Categories: News 28Mar LaFontaine hosts veterans town hall State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township, and Macomb County Commissioner Kathy Vosburg invite local veterans to attend a town hall meeting.Veterans Town Hall6:30-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9Lempke-Blackwell VFW Hall35011 23 Mile Rd., New BaltimoreGuest speaker Jason Allen, senior policy advisor for the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, will share information and answer questions regarding veteran services. Veterans will also learn about Camp Liberty from retired Major Rick Briggs, U.S. Air Force.“Michigan offers many benefits and services to our veterans as a small way of repaying their service to our country,” LaFontaine said. “I’m hosting this town hall meeting to make sure veterans in District 32 are aware of these opportunities.”The town hall will provide updates on many issues affecting veterans, including current legislation and policy changes, veteran treatment courts, taxes, fishing and hunting licenses, occupational licensing changes and education benefits. Agency representatives will be available to provide additional information and discuss local services offered to veterans.Veterans who have questions or cannot attend the town hall meeting may contact Rep. LaFontaine’s office toll-free at 866-347-8032, via email email@example.com or online at replafontaine.com.
25Feb Three generations at the Capitol Three generations of the Saylor family of Midland recently toured the state Capitol in Lansing and were introduced from the floor of the state House of Representatives by Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland. Back row left to right: Rep. Glenn, Diane Saylor, and her daughter Krista Saylor. Front row left to right, Krista’s children Torianna, Daniel, and Hannah Saylor. The photo was taken in the House gallery with the floor of the House visible one floor below in the background. Categories: Glenn News
State Rep. Peter J. Lucido today announced upcoming fall office hours for residents and families of the 36th District, which includes the townships of Shelby, Washington, Bruce and the Village of Romeo.“My job as state representative for the 36th District involves bringing the concerns and ideas from local residents and families with me to Lansing,” said Rep. Lucido, a Republican from Shelby Township. “Having office hours allows me to hear from constituents so I can better represent their needs at the Capitol.”Fall office hours will be held at the following times and locations:Monday, Sept. 28Washington Township Senior Center57880 Van Dyke in Washington9-10:30 a.m.Monday, Oct. 26Romeo Senior Center361 Morton St. in Romeo9-10:30 a.m.Monday, Nov. 30Washington Township Senior Center57880 Van Dyke in Washington9-10:30 a.m.No appointment is necessary and there is no cost to attend. More office hours will be announced throughout the fall.Rep. Lucido represents the families and residents of the 36th District, serving the townships of Shelby, Washington, Bruce and the Village of Romeo. Categories: Lucido News 22Sep Rep. Lucido announces fall office hours
Categories: Hauck News,News State Rep. Roger Hauck, of Union Township, reflected on Tuesday night’s State of the State address by reiterating the need for lowering Michigan’s out-of-control car insurance rates.The state’s controversial no-fault system forces more than seven million Michigan drivers to pay the highest car insurance rates in the country. A special committee has been formed by Republican leadership in the Michigan House to pursue a solution, with the authority to report legislation directly to the House floor for consideration.“There’s always a lot of topics to dissect and sift through in an address like this, but I was hoping the governor would provide more specifics on how she’ll work to lower these rates,” Hauck said. “The fact remains that our state’s auto insurance setup offers very little choice and continues to take money out of the pockets of hard-working Michigan residents. It’s forcing families and seniors living on fixed incomes into making difficult decisions – one of which is potentially driving uninsured in order to save money. That’s simply ridiculous and a telltale sign of a broken system. We need to come together in this new term to find a meaningful solution.”Hauck is in his second term in the Michigan House representing residents in Isabella County and portions of Midland County. 13Feb Rep. Hauck continues call for affordable car insurance following State of the State address
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares April 16, 2014; WPRI (Providence, RI)NPQ just ran an article online that addressed the issue of “tainted donors.” There is no doubt that deciding what to do relative to such a benefactor is difficult for many nonprofits—but not, by the looks of it, for MADD.When police went to the home of Jayne Donegan in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in January, they found more than a hundred teens in attendance at a drinking party. Donegan was charged with violating the social host law, simple assault on an officer, and obstructing an officer, but in a deal made with police and accepted by the court, Donegan, who has no prior record, was to have the charges dropped if she stayed out of trouble for the next year and made a $500 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).Only one problem with all of that: MADD does not want her money, because it’s part of a deal made to reduce the charge and thus, in their opinion, doesn’t holding Donegan properly accountable. This makes sense; MADD’s mission includes the prevention of underage drinking, and it is well known for its pursuit of criminal penalties.Assistant Town Solicitor Terrence Simpson will select another charity to which the judge can order payment. The police department prefers that it be one dealing with substance abuse.—Ruth McCambridgeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share19TweetShare3Email22 SharesAACAJune 25, 2015; U.S. News and World ReportTake a big sigh of relief. Our nation’s perpetual crisis over the Affordable Care Act has been stanched by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in King v. Burwell that the subsidies provided for people who purchase insurance through the state exchanges are also permissible for insurance purchasers participating in the federal exchange. An alternative decision by the Supreme Court was possible, but it would have been ludicrous. The notion that a state’s choice to punt to the federal exchange could mean that its citizens lose access to subsidies is nonsensical. Imagine that Congress would deny health insurance subsidies to people based on where they live, with no rational legislative purpose for the denial.Now that the Roberts court has twice stood up for the Affordable Care Act, defending first the individual mandate in 2012 and now the insurance subsidies of roughly $272 a month helping pay the insurance premiums of some 8.7 million people, 6.4 million of whom could have lost their subsidies because they live in states without health exchanges, the question of whether the Affordable Care Act can and should continue has been called, answered, and put to bed. Though some, like Justice Antonin Scalia, might be beside themselves that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has saved President Obama’s signature social legislation (Scalia testily suggested in his dissent that “Obamacare” should be renamed “SCOTUScare”), it is now time for the cottage industry of conservative think tanks and their lawyers filing challenges of all sorts to the ACA to go out of business and to focus on how to improve the health care delivery system rather than concocting schemes to bring national health insurance reform to a halt.So what’s next on the ACA docket?If this is basically the end of the major end-all-and-be-all challenges to the ACA, it is a historical moment comparable to the right wing’s opposition to Social Security in the 1930s and Medicare in the 1960s. Slowly, now, you’ll see a change as conservatives turn into reminted defenders of health insurance reform, as though it was their Congressional initiative in 2010 to provide subsidies to the near-poor, to eliminate the pre-existing conditions barrier, and to enhance insurance portability. Just wait and see. In short order, after the last vestige of Ted Cruz-like opposition to the ACA adjusts to reality, Republicans will be defenders of the program—albeit, probably like their attitude toward Social Security, occasionally pitching ideas for increased privatization. Although in response to the SCOTUS decision Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell railed about the “multitude of broken promises,” the conservative opposition will now have to cease creating problems that cause broken promises and try to make the system work, else the political blowback hits them at the ballot box.King v. Burwell wasn’t a constitutional challenge to the law; the court had already ruled it constitutional in 2012. It was a matter of access to subsidies for the residents of the 36 states whose governors and legislatures had decided not to run state exchanges. But there is a different access question ahead—access not just to insurance coverage, but to healthcare, and particularly for populations that have been historically underserved by healthcare institutions due to poverty, geography, ethnicity, or race. For example, in the wake of the decision, staff members of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in Dearborn, Michigan were pleased with the SCOTUS decision, because, as Madiha Tariq, the public health manager at ACCESS, put it, “We’re working with an immigrant community that has linguistic and cultural barriers. That increases the effort needed to build trust. [A negative decision by the Supreme Court] would have been like starting over for them.” Moreover, for families that are now receiving health insurance coverage, either through Medicaid or through private insurance purchased on the exchanges, there is now the ability to seek treatment that might have been put off before for a variety of ailments, and surprisingly, as the Oregon Medicaid experiment demonstrated, newly covered individuals might simply continue going to safety-net hospitals rather than individual primary care doctors (and about half of the newly insured will be on Medicaid), so support for healthcare delivery that reaches people in need is a continuing challenge that isn’t simply “solved” by the availability of health insurance. It becomes imperative, in the wake of the decision, to invest in safety-net institutions—nonprofit hospitals and nonprofit clinics—in urban and rural neighborhoods that ought to be assisted to reach people in need.There is still a need for access to health insurance itself in the form of expanding Medicaid. Too many states have left the near-poor, those with incomes just above the federal poverty line but too low to qualify for exchange-related subsidies, in a donut hole of distress. States such as Virginia are case studies of the need to expand Medicaid. Governor Terry McAuliffe described the issue succinctly: “This historic decision is a victory for the 286,000 Virginians who will now keep affordable health care that is essential to economic success,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “It is also a clear sign that now is the time to drop cynical efforts to prevent families from accessing care that will make their lives better. With this issue decided, I hope we can now put partisan politics aside and help 400,000 Virginians get access to health care by bringing our taxpayer dollars home to close the coverage gap.” While there are lots of justifications states have drummed up to reject the expansion of Medicaid, the underlying reason is fundamentally that Republican governors and legislature used the denial as one more arrow in the quiver of making the ACA dysfunctional. With the SCOTUS decision made, nonprofits have to redouble their efforts to get states to do the right thing on Medicaid expansion. Over the long run, the investment in expanded Medicaid will pay dividends in improved healthcare treatment available to the nation’s poor and near-poor.Reducing the cost of health care in the U.S. remains a challenge. Now that the Court has stabilized the nation around the ACA insurance structure, nonprofits can and should turn their attention to questions of healthcare cost and quality. Writing for the Dallas Morning News, staff writer Jim Landers noted that some hospitals such as Medical City Dallas have operating margins of 30 percent and pharmaceutical manufacturers average 20 percent profits. Americans spent nearly three times as much as Canadians in outpatient care on average, but the results are hardly three times better. To the contrary. Amidst the confusing Republican reactions to the Supreme Court decision, many pledging to repeal the ACA yet again after more than 50 votes that have failed to do that, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas stumbled into a moment of truth: “I will continue to fight for real reforms to our healthcare system that lower costs, lift the burden on our job creators, and restore the all-important relationship between a doctor and their patient. We don’t need to fix Obamacare, we need to fix healthcare.” Added Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, “While the healthcare delivery system had problems prior to the president’s healthcare law, under this fundamentally flawed law it is still not working and remains just as burdensome, confusing, and expensive as the day it came into existence.” Now that the Court has dealt with the subsidy question, it might behoove the likes of Roberts and Jenkins to get past ideological soapboxes and work on fixing the healthcare delivery systems that newly insured Americans should be able to access without the obstacles and costs that current make the system less than functional.Drew Altman, the president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, summarized the next challenges in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act following the King v. Burwell decision: “reaching those who are uninsured, a generally more difficult population to connect to insurance; stabilizing premium increases in the marketplaces as insurers get a better handle on their risk pools; and determining which of the Medicare payment and delivery reform projects implemented under the ACA are working and should be scaled up.”Despite the work still to be done, the tally for the Affordable Care Act leans toward the positive: As of the end of March of 2015, 10.2 million Americans had paid their premiums to activate coverage they purchased through the health insurance marketplace; 16.4 million previously uninsured people have gotten coverage since the enactment of the ACA, due to purchases in the health exchanges, keeping young adults on their parents plans until they turn 26, and through expanded Medicaid; the uninsured rate has declined 9.2 percent for African Americans, 12.3 percent for Latinos, and 7.7 percent for women; and since 2013, 12.3 million people have been enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Now the challenge for the government implementers of the ACA and the nonprofit advocates supporting improved healthcare is to generate more positive accomplishments in terms of health insurance coverage and show progress in areas of healthcare delivery, access, cost, and quality. And the challenge for opponents is to cease and desist from purely disruptive and unproductive court challenges like King. If opponents have something useful to suggest about healthcare delivery, then it’s time to bring those constructive ideas to the table.—Rick CohenShare19TweetShare3Email22 Shares
Connected TV services are “TV-like experiences” and should be subject to a higher degree of regulation than internet content access through a PC, according to Ed Richards, CEO of UK media regulator Ofcom.Richards, speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, said: “Converged or connected TVs, which incorporate broadcast, video-on-demand and open internet services, are considered to be closer to a TV-like experience. Audiences therefore expect content over these devices to be more regulated than internet content accessed through PCs and laptops.”Referring to a study carried out by Ofcom with 200 members of the public to assess attitudes, Richards said that “protecting minors from harmful content is seen as one of the most important parts of existing regulation” and was ranked as a higher priority than protecting privacy.Richards raised the possibility that this could include a second look at the partial self-regulation of video-on-demand services by ATVOD, the industry body set up to watch over such services.“It seems undesirable for these [connected TV] services to be subject to full broadcasting style regulation – by and large they belong to a different form of service and come from a very different context,” said Richards. “But we do need to consider whether to develop the approach in relation to existing co-regulation for video-on-demand to offer greater assurance and to ensure there is public trust in the approach to regulation as these services become more and more pervasive and significant.”Richards said there was a case for common media standards to cover all digital media, including TV, internet video and the digital activities of print publishing groups. “In this context I wonder therefore whether there may be a fairly simple opportunity to establish a core set of principles and aims which are held in common across a diverse media terrain with different regulatory environments.”Richards said that, while Ofcom should not be given responsibility to police the newspaper industry, it could play a role in producing a common set of principles for journalists across media following the Leveson inquiry, currently investigating the practices of newspapers in the wake of the UK’s phone hacking scandal.
French content creators society SCAM has called for an increase in the licence fee to finance France Télévisions and end uncertainty over the public broadcaster’s future.The SCAM has called for an increase of €5 per household for 2013 and above inflation increases of €3 per year for each of the four years thereafter.SCAM president Jean Xavier de Lestrade said that an increase in the licence fee was the only viable solution and that the government had to tackle the taboo surrounding the notion of an increase in the fee.The SCAM, which publicised a series of proposals following the Auteurdevue 2012 event for audiovisual professionals, has also condemned a cut in the budget of the Centre National du Cinéma (CNC), which supports audiovisual production in France, of €150 million, as excessive. The SCAM said it believed the state was penalising an organisation that contributed significantly to growth and employment and called for a ringfencing of the organisation’s budget.The SCAM also joined with producers organisations to call for a reform of the COSIP, the fund for the support of French cinema production, to ensure continued support for high-end productions.Finally, to combat piracy, the SCAM has also called for a reduction in exclusivity windows for documentary films from the current four years and a revision of rules applying to the theatrical distribution windows for documentaries.
Middle East-based satellite operator Thuraya Telecommunications has named Etisalat CEO Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar as its new chairman, and has also elected Etisalat group chief strategy and M&A officer Daniel Ritz to its board.Julfar also serves on the board of Mobily in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he is the chairman of the risk management committee, as well as on the board of Etisalat Misr and Etisalat Services Holding (ESH).“We are delighted to welcome both Mr Julfar as our new chairman and Dr Ritz as a new member of our board,” said Samer Halawi, CEO of Thuraya. “Chairman Julfar’s leadership and wealth of telecoms experience will be invaluable in helping guide Thuraya as we continue to pursue growth in our key markets. We are also pleased to have Dr Ritz join our board given his vast experience with strategy and business experience, especially at this time when we are looking at the next phase of development for the company.”
UK telco TalkTalk has signed up 29,000 YouView customers since launching the connected TV platform at the end of September.Although that figure includes trialists, a TalkTalk spokesperson said the majority were paying customers. Engineers are connecting new YouView customers at a rate of 1,000 per day, he added.TalkTalk Plus customers can receive a YouView box free-of-charge, giving them access to 74 Freeview channels, 5,000 on-demand titles and a seven-day catch-up service. TalkTalk Plus costs £14.50 (€18.50) per month, plus £9.50 line-rental. At the end of September, the telco had 1,097,000 TalkTalk Plus customers, a 44% increase year-on-year.“We have successfully launched our TV proposition and have installed 29,000 customers to date. Customer feedback has been positive and we are growing the base according to plan, at 1,000 per day,” said CEO Dido Harding.TalkTalk invested £2 million in the YouView venture during the six months ending September 30, having spent an additional £6 million during the preceding 12 months.Rival telco BT also offers YouView boxes to its subscribers, launching the service last month. It has yet to release subscriber numbers.
Telefonica has launched Universal WiFi, a new service aimed at multinational companies and enterprise customers that will give access to more than 1.3 million hotspots across 110 countries.Telefonica said that the service will remove “existing complex connectivity processes to WiFi hotspots globally” and marked an extension to its existing Managed Mobility offering, which is designed to help companies connect all the parts of their global business.
The BBC has launched its iPlayer catch-up service for Xbox One consoles in the UK and has extended the offline-viewing window for content watched on mobile devices. Viewers accessing the catch-up service from mobiles, tablets as well as computers will now be able to watch downloaded shows offline for a period of 30, instead of seven days.The update comes after the BBC extended the on-demand catch-up window for streamed TV and radio programmes from the iPlayer from seven to 30 days in October.“TV is undoubtedly king at Christmas – and the arrival of BBC iPlayer on Xbox One gives viewers even more choice on how they watch. 30 day downloads arrives just in time for those unwrapping new devices, perfect for catching up on the bumper Christmas schedule,” said head of BBC iPlayer, Dan Taylor-Watt.Victoria Jaye, head of TV content for BBC iPlayer added: “With a huge one in four requests now coming from TV sets, new iPlayer’s popularity is going beyond solo, small screen viewing – it’s also the place to gather round and recreate the magic of shared viewing on BBC One and Two, but at a time that suits your family.”The BBC said that the iPlayer is now optimised for more than 1,200 devices including mobiles, tablets, computers and connected TVs.
Belarusian telco Beltelecom has added two packages from Russian content providers Amedia and NTV+ to its Zala TV offering.The Amedia package includes channels Amedia, Amedia 2, Amedia Premium and Amedia HIT, while the NTV+ package includes Nashe Kino, Kino, Kino 2 and Premiera.Amedia provides a range of international movies, while Amedia 2 focuses on Russian TV series and movies. Amedia Premium delivers new content from HBO, Showtime, CBS, Warner Bros, ABC Studios and the BBC.Nashe Kino focuses on Soviet-era movies, while Kino provides a range of popular movies and Kino 2 provides a choice of international movies and Premiera offers a choice of recent releases.
UK mobile operator EE has announced plans to launch a “major overhaul” of its broadband customer service, after receiving an “unacceptable, high volume of complaints.”Commenting on the move, EE’s chief customer service officer, Francoise Clemes, said that EE’s broadband service “continues to fall short of what our customers expect and deserve” but said that the launch of its ‘Broadband Service First’ programme was “addressing this as a priority.”The planned service improvements include: integrated systems across mobile and broadband to boost service levels for all customers; new digital and social media service tools for broadband customers; the opening of a new Broadband Operations Hub; a dedicated broadband customer hotline; and the creation of up to 500 new permanent customer service roles.“I’m not going to offer any excuses because broadband customer service has simply not been good enough. I promise all of our customers that Service is our top priority and, through Broadband Service First, we will fix this,” said Clemes.
Gary DaveySky has started producing 360-degree videos and will use Facebook as a distribution platform for this content, according to Sky’s MD of content Gary Davey.Speaking at a Royal Television Society event in London last night, Davey said that Sky has started producing some “really interesting” Virtual Reality (VR) content and filmed something “just the other day” in a refugee camp in Lebanon. This follows its investment last year in VR firm Jaunt.He said this immersive content will be available first on Facebook, which started to roll out 360-degree videos in the service’s News Feed in September, and that in time Sky 360-degree content will also be available on VR headsets.Davey also revealed that Sky News would go through major changes this year, with the closure of its current newsroom and a move to a new facility.“Sky News will move into a purpose-built, state-of-art, digital newsroom. We’ve got a completely new design, completely new workflows, an opportunity to rethink the whole idea – how should news function in the modern world with mobile phones and so on. It’s a really interesting time,” said Davey.In a wide-ranging talk and question-and-answer session, Davey confirmed Sky’s plans to launch an Ultra High Definition service, which will be supported by its new, advanced Sky Q offering.He said this UHD offering will include a “wide range of content including high-end documentary material, live sports, premier movies” though would not say when this would launch.He also dismissed the idea that Sky was cutting programming budgets due to the costs incurred in renewing its Premier League Football rights. “This year we’ll spend about £5 billion on content – which clearly includes sports and entertainment,” said Davey. “Our entertainment budgets are growing at a faster rate than they ever have in the history of the business.”In terms of content consumption, Davey said that Sky now thinks in terms of brands, not channels, having embraced a range of distribution models – including its stand-alone over-the-top service, Now TV.“We don’t care when, where or on what device the customer consumes the content. We just want the customer engaged in the content,” said Davey, revealing that just 16% of the total consumption of its recently-launched original drama, The Last Panthers, was through live liner.He also dismissed competition from new rivals like Amazon and Netflix, claiming that Sky “kicked this journey off” way before either company “became an issue”.“The truth is that Netflix has been very successful in the UK at a time when we’re growing as fast as we’ve ever grown and our churn rate is at the lowest level it’s been in 10 years. So the existence of Netflix doesn’t seem to have damaged our customer base at all. It’s a supplementary service to people,” said Davey.Sky upped it investment in cinematic VR firm Jaunt in September, as part of a US$65 million (€58 million) funding round that was led by Disney and also had contribution from ProSiebenSat.1.A month later Sky News has launched its first virtual reality news report on the migrant crisis in Europe, filmed on “the front line of Europe’s migration crisis in Greece.” The report was filmed with the Jaunt ONE VR camera.
Christian LeicherTV technology provider Rohde & Schwarz has named Christian Leicher as the company’s new president and CEO.Leicher, who has been a member of the company’s executive board since 2005, replaces Manfred Fleischmann, who has served as president and CEO for the last six years and is now retiring.Peter Riedel retains his current position as president and chief operating officer.
Selling up to The Walt Disney Company could give subscription on-demand service Netflix a route into the lucrative sports content game, according to a research house.Disney has plans to monetise its ESPN cable channel as an SVOD service, and buying Netflix could supersize its ambitions, Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research told DTVE‘s sister title, TBI.“Streaming live sports is going to be huge in the next few years,” he said. “Netflix has said in the past that it isn’t interested in sports, but, of course, Disney owns ESPN. Imagine a Netflix platform that carried live sports – that would be pretty impressive.”Netflix’s share price shot up yesterday upon rumours Disney was giving serious thought to an acquisition of the market-leading SVOD service, which operates in 188 territories.Another analyst, Ampere Analysis research director Richard Broughton, said an acquisition would “substantially” improve Disney’s bargaining position in film and TV content negotiations thanks to Netflix’s global reach.Digital TV Research’s Murray said that HBO’s success launching SVOD service HBO Now without compromising its carriage deals was a positive sign. “HBO offering an OTT platform in the US has already shown that the risk of cannibalisation is quite small,” he added. “Maybe Disney’s deals with pay TV operators – especially in the US – wouldn’t be harmed that much.”For Netflix, the upside would come from scale, Ampere’s Broughton added. “Netflix would gain access to Disney production assets, which could help shave costs – particularly for originals,” he said. “That’s important for a low margin business like Netflix.”Furthermore, a merged business would “acts as a hedge against further broadcast TV declines”, said Broughton. “Disney’s single largest business line is media networks, which is facing intense pressure from cord-cutting partly caused by Netflix,” he added. “If the trend does continue, owning the prime culprit is a safe strategy.”However, analysts have warned there were a number of potential obstacles. These include rights issues and pay TV movie exclusivity, as many Disney films are part of long-term rights agreements, and the debt load Netflix would place on the Mouse House.“I am not at all convinced Netflix would be a good fit for Disney,” said Tony Gunnarsson, senior analyst of TV practice at Informa-owned research house Ovum.“Disney has always strictly stayed clear of anything that might be seen as shocking, controversial and/or overly adult – for fears of upsetting American cultural sensibilities.“On the basis of Netflix’s original programming alone, which from Orange is the New Black to Chelsea and beyond is intentionally all those things, I don’t think there is any realistic chance of this ever happening.”“Despite its focus on originals, Netflix is still reliant on acquired content,” said Broughton. “The reaction from other content owners in terms of willingness to sell to a rival’s platform could mean a Disney-owned Netflix faces steeper content acquisition costs and potentially new rivals set up by other content owners.”
Twitter has confirmed that it will shut down its short-form video sharing service Vine on January 17 and relaunch it as a camera app.The timing was confirmed in a Tweet posted by Vine, which said the Vine app will become Vine Camera – an app that will allow users to make 6.5 second looping videos and post them to Twitter.The move will allow users to still capture and post short clips, but will shut Vine as a destination in its own right for accessing that media.From this month, the existing Vine website will become an archive of Vines that were created through the Vine app, which web users will still be able to browse.Twitter first announced it would shut down Vine in October, at the same time as it said it would cut 9% of the company’s total staff in a cost-cutting move.
MTG has agreed to sell its 75% stake in youth broadcaster Trace in a deal that values 100% of the business at an enterprise value of €40 million (approximately SEK 392 million).MTG agreed to sell its majority stake in the media group to TPG Growth, a division of investment firm TPG that has more than US$13 billion of assets under management.The move is the latest sign of MTG’s digital-focused strategy and follows the sale last year of its Czech TV assets for €116 million and its Baltic broadcasting business for €100 million.“Our focus at MTG is on the accelerated digital transformation of our broadcasting businesses, and the rapid expansion of our MTGx digital entertainment portfolio,” said Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG’s president and CEO.“Trace is a great business that we have enjoyed developing together with its talented management team over the past four years.”MTG has been making increasingly big steps into the digital world, investing €82.6 million to increase its shareholding in mobile and browser-based games company, InnoGames, from 21% to 51% last May.In July it closed its US$55 million acquisition of US games publisher and developer Kongregate while in November it launched a US$30 million investment fund, targeting minority investments in “high-potential” US and European online gaming businesses.Trace is an Afro-urban entertainment firm that owns a number of music and entertainment-focused TV channels, as well as radio, online and mobile assets – including the Trace Play streaming service, which it is currently rolling out around the world.The company is big in Sub-Saharan Africa, France, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean area, and claims its services are available in 160 countries to more than 200 million viewers and listeners.MTG’s sale of its Trace stake is subject to regulatory approvals.
The “increased significance of TV content” helped boost A1 Telekom Austria’s performance in 2018, along with resilience in its fixed-line business and growth in solutions and connectivity.A1 also saw strong growth in demand for mobile WiFi routers, in some cases substituting for fixed broadband.The company said that TV content and solutions and connectivity would “an important element” in driving demand for fixed-line services this year.A1’s pay TV base in Austria grew by 5.4% year-on-year to 313,000, up 5,000 on the previous quarter. Fixed broadband numbers dipped slightly over the same period, down 0.9% to 1.439 million. Landline phone customers were also down, taking fixed revenue-generating units down by 1.9% to 3.278 million.The company said that demand for TV options continued to be strong and that its converged fixed and mobile offering, with a hybrid fixed and mobile router, was driving growth.However, said the company, domestic fixed line revenues fell by 2.8%, with stronger demand for TV failing to offset a decline in voice revenues.In Bulgaria, where A1 owns the former Blizoo cable network, pay TV numbers were up by 4.6% to 507,500, while fixed broadband numbers were up 3.1% to 448,300. The company said that sports TV channels with exclusive content had underpinned growth in this market, helping to drive up revenue-generating unit numbers and average revenue per line.In Croatia, where A1 owns the former Vipnet cable network, pay TV numbers were up 8.7% to 229,300, while broadband subscribers grew by 1.6% to 254,000. The company said that a new sports TV package launched in June had helped fuel growth in a market where the focus is increasingly on bundled offerings and convergence. It said that growth in TV had helped boost fixed revenues despite a shift from fixed broadband to mobile WiFi routers.In neighbouring Slovenia, where A1 owns the former Amis cable network, pay TV numbers grew 6.4% to 60,200. Broadband subscribers were up 4.8% to 73,700.In Macedonia, A1’s local subsidiary grew its pay TV base by 4.8% to 128,800, while its broadband base grew by 14.8% to 131,600.In Belarus, pay TV numbers were up 64.1% to 408,100, while broadband numbers grew by 16.4% to 246,700.