracted with Savers are also required to file a report to the AG within 45 days, laying out their plans to monitor Savers’ activity as a professional fundraiser acting on their behalf. The AG was critical of the charities doing business with the chain, saying that while they did not directly deceive the public, they allowed the public to be deceived for their benefit.—Ruth McCambridgeShare13TweetShareEmail13 Shares
Share11TweetShareEmail11 SharesJanuary 11, 2016; Montgomery County MediaToday, a convoy of vehicles managed to make it to a few areas in Syria where starvation is the status quo. There is no indication yet whether they will be allowed to return with the additional supplies that will be needed if residents are to survive. These realities often go unacknowledged when refugees are refused admission or deported en masse, as has been the case starting last week with Central American families.In Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council have released a joint statement in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation raids and their impact on the community. We reprint it in full below because it is so grounded and both local and global in its orientation:“Our nation faces a significant humanitarian challenge in how we deal with the thousands of children and families fleeing violence in Central America. Current conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras merit granting special temporary protection to these children and parents who have legitimate reason to fear for their lives if returned to their countries.“We recognize that the recently announced federal policy is narrowly crafted to apply only to those who have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court. But the obvious truth is that many of these children and parents have not had adequate legal representation in these proceedings. No deportations should take place without ensuring that the person to be deported received adequate representation and due process of law under our Constitution.“Imagine being a teenager in a formal process in a forbidding setting in a strange land where they speak a language you do not understand. What chance would you have?“These children and parents deserve an opportunity to have their cases presented properly as they seek refuge in our nation. And for those ordered to be deported after receiving due process, no deportations should take place unless the federal government guarantees legally required family reunification and support to help them live in their own countries safely. Failure to guarantee these essential protections is unthinkable as it will deliver them back to the very violence and human trafficking that caused many of them to flee to the United States.“We in Montgomery County, especially our public safety officers, have worked extremely hard to build trust with our immigrant population. We are convinced this is the key to reducing crime and building a thriving, welcoming community where all can live in peace.“We are very concerned that any federal enforcement actions in our county not undermine this trust and threaten public safety in our community.“We want all of our community members to know that they are free to go about their daily life, to go to schools and work, social service agencies, hospitals and medical clinics, community organizations and public buildings, as well as grocery stores and other commercial areas.“We respectfully recommend that federal authorities proceed with great caution and respect for the values of our country and requirements of our Constitution. Please take the time necessary to ensure that any deportation is based on a court action only after due process and, if the deportation is ruled to be appropriate, carried out with the protections required by law.“Please assure us that our residents are free to go to school and work, attend services at their faith congregations, seek needed medical attention, and ask for help from our police without fear. A warrant to arrest one person must not be used to round up many.“We applaud the recent federal budget commitment to spend $750 million to address the root causes that have led people to flee Central America. We ask that the federal government dramatically step up the pace of the existing Central American Minors Program to provide a legal in-country path for children with parents lawfully in the United States. And we ask that local governments here in the United States be given adequate federal support for receiving these children and helping them reunite with their parents.“To the members of our Montgomery County community who are justifiably concerned about the federal government’s most recent deportation actions, we encourage you to go about your daily activities free of fear.“Go to your schools, work, and faith congregations, social service agencies, hospitals and medical clinics, community organizations and public buildings, as well as grocery stores and other commercial areas.“Continue helping us work hard every day to make Montgomery County one of the very best places to live, work, play, and age with dignity in the nation.“Please know that our county police will play no role in enforcing federal immigration law. If you have reason to need help from our police, do not be afraid to call on them.“We will continue to work closely with our community-based nonprofit and faith based partners to develop ongoing ‘know your rights’ training around the county, increase pro bono legal support, and develop and distribute educational materials as part of a bilingual public information campaign.“We are proud of the people who have come to Montgomery County from every corner of the globe. You have enriched our community, and you will always be welcome here. Some of us have had the privilege of traveling to our Sister City in Morazán, El Salvador where we experienced the beauty of Central America and the graciousness of its people. We know that if we all act with calm and dignity and work together, we have the capacity to get through these difficult times and improve the lives of those who have come to our country and those who remain in their native lands.”Share11TweetShareEmail11 Shares
Share46TweetShare19Email65 SharesBy Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMay 21, 2017; Washington PostWhile the overall framework of the Trump administration’s 2018 federal budget has been before us for weeks, details had not yet been finalized by the new administration. Yesterday, more of the puzzle became known when the Washington Post reported on how lowered spending combined with new rules will reduce or remove Medicaid and SNAP supports for millions of people. With cuts expected in other similarly targeted programs, both philanthropists and nonprofit organizations are left to either fill the gaps or watch as those they are dedicated to serve are harmed.Trump’s budget would incorporate the more-than-$800 billion Medicaid spending reduction that was part of the changes in the ACHA healthcare plan recently passed by the House of Representatives, as well as significant cuts to funds allocated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently helps more than 40 million Americans put food on their tables. The full budget is expected to have more reductions along the spectrum of safety-net programs.Combined with spending less, the Trump administration seems poised to turn the nation’s clock back to the Reagan era and make the threshold for using these safety net programs much higher. According to the Post’s sources,The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments—and for how long.Prior to the Great Recession which began almost ten years ago, work programs were in place in many states. The severity of the downturn prompted the federal government to strip them away to ease access. Now, those who support work requirements, believing them to be benefits and not barriers, see this as the right time to reinstate them and perhaps even expand them. As Maine Governor Paul LePage has described the rationale, “We must continue to do all that we can to eliminate generational poverty and get people back to work. We must protect our limited resources for those who are truly in need and who are doing all they can to be self-sufficient.”Critics of this approach to qualifying for benefits do not see it as effectively helping people enter an already shallow jobs market. Rather, they see work requirements as a way to shift money away from those most in need to other government priorities, like cutting the tax burden on the wealthiest citizens. According to the Post,Many critics have said work requirements can include blanket ultimatums that don’t take into account someone’s age, physical or cognitive ability, or limitations put in place by the local economy. Benefits from these programs are often low, and hardly replace the income someone would earn from a job. And critics of stricter work requirements also believe it could pave the way for states to pursue even stricter restrictions, such as drug tests, that courts have often rejected.Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said President Trump was pulling “the rug out from so many who need help. This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse.”Beyond Medicaid and SNAP, cuts and rule changes are expected in other safety net programs affecting the lives of tens of millions of Americans. The president and his supporters see little risk in doing this, as they are counting on the economy being jolted forward by the tax savings given to the wealthiest, expecting the money saved will be productively reinvested in our economy. The need for food, healthcare, and other supports will be lessened because there will be many better paying jobs available as the impact of tax cuts “trickles down” through the economy.Their theory is clear, but many doubt it will turn out that way in practice. Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman has concluded, “History offers not a shred of support for faith in the pro-growth effects of tax cuts.…. Supply-side economics is a classic example of a zombie doctrine: a view that should have been killed by the evidence long ago.”Although it’s almost unheard of for Congress to enact a presidential budget proposal as written, as is referenced above, even the individual portions we’ve gotten to peek at would be devastating to low-income people. Nonprofits must keep their advocacy forces close at hand and primed for action even as we hope that Congress has better sense than to advance such proposals.—Martin LevineShare46TweetShare19Email65 Shares
Share8TweetShareEmail8 SharesBy victorgrigas (Wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 4, 2018; Next CityThe minimum annual income needed to qualify to buy a median-priced, single-family home in San Francisco is currently $333,270. Yet as Scott Wilson in the Washington Post reports, there is poverty amidst the plenty. Indeed, San Francisco, a city of 884,000—“home to the third most billionaires of any city in the world,” Wilson writes—also has an estimated 7,500 people living on the streets. Some put the actual number of homeless as high as 10,000, a number that is more than one percent of all city residents.This past January, United Nations special rapporteur Leilani Farha, a Canadian nonprofit housing leader, toured San Francisco. She compared what she saw “with poverty in Mumbai.” After her visit, Farha told Alastair Gee of the Guardian that, “If I turned to San Francisco and there were 100 people who were homeless, I might say, ‘Hmm, this is probably about psychological disability, drug dependence, a history of sexual abuse in their childhood’ or something like that. I might be able to say that it is very individualized. But when you’re seeing the numbers of people who are homeless here and in every other city, you just know it’s structural.”In response, an advocacy campaign, led by the city’s Coalition on Homelessness, has collected over 28,000 signatures and placed a measure on the ballot called “Our City, Our Home,” reports Alejandra Molina in Next City. The measure, which qualified for the ballot in July, would reportedly double the city’s budget for addressing housing and homelessness, raising an estimated $300 million a year.While the current housing allocation of $300 million may sound high, the number is deceptive. As Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle explains, only $57 million of that $300 million budget benefits the homeless. The rest goes to rental subsidies, eviction prevention programs, and supportive housing—i.e., programs that keep people from becoming homeless.The new money that the tax provides, Molina explains, would require that 50 percent of the funds “go toward housing families, youths, and adults. It would pay for subsidies of about 4,000 units of housing. The rest of the money would go toward public health for street-based care of those with mental illness. Funds would also be directed to families needing temporary subsidies to stay in their homes. Money would also be used to add new shelter beds.”In its structure, the business tax is similar, but not the same, as the Seattle proposal. In Seattle, as NPQ covered, the tax would have covered all businesses with revenues in excess of $20 million, with the levy initially set at $500 per employee; the measure passed by the City Council would have raised $275 per employee (until the tax was repealed a month later after considerable pressure from Amazon, Starbucks, and other businesses). The San Francisco tax would instead be a percentage of gross receipts for businesses whose gross receipts exceed $50 million. This builds on existing legislation, as the city phases out its payroll tax system in favor of a gross receipts tax system—in other words, taxing business gross revenue rather than hires.The rate assessed by the homelessness tax varies by industry, but for firms like Twitter, the rate would be 0.5 percent. (Retail firms, by contrast, would be taxed a lower level of 0.175 percent, an acknowledgement of the narrow margins that are prevalent in that industry). The first $50 million would be exempt from taxation, so a firm taxed at 0.5 percent and with $100 million in gross receipts would pay $250,000 in tax, not $500,000. In addition to Twitter, other San Francisco firms that would be compelled to pay the tax would include Salesforce, Yelp, the Gap, Williams Sonoma, Pacific Gas and Electric, Wells Fargo, and Charles Schwab.As in Seattle, the San Francisco measure has attracted business opposition. “There is a limit on how high taxes can go before you decide to go to Oakland, where the taxes are much, much lower,” says Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has called its campaign “Right Priority, Wrong Approach.”Some scoff at the Chamber’s opposition, however. Trisha Thadani in the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Evan Owski, a software engineer at LinkedIn and a large donor to the yes campaign, finds the idea that companies would flee the city due to the tax “laughable.”“This is a classic tactic of big business,” says Owski. “They keep saying ‘job killing’ over and over, which scares people, so they don’t have to keep paying for these vital social services.”To date, notes Molina, over 100 nonprofit and community groups have endorsed the tax measure. The measure has also received endorsements from a number of public officials, including San Francisco’s congressional representatives Jackie Speier and Nancy Pelosi.—Steve DubbShare8TweetShareEmail8 Shares
Satellite service provider Belgium Satellite Services (BSS) has struck a deal with Mumbai-based Indian teleport operator Lamhas Satellite Services to allow it to expand its offering and bring Indian channels to Europe via the Eutelsat Eurobird 9A satellite at 9° East.BSS, formerly the satellite arm of Belgacom, offers a range of services via the Eutelsat platform.Nitin Dhawan, CEO of BSS, said: “This partnership with Lamhas Satellite Services will bring cost-effective delivery of Indian channels to Europe.”
The EBU has secured all exclusive media rights for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The deal covers the rights for 37 countries in Europe and means that nearly 40 EBU Members will provide free-to-air coverage of most matches in the next three FIFA World Cups.EBU president Jean-Paul Philippot said, “We are honoured and proud that FIFA has placed its complete trust in the EBU and its participating Members for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups broadcast coverage. This contract is a humbling compliment, and testament to the EBU’s reputation as an ideal partner in the sports media rights industry.”
Portuguese cable operator Cabovisão has deployed Nagra conditional access technology to secure premium content on its next-generation digital platform.Altice-owned Cabovisão currently serves about 260,000 customers in Portugal.“Nagra is recognised as the worldwide leader in content protection. They not only provided us with the technology we needed to grow our business but allowed us to deploy our services to subscribers in record time – this was critical in helping us meet customer demand,” said João Zúquete da Silva, director general, Cabovisão.
Internet traffic data for Netflix users suggests that 10% of Netflix viewers that started watching its new version of Arrested Development at launch had made it to the final, fifteenth, episode by May 27, a day after launch.Netflix does not release any viewing numbers for its content, but the analytics division of US technology company Procera measures Internet traffic across several US broadband networks, giving, in the absence of official data, the best indication of how series have performed.Procera is keen to note its data is just an early sample, however, the early numbers suggest that Arrested Development generated more traffic and viewing than another high-profile Netflix original, House of Cards.In a blog post the company’s vice president, global marketing, Cam Cullen analysed the traffic for Arrested Development a day after launch.“It seems as if the launch was a success by our metrics, especially when comparing to the subscriber counts to the House Of Cards,” Cullen noted. “We did see a noticeable increase in Netflix traffic this weekend (and even though it was a holiday weekend, the traffic we can attribute to Arrested Development made a difference).”It said that 2-7% of all Netflix traffic was attributable to Arrested Development across the first two days of its launch, with one network reporting a 8% jump in week-on-week Netflix traffic.Xbox and PS3s generated the most traffic for Arrested Development on fixed line networks ahead of Macs.On another network over a thirds of Netflix subs watched at least one episode of Arrested Development, three times the number that tuned to House of Cards.In his posting, Cullen concluded: “With 10% of subscribers completing the binge watch over the weekend, I would call that a numbers success, regardless of critical acclaim.”
Finnish service provider DNA saw continued low-level attrition of its cable TV and broadband base in the second quarter, losing 3,000 cable TV subs to end June with 590,000 customers. DNA lost 2,000 broadband subscribers to end the quarter with 309,000 customers. DNA introduced a new broadband-based DNA Welho Viihdytyskaista service in the quarter which enables recording and access to TV content anywhere and anytime through various devices. Also included in the package is the DNA Welho MatkaTV service which enables remote recording of TV programmes with a mobile device.
Vodafone has agreed to acquire Spain’s ONO for the equivalent of €7.2 billion, following last week’s meeting of the cable operator’s shareholders to weigh the relative attractions of the UK mobile operator’s offer and a public flotation. Vodafone said it expects to achieve €2 billion in cost and capital expenditure synergies from the acquisition within four years of completion. The deal values ONO at 7.5 times its 2013 EBITDA and 10.4 times operating free cash flow adjusted for cost and capex synergies.Vodafone said it expected to achieve revenue synergies to the tune of €1 billion through the development of unified products and services as well as by cross-selling of existing product lines.ONO’s networks passes 7.2 million homes and the company has about 1.9 million customers. Its fibre network is seen as up to date, with 500 homes per node, spare capacity within its 862MHz spectrum and a fully complete DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade.Vodafone will now refocus its own fibre-to-the-home build out on areas not covered by the ONO network, with a plan to pass 1.5 million homes. The combination of its own and ONO’s network will pass 10 million homes, or 57% of the country’s total.Vodafone expects the deal to close in the third quarter, pending regulatory and other approvals.“The combination of Vodafone and ONO creates a leading integrated communications provider in Spain and represents an attractive value creation opportunity for Vodafone,” said Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colão.“Demand for unified communications products and services has increased significantly over the last few years in Spain, and this transaction – together with our fibre-to-the-home build programme – will accelerate our ability to offer best-in-class propositions in the Spanish market. We look forward to welcoming the management and employees of Ono to Vodafone and working together to serve our customers across Spain.”Separately, Vodafone’s German unit has registered a domination and profit and loss transfer agreement following the completion of the takeover of Kabel Deutschland. The integration of Vodafone Germany and Kabel Deutschland will now begin from April 1.
The European Audiovisual Observatory has appointed UNI MEI head Johannes Studinger as its new chairman.UNI MEI is the media and entertainment division of the UNI Global Union – an international federation that represents labour unions and guilds to promote justice and equality in the global economy.Studinger was elected at a Council of Europe meeting, held in Strasbourg. His chairmanship will take the European Audiovisual Observatory into a new three-year action plan, which is currently under discussion with the Observatory’s governing bodies.
Francisco VarelaThe days of linear TV channels being the predominant way people consume TV are numbered, according to Francisco Varela, head of platform partnerships at YouTube.Speaking on a panel focusing on the shape of TV in 2020 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Thursday, Varela said that linear channels “only exist because you don’t have a 10TB DVR” and that the proliferation of cloud DVR services would inevitably lead to their demise.Varela said that “TV is going to be incredible important for YouTube by 2020” and that much of the Google video sharing site’s innovation effort would be focused on getting the experience right.He said that by 2020 people would no longer be limited to viewing content on a particular screen but would be able to seamlessly switch between viewing on a mobile devices and on the main screen in the living room.Varela said that YouTube was focusing in particular on making sure its apps for TV were monetisable and that content could be discovered easily by users.“The other part is the focus on content delivery – over 40% of our content is now being played on mobile devices,” he said. “We need to be a better partner in that ecosystem.”While the linear TV channel is likely to decline in importance, Varela said he believed that free advertising-supported TV would continue to prosper, though YouTube would also seek to diversify into subscription and premium offerings.
Streaming media player penetration is set to reach 40% of US broadband homes by 2017, with these devices to be found in some 39 million households, according to research by NPD Group. The research firm predicts that streaming media player ownership will grow from just 16% of US internet homes in the first quarter of 2014, to 24% in Q1 2015, thanks in part to recent holiday purchases.“In its infancy, the streaming media player market was driven by growth from Apple and Roku, but over the past year and a half Amazon and Google have made a significant impact,” according to NPD.By including streaming media players alongside other web connected platforms – such as TVs, video game consoles and Blu-ray players – NPD predicts that the total number devices delivering apps to TVs will reach 211 million by Q1 2017.However, among these device platforms, streaming media players are forecast to contribute the most growth.The research also found that the top five video apps used on TVs by streaming media player owners are Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and Instant Video, Hulu Plus and HBO Go.“The rapidly growing streaming media player market, coupled with rising ownership of smart TVs and the new generation of game consoles is resulting in significantly more homes getting access to apps such as Amazon Prime Instant Video and HBO Go,” said John Buffone, NPD’s executive director, connected intelligence.“Over the coming years we will continue to see a growing audience of TV viewers for streaming video services, authenticated network apps, and offerings such as CBS All Access that no longer require a pay TV subscription from a cable or satellite provider.”
Numericable overtook Bouygues Telecom in July to reclaim its position as the fastest internet service provider in France, according to Netflix’s latest ISP Speed Index.Having been pushed into second place in June, Numericable bounced back in July averaging speeds of 3.90 Megabits per second (Mbps), compared to 3.86 Mbps by Bouygues Telecom.In Germany, Kabel Deutschland climbed one place in July to take the number two spot with average speeds of 4.07 Mbps, behind first-place Unitymedia KabelBW which averaged 4.15 Mbps.Elsewhere in Netflix’s European markets, the rankings of the top ISPs remained unchanged in July, with Virgin Media retaining the top spot in the UK, ComHem doing so in Sweden, Proximus holding steady in Belgium and Liwest keeping the lead in Austria.In the US, Charter rose to fourth place, up two in the ranking, with an average speed of 3.46 Mbps, up from 3.37 Mpbs last month. Cox, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS retained the top three spots, in that order.Netflix claims that its ISP Speed Index is a measure of primetime Netflix performance on a particular internet service provider and not a measure of overall performance for other services and data for that service provider.
Ukrainian OTT service Divan.TV is now available on Sharp, Haier and Hisense smart TVs in 200 countries, following a partnership with Foxxum.The deal with Foxxum means that Divan.TV is available on the main dashboard of the smart TV portals of the three brands, rather than requiring to be downloaded by users.Divan.TV targets migrant groups from the ex-Soviet Union countries worldwide via smart TVs, tablets and other devices.“We are pleased that such respected brands as Sharp, Haier and Hisense have added to our existing partners Samsung, LG and Philips. Our service offers world viewers the full range of the most popular Ukrainian and world’s TV channels. We grow, develop, and welcome the owners of smart TV to grow with us,” said Arkadiy Kanyuka, executive director, Divan.TV.
A raft of international TV and media players have invested in the Drone Racing League.Yesterday pay TV platform Sky said it was sinking US$1 million into the Drone Racing League, and later in the day the DRL announced the other partners in its US$12 million funding round.ProSiebenSat.1, MGM and A+E backer Hearst are among the investors.Individuals investing include former MTG Digital chief Rikard Steiber, who is now an SVP at HTC’s VR division Vive, Machinima co-founder Allen Debevoise, and Matthew Bellamy, lead singer of the rock band Muse.As well as the US$12 million injection of funds, the DRL has secured broadcast and distribution deals with some of its new investors, as well as third parties,MGM boss and super producer Mark Burnett will work up new unscripted TV shows based on DRL races, technology and pilots.“The world of drone racing is so incredible on every level that we wanted to be at the forefront telling the stories of these individuals and their passion for racing to an audience that will absolutely be transfixed by this sport, and this is just the beginning,” Burnett said.The DRL’s races will also be shown on ProSiebenSat.1’s free and pay channels in Germany, as well as on ESPN in the US and Lat-Am.On ESPN and ESPN 2 there will be an Intro to DRL show and then coverage of the 2016 season over ten one-hour shows.ProSiebenSat.1, meanwhile, will show DRL races for the next five years and coverage will include the first ever German race. It is managing its investment through its 7Sports division.DRL CEO/Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski said: “Having distribution and strategic agreements with ESPN, Sky and 7Sports will bring DRL to tens of millions of viewers around the globe while reflecting a collective commitment to DRL from the world’s best sport broadcasting companies.”
Vivendi could take effective control of Telecom Italia next month after the Italian telco appoints a new board of directors, according to a report by Reuters.According to the news agency, citing three unnamed sources, the French media group has filed a pre-emptive notification with the European Commission that it could take ‘de facto’ control of Telecom Italia. According to Reuters, Vivendi is seeking to take two thirds of the telco’s board seats.Telecom Italia’s shareholder meeting is set to vote on the board appointments at the meeting on May 4.An EC spokesman told Reuters it had received Vivendi’s notification and would rule on it by May 12.Last week, Reuters reported that Vivendi could put forward CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine as its candidate to take over as chairman of Telecom Italia.Vivendi is currently being investigated by Italian competition watchdog AGCOM over whether the fact that it simultaneously holds a 24.68% stake in Telecom Italia and close to 30% of broadcaster Mediaset breaches the country’s Testo Unico dei Servizi di Media Audiovisivi e Radiofonici (TUSMAR) regulation that electronics communications companies with a market share in excess of 40% cannot control more than 10% of a Sistema Integrato delle Comunicazioni (SIC) – meaning a large TV, radio and publishing outfit.Vivendi has reportedly argued that any move against it would imply a rewriting of existing rules and could be discriminatory.Mediaset and Vivendi have been at loggerheads since Vivendi pulled out of a deal to acquire the Italian broadcaster’s loss-making pay TV unit Mediaset Premium last year.In addition to suits filed against the French company by both Mediaset and its controlling shareholder Fininvest, the latter has accused Vivendi of manipulating the stock market, forcing down Mediaset’s shares so that it could acquire a large tranche of them at a knock-down price. Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi this week testified before the Milan prosecutor investigating the matter.