London-based consultancy Capital Economics called the measures “good news” in a research note, but added that “any impact will be felt over a period of years rather than months. We remain of the view that growth in the near-term is likely to disappoint.”Brazil’s richest man, billionaire Eike Batista who has direct interests in the infrastructure improvements with his commodity businesses, lavished praise on the project, which he dubbed a “kit for happiness.”O Globo newspaper quoted the steel, mining and energy magnate as saying the “mega-package is spectacular for Brazil.”___Associated Press writers Jenny Barchfield in Rio de Janeiro and Bradley Brooks in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) “We’re starting an initial stage from which Brazil will emerge richer and stronger,” Rousseff said at a ceremony announcing the package, which comes as Brazil gears up to step into the world spotlight as the host of the 2014 soccer World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympics. “Brazil will finally have an infrastructure that’s compatible with its size.”Brazil’s economy has performed well during the last decade, but that strong growth dropped off last year and the government forecasts growth this year at 2.5 percent. Private economists surveyed weekly by the Central Bank now expect growth around 1.8 percent this. Despite that, the nation has yet to widely feel the brunt of the crises that have hit Europe and the U.S. since 2008 _ Brazil’s unemployment remains at record lows.But experts say that transportation bottlenecks must be solved to assure long-term growth. The hurdles have long made it difficult to move Brazil’s massive amounts of commodities from far-flung fields and mines to foreign markets, stifling the potential of important export sectors. Brazil ranks far behind other big nations when it comes to infrastructure, with a recent global competitiveness report from the World Economic Forum ranking the country No. 104 out of 142 nations on the issue. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day “Brazil still suffers from weaknesses that hinder its capacity to fulfill its tremendous competitive potential,” the report stated, adding that the “lagging quality of its overall infrastructure” is an area of “increasing concern.”Under the terms of the new program, the government will award private companies concessions for construction, maintenance and operation of the projects through a competitive bidding process _ an approach that was widely hailed by the business sector here. Officials said calls for offers would go out in the coming months, with projects awarded the lowest bidder.Clesio Andrade, head of the industry group the National Transport Confederation, praised Rousseff’s left-leaning administration for opening the investments up to the private sector.“It’s important that after more than 20 years, the government has left behind ideology and opened the projects to participation by private enterprise,” Andrade said. “That gives a lot of strength to the projects and will help generate more jobs.”Andrade added that his group had called for at least $200 billion in new infrastructure funding.“With these investments and those we’re expecting for ports and airports, we’ll approach that goal,” Andrade said, while forecasting Rousseff would soon announce $125 billion for other transport areas. Many observers cast the investments announced Wednesday as an alternative to the government’s strategy of trying to promote growth by fanning consumption, particularly by the tens of millions of people who have emerged from poverty and into the lower middle class during the past decade. With those consumers increasingly mired in debt, the government is looking to major public works projects instead, they said.Analyst Steven Bipes, a Rio-based senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group consultancy firm, also welcomed Rousseff’s announcement, which he said meets “the top-level area of dire need for investment _ logistics and transportation.”“The stimulus spending, because that’s what it is, is excellent, especially when complemented with medium- and long-term measures to address the underlying challenges,” including, he said, Brazil’s onerous tax regime and its expensive pension system. “It’s overall very positive because it takes an integrated approach to these issues, instead of dealing with them in an ad hoc fashion,” as Brazil has been wont to do in the past, he said.Still, some analysts cast doubt over whether the stimulus package would bear fruit in the short term. Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Sponsored Stories Quick workouts for men Top Stories Comments Share Associated PressBRASILIA, Brazil (AP) – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced a nearly $66 billion investment package on Wednesday to beef up the nation’s ailing road and rail systems, part of efforts to solve serious transportation bottlenecks and spur a sputtering economy.The investment includes laying 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of train tracks and building or widening 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles) of federal highways. Rousseff said the government would soon announce other packages aimed at airports, ports and transportation on waterways, other areas where serious deficiencies are seen as hobbling the South American giant’s growth. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain
Sydney will see over 211,200 delegate days spent in the harbour city in 2012, as Business Event Sydney (BESydney) secures an estimated $191 million worth of conferences, congress and incentive programs.Ranging from small incentive groups and mid-sized congress to international mega events, BESydney is bracing for a bumper year for the business events industry in Sydney.The strong pipeline of business shows Sydney remains a big player in the global business events market, with BESydney Acting Chief Executive Officer Lyn Lewis-Smith saying the economic and social legacies of these events will be substantial.“Some of these bids were secured by Business Events Sydney over five years ago! Seeing all the cogs in motion – all our Ambassadors, stakeholders, strategic partners and government supporters – working together to make these events a success is going to be fantastic, and an opportunity to profile why the Sydney event experience is like no other,” Ms Lewis-Smith said. March is a popular month with a total of 9,500 delegates spending over 39,700 delegate days in Sydney attending BESydney secured events.Some events include the XVI International Symposium on Atherosclerosis, USANA Asia Pacific Convention and Tupperware Indonesia Manager’s Incentive Trip. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: K.W
A 45-year-old woman from Pervolia has admitted to the police stealing pot plants and solar lights from graveyards in Kiti and Meneou.The police say they have received several reports recently of plants being stolen from Kiti cemetery.At around 7.30 on Wednesday evening police from the Kiti station went to the cemetery where they found the woman, whose car was full of pot plants and solar lights.An examination in her home revealed more pot plants, flowers and lights.The woman was taken to the Kiti police station where in her statement she admitted stealing the items from graveyards in both Kiti and Meneou.She was released to be taken later before court.You May LikeAmiraspantry.comTry this Shish Kabob : with the best marinade EVERAmiraspantry.comUndoOptimoveFive Retention Strategies for the Online Retailer | OptimoveOptimoveUndoCareers Advisor9 Worst College Degrees For Job MarketCareers AdvisorUndo Cyprus’ Dothraki warriorUndoAt least 20 killed, 50 injured in attack on VP candidate’s office in KabulUndoBrazil prison riot kills 52, with 16 decapitatedUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Bronna Kahle of Adrian invited Lenawee County realtor and builder, Mark Baker, to be her guest for Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address Tuesday at the Michigan Capitol. Baker owns Foundation Realty, based in Lenawee County. Categories: Kahle News,News 23Jan Rep. Kahle hosts local small business owner for State of the State
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesFebruary 10, 2015; NPR, “Shots”Although poor John Boehner has to lead his Republican colleagues through the monotonous mechanics of voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act whenever there is a lull in the House of Representatives, Speaker Boehner and his colleagues know that they have nothing to offer to replace the ACA. In fact, they know that to repeal and undo the program of national health insurance would be catastrophic for Americans. Aside from the indefatigable ideological positioning of some extreme wingnuts, the Republican establishment deep down doesn’t really want to scrap Obamacare.Writing for Kaiser Health News, Julie Rovner suggests that this might be the time to fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act rather than imagining the entire program ought to be tossed away. NPQ has suggested the same many times, noting that legislation is typically reopened for technical corrections after it is passed by Congress and signed by the president. In the case of the ACA, however, the political posturing and polarization have been so extreme that such logical, normal actions such as technical corrections were not possible to contemplate. But whatever their frustrations with the national health insurance program, by most indications Americans actually favor fixing rather than repealing the Affordable Care Act.If a sudden infusion of reason were to overcome congressional Republicans, what might be the agenda of fixes that our nation’s leaders might be well advised to pursue? A panel at the National Health Policy Conference earlier this week generated a list of potential ideas for improving the statute.Jon Kingsdale, who led the first health exchange in Massachusetts prior to the ACA, said, “We took the most complex health care system on God’s green earth, and made it 10 times more complex.” Simplifying the “impossible job” of implementing the ACA would be high on his and probably most people’s agendas.Judith Solomon of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities suggested that there should be a modification in the way income eligibility is determined. Currently, taxpayers and the IRS have to rely on tax returns that are more than a year old—obviously, with tax data that is two years old—to predict their income eligibility for ACA subsidies. For determining income eligibility, something more robust and reliable is needed. Solomon also called for a “hardship exemption for people expected to pay back tax credits…because they underestimated their incomes,” or if not a specific hardship exemption, some sort of sliding scale so that moderate income taxpayers aren’t whacked with enormous tax bills.Joseph Anton of the conservative American Enterprise Institute suggested a resolution to the problem of paying back tax credits—just get rid of the individual mandate entirely and replace it with a formula for requiring uninsured individuals to pay more for health coverage.Georgetown University’s Sabrina Corlette recommended getting rid of the provision that permits insurers to charge higher premiums to tobacco users. “It prices out of coverage low- and moderate-income people who could most benefit,” she said. “And there’s no evidence that it encourages people to quit.”The report seemed a little dispirited as the panelists acknowledged that Republicans were unlikely to be hit by that bolt of rationality necessary to repair rather than repeal the Affordable Care Act. Ultimately, however, the truly vital fix is at the state level. Until all states expand Medicaid eligibility to include the near-poor as well as the poor, millions of Americans will be left in a coverage gap between incomes too high for subsidies on the exchanges but too low to afford some insurance premiums and copays.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share40TweetShareEmail40 SharesCC0, LinkJuly 30, 2018; Yale Environment 360Despite the Trump administration’s quest to invalidate California’s authority to enforce stricter rules on greenhouse gas emissions, California continues to lead the pack in reducing its carbon footprint through its cap-and-trade program. The program “caps” the amount of carbon dioxide emissions while allowing companies to “trade” surplus allowances to other businesses that surpass emission limits. Companies are able to purchase allowances at monthly auctions that have generated $4.4 billion in state revenue since 2012.As the state transitions to clean, renewable energy, it recognizes the need for equitable policies and practices that center the most marginalized. Research shows that low-income communities incur higher energy costs and are more likely to suffer from environmental pollutants, resulting in increased rates of disease. As a result, the state has engaged in energy justice—the involvement of underrepresented communities in creating solutions and the fair distribution of clean energy benefits within its clean energy laws. Under Assembly Bill (AB) 1550 (Gomez, Chapter 369, Statutes of 2016), 35 percent of auction proceeds must be used for projects targeting state-defined disadvantaged communities.One shining example of the state’s progress, is the construction of Casas de la Viña, an affordable housing complex specifically designed for farm workers in Central Valley. The development was conceptualized by Self-Help Enterprises, a community development nonprofit whose mission is “to work together with low-income families to build and sustain healthy homes and communities.” The organization serves San Joaquin Valley, known for its agricultural production and high poverty rates. Casas de la Viña is considered a groundbreaking project for a region whose housing often lacks adequate sewer, energy and water services. The complex, which is managed by a nonprofit developer, has “upgrade[d] its hot water systems, put in interior and exterior LED lighting, replaced old refrigerators and faucets, sealed ductwork, [and] installed heat-pump water heaters (which are about 200 percent more efficient than the old models),” with the assistance of the Association for Energy Affordability, a nonprofit energy provider. The upgrades contributed to the complex achieving zero net energy status, one of the first housing complexes in the United States to do so.While the marriage of policy and nonprofit partnerships has proven successful in targeting such communities, building community trust continues to be a barrier to green energy adoption. Centering equity and the involvement of marginalized communities will be critical in changing energy consumption behavior and mindsets. Despite the inherent challenges, California has made considerable progress in this area. For instance, in 2017, the state increased the share of people from underrepresented communities enrolled in clean energy apprenticeship programs to 60 percent.Additionally, the state offers funding to nonprofits to promote energy justice through its California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants Program. Grants of $50,000 are provided to nonprofits that specifically engage underrepresented communities in designing solutions and benefiting from clean energy. Projects range from developing youth ambassadors, training cosmetologists in chemical reduction strategies, training indigenous tribes in wildfire reduction techniques, and engaging incarcerated people in creating solutions to environmental justice.As California continues its efforts, more states may look to California as a model for successfully engaging citizens as partners in a greener, more equitable future. As California has shown, multi-stakeholder partnerships with local agencies, community-based organizations, businesses and other stakeholders, are necessary to get the transformational change needed to stave off extreme weather.— Chelsea DennisShare40TweetShareEmail40 Shares
Share7Tweet2ShareEmail9 Shares“We need rent control,” JK B.February 28, 2019; The OregonianOregon Governor Kate Brown was hailed across the country yesterday when she signed the nation’s first statewide rent control law. The measure was hailed as a win for housing justice and a piece of bipartisan cooperation. However, it falls far short of providing a real solution for Oregon’s renting residents, and some advocates expressed concern that its shortfalls outweigh its gains.The bill, SB 608, is 22 pages long and includes many specific provisions. Its main point, according to the media narrative, is the cap it imposes on rent increases: 7 percent per year, plus the cost of inflation. Several notable exceptions exist, including:Rental units constructed within the last 15 yearsSubsidized units such as section 8 housingUnits vacated by tenants of their own accord Image courtesy of Portland Tenants Union.In addition to those exceptions, many observers noted that a 7 percent cap is quite high; cities in nearby California, which can impose local rent control measures, usually cap increases at the cost of inflation, which has ranged from 1 percent to 3.6 percent in Western states in the past five years. Oregon’s rule allows landlords to increase rents up to 10 percent per year. Not only is that level of increase unaffordable for many families, it’s actually a higher rate of increase than has occurred without the cap over the past 10 years.What’s more, localities do not have the power to impose stricter controls. In some states, such as California, voters have won the right to impose municipal controls, but SB 608 maintains Oregon’s ban on such measures; Elliot Njus, who has been following this issue for The Oregonian, reports that “landlord groups…viewed [SB 608] as a better alternative to removing the state’s ban on local rent control policies.” Margot Black, a Portland tenant organizer, said, “I think it does more to protect landlords from strong tenant protection than to protect tenants from landlords.”The cap does forbid the sudden price increases that have forced many Oregon tenants from their homes, which is certainly a win; some report overnight doubling of rents. But it doesn’t do anything to increase long-term neighborhood stability.Last June, NPQ’s Cyndi Suarez wrote about how, starting with the Nixon administration, government support for affordable housing has been cut back, leading to a dearth of supply. Governor Brown seems to agree; she called for $400 million for “affordable housing development, rental assistance and homelessness prevention” and said, “We need to focus on building supply.”Many outlets cited economics studies purporting to show that rent control ultimately decreases the supply of affordable housing, because price controls disincentivize landlords from renting. However, NPQ’s Steve Dubb pointed out,It sounds so obvious…except that it is not. In economics, the core neoclassical assumptions vary greatly from what we see. A well-functioning market requires “perfect information,” but anyone who has ever looked for a place to live knows that real estate is riven with uncertainty. A well-functioning market also requires perfect competition, which, due to barriers to entry, doesn’t characterize real estate either. It is hard for tenants to organize and become their own landlords, which doesn’t stop housing cooperatives from being a good idea.A 2018 study from Stanford University found that rent control in San Francisco limited renters’ mobility (meaning it increased neighborhood stability) by 20 percent. The study also found that supply was reduced, but as Dubb points out, this is likely due to the tech boom more than to rent control.Oregon’s bill deals with other common issues faced by renters; it includes provisions related to no-cause eviction, relocation assistance, and vacancy control. And critically, the bill is declared as an emergency, so it goes into effect immediately, giving landlords no time to raise rents before the cap hits.However, as Portland Tenants United (PTU) argues, there are many loopholes in these provisions a well; for instance, no-cause evictions are allowed during the first year of tenancy and the language around qualifying reasons that a tenant may be evicted is so weak, it hardly protects renters at all.PTU had a thoughtful and informative Twitter thread about SB 608, in which they highlighted tenant advocacy and called for restoration of local control over rents.Cyndi Suarez pointed out that the movement to consider housing a basic right is only now growing in the US. Joshua Mason, an economics professor at Roosevelt University, wrote,The real goal of rent control is protecting the moral rights of occupancy. Long-term tenants who contributed to this being a desirable place to live have a legitimate interest in staying in their apartments. If we think that income diverse, stable neighborhoods, where people are not forced to move every few years, [are worth preserving] then we collectively have an interest in stabilizing the neighborhood.As long as the US fails to consider housing a basic right, it will be subject to the market forces that make it unaffordable for so many people. Rental units are subject to much greater price variation than mortgage rates or property taxes, disproportionately punishing those with fewer means.Katrina Holland, the executive director of Oregon’s Community Alliance of Tenants, was dissatisfied with the bill and said, “You’d better believe we’ll be back.”—Erin RubinShare7Tweet2ShareEmail9 Shares
Outgoing Virgin Media boss Neil Berkett has spoken out against “clumsy” government intervention in the rollout of high-speed broadband, warning that it could prove detrimental to competition.Berkett, who is due to step down from Virgin Media in the coming months when Liberty Global closes its planned buyout of the UK operator, used a keynote speech at Cable Congress to warn that though politicians may be tempted to write cheques to speed up broadband rollout, this “can often do more harm that it will good.”“Few disagree that even in times of austerity, and perhaps particularly in this tough economic period, that investment and infrastructure is a wise thing to do,” said Berkett, admitting that there was a case for helping to connect rural communities and for investing in digital infrastructure, which he called “a 21st century essential.”However, he added that “the closer you get to areas where genuine competition exists, the more you risk even a modest amount of public money scaring off the investors all together.“Any cable company should be comfortable with the idea of competing. But the point at which those competitors enjoy help from the tax payer is the point at which our investors become less confident and the investment in our infrastructure disappears,” he said.In a pointed attack at the UK government, which alongside its commitment to bring high speed broadband to rural communities has pledged £150m for an Urban Broadband Fund to create ‘super-connected cities’, Berkett said: “Don’t focus on short-term projects or areas where the market is already delivering. Instead, do more to boost the long-term skill and capabilities necessary to ensure businesses take advantages of the opportunities of the digital age.”He added that “competitive markets in big infrastructure-heavy businesses such as ours, are difficult to build and actually easy to break.”
News Corp’s entertainment and publishing arms begin trading under separate companies today following the completion of its split.The entertainment division of Rupert Murdoch’s company, which houses its film and television assets, will now be known as 21st Century Fox after spinning out of the publishing arm, which will remain trading as News Corp.The old News Corp formally split on Friday after the close of trading, though some preliminary shares of the new units have been on the market since Wednesday.Under the news set up, Murdoch will control around 40% of the controlling shares of both – akin to his level of influence in the previous organisation.21st Century Fox will house assets including a Hollywood studio, the Fox television network and its sister channels in the Fox Networks Group, Fox International Channels and other pay TV stakes it holds around the world.Murdoch first announced the split last year in the face of shareholder concern of the performance of the publishing arm following the UK phone hacking scandal that enveloped the company in 2011. The entertainment wing, on the other hand, has been shovelling in huge profits and recording major growth, especially through its international pay TV operation.
Europe’s economic recovery is spurring a global uptick in advertising revenues according to new research.ZenithOptimedia’s latest advertising expenditure projections mark the first time in over a year it has not downgraded its ad spend forecasts, which it said was a “promising sign of stability in the global ad market”.Globally and across all mediums ad expenditure will rise 3.5% this year taking the total to US$503 billion. There will be stronger growth next year and in 2015 – of 5.1% and 5.9% respectively – Zentih added.Despite recent concerns about growth slowing in some developing markets, Brazil, Russia, India and China are still driving the increases in ad spending. The US, however, remains the single largest contributor of new ad dollars to the global market.The Eurozone recovery has helped lift the figures but the worst hit countries in the Eurozone and northern Europe areas will remain in negative territory this year while all other regions, globally, will register growth.The top ten largest ad markets worldwide will remain largely unchanged between now and 2015 with the US, Japan, China, Germany and the UK taking the top positions. The one difference will be that France will exit the top ten and Russia will make an entrance by 2015.Internet advertising is the fastest-growing category, but TV still takes the largest share. By medium TV accounts for 40% of all advertising dollars in 2012. It’s overall share will peak this year at 40.1% before falling back slightly to 39.5% in 2015.
Bulgarian telco Neterra Communications has signed a direct-to-home satellite TV services deal with SpaceCom, operators of the AMOS brand of satellites.Under the deal, Neterra will use SpaceCom’s W4 DTH TV services platform to offer more than 60 TV channels and additional HD services to its end-users.These will be delivered on the AMOS-2 satellite located at 4˚ West, and, after this goes out of service, via AMOS-6.The deal also includes video distribution to cable head-ends, VSAT communications and broadband Internet services via AMOS-2.
Multinational cable and telco firm Altice has announced plans to float on the stockmarket, saying it expects the initial public offering to raise around €750 million. Altice said that it will use the proceeds to reduce its debt and to pay for transaction costs relating to the offering, with plans to list its shares on NYSE Euronext in Amsterdam.Announcing the move, Altice, which owns 40% of French cable operator Numericable, said that for the nine months ended September 30, its pro forma adjusted EBITDA was €1.1 billion.The firm also has a presence in Israel, Belgium and Luxembourg, Portugal, the French West Indies and Indian Ocean Area and the Dominican Republic.
UK broadcast management company, EPG broker and channel launch specialist, Canis Media, has upped former general manager Clare Bramley to the CEO role.Prior to joining Canis, Bramley was chief operating officer for Comux UK, where she was responsible for the non-technical requirements of existing and future local TV licensees in the UK.She has also previously worked for BT as head of media industry marketing, and as director of international marketing for the oil, gas and telecoms group Williams Vyvx, Tulsa.The appointment comes less than a month after Canis Media founder and CEO Ed Hall left the firm after more than 10 years.
Sharon WhiteCivil servant Sharon White, who currently holds the top role in the Treasury overseeing the UK’s public finances, has been tipped to take the CEO role at broadcast regulator Ofcom.According to a Sky News report, White is understood to have been recommended to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid as Ofcom’s new chief executive, though the appointment has not been finalised. The Financial Times also named White as “frontrunner” for the role.White was appointed as the new Second Permanent Secretary responsible for the Treasury’s finance ministry functions in October 2013. Prior to this she worked as Director General for public services at HM Treasury.Ofcom’s existing CEO, Ed Richards, announced in October that will step down from his role at the end of December after eight years in charge of the broadcast regulator.Steve Unger, Ofcom’s director of the strategy, international, technology and economist group was named as acting chief executive last month.
German cable operator Tele Columbus has completed the acquisition of the country’s number four cable operator Pepcom, having previously announced its agreement to take over the company in September.The acquisition expands Tele Columbus’s presence in key urban centres including Frankfurt, Nuremburg and Munich, and, along with the earlier acquisition of Primacom, takes its overall number of connected homes to 3.6 million, consolidating its position as Germany’s third-largest cable operator.Pepcom has about 580,000 subscribers and 790,000 connected households across 100 local and regional networks. It has a 70% stake in Munich enterprise-focused fibre network provider KMS and Leipzig-based HL Komm Mit Sitz.Tele Columbus CEO Ronny Verhelst said that Pepcom’s modern networks could easily be integrated with Tele Columbus and would allow the company to rapidly realise synergies. He said the acquisition would strengthen Tele Columbus’s position in eastern Germany and Bavaria, and in the enterprise market.Uwe Nickl, CEO of Pepcom, said that the acquisition would enable the former Pepcom to expand its business and realise its strengths as a partner for the housing industry, other major customers and consumers.
Magic CityUK pay TV provider Virgin Media is pushing further into original programming, commissioning Avalon Television to produce a series of comedy shorts and buying US drama Magic City, DTVE sister title TBI has learned.Ordering Edinburgh Comedy Shorts (WT) marks the first time the Liberty Global-owned broadband and pay TV company has commissioned programming.This comes after the announcement of a major push into original drama programming with its cousin, All3Media. This places it more directly in competition with pay TV rivals Sky and BT, and SVOD player Netflix, although it offers content from these and considers itself primarily as an aggregator.Magic City, meanwhile, becomes Virgin’s third UK-exclusive US programme following a deal with Starz, after another with Starz for Ash Vs Evil Dead and another with Endemol Shine International for Kingdom. The series (pictured) ran on Starz, which is connected to Virgin Media through Liberty Global chairman John Malone, for two seasons.Virgin Media’s chief digital entertainment officer, David Bouchier, told TBI that Avalon was in Edinburgh this month at the Fringe Festival filming the 15 shorts that would comprise Edinburgh Comedy Shorts, which will be released exclusively on its streaming TV Anywhere services.“We are dependent on, and get the benefit from our content partners, but there is an opportunity for us to do exclusive content in a targeted way that only our subscribers get,” said Bouchier. “It’s not something we’ve been associated with recently, and we need to get into it. However, we don’t need to drop tens of millions on it.”“Avalon is the UK’s foremost comedy producer, and that’s why it is in Edinburgh creating the shorts for us,” he added.The shorts will debut on Virgin Media’s streaming service, which is powered by its super-fast internet infrastructure, for a month. “This is important because it makes our streaming service a destination to go to, and increases the audience.”Bouchier said the company would also look at co-productions for big-budget programming, which will go alongside the exclusive dramas it gets from the Liberty-All3Media output agreement, and is dipping its “toe in the water commissioning” for short-form exclusives.Bouchier was drafted in last year to create Virgin Media’s content strategy. He has since hired former Channel 4 buyer Gill Hay as acquisitions chief and David Twallin as head of programming.
Russian pay TV operators NTV+ and MTS have separately unveiled plans to develop 4K Ultra HD TV services.NTV+ plans to launch a service comprising three channels, available throughout the Russian Federation, in the next couple of months. The services will be available in the operator’s basic package at no extra cost.NTV+ CEO Mikhail Demin told attendees at the CSTB conference in Moscow this week that the service would initially be available in western and central Siberia from March, extending to the Far East of the country in April and European Russia in May.NTV+ plans to use the Express-AMU1, Express-AT1 and Express-AT2 satellites to extend the reach of the service across the entire country.The operator’s move into UHD TV follows its decision to extend its satellite service to the Far East of the country for the first time. The broadcaster will begin selling its offering in this part of Russia in April via Express-AT2 at 140° East.In addition to the Ultra HD announcement, NTV+ has now said that the package for the Far East region will comprise over 130 channels, including 15 movie services, eight premium SuperSport channels, and nine kids services.MTS meanwhile has already kicked off with its first 4K Ultra HD TV broadcast. The operator launched a test broadcast of the Russian Extreme channel, which airs a mix of extreme sports content, on its satellite platform yesterday.Content is encoded in the HEVC format and the broadcast is available to all MTS satellite customers with the appropriate equipment, including an Ultra HD TV and CAM module.MTS’s satellite project chief Alexey Ivanov said that the company was working proactively to introduce new TV formats and hailed the Ultra HD TV broadcast as “an important step” for the operator.Russia’s satellite pay TV frontrunner, Tricolor TV, started broadcasting in Ultra HD as early as November 2015, but only in the European apart of the country. The operator’s Ultra HD offering comprises TERN’s Insight UHD, an Ultra HD version of Fashion One and Russian Extreme.
Hong Kong-based satellite operator AsiaSat and media services provider Globecast have teamed up to deliver Russian international channel RTR-Planeta Asia to viewers via AsiaSat 5.The deal comes against the background of expansion of Russian-language programming available in the Asia-Pacific region, and will enable RTR-Planeta to strengthen its reach across Asia.An international service owned by the Russian state television and radio broadcaster VGTRK, RTR-Planeta Asia provides cultural and prime time news, sports, movies and documentary films.Globecast is providing RTR-Planeta with distribution services, including across Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, building upon Globecast and RTR’s existing relationship, which began in 2003.Vladimir Zhdanov, senior legal advisor, media at RTR-Planeta said: “With the sheer volume of programming we offer, we need technology partners that deliver faultless services, and there is no better choice for this project than Globecast and AsiaSat. Through our partnership with them, we can now deliver our content further across Asia, without hassle or worry.”
Mediengruppe RTL has partnered with Wochit, a video creation platform aimed at editorial teams uploading to services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Wochit said RTL had chosen its platform so it can create optimised, short-form social and online video, with its tools to be used by teams working across the RTL, RTL2, RTL Next and n-tv brands.“We are honoured that Mediengruppe RTL, a forward-looking media company with an incredible track record of innovation in digital content, has selected Wochit as its video-production partner,” said Christoph Pleitgen, senior vice-president of sales and business development at Wochit.“We are proud to work with RTL to facilitate growth across their brands and help build their digital video newsrooms.”RTL’s adoption of Wochit will help its creators and brands produce videos quickly and at scale, and is part of its digital video-driven growth strategy, according to Wochit.Wochit is a video creation platform targeted at newsrooms, publishers and brands. The service lets users edit and order video clips, add text overlays, animations, graphics, sound effects and voice-overs.Videos can be formatted to square, horizontal or vertical size to work best with different platforms and can then be uploaded to the web or services like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
Russian service provider NTV+ has launched a smart TV app for Samsung TVs, enabling subscribers to access its service without the need for a set-top box or conditional access module.NTV+ subscribers can log onto the app on Samsung smart TVs and access their existing subscription offerings, new users must register and can then subscribe the channel packages of their choice.The app enables users to subscribe the thematic packages, pause and rewind TV channels and access on-demand content, activate promotional codes and pay for their service by credit card.The app is available for Samsung TVs with the Tizen operating system produced after 2015.NTV+ is also available on the web