The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) is expected to issue a ruling this week on a case brought against the government of Costa Rica for banning in vitro fertilization (IVF).Costa Rica banned the procedure 12 years ago, and now the court will define whether the practice should be allowed, if it should be included in public health services and if the country must change current legislation.In banning the practice, the government argued a pro-life stance, saying the definition of the beginning of life is established in the country’s constitution. The Attorney General’s Office is representing the government as a defendant in the case.The government’s main arguments for banning IVF questioned the use of multiple embryos in the process. Costa Rica also argued that IVF is not the most viable alternative for people unable to conceive, and the state questioned the high cost the procedure would have on the country’s public health care system. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rican legislators face criminal suit for failing to pass IVF law Costa Rica to pay $420,000 for banning in vitro fertilization Evangelical lawmaker Justo Orozco to preside over commission studying IVF bill Does Costa Rica’s in vitro ban clash with its reputation as a civil liberties leader?
By Stelios OrphanidesAstroBank, the lender that emerged from the acquisition of a majority stake in the Cypriot unit of Greece’s Bank of Piraeus, will consider opportunities to acquire assets in an attempt to implement its growth strategy, its top executive said on Monday.The acquisition took place last year by a group of investors led by Lebanese banker Maurice Sehnauoui.“Following the launch of AstroBank we are moving from a deleveraging strategy imposed by events in Greece to a ‘grow and the-sky-is-the-limit’ approach,” chief executive officer George Appios said in a telephone interview. “The new owners’ philosophy is that we are no longer constrained by capital and liquidity. This an 180-degree change in the strategic direction”.The bank, which inherited a balance sheet slightly exceeding €1bn, is in a position to buy other competitors or assets from other banks, and will do so if an opportunity arises at the right price, he said.Appios declined to confirm or deny information that AstroBank was showing interest in acquiring the Cyprus business of National Bank of Greece.“We will also examine everything that comes along our path as an opportunity in terms of acquisition,” he said.“Even acquiring of loans from other banks will be looked at as an opportunity that will be examined on a cost and benefits basis”.Following the acquisition for a reported €3.2m and the subsequent capital increase of €40m, AstroBank – so named because Sehnaoui considers the island the ‘star of the Mediterranean’ because of its economic achievements and shape – business development and growth will be the bank’s top priorities, Appios said.And as a Cypriot bank, AstroBank may seek to have its share listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, which could happen in two years at the earliest, Appios said.“The first thing we need to do and make the difference in the bank is to ensure that we capitalise on our advantages and have the best time to respond to the market,” the banker said. “We have to give our customers answers to their loan requests swiftly and we need to be the fastest compared to our competitors. The responses should not just be quick, they should be relevant”.“We are small and agile and we can take decisions quickly as we don’t have to go to an overseas head office or through a large number of hierarchical levels to get approvals,” Appios said. “This ensures that decisions will not only be quick but also relevant to what the client needs”.To do that, the bank, its management, and staff alike, will have to “change the culture” in order to think “innovatively” on behalf of the customer.Under the terms of the deal, Bank of Piraeus retains a 17.6 per cent stake and the responsibility to provide technical support to AstroBank. The lender announced a new board of directors in February that includes Shadi Karam, a former banker at Merrill Lynch and Lebanon’s BLC Bank.AstroBank can utilise “the blend of local knowledge and experience combined with the depth of experience of the new investors in international banking with a large network of business contacts,” Appios said.That blend will be necessary to reduce the bad loan portfolio AstroBank inherited from the Cypriot subsidiary of Bank of Piraeus, which is another pressing priority. The lender has a 90-days-past-due loan ratio of 39 per cent and a non-performing loan slightly above that, the bank’s CEO said.“The change in the direction of the bank does not alter the targets regarding the reduction of non-performing loans,” Appios continued.The reduction of Cyprus’s non-performing loan mountain, roughly half of the banks’ portfolio, which all rating companies consider necessary for Cyprus to improve its sovereign credit rating, could create a vicious circle, Appios said.Astrobank Maurice Sehnaoui Harris Georgiades“Once Cyprus’s sovereign credit rating becomes investment grade, this will spark a positive momentum and further speed up economic recovery,” he added.After implementing reforms included in the adjustment programme agreed with international creditors four years ago, “there is one thing that we have not completed, which is to reform the public sector which is my only concern,” Appios said.“Those things that we have not reformed may ultimately negatively ruin what was reformed and affect the sustainability of economic growth” which faces external challenges related to energy prices, regional geopolitics and Greece’s economy, he said.You May LikeTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndoFigLeaf Beta AppGet Maximum Privacy with Minimum EffortFigLeaf Beta AppUndoTotal Battle – Online Strategy GameIf You’re PC User This Strategy Game Is A Must-Have!Total Battle – Online Strategy GameUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoTwo arrested in connection with attempted murderUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
The House agriculture committee has asked the government to submit a scheme that tackles all the problems mouflons cause to the produce and property of farmers by the end of September, it was announced on Tuesday.Head of the committee Andros Kafkalias said it’s been a year and a half since state officials said that a scheme was in the make, but that MPs heard nothing since.The government, Kafkalias said, has done nothing to address the problem. “It is merely confined to declaring that it recognises the problem and that it will present a plan,” he said.The plan concerns fencing of affected areas through a programme of agricultural development and that the agriculture, interior and finance ministries are in consultations to agree on a final plan.He said that farmers wishing to fence their property are faced with red tape and complex procedures.Soteris Antoniou, community leader of Kambos, one of the areas affected by mouflons, said in the past they were promised to be given the materials to fence off their property themselves.He said that the population of mouflons has increased and the animals enter inhabited areas.“We call on those in charge to solve our problem so that we won’t have to take the law into our hands,” Antoniou said.“Mouflons are a protected species, but who is protecting us from the mouflons?” community leader of Tsakkistra Christodoulos Orfanides asked.Orfanides said that the mouflon’s bite is such that it destroys young trees.Residents of the Kambos and Tsakkistra villages, near Kykkos monastery, threatened to sue the government last year unless it took effective measures to stop mouflons destroying agricultural produce in the mountain areas where they live.You May LikeMemory Care | Search AdsLuxury Memory Care Facilities Near Rowland Heights For SeniorsMemory Care | Search AdsUndoFigLeaf Beta AppTake Online Privacy on a whole New levelFigLeaf Beta AppUndoYahoo Search | Search AdsThe Early Signs Of Hepatitis C – Research About Hepatitis CYahoo Search | Search AdsUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Runestad News 26Apr Area schools to receive additional state aid House approves proposal increasing student foundation dollarsHuron Valley Schools and Waterford School District are slated to see 2016-17 state funding amounts increased by about $120 per pupil under legislation approved today by the Michigan House.State Rep. Jim Runestad, R-Waterford, said House Bill 5291 concurs with the governor’s budget proposal that uses a two-times formula to close the education funding gap between districts with $60 to $120 increases.“Educating our children is a top priority for the future of Michigan and the dollars need to be allocated equitably across the state, regardless of where students live,” Runestad said. “This budget bill continues to provide more money for education than ever before in the state, while shrinking the funding disparity between school districts.“I’m pleased that our area children will benefit from the top payment increase for their learning.”Huron Valley will see a $120 per pupil foundation allowance increase, from $7,391 to $7,511. Waterford School District is calculated for $119 per pupil, from $7,421 to $7,540.In general, school districts already receiving more than $8,000 per pupil will receive $60 to $100 increases in the coming year. Total K-12 spending has risen from $1.77 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 to $1.99 billion expected in Fiscal Year 2017.Along with K-12 spending, HB 5291 also includes community colleges and higher education budget plans.The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Share354TweetShare34Email388 Shares“Cecile Richards 2011 Shankbone 2” by David Shankbone – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.September 30, 2015; New York TimesA succinct article in the New York Times answers the question posed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-R) to Cecile Richards, the CEO of Planned Parenthood, about the level of her salary. His intention was to prove its lavishness, but in fact, as the NYT article states, her salary is rather restrained for a nonprofit of the size of Planned Parenthood, which had revenues of approximately $1.3 billion last year, and in its restraint is emblematic of a gender gap in the pay of top nonprofit executives.But first, here was the question in all its accusatory glory:CHAFFETZ: Your compensation in 2009 was $353,000. Is that correct?RICHARDS: I don’t have the figures with me. But…CHAFFETZ: It was. Congratulations. In 2013, your compensation went up some $240,000. Your compensation, we’re showing based on tax returns, is $590,000, correct?RICHARDS: That’s not my annual compensation. I—actually, my annual compensation is $520,000 a year. I believe there was a program that the board sort of put together for a three-year…I’m happy—again, I think we have been extremely forthcoming with all of our documents.But as is reflected in GuideStar’s compensation report, about which we wrote a few weeks ago, the executives of the 3,335 nonprofits with revenues of more than $50 million bring home an average compensation of $689,973, about 17 percent more than Ms. Richards earned in her best year. (In fact, only 200 nonprofits in the country have revenues that exceed those of Planned Parenthood, so that 3,335 may be too broad a group for comparison, but it will have to do.) The GuideStar report also states that the gender gap varies by budget size, with the smallest disparity being 6 percent and the largest being 23 percent, but for organizations like Planned Parenthood, with annual budgets over $50 million, the gender pay gap is 18 percent.So when Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-D) reacted to Mr. Chaffetz, accusing him of “beating up on a woman, our witness, for making a good salary” and called his comments “totally inappropriate and discriminatory,” she was right on target. Not only is Richards’s salary not outsized, but what she makes is below the average for her peer group by 17 percent for running a far larger organization. Just the facts, ma’am.—Ruth McCambridgeShare354TweetShare34Email388 Shares
Share13Tweet3Share4Email20 SharesJuly 19, 2016; Washington PostIn May, NPQ reported that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe had issued an executive order to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 ex-inmates in time for the November election. Nonprofits and advocacy groups have been instrumental in educating and alerting ex-inmates about shedding their formerly disenfranchised status. However, Republican legislators pushed back on McAuliffe’s order almost immediately, and now they are taking the issue to the state Supreme Court to determine if the governor unconstitutionally overstepped his power in allowing the massive and unprecedented restoration of voting rights. According to the Constitution, those convicted of a felony may lose their right to vote, but the policies vary from state to state. In Maine and Vermont, a felon will never lose the right to vote even while incarcerated. Previously in Virginia, as in other states currently, voting restoration was taken on a case-by-case basis. Under this new order, ex-felons in Virginia will automatically be able to vote after completing their sentence and parole or probation, with no required review of their individual cases.At the center of the controversy is the question of whether McAuliffe’s order was within the purview of the governor’s clemency power given what previous governors have done. In other words, can McAuliffe grant an unprecedented, sweeping order to an entire group of people, or is he required to adhere to Virginia’s previous policies of assessing the restoration cases individually?“It is the exceptional felons that qualify for gubernatorial exceptions,” said Charles J. Cooper, arguing for the Republicans before the Supreme Court of Virginia on Tuesday. According to Cooper, the strongest evidence supporting the case that the executive order was an overreach of power is that such actions have never before been exercised by a Virginia governor. “Power does not lay dormant and unused for two-and-a-half centuries,” he said.Virginia Solicitor General Stuart A. Raphael, representing the governor, countered that simply because the power has not be exercised previously does not mean it doesn’t exist. “If the Constitution provides for the power, it doesn’t go away with nonuse,” said Raphael.According to state officials, if the state Supreme Court rules that the order was unconstitutional, it likely wouldn’t impact the restoration effort. While it would be a setback for criminal reform activists championing the order, McAuliffe could still individually grant orders to restore voting rights, which would have the same impact.However, the order has had a dramatic effect on the ex-inmate community. Before the order, about a quarter of the African American population in Virginia was restricted from voting, according to the Washington Post. Since then, more than 11,000 ex-felons have registered to vote. Along with voting rights, ex-inmates convicted of felonies also earn the right to serve on juries and apply to possess firearms, one of the reasons opponents have fought the order. Moreover, just which specific ex-inmates are eligible has also concerned opponents. McAuliffe has been admonished by the justices for refusing to hand over a list of the over 200,000 ex-felons, some of whom officials say are incorrectly included as eligible. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, reports indicate there are at least two fugitive sex offenders on the list and some people who are still incarcerated. Without the list being public, verification is still needed on these reports. The list of over 200,000 eligible ex-felons also includes 132 sex offenders under involuntary observation and others who have committed violent crimes. These sex offenders have finished their sentences, therefore being eligible under the order, but remain monitored in facilities because they have been found to be too dangerous for society. Activists would argue that though they are monitored, they are not incarcerated anymore and have completed their sentences. While McAuliffe’s actions may be unprecedented for Virginia, other states have passed policies similar to his executive order. Earlier this year in February, Maryland granted 40,000 of its citizens still on probation the right to register to vote.—Shafaq HasanShare13Tweet3Share4Email20 Shares
Share17TweetShare1Email18 SharesSeptember 6, 2016; New York TimesThe Koch brothers and their network of conservative donors are funding a new initiative, the Grassroots Leadership Academy, under the leadership of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity related to the 501(c)(4) Americans for Prosperity (AFP). According to their GuideStar listing, the foundation’s mission includes “educating citizens about economic policy and a return of the federal government to its Constitutional limits” and “restoring fairness to our judicial system.” In fact, the AFP Foundation is so closely related to AFP that the two nonprofits share headquarters and several of their key executives, including their CEO, CFO, general counsel, and chief marketing officer.Key elements of the academy’s curriculum include reference to 20th-century Democratic Party grassroots successes and study of Saul Alinsky, identified in the Times article as an icon of the left. The three-level training begins with six weeks introducing participants to the principles of economic freedom and addresses lobbying techniques, followed by six weeks of training for community activism, with a goal to build leadership capacity to motivate others. The third and final level of training is provided in an intensive three-day session at Americans for Prosperity’s headquarters near Washington, D.C.Interestingly, one justification of the need for training conservative activists is Donald Trump as the GOP presidential candidate. Trump’s opposition to free trade agreements and willingness to depart from conservative free-market orthodoxy concerns the AFP Foundation.“This Republican nomination battle for president has demonstrated that no issue is ever fully won,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. “You must keep competing and explaining. For example, why free trade is better, why entitlement reform is necessary.”NPQ readers may remember that the Koch donors were split on supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy and split on the Koch decision to focus their political support on Congressional races.AFP Foundation has committed at least $3 million to the training program so far, with 10,000 participants in about 35 states. There are plans to expand the program in 2017.This type of grassroots training is beyond the capacity of the Republican Party and is further evidence that a shrinking proportion of political education and activism is happening within national, state, and local political parties. It also carries forward a tradition of conservative grassroots education that includes GOPAC (best known for Newt Gingrich’s cassette tapes) and the evangelical focused Christian Coalition founded by Pat Robertson in the 1990s.The academy’s leaders have learned lessons they intend to turn to conservative benefit.Mr. O’Brien, the Grassroots vice president, said he hoped the program would pay dividends over the long term. “You can’t just show up at somebody’s door six weeks before an election and build a relationship with them,” he said. He added that Mr. Obama’s grass-roots wing was “magnificent at building up their volunteers and relationships over a period of time, and you have to give them credit.”Education and political activism are laudable goals. The close relationship between AFP and the AFP Foundation bears watching, as does their dividing lines between education, issue advocacy, and partisan political activity.—Michael WylandShare17TweetShare1Email18 Shares
Share68TweetShareEmail68 SharesAugust 13, 2018; TimeOn Sunday night, HBO’s John Oliver devoted 18 minutes of his news/comedy show Last Week Tonight to the dangers of “astroturfing.” Using his biting comic sensibility, he exposed the ability of special interests to form advocacy groups that falsely claim to be grassroots, undermining our democratic system. Because many of these activities use the anonymity granted nonprofit organizations to mask their real origins, they pose a special risk to the entire nonprofit community.According to Oliver, “Astroturfing is the practice of corporations or political groups disguising themselves as spontaneous, authentic popular movements. It’s basically fake grassroots—that’s why they call it ‘astroturfing.’” This mirrors how the Center for Media & Democracy’s SourceWatch depicts it:Campaigns & Elections magazine defines ‘astroturf’ as a “grassroots program that involves the instant manufacturing of public support for a point of view in which either uninformed activists are recruited or means of deception are used to recruit them.” Journalist William Greider has coined his own term to describe corporate grassroots organizing—he calls it “democracy for hire.”As examples, Oliver cited, according to Time, a group “calling themselves Americans Against Food Taxes [that’s] not paid for by a small grassroots movement of concerned citizens but a large beverage conglomerate lobbying against a soda tax that could cut into their profits,” a “national wetlands organization funded by real estate developers and oil companies,” and “a seeming restaurant worker group campaigning against minimum wage increase.” To augment their impact, some astroturfers use paid “members” to show up for protests and demonstrations and to testify at public hearings.For Oliver, the harm of this approach to shaping public opinion and influencing policy makers is that it fuels cynicism and distrust. “That is hugely dangerous…the outcome of this cannot be that everyone assumes that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is astroturf.” Because nonprofit status is an asset to astroturfers, this threat strikes very close to home.Advocacy is at the core of many nonprofit organizations. Providing a path for those who are powerless to speak to those with power about policies and issues that affect their lives is a key and common activity. Several years ago, NPQ, looking at an effort to force lobbying transparency in San Francisco, observed,Few activities are more American than joining with a group of like-minded individuals and demanding that our elected and appointed officials take certain actions that we believe will improve our lives. This activity is so American that we include it in our Bill of Rights: The First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances—a powerful subset of which is grassroots lobbying.Transparency would fight this cynicism. Yet creating regulations to help citizens separate real from fake is not easy. Rules that would apply to the corporate backers behind astroturf organizations would also apply to small, actual grassroots groups, which might fear the burdens that come with compliance. As NPQ wrote, “It is a challenge to determine what is most frustrating…the offensive notion that a nonprofit should be subject to the same laws as astroturf campaigns, the voluminous record-keeping a nonprofit must maintain to ensure compliance with the law, the government forcing nonprofits to publicly disclose the purpose of their grassroots lobbying campaigns,” or a requirement that their donors be identified.These may be difficult, even onerous criteria to meet. It is unfortunate that the cynical misuse of grassroots support forces this upon the greater nonprofit community. But without ensuring “truth in advocacy,” those who invented astroturfing will be the only winners.—Martin LevineShare68TweetShareEmail68 Shares
ShareTweet29ShareEmail29 SharesU.S. Army Corps of EngineersApril 25, 2019; Next CityHere at NPQ, we have covered the growing impact of climate change, including proposals for a Green New Deal, the sometimes-fickle response of philanthropy, and how climate change affects civil society and all nonprofits. Here comes a story from New Orleans that speaks to some of these trends.At the end of last month, New Orleans filed a suit against 11 oil and gas companies. The companies named in the suit are: Apache Louisiana Minerals, Aspect Energy, Chaparral Energy, Chevron USA Inc., Collins Pipeline Co., Entergy New Orleans (and its predecessor companies), EOG Resources Inc., ExxonMobil Pipeline Co., Gulf South Pipeline Co. Southern Natural Gas Co., and Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune noted that New Orleans’ suit is “similar to dozens of other suits filed against oil and gas firms by six Louisiana parishes.” The central charge: destruction of the surrounding wetlands.Mayor LaToya Cantrell, in explaining the lawsuit, said, “New Orleans has been harmed. The people of our city have been harmed, and our way of life is threatened by the damage done to our coastal wetland. Given the challenges we face when it comes to our infrastructure, the additional strain of these damages demands action. Getting our fair share means being made whole by the companies who have harmed us.”Like the other suits, notes Schleifstein, “the city filing argues that in exploration, development and operation of oil and gas wells and pipelines, the energy companies violated provisions of the state’s Coastal Zone Management Act of 1978, either by not restoring damage such as canals and spoil banks, or cleaning up hazardous and radioactive waste produced during drilling operations.”The state is losing land at a rapid pace. Tulane geologist Torbjörn Törnqvist has said the state loses a football field of land to the Gulf every hour. The destruction of the wetlands is also blamed for significantly increasing the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005. As Tim Padgett wrote in Time Magazine back in 2010:[Wetlands] once served as natural buffers for New Orleans against hurricanes, but over the decades their man-made degradation created instead a natural bowling lane, where catastrophic storms can roll into the Big Easy unchallenged. That was the case…when Hurricane Katrina and its 125 mph (205 km/h) winds wrecked the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida, caused almost $100 billion in damage and killed 1,800 people.Writing in Next City, Zoe Sullivan cites the work of Scott Eustis, an environmental scientist with New Orleans-based Healthy Gulf, formerly the Gulf Restoration Network. Eustis points out that the loss of wetlands doesn’t harm every community equally. “There’s a racial justice issue there. There’s a housing justice issue there, and it’s compounded by this hurricane risk,” Eustis explains.There has also been a reaction from the accused. Sullivan notes, “The Times-Picayune reported that oil and gas industry groups had threatened their members might withdraw funding from city events they have sponsored in the past, potentially affecting New Orleans’ famed jazz festival.”To Eustis, the companies’ reaction is not a surprise. To date, Sullivan adds, “Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts have been funded mainly by settlements paid by oil and gas companies from previous lawsuits.”John Barry, a former member of the New-Orleans-area levee board, contends that the investments in protecting Louisiana’s wetlands would actually ultimately benefit the oil and gas industry which he says was budgeting some $1.6 trillion dollars on infrastructure when the levee board was preparing its lawsuit. Barry adds. “They basically want taxpayers to pay to fix damage that they caused, but that they will benefit from because the amount of oil and gas infrastructure in Louisiana, obviously, is enormous, and all of that is jeopardized by storm surge and land loss.”Barry may be right, and yet we ask ourselves how much longer is it possible for Louisiana—or anyone for that matter—to use that infrastructure before we must accept that much of this infrastructure will ultimately be stranded assets…assuming, that is, that we actually want to preserve coastal cities like New Orleans for the long term. Not so long ago, NPQ ran an article suggesting that ultimately public ownership of fossil fuel companies might be required if we are to achieve the carbon emissions reductions necessary to prevent (or at least mitigate) coastal flooding. And if the projections of folks like the United Nations are correct, which they seem to be, then we do not have a lot of time to lose.—Steve DubbShareTweet29ShareEmail29 Shares
BT added 39,000 BT Vision pay TV customers in the third quarter ending December 31. The additions mean the telco ended 2011 with a total of 678,000 BT Vision subscribers.Consumer ARPU was up 5% to £337 (€405) reflecting the increased take up of broadband and BT Vision.BT added 146,000 retail broadband customers during the quarter, taking its retail broadband customer base to 6.1 million at the end of the year. Take up of the telco’s high speed broadband service BT Infinity increased by 95,000 customers in the quarter and it ended December with over 400,000 customers.BT’s Retail division recorded third quarter revenue of £1.85 billion down 5% year-on-year. EBITDA was level at £453 million.
Teleport and playout operator SatLink Communications has partnered with satellite operator Telesat to deliver TV programming to Latin America on a new Ku-band MCPC DVB-S2 platform utilising Telesat’s Telstar 12 satellite.The new service will enable broadcasters to distribute HD and SD channels from EMEA to the Latin American pay TV operators and to North American east coast media ports.“The launch of this DVB-S2 platform on Telstar 12 is an exciting development for our customers and an example of the types of innovative approaches Telesat is using to serve the Latin American market,” said Nigel Gibson, vice-president international sales for Telesat. “The partnership between SatLink and Telesat offers broadcasters a number of key advantages for delivering SD and HD content to the region’s rapidly growing pay TV markets. We are very pleased to have completed this agreement with SatLink and look forward to establishing our new platform as a premiere solution for Latin America.”
German cable operator Kabel Deutschland has raised a loan of €500 million under an existing credit agreement.The proceeds of the loan, which matures in June 2020, will be used to fully pre-pay existing debt.
Abbe RavenAbbe Raven is to retire after 33 years at US-based cable business A+E Networks.Raven joined the company as a production assistant in 1982 and after a monumental climb was president and CEO between 2005 and 2013.She stepped back from day-to-day leadership last year, handing over to her protege, Nancy Dubuc, and became chairman.During Raven’s run at the top of the company, A+E’s flagship channel A&E broke records with Duck Dynasty as it moved away from cultural shows in favour of reality fare, while History had major success moving into scripted programming with The Bible.Raven revealed her plan to retire in a memo to staff. She will leave A+E, a Disney and Hearst Corp joint venture company, on February 2 of next year.Raven joined A+E when it was a single programming service called Daytime in 1982. Two years later a merger of the ABC-Hearst ARTS business and The Entertainment Channel saw the birth of the A&E channel.Raven then saw the business grow to an international cable and pay TV giant with 10 channel brands in 180 territories and 350 million viewers worldwide.She will remain as a consultant to A+E, but will now focus on spending more time with her family and serving on various company boards.
France Télévisions has partnered with media services group Arkena to optimise the management of its OTT catch-up TV service FranceTV Pluzz.Arkena will take charge of media transcoding and audio, subtitles and video treatments before the OTT service is delivered through a CDN, with France Télévisions publishing “several thousands of hours of on-demand programmes” per-month.The Arkena platform is integrated with France Télévisions Editions Numériques’ internal solution, which allows real-time monitoring of content requests.FranceTV Pluzz is available online, on connected devices and on several set-top boxes. France Télévisions said that through the Arkena deal, it aims to optimise the management of its content to make it available more quickly to TV viewers.“We want to offer our viewers a large diversity of content. Thus, we needed a partner capable of handling a high volume of media each month to target different platforms,” said Stéphane Van Bosterhaudt, chief technology officer of France Télévisions Editions Numériques.
Adam BoorstinProSiebenSat.1-owned multichannel network Collective Studio 71 has hired the former head of partnerships at Buzzfeed Motion Pictures.Adam Boorstin will become EVP, global digital distribution at CS71, which was formed when Germany-based ProSiebenacquired control of US-based Collective Digital Studio and merged it with its own MCN, Studio71.In the new post, he will oversee distribution of all CS71 content and lead expansion of the firm’s distribution network on new global platforms. He will report to Reza Izad, who is CEO of the Collective Digital Studio side of the business.“As CS71 continues to expand its global footprint, Boorstin will be responsible for forging new partnerships with key distributors both domestically and internationally,” said Izad.“He will identify new opportunities to distribute existing content, while also exploring exclusive custom content deals for CS71creators with VOD, SVOD and OTT platforms.”At online publisher BuzzFeed, Boorstin was a key player in video arm BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, overseeing video revenue and traffic, video operations, and partnerships. He also led a teamthat developed and managed relationships with the likes of YouTube, MSN, Comcast and Verizon Go90 and international partners in Germany, Chin, Turkey and France.Before that, he worked in theatrical marketing at The Walt Disney Company, talent agency CAA’s finance arm and in production for Paramount.
Stéphane RichardOrange has unveiled a new UHD-capable version of its Livebox platform with a promise to invest in UHD content and a commitment from Canal+ to support the launch.Orange says that it will have a catalogue of 300 UHD titles available when the box launches commercially, including dozens of movies on Orange VoD, exclusive releases available 10 months after their theatrical release with mobile TV service OCS Go, the family showcase channel OCS Max and a new live linear channel, AB Ultra Nature.Orange will also offer UHD titles from Netflix through its partnership with the streaming VoD provider, including Breaking Bad, Da Vinci Code, Daredevil, Bloodline, Chef’s Table, Narcos, and the new French series Marseille.Canal+ said it would offer live UHD coverage of football and rugby as well as original films, series and documentaries in UHD. The pay TV operator’s content will be available via its linear channel Canal+ and via the Canal+ à la Demande VoD service. Canal+’s UHD offering on Orange will kick off with the final of the Top 14 rugby competition live from Barcelona on June 24.Orange chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard unveiled the box at Orange’s latest ‘Show Hello’ event at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris. Richard said that eight matches from the Euro 2016 football tournament would be made exclusively available in UHD to Orange TV customers.Orange customers will also be able to download over 200 UHD games. Richard said that Orange also planned to launch a dedicated virtual reality platform soon.Richard made it clear that the new Livebox is designed primarily for fibre customers and the launch is intended to attract new subscribers to the operator’s fibre offering.The device is however enabled for both fibre and ADSL networks and also provides access to data via Orange’s mobile network. It comes with a 1TB hard disk and a new Livebox Storage service enables remote access to any file saved in a shared or individual secure space.
Video, and in particular real-time video, will help give Twitter a “unique leadership position” in helping brands reach their target audiences and is the central pillar of the company’s strategy, according to Parminder Singh, managing director of Twitter India, South-East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.In an interview with Business Today India, Singh said that the social networking site had seen a 400% increase in video consumption in India last year.He said that putting video “on top” of the real-time, public and conversational nature of the platform gave Twitter a unique position in enabling brands to engage with their target audiences.He cited features such as ‘flock to unlock’, where new product videos are ‘unlocked’ based on the number of retweets they receive, Firstview, where brands can reserve a prime video slot on the site for 24 hours, and conversational video, where videos are provided with a button to enable easy sharing of the content, as examples of the company’s innovation with video formats.Singh said that the company would continue to focus on “real-time video, live video” to make its platform more compelling to advertisers.
Periscope has added three new features to its live video streaming service that are designed to make it easier for users to discover and watch content.The Twitter-owned service is introducing Highlights, a new feature that automatically generates a short trailer for every Periscope broadcast.Periscope users will also now be able to embed Periscope videos anywhere on the web in embedded Tweets – a feature that is already being used by publishers like El Pais, the Washington Post and Mashable.The third update is the addition of Autoplay Live Broadcasts on Android, with autoplay for iOS due to be added “soon”.“On Android, live broadcasts will autoplay in the Watch Tab and Global Feed without sound, so you can see what’s happening around the world immediately when you open Periscope. If you find a broadcast interesting, you can simply tap to get the full live experience,” according to Periscope.
In the UK some 37.1 million adults watched an average of 311 videos each on YouTube during July, according to comScore stats.The Video Metrix Multi-Platform study (VMX MP) – which claims to deliver a single, unduplicated measure of digital video consumption across devices – claims that 11.6 billion videos were watched on YouTube in total during the month.The study of UK adults aged 18 and over said that 79% of YouTube videos were consumed on a mobile device and that 74% of viewing time was on a mobile. The average viewing time was 3.7 minutes per video.ComScore found that the gender divide between YouTube viewers was equally split 49% female and 51% male – but that viewing skewed towards younger viewers.People aged 18-35 accounted for 53% of all minutes and 56% of all videos viewed in the month.The share of videos by age breaks was 23% among 18-24 year-olds, 33% by 25-34 year-olds and 24% by 35-44 year-olds. People aged 45-54 watched 12% of videos and those aged over 55 just 8%, according to the stats.The average number of YouTube videos watched per viewer also decreased with age. In the month people aged 18-24 watched a massive 486.6 videos each on average, compared to 96 videos per viewer among those aged 55 and over.“It’s not surprising to hear that YouTube is oftentimes a daily destination for most millennials,” said the report.“UKOM approved YouTube data from comScore, showcased that 11.6 billion videos were watched on the platform and 79% of videos were consumed on a mobile device in July 2017.”UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM) is an industry governed, multi-platform audience measurement that recently endorsed comScore’s VMX MP product.
Netflix data has revealed the top ten titles most likely to first get viewers to binge on the platform.Netflix defines a binge as completing at least one season of a show within seven days of starting. Analysis focused on members who joined in the past five years.The top three consisted of Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and The Walking Dead.Stranger Things came fourth, followed by Gaumont’s Narcos and Netflix’s first original House of Cards.Prison Break, 13 Reasons Why, Grey’s Anatomy and American Horror Story finalised the top ten.All TV series were included in the analysis except for kids and family content, and seasons with fewer thans five episodes.More than 90% of Netflix members who have been a member for at least one year have completed a ‘first binge’, according to the SVOD firm.While the stats do not reveal how many people are bingeing on each show, they do offer insight into viewing habits. As Netflix does not provide viewing statistics, such data becomes more interesting to assess.There’s little denying the power of the Netflix brand among consumers, with various studies, including one this week, pointing to the service as a key destination for many television consumers.