Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Mexico has profited from the Mayan calendar’s expiration. Image: Chichen Itza Although Mexico’s federal government is not officially recognising the phenomenon, the country’s tourism agency has launched a ‘Mundo Maya 2012’ website with a countdown to December 21.December 21 signals the end of the Mayan calendar and has been predicted as the date of the apocalypse, the beginning of a new age or simply a great excuse to celebrate with friends.200,000 people are expected to visit Chichen Itza, a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya civilization, the Hindustan Times reported.“It’s a psychic epidemic,” Mexican cigar salesman Miguel Coral from Merida said.“It’s all about business, but that’s fine. If it helps our country – I think it’s excellent we’ve exported this idea.”Merida Tourism official Jose May said nobody in Mexico believes the end of the world is coming.“Those people were sold an idea,” Mr May, a Maya descendent himself, said.Maya academics, who have fought to downplay the fuelled hype, say there could still be some surprises.“I think there may be some mischief on December 21 because the whole world is watching,” Maya anthropologist at the University of Kansas John Hoopes said.“It’s a very fertile opportunity for a tremendous prank.”
President Nicos Anastasiades told his ministers to heed the interventions of the new ombudswoman, Maria Stylianou-Lottides, who officially took office on Thursday during a ceremony at the presidential palace.Lottides, a state attorney, replaces Eliza Savvidou whose term ended last month.The president said that he sees in Lottides an associate who “will be the most sensitive recipient of the peoples’ fair demands” and who will support the values the public administration ought to serve.He added that he is looking forward to her cooperation with all ministers, while her instructions and recommendations will always be part of the directives, which “should be taken into account by those exercising executive power, particularly when dealing with issues of fairness and restoration of legality and the sense of justice”.“Our aim is, by taking into consideration your own observations, to continuously expand the legislative framework that will support citizens’ rights,” the president said.He added that he was certain the new ombudswoman would be impartial and faithful to the principles of the law, which she had served for years as a state attorney.Anastasiades said the decision for Lottides’ appointment was taken due to her knowledge, experience, but mainly her personality, her ethos, and her sensitivity to the rights and obligations of citizens towards the state and the state towards its citizens.The institution of the ombudsperson, he said, has contributed to the reinforcement and improvement of the country’s democratic structures.Lottides reassured the president that that she will do her best to succeed in her task.The role of the ombudsperson, she said, was not limited to exercising control over public administration but also assisted other institutions, such as the legislature, by bringing to light the dictates of society and social developments.Her appointment was surrounded by controversy due to the fact that she is married to one of the owners of Kathimerini newspaper.It was narrowly approved by parliament but the wider belief was that it was a move by Anastasiades to secure support from Kathimerini ahead of next year’s presidential elections.There were also voices saying that she was not the right person for the job.You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppGet Maximum Privacy with Minimum EffortFigLeaf Beta AppUndoTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionOne Thing All Liars Have in Common, Brace YourselfTruthFinder People Search SubscriptionUndoTotal 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
By Elias HazouEnergy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis on Tuesday denied reports that oil and gas companies are all but on their way out of Cyprus after coming up dry in their prospecting.The minister was responding to a report in the latest edition of the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES). The publication had noted that the two back-to-back drilling duds for the ENI-KOGAS consortium in offshore block 9 appeared “to mark the end of the road for exploration offshore Cyprus – possibly for several years.”The consortium’s exploration contract expires in February 2016, and until then they will not be undertaking further drilling operations. The government could agree to extend and revise the agreement.“MEES understands that if ENI seeks an extension then Nicosia will grant it, but ‘this is a big if’,” the publication said citing a source.On the Aphrodite play in the block 12 concession, MEES cast doubt on whether the prospect can be monetised, at least at this stage.It noted for example that whereas the partners are poised to present their development plan for Aphrodite, Delek has made it clear they do not intend to pay for a pipeline to Egypt.Though Lakkotrypis was evidently responding to a synopsis and translation of the MEES item as carried by the Cyprus News Agency a day earlier, he dismissed the notion that Cyprus’ natural gas plans have reached the end of the line.“As far as exploiting the Aphrodite reservoir, we have repeatedly stated that a huge effort is underway. You can see the developments, they are methodical and gradual,” the minister said.“There is intense regional interest for the purchase of natural gas, and naturally I do not share the views expressed in the report,” he added.On ENI-KOGAS, Lakkotrypis said the companies have asked for more time to re-assess their geological model, and the government is considering their request.The government has meantime reached agreement with Total, whereby the French energy giant has been given leeway to conduct further surveys “to better evaluate Block 11.”In January Total let it be known it had identified no drilling targets in its two offshore concessions, and was considering pulling the plug on their operations. The government, keen to keep the company here, agreed to renegotiate their initial contract, under which they were obligated to drill two wells.Similarly ENI were required to drill at least four wells by February 2016. But after two misses, and having spent in excess of $300m, they have put their programme on the backburner.However Politis reports that the Italians and the government are close to an agreement to extend the contract by two more years, up to February 2018.The extension request is being viewed positively by the government and its petroleum consultants, Beicip Franlab.According to the daily, a senior ENI official will be on the island next week to meet Lakkotrypis, the purpose being to put the final touches to a deal.ENI are now proposing to carry out the two drills they ‘owe’ Cyprus in 2017, Politis said.Speaking to the Cyprus Mail earlier, energy experts hazarded a guess that should ENI again bore down into the bedrock, this would likewise be in Block 9, but at a different site, closer to the geological formation within which lies the successful Aphrodite prospect.That location is in the southern section of Block 9, just above adjoining Block 12.You May LikePlarium I Vikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addictedPlarium I Vikings: Free Online GameUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. Research 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
National organization presents award at state CapitolState Reps. Gary Glenn, left, and Tim Kelly were presented the Constitutional Alliance “Badge of Honor” for legislation to provide homeowners electric meter choice.State Reps. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, were honored recently by the Constitutional Alliance for their work defending the rights of utility customers by providing homeowners a choice to opt-out of advanced electric service meter systems.The two lawmakers were presented Constitutional Alliance “Badge of Honor” awards for sponsoring House Bill 4916 after an August 2015 decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals to direct the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to examine added fees for opt-out programs. The MPSC results prompted state Attorney General Bill Schuette to issue an opinion stating utility companies lacked the authority to issue such fees.“Attorney General Schuette is rightly concerned for Michigan residents’ privacy and security on the ‘smart meter’ issue and I appreciate his leadership to protect the people of our state,” said Rep. Glenn, primary sponsor of HB 4916. “I am happy to have introduced this legislation to overturn the Public Service Commission’s rejection of the attorney general’s opinion so that electric customers can choose a metering option that they are comfortable with.”Rep. Kelly co-sponsored Rep. Glenn’s bill.“I agree with the many legislators and the attorney general that utility customers should have a choice without the economic penalty that is being forced upon them,” Rep. Kelly said. “Many of my constituents are asking how the utility companies are justifying the replacement of all the current meters with more expensive units when they have not proven that there will be a cost-savings with the switch.”The Constitutional Alliance is a non-partisan organization formed in 2008 to preserve state and national sovereignty through its work with legislators, pastors, attorneys, governors and the public.HB 4916 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy Policy. 26Oct Reps. Glenn, Kelly honored for ‘smart meter’ efforts Categories: Glenn News
Tags: Health Policy Committee, Interstate Medical Licensure Compac, telemedicine 25Sep Tedder bills allow physicians to be licensed in multiple states State Rep. Jim Tedder delivered testimony Wednesday on a bill establishing a process to allow physicians to become licensed in multiple states.Under this legislation, a licensed physician who meets certain eligibility criteria will be allowed to apply for an expedited license that authorizes him or her to practice in all other states that are members of the Medical Licensure Compact. Member states may impose a fee for an expedited license or renewal through the Compact in that state.The Compact states, “In order to strengthen access to health care, and in recognition of the advances in the delivery of health care, the member state of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact have allied in common purpose to develop a comprehensive process that complements the existing licensing and regulatory authority of state medical boards.”Proponents for this legislation maintain that the Compact creates another pathway for licensure and does not otherwise change a state’s existing medical practice act.“This legislation is a key tool for addressing physician shortages in rural and underserved areas of our state,” said Tedder, of Clarkston. “Twenty-two other states are currently in the compact, with legislation pending in 3 others.“This is a great opportunity for Michigan to retain physicians and take advantage of telemedicine.”Telemedicine is the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.Joining Tedder for testimony was Dr. Donald Bignotti, MD, chief clinical officer of Ascension Michigan.“These bills will improve access to care for individuals who are currently underserved. We have an aging population with chronic conditions, for many of these people, access to care is simply not there,” Bignotti said. “Furthermore, it has been difficult for us to fill positions for specialty physicians. The answer to these problems is increased use of telemedicine – this legislation makes that possible.”The bills are supported by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, AARP, Federation of State Medical Boards and several other medical organizations.House Bills 4066 – 4077 remain under consideration by the House Health Policy Committee.### Categories: Tedder News
Categories: Hornberger News,News State Rep. Pamela Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, today commented on a proposal before the House Education Committee that will preserve local control involving school year start dates.House Bill 4087 will remove a Michigan Department of Education waiver requirement allowing for school districts to pick the start date that works best for them.“This legislation will allow locally elected school boards to do what is best for their students and parents while casting aside an outdated one-size-fits-all approach,” said Hornberger, who chairs the committee. “We need to trust locally elected boards of education to make these decisions without an entangled bureaucratic waiver process.”A state law passed in 2005 mandates the first day of school in Michigan cannot occur until after Labor Day. Current law allows districts to apply for a waiver to start classes before Labor Day. For the 2018-2019 school year, 151 waivers were approved. Hornberger’s plan eliminates the need to apply – districts would simply be able to set their own calendars as they see fit.HB 4087 remains under consideration in the House Education Committee.PHOTO INFORMATON: State Rep. Pamela Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, offers comments on Tuesday before the House Education Committee. Hornberger has proposed legislation that will allow local school districts in Michigan to set their own school year start dates without applying for a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education. 09Apr Rep. Hornberger plan gives more say, flexibility to local school districts
Share11TweetShare6Email17 SharesBy FloNight (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMay 1, 2017; Washington PostKentucky is drawing national attention again for the second time in two years for its fire-and-brimstone technique at the local government level. A family court judge recently announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving gay parents, calling his stance a “matter of conscience.”Judge W. Mitchell Nance, who sits in two counties in Kentucky, issued an order last week saying that he believes permitting a “practicing homosexual” to adopt would not promote the best interest of the child.Nance disqualified himself from any adoption cases involving gay couples, citing judicial ethics codes that require judges to recuse themselves whenever they have a personal bias concerning a case.Despite the laws that are on the books at the state and national levels—Kentucky state law letting gay couples adopt children and the U.S. Supreme Court passage of same-sex marriage, by which all states must abide—the judge told the Washington Post that he stood by his order to “minimize any disruption in the litigation.”Nance’s court has two divisions, so his recusal means families can have their cases heard by the other judge, John T. Alexander, who said he does not plan to recuse himself.Even with his decision to step away from these specific cases, Indiana University law school professor Charles Geyh said that Nance could be violating his oath to uphold the law, which does not tolerate discrimination in any form. Geyh added, “If he is unable to set his personal views aside and uphold the law—not just in an isolated case, but with respect to an entire class of litigant because he finds them odious—it leads me to wonder whether he is able to honor his oath.”Others have posed similar concerns, including University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson, who said, “What we have is a judge who has made a record of his inability to be a fair and impartial judge for a whole class of citizens who are entitled to have a fair and impartial judge.”Yet Kentucky-based Family Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes “family-first conservatism,” applauds the effort. The organization provided a press release on the recusal, with spokesman Martin Cothran stating, “If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality, then, in the interest of fairness, we are going to have to allow judges with different views to at least recuse themselves from such cases.”Though it’s not a federal law, since May of 2016, all states allow adoption by gay parents.Judge Nance’s recusal follows the refusal of Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision upholding the right to same-sex marriage. Davis was jailed for refusing to abide by a federal court order.And now, Davis’s legal issues continue. Just this week, a federal appeals court revived a damages lawsuit against her, saying a lower court judge erred in finding that damages claims by a gay couple trying to marry in Kentucky became moot after a new state law last year excused clerks like Davis from having to sign marriage license forms.Kentucky is not the only state where judges have been testing the waters with laws revolving around equality and the LGBTQ community. A judge in Wyoming was censured in March for refusing to perform same-sex marriages, and an Alabama judge was suspended in September for ordering probate judges to defy federal orders to issue marriage licenses.—Angie WierzbickiShare11TweetShare6Email17 Shares
Share63Tweet30ShareEmail93 SharesMarch 29, 2018; Managed CareIn its 2018 analysis of top issues facing the health care industry, PwC Health Research Institute, for the first time, identifies “social determinants of health.” Social determinants—the consequences of poverty, racism and other social inequities—have been shown to have a much greater overall impact on health outcomes than clinical care, which accounts for a mere 20 percent of overall health. As health systems move toward bundled or value-based payments, finding ways to address issues such as unstable housing, poor nutrition, inadequate schools, and unemployment, is essential to improving outcomes.PwC concludes that health care spending in the US, at 18 percent of GDP and growing, is unsustainable. To bring costs down to something more equivalent to what is spent in other wealthy countries—about 10 percent of GDP—the US must come to terms with its failure to adequately support poor and low-income communities. Kulleni Gebreys, a PwC principal for strategic transformation, explained to Managed Care that of every dollar the US spends on health care, it spends 56 cents on social services. In other OECD countries, the reverse is true: For every dollar spent on health care, $1.70 is spent on social services. The result is longer lifespans and better overall health.PwC notes that “all health sectors have started to try their hand at social interventions.” In their annual survey, 73 percent of provider executives and 50 percent of payer executives said “their organization has created or is creating partnerships with allies in local communities—including schools, grocery stores, churches and others—to address social issues.”These changes are most advanced among health and hospital systems that serve poor communities and have two or more programs that receive value-based payments, according to a survey from the consulting group Deloitte. Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 21 states require Medicaid managed-care organizations “to screen beneficiaries for social needs.”“Screening is critical,” says Samantha Morton, CEO of the Boston-based nonprofit MLPB. But often screening is followed by a referral to social service organizations that don’t have sufficient resources to meet community needs—meaning, according to Morton, that the referral is essentially a “bridge to nowhere.” If there is not a safe handoff and a feedback loop, there is no way for the health provider to know if the patient received the “treatment” necessary to solve the problem. According to the Deloitte survey, 40 percent of health care systems have no way of tracking their social interventions.Health systems are attempting to tackle a wide range of issues, including domestic violence, food insecurity, utility shutoffs, education, and jobs. But the issue that is getting the most attention and investment dollars is housing. Various studies have concluded that “housing-first policies” that provide shelter and supportive services significantly reduce health care costs.In Hawaii, state Senator Josh Green, who is also an emergency room doctor, introduced legislation to try to address the state’s housing and health crises. He noted that four percent of Hawaii residents use 60 percent—about $1.2 billion—of the state’s Medicaid budget each year, and a large percentage of these residents are living outside on the streets. A pilot supportive housing program that provided homeless people with stable housing and supportive services decreased medical costs for the population by 43 percent in just six months.Senator Green’s legislation would require insurers, including Medicaid, to pay for housing—that is, doctors could prescribe housing to treat homelessness. The bill stalled in the legislature, in part because prescribing a medicine that doesn’t exist doesn’t really solve the problem. Hawaii doesn’t have sufficient affordable housing, which raises a crucial question: Whose problem is that to solve?In many parts of the country, hospitals have decided that housing is too crucial to health outcomes to continue to wait for solutions. According to Healthcare Finance News, over the last several years hospitals have invested as much as $100 million into housing projects. For example, in 2015, five Oregon hospital systems invested $21.5 million in a project to build 400 units for homeless people. In December 2017, Boston Medical Center (BMC) announced a $6.5 million investment over five years in affordable housing in the hospital’s surrounding neighborhoods.The BMC investment is through a variety of community partnerships. Critical to the hospital’s investment is a plan to study the outcomes. Envisioned as an innovation lab, the hospital hopes to determine “the best ways that health care systems can improve both community and patient level health and reduce medical costs by addressing homelessness and housing insecurity,” according to a BMC press release.Health systems have an important role to play in their communities. Nonprofit health systems, in particular, have a community benefit obligation, and the shift to seeing that as an opportunity to improve the health of communities is a positive trend. But there are also reasons to be skeptical. Dr. Susan Magnan, former Minnesota commissioner of health, expressed her concerns in a National Academy of Medicine discussion paper, arguing that value-based payments will not “actually get us to better population health outcomes.”For one thing, the US healthcare system is primarily driven by profit. In her book, An American Sickness (Penguin, 2017), Elisabeth Rosenthal demonstrates how every part of the system is broken. It is not only inefficient, it is far from accountable to the people it serves. Within this system there are many dedicated, caring individuals, and even entire health systems that value health and well-being, but these entities are likely to make changes only at the margins until we make a national public commitment to addressing the needs of underserved communities.—Karen KahnShare63Tweet30ShareEmail93 Shares
Share9TweetShareEmail9 SharesYoichi Okamoto [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 5, 2018; ShelterforceOn August 1, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill that he declared “the most farsighted, the most comprehensive, the most massive housing program in all American history,” a bill that promised to ensure “the very precious American right to a roof over your head—a decent home.”Johnson wasn’t talking about the Fair Housing Act, which had passed three months earlier—one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What animated Johnson was the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. It was known at the time as “the housing act.” Writing in Shelterforce, Fred McGhee contends that this second bill, not the Fair Housing Act, was “the most important housing law passed in 1968.”“This misremembering,” McGhee adds, “is not accidental—it reflects the race and class trajectory of America over the past five decades…had its promise been fulfilled, many of the problems beleaguering American cities today might have been avoided or at least mitigated.”The 1968 housing act included a smorgasbord of housing ideas…[including] a robust increase in public housing construction. The act set a national goal of constructing or rehabilitating 26 million housing units, including six million for low- and moderate-income families.In his signing statement, Johnson noted that, “Over the 10 years of this program, the production rate of federally subsidized housing will be 10 times higher than it has been in the last decade.”The election of Richard Nixon three months later did not immediately end the housing program. McGhee notes that “the HUD secretary who presided over the single largest construction of federally subsidized housing in American history was George Romney, father of former Massachusetts governor and current Senate candidate from Utah Mitt Romney. American housing production between 1968 and 1972 was both robust and diverse.”But, McGhee observes, “backed by white resistance to integration as well as overall hostility to government housing efforts,” Nixon rolled back the federal commitment later in his term. In its place, McGhee notes, America got “block grants and a new tenant-based voucher program known as Section 8. In other words, deregulation and delegation.” And, of course, further cutbacks occurred over time.The impact is quite visible in the numbers. For example, a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report found that in 1970, the federal government developed 366,100 new units of affordable housing and financed the rehabilitation of an additional 79,700 units—numbers that were more than 10 times higher than the numbers reported for 1961. By comparison, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, according to an Urban Institute report published two months ago, has created or preserved 2.3 million housing units in its first 30 years—an amount that works out to less than 77,000 units a year, barely one-sixth of the 1970 affordable housing production level.Today, McGhee notes, “even the thought of direct federal provision of affordable housing is nearly unimaginable.” And so, as NPQ has noted, we are left with the inefficient system of tax credits that we have today and even those limited supports regularly face threats of cutbacks.As McGhee observes, the result of this turn is that millions lack affordable housing today. In his home town of Austin, Texas, McGhee reports that about 10,000 families are on the waiting list for public housing, adding that “The waiting list is perpetually closed, so the actual number [lacking needed housing] is even higher.”McGhee notes that to rely on the private real estate market on its own to provide safe, decent, and truly affordable housing for low-income families is to expect the impossible. As Emily Badger explained a couple of years ago in the Washington Post, the cost of providing the housing is simply more than people with limited incomes can afford to pay. And that means we have to acknowledge that whether the policy employed involves government subsidies or direct provision, only the public sector can make housing for all a reality.—Steve DubbShare9TweetShareEmail9 Shares
Dimetis’s Boss Stream Viewer, a software based multi viewer for monitoring and analysis of video streams, has been adapted to support Dolby standards. The Boss Stream Viewer has been extended to meet crucial additional functions, the processing of multi-channel audio according to Dolby Digital 5.1. The display of six audio channels is svailable as a down mix, with the service provider defining the down mix mode in advance.
Deutsche Telekom has chosen Accedo’s cloud-based app management service to support the new TV App service on its Entertain TV platform.Accedo’s Application Sphere, provides administrative tools to manage applications for multiple platforms and devices. It is being used to manage the Entertain TV Apps service on Deutsche Telekom’s Microsoft Mediaroom platform.“We are proud to have been selected by Deutsche Telekom as their partner for their new Entertain TV Apps offering,” said Michael Lantz, CEO, Accedo. “Accedo Application Sphere fulfils the requirements from tier 1 service providers like Deutsche Telekom. We’re excited to work with Deutsche Telekom to provide the next generation application experience for TV.”
TV software and services provider KIT digital is making over a fifth of its employees redundant in a bid to make annual savings of US$40 million (€30 million).The company said it planned to reduce the size of its workforce by 300 employees, 22% of its total. All redundancies will be announced by the end of the year.“By accelerating the integration of the company, we will be able to enhance our product offerings, improve time-to-market efficiency, and bring the business to a place of financial strength“ said Peter Heiland, KIT digital’s interim chief executive officer. “While we have completed some non-core divestures and reduced the non essential support infrastructure, we are preserving all of the strategic initiatives surrounding our core competencies as we believe they will drive significant growth.”
Danish cable operator Stofa is launching a new online TV service, featuring content from pay TV operator C More.Stofa Smart WebTV will stream a range of TV channels, including six channels from Canal Plus-owned C More. The service will also offer content from HBO 24 hours after airing in the US. Users will also be able to rent movies from a catalogue of 1,000 movies that are yet to air on TV in Denmark, along with thousands of archive titles.Smart WebTV will replace Stofa’s existing online platform Stofa WebTV. It will be available on computers, smartphones and tablet devices.“C More Film has the latest movies and series, including from HBO. On top of that, you get your current TV channels and Smart TV functions such as pause, rewind, movie rentals and startover. You can get it on your TV, your computer, your iPad or your phone, where you can comfortably jump from news to children’s programmes, to series and movies,” said Michael Broch Hansen, director of sales and marketing, Stofa.
Matthew HuntingtonUK free-to-air satellite operator Freesat has launched an initiative to bring its Freetime connected TV platform to smart TVs, enabling viewers to access catch-up TV and other non-DVR Freetime features such as the backwards EPG without the need for a set-top box.Freesat is already integrated with some Panasonic and Samsung TV, but without Freetime’s advanced features.Speaking at the OTTtv World Summit this morning, Matthew Huntington, chief technology officer, Freesat, said traditional operators could be overly attached to the set-top box and needed to break free, providing the “operator as application”, especially to the TV set.Freesat has developed Operator Privileged Application Layer (OPAL), which enables operators to provide a full set of services via connected TVs.“Broadcasters and OTT providers can learn from each other, and the work we’ve done on OPAL is evidence of this,” he said.“We want to get our services to more devices,” Huntington told DTVE. “We are already on Panasonic and Samsung TVs but it’s difficult to get [features including] the backwards EPG on Europe-wide TV models. We are proposing to provide the user experience for core TV services embedded in [TV manufacturers’] standard UIs, so that when you press the button on the remote control you go to something like the Freesat offer on a set-top.”Huntington said that Freesat had invested in an API layer that would enable TV set providers to offer a “privileged application”, based on a relationship between the operator and the TV manufacturer, but with a common API.Huntington told DTVE that Freesat would be using OPAL to offer its services in 2014 model TVs, with multiple TV manufacturers lined up.Huntington also said that Freesat is open to the introduction of pay services on the platform.“Free homes are just as interested in VoD services and just as interested in paying for those services as pay homes,” he told conference attendees. Freesat has implemented Microsoft PlayReady DRM to enable such services.Huntington told conference attendees that OTT and linear TV can be allies rather than enemies, at least in the UK, with viewers using OTT to access a broader range of content at a time that suits them.“Our Freetime hybrid platform supports the delivery of catch-up services over the top and we were the first YouTube HTML5 service to launch in Europe,” he said.Huntington said that Freesat enables links to be built between linear TV and OTT services through its backwards EPG. He said that 20% of all VoD consumed on the platform was consumed via the backwards EPG.TV set manufacturers are losing out to tablet providers for second screens in the home, said Huntington. “We need to address that. Streaming services are emerging and we want to integrate those into our offerings. The main thing for us is looking at gateway devices and that’s something I’ll be looking at,” he said.Huntington said that linear TV still accounted for most viewing. He cited Thinkbox’s Screenlife: TV in Demand research looking at the behaviour of heavy VoD users, which showed that being deprived of linear TV had a bigger negative impact than being deprived of VoD.“[Users’] journey typically started with live TV. The video diaries captured on this research showed a lot of blank TV screens because people didn’t know how to start,” said Huntington. “The research also showed how important live TV was to their social lives.” Teenagers switched off their mobile phones because they couldn’t engage with social media chat about popular shows, he said.
Content security specialist Irdeto has opened a new networks operations centre that it says provides 24/7 monitoring and rapid response for customers deploying Irdeto’s hosted/cloud-based solutions and managed services.“In an always-on world where content delivery and personalization are enabled via the cloud, our customers must deliver exceptional levels of quality that match, and in the future, surpass, video broadcast level standards,” said Ben Bennett, SVP services at Irdeto.“The NOC is designed to give our customers real-time monitoring and enhanced service levels for our hosted/cloud-based multiscreen and Rights solutions. However, we will also use the facility to track and monitor other areas that impact our customers businesses such as the rising trend of global internet piracy and the need for revenue assurance.”
Netflix has teamed up with Denmark’s TV2 to commission a third season of Rita, TV2’s comedy drama about a politically incorrect school teacher. The third season of the show will be produced by SF Film Production and will be funded by a partnership between the Danish broadcaster and the US-based subscription video-on-demand provider, with further support provided by Demnark’s Public Service Fund and other partners.Season three of Rita will air in the spring on TV2 and will be available on Netflix in Demnark shortly thereafter. Netflix said it would make the show available to members throughout Europe, the US, Canada and Australia and New Zealand later this year.“We’ve wanted a new season of Rita for a long time because Rita is a strong and modern piece of TV drama, which focuses on our public school system and how we organize it,” said TV 2’s Program Director, Anne Engdal Stig Christensen. “The financial partnership with Netflix has been crucial for the production of the third season of Rita.”“Season three is made possible through a new co-operation between TV 2, Netflix and The Public Service Fund and other partners where Netflix invests in original Danish drama. This is an interesting co-operation which can become of importance in future financing of Danish drama,” says Claus Ladegaard, Head of Department, Production & Development, Danish Film Institute.Separately, Netflix is making an original series based on the 2001 comedy feature film Wet Hot American Summer.The series will run to eight episodes and feature several of the cast of the film, which included Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation).The series has been written by the creators of the movie, David Wain (Wanderlust) and Michael Showalter (Signs).The movie, which Wain also directed, was set on the last day of a fictional US summer camp as camp.The news was first reported by Deadline.
Orange is set to enter into exclusive talks with Hong Kong-based telco PCCW to sell a 49% stake in Dailymotion, its online video portal, according to a Wall Street Journal report.According to the Journal, citing un-named sources familiar with the matter, Orange has told its board that will begin exclusive negotiations with PCCW in the next few days, to run for about 45 days. PCCW has made an offer valuing the online video service at €250 million including debt, according to the Journal. French daily Le Figaro said that Orange had confirmed the report to it. Asia currently accounts for about a quarter of Dailymotion’s audience.Orange has been searching for an international partner to broaden Dailymotion’s reach for a number of years. A2013 move to sell a 75% stake to Yahoo was effectively blocked by government minister Arnaud Montebourg, who was keen for France to retain majority control of the site. Last year Orange was reported to be in talks to sell a stake in Dailymotion to Canal+.Other French ministers subsequently distanced themselves from Montebourg’s intervention, with then digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin saying that the company was free to pursue deals with foreign partners.
Mediaset España has repeatedly broken promises it made to secure regulatory approval for the merger of Telecinco and Cuatro and the subsequent sale of Prisa-owned Cuatro to Telecinco, according to a report by competition watchdog the CNMC, as reported by the Vozpópuli newspaper. The CNMC has reportedly found that Mediaset bundled advertising sales across the two channels, something it made a commitment not to do. The report also found that Mediaset set higher prices to advertisers for spots on a single channel than were justified and that the conditions created by Mediaset meant that advertisers only had access to volume discounts if they purchased advertising across both channels.According to the CNMC report, Mediaset also failed for substantial periods of time to ensure that the advertising sales units responsible for the two channels were managed separately.
Brett SappingtonThe total number of cloud DVR subscribers in the US will exceed 4.6 million by the end of 2015 and total 24 million by 2018, according to Parks Associates. The research found that 51% of pay TV subscribers said they are very interested in having unlimited space to store DVR recordings, implying “strong consumer demand for cloud-based DVR services”.Parks said that currently more than 50% of US broadband homes either include a DVR as part of their pay TV subscription or have purchased one at retail.“Consumer interest in cloud DVR features is strong, particularly the idea of unlimited storage capacity. As with any transition, there are challenges and opportunities for operators looking to expand their services into the cloud,” said Parks Associates director of research, Brett Sappington.“Operators are interested in cloud DVR because these services will reduce their long-term hardware costs while providing multiscreen capabilities, enhanced features, scalability, improved flexibility, and new revenue opportunities.”
France’s competition regulator has launched a third enquiry in a year into Numericable-SFR, this time looking into the conditions in which Numericable is executing its commitments relating to its co-investment agreement with Bouygues Telecom to deploy fibre networks.The agreement, which predates Numericable’s acquisition of SFR, relates to a joint plan to deploy fibre in high-populated areas including Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux, where infrastructure is difficult to install.Bouygues has alleged that SFR, post its acquisition by Numericable, has failed to respect the spirit of the accord, under which SFR was to install the fibre, with Bouygues putting up part of the finance.Numericable committed to respect the agreement when it took over SFR. However, Bouygues has alleged that the group has slowed down the pace of work.