To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s establishment as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) is giving away a limited number of FREE TurboJET tickets to agents and consumers planning a trip to the former Portuguese enclave.The ticket giveaway to the City of Gastronomy, supported by Sun Tak TurboJET, applies to travel from Hong Kong to Macao, or vice versa, for travel before December 31, 2019.To book the free ferry tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.orgIMAGE:Ruins of St Paul’s, Macao ferryfreeHong KongMacaoTurboJET
###### 26Jul Rep. Iden joins governor at bill-signing ceremony to honor victims of the Kalamazoo shootings State Rep. Brandt Iden joined Gov. Rick Snyder today to acknowledge the landmark legislation creating a public threat alert system. Additionally, this opportunity allowed Rep. Iden to acknowledge the surviving victims of the Kalamazoo shootings and the family members and friends of those who lost their lives on February 20.House Bill 5442, now Public Act 235 of 2016, is a proactive measure to safeguard the lives of citizens by providing real-time notifications of ongoing public threats via television, radio and text message, very similar to the Amber Alert System. This system will provide additional tools to law enforcement to help better inform citizens throughout the state of a public safety threat.“As of July 25, Americans have witnessed 207 mass shooting sprees across the nation in just 2016,” said Rep. Iden, R-Oshtemo.“We cannot control what others do, but as lawmakers we can prepare our citizens with the right tools to allow them to be proactive and not reactive in an emergency situation involving mass shootings or acts of terrorism.”Rep. Iden’s legislation will aid minimizing criminal acts across the state of Michigan by rapidly disseminating warning alerts to residents with mobile devices.“Had the victims of the Kalamazoo shootings received an alert notifying them of an active shooter situation nearby perhaps they would have had time to get to safety and avoid the deranged criminal entirely,” said Rep. Iden. “We need to ensure that we are using all current technology to our advantage to equip residents with the essential, imperative information that can help save lives.”Rep. David Maturen, who sponsored a portion of the three-bill package, also took time today to recognize the victims of the mass shooting.“This was a tragic situation, but it sparked landmark legislation here in Michigan,” said Rep. Maturen, R-Vicksburg. “My thoughts and prayers are still with the victims and their families, and I’m hopeful that the new notification system will play an important role in getting people out of harm’s way if a similar situation were to take place in the future.”“This legislation is the first of its kind here in Michigan and I believe this law can help memorialize those individuals who died in the Kalamazoo shootings because this horrific incident has culminated into a potentially life-saving public threat alert system that will effectively diminish future threats,” said Rep. Iden. “My continued thoughts and prayers are with all of the families of the loved ones lost in mass shootings across the country.“This bill was a direct response to the shooting rampage in Kalamazoo on February 20 and I am so grateful to my colleagues in the House and the Senate, and Gov. Snyder for their quick action and passage of this bill into law.” Categories: Featured news,Iden News,News Tags: #SB, active shooter, HB 5442, Iden, Kalamazoo shootings, PA 235 of 2016, public threat alert system
### 12Dec Rep. Cole, incoming Michigan House majority floor leader, announces 2019 session schedule Categories: Cole News,News State Rep. Triston Cole today announced the 2019 session schedule for the Michigan House of Representatives.Cole – the incoming majority floor leader for the House – said the chamber’s first session day for the year is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.“Michigan has made great progress over the past eight years creating jobs and strengthening communities. I am confident this positive momentum will continue in the next legislative session,” said Cole, of Mancelona. “We will get to work right away, putting the needs of Michigan’s families and hard-working taxpayers first.”As majority floor leader, Cole will have an important leadership role in the 2019-20 term – the 100th edition of the Michigan Legislature. Cole will help decide which proposals are considered by legislators and lead parliamentary procedure on the House floor, among other duties.Cole was recently re-elected for a third House term representing Antrim, Otsego, Charlevoix, Montmorency and Oscoda counties. He currently serves as chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and also serves on the Energy Policy, Judiciary, and Michigan Competitiveness committees.Safety and the quality of life for Michigan families are top priorities. Cole has led several initiatives to improve Michigan transportation infrastructure and operating rules on roads.Cole has nearly two decades of leadership experience at the state and local level.
The state House today unanimously approved a bipartisan plan introduced by Rep. Kathy Crawford to help child care organizations better serve Michigan families.Crawford’s plan would ensure the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and other organizations working with DHHS have access to private information that will remain confidential in child welfare cases.Additionally, giving national accreditation programs confidential access to this information will ensure Michigan’s private welfare agencies meet the highest standards for the children and families they serve.“This plan gives caseworkers the additional resources they need to help protect the children they care for,” said Crawford, of Novi. “Caseworkers must have the most relevant and recent information to ensure the children they oversee are as healthy as they can be.”The bill passed the House 109-0.House Bill 4549 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.#### 06Jun House approves Rep. Crawford’s plan to ensure safety of children being helped by caseworkers Categories: Crawford News
Categories: Paquette News 11Jul Rep. Paquette town hall draws nearly 100 residents State Rep. Brad Paquette hosted over 90 community members for a town hall meeting on Monday to discuss road funding in Michigan. He was joined by State Representative Jack O’Malley, chair of the House Transportation Committee, and Senator Kim LaSata, vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee“It was fantastic to see so many engaged citizens attend to learn more about road funding,” Rep. Paquette said. “I appreciate that Chair O’Malley and Senator LaSata were able to join us and add valuable insight to the discussions.”Rep. O’Malley is traveling to different regions of the state discussing road funding directly with local residents. “My goal is to make sure the House Transportation Committee is asking the questions you, the citizens of Michigan, want answered,” Rep. O’Malley said. “I appreciated Rep. Paquette’s invitation, as it allowed me to share some of our findings with residents of Southwest Michigan as well as listen directly to their ideas and concerns regarding fixing our roads.”The town hall took place on Monday, July 8 at the Niles District Library in Niles.Rep. Paquette and his guests provided an update on current road funding discussions, a brief summary on the history of road funding in Michigan and thoughts on potential options to improve the quality of our infrastructure around the state. They also discussed innovative and cost saving ideas being tested or utilized throughout Michigan and North America.For more information on items highlighted during the event and to stay up to date on road funding discussions, contact Rep. Paquette’s office by calling (517) 373-1796 or by email at BradPaquette@house.mi.gov.###
17Jul COLUMN: Michigan must learn from Nassar case Last year, people across the country watched as dozens of brave young women gave powerful testimony against disgraced Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar.As a parent, former gymnast, and coach, the experiences the survivors shared really hit home. While no one can fix the awful things that happened to these young women, we have a duty to learn from the Nassar case and make reforms to better protect Michigan children from abuse.I’m proud that a solution I introduced to help fix one of the root problems of Nassar’s widespread abuse was recently approved by the Michigan House with overwhelming support. My plan, House Bill 4376, would better protect student athletes by including athletic trainers in a list of professionals required to report evidence of child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Recent events have made it clear that sometimes abuse goes unreported or is overlooked. If we ensure more people are proactive in identifying and reporting abuse it will better protect our children.Athletic trainers work closely with young athletes, putting them in a position where they’re likely to pick up on signs of abuse or neglect. In many cases, these adults are even closer to student athletes than teachers because they spend a significant amount of time with the students.Another piece of the plan ensures all mandatory reporters are properly trained to understand the duties and responsibilities of their role. I served as a mandatory reporter when I was a teacher, and I am confident that expanding the number of people who are proactive in identifying and reporting abuse will benefit our children.I am honored to continue serving as your voice in Lansing, and always encourage residents to contact me with questions, concerns and ideas. Please feel free to reach out to my office at (517) 373-0839 or email BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.###State Rep. Beth Griffin is serving her second term in the Michigan House representing the residents of Van Buren County, as well as Alamo Township, Cooper Township and the city of Parchment in Kalamazoo County. Categories: Griffin News
House and Senate Oversight committees request auditState Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall) today praised the Office of Auditor General (OAG) for scheduling an expedited follow up performance review for the Grand Rapids Home for Veteran after its June 2019 audit showed questionable accounting practices resulting in $300,000 from residents’ accounts being “severely misplaced.”The June 2019 audit’s objectives were to assess the sufficiency of the Home’s provision of member care services, controls over pharmaceuticals and controls over selected business office operations. It found two material and four reportable conditions. The material conditions included the need to do more to prevent unauthorized access to veteran accounts and records and unreconciled differences in a veteran’s subsidiary account and corresponding external bank account balances. Among the reportable conditions was the untimely administration and refills of prescription medication.Hall, chair of the House Oversight Committee, called for the expedited performance audit following a joint hearing conducted by the House and Senate Oversight Committees in June. Sen. Ed McBroom, chair of the Senate Oversight Committee, joined Hall in leading the hearing. Afterwards, the two legislators submitted a formal letter to the OAG with the request.The OAG typically waits 15 to 18 months to follow up on prior audit’s findings, but Hall wanted answers sooner.“I was deeply concerned that money from veteran accounts was not accounted for and prescriptions were not refilled in a timely manner,” Hall said. “It’s for this reason that I called on the OAG for an expedited follow up review to confirm that meaningful steps are being taken to rectify the concerns outlined in the performance audit.”This is the latest following a February 2016 audit that found insufficient care, staffing, and improper administration of medication.The Veterans Affairs Agency and Department of Technology, Management and Budget testified in the joint committee meeting that the material conditions found in the June 2019 report have been fixed. To ensure that veterans were receiving proper care and their finances were being treated appropriately, Rep. Hall and Sen. McBroom asked the OAG for the expedited audit.Hall said the OAG recently supplied him with a letter notifying him and the House Oversight Committee that the office would begin its expedited review in September 2019. The report and its findings are scheduled to be issued in January 2020.The OAG defines a material condition as one “that could impair the ability of management to operate a program in an effective and efficient manner and/or could adversely affect the judgement of an interested person concerning the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.”The less serious reportable condition is defined as “an opportunity for improvement within the context of the audit objectives; a deficiency in internal control that is significant within the context of the audit objectives; all instances of fraud; illegal acts unless they are inconsequential within the context of the audit objectives; significant violations of provision of contracts or grant agreements; and significant abuse that has occurred or is likely to have occurred.” Categories: Hall News,News 24Jul Rep. Hall: Auditor General to conduct expedited audit on Grand Rapids Home for Veterans
Now that I have been in office for seven months, I want to provide a short review of my work as your state representative. Being a public servant means I serve at the pleasure of my constituents, so if you ever would like to chat about what I can be doing better, please reach out.With a busy session schedule, serving on five committees, conducting stakeholder meetings, attending events in district, I am happy to say it’s been a very productive time. It was also challenging, as I underwent surgery and treatment for stage 4 stomach cancer. Through it all I missed only two days of voting and am now cancer-free! Taking on this new role of addressing the needs of 90,000 people has been so rewarding. I love being your state representative and I want to thank you for this opportunity to represent you and to fulfill my dream of crafting good public policy that helps our state to continue to thrive. With that, here is a quick recap:***On my last day of radiation treatment, I introduced a bipartisan plan to incentivize installing and operating electric vehicle charging stations. Electric vehicles are a great economical and environmentally conscious option for many Michigan families, but access to charging stations remains a stumbling block. This plan will allow anyone to install and operate charging stations and charge for their use once they have been licensed.***As a member of the Oversight Committee, I learned Children’s Protective Services (CPS) has been failing our most vulnerable population: abused and neglected children.I introduced a bill to split cases into two separate follow-up actions to give CPS caseworkers flexibility, while still requiring them to help the family receive local services to guarantee the safety of the children.This bill, part of a bipartisan package, puts CPS on the correct path to better protect our children that are in dire need of safety.***I hosted a Facebook Live town hall to discuss road funding and the future of Michigan’s infrastructure with the Chair of the Transportation Committee, Jack O’Malley. This gave people the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns from their own homes. The video can be viewed on my website and Facebook page.***My bill to provide greater government transparency by including the legislature in FOIA-type requests, along with a series of bipartisan companion bills, should be taken up by the Senate later this year.***I attended monthly education group meetings with local officials and advocates from both Waterford and Clarkston schools. I’ve met many of you at my well-attended office hours. I also hosted a roundtable with community leaders to discuss the issue of increased teenage use of e-cigarette products.***If you ever need assistance, please join me at my monthly office hours, call my office at 517-373-0615, or email me at AndreaSchroeder@house.mi.gov. I am truly honored to be your state representative and I hope to hear from you.### 23Jul My first seven months as your representative Categories: Schroeder News
Categories: VanWoerkom News State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom, of Norton Shores, recently announced where he will be available to meet with Muskegon County residents during scheduled coffee hours for the month of July.“Listening to the needs and concerns of residents in my district is one of the most important aspects of my job,” Rep. VanWoerkom said. “I hope you will join me at one of my upcoming hours and share what’s on your mind.”Rep. VanWoerkom will be available Friday, July 26, from 8 to 9 a.m. at Fruitport Township Hall, 5865 Airline Road in Fruitport. Additionally, VanWoerkom will be available on Monday, July 29 at the following times and locations:8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at Cedar Creek Township Hall, 6556 Sweeter Road in Twin Lake; and10 to 11 a.m. at Blue Lake Township Hall, 1491 Owasippe Road in Twin Lake.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times, but would like an opportunity to talk with Rep. VanWoerkom may call his office at (517) 373-3436 or email GregVanWoerkom@house.mi.gov.### 23Jul Rep. VanWoerkom announces July coffee hours
Residents in Genesee and Oakland counties didn’t send me to Lansing to raise their taxes.I’m well aware of Michigan’s lackluster national ranking on road quality. I have heard from residents and experienced the conditions myself – often feeling that unmistakable jolt reverberate through my vehicle. Many in our state have seen popular pictures circulating on social media of potholes large enough for a person to stand in, or accommodating a family of ducks after a rainstorm.These images are generally light-hearted, but certainly indicative. Our crumbling roadways and bridges are a serious issue and we need a fix to have continued economic prosperity.But reaching deep into drivers’ pockets with a massive tax hike isn’t the right away to go about it. That is what the governor intends to do within her budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year – foisting a 45-cent per gallon gas tax increase on the people of Michigan based on a campaign promise to bring us better, safer roads. Residents with long work commutes and those living on fixed incomes or paycheck to paycheck will be dinged an extra $6 or $7 each time they go to the pump to fill up their tank. The state would soon soar up another rankings list by having the largest fuel sales tax in the country.Worse, people will be forking over this extra money with no guarantees their roadways get fixed. Under the governor’s ill-advised plan, a central board would decide which projects are prioritized – using economic importance as a deciding factor. That approach unfairly pits urban areas against rural even though both urban and rural residents would be handing over the same percentage of their hard-earned dollars at the gas station in fuel taxes.It’s a recommendation that would have far-reaching, negative economic impacts on our state and it’s one I can’t support.There is a way to put more money toward road repairs without raising taxes. We just haven’t been maxing it out. The House’s budget plan relative to Michigan’s roads would move the current general sales tax paid at the pump to where it should be going – road repairs. Doing so would generate over $800 million per year – on top of a 2015 roads plan that is expected to deliver over $1 billion in additional revenue by 2021.Within two years, Michigan would be putting nearly $2 billion more into fixing roads throughout the state, protecting drivers and keeping their vehicles out of the body shop. While this projected number falls just short of the $2.5 billion the governor is looking for, our plan is practical and works with what we have available. Asking taxpayers to foot a higher bill is a road I refuse to go down.Rep. Mike Mueller, of Linden, is in his first term in the Michigan House serving residents in parts of Genesee and Oakland counties. The 51st District includes Argentine, Atlas, Fenton, Flushing and Gaines townships, and the cities of Linden and Fenton within Genesee County. It also includes the townships of Groveland, Holly and Rose within Oakland County. 25Jul OPINION: A common-sense approach to funding Michigan road repairs Categories: Mueller News,News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 13, 2015;Washington PostSome of us may have passed out reading volumes of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series—which, after the third or fourth volumes, screamed for an editor armed with a hatchet, but Rowling may also have launched a new coterie of social policy activists. Like Harry Potter himself, armed with an appreciation of fairness and social justice, the members of the Harry Potter Alliance, founded by Andrew Slack, have chalked up a victory over child labor. Joshua Berger, the head of Harry Potter global franchise development, announced that by the end of 2015, all Harry Potter chocolate products will be 100 percent either UTZ or Fair Trade-certified. This victory was no overnight sensation, but the product of four years of HPA organizing.Who would have thought that the young wizard who brought commercial riches to Rowling would turn into a rallying cry for progressive public policy activism? But that’s what Slack and his colleagues at the Harry Potter Alliance have done. While the HPA draws on Rowling’s pre-book stint on welfare as inspiration, a story that is a little on the hyped side, the Association has combined Rowling’s poverty narrative with her wizardry series to fashion a kind of advocacy that moves young people, as this article by the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg describes, to fight for “a more just world.” FREE DOWNLOAD: Social Media Strategies for Amplifying Social Justice Issues It may also be that the Association’s ability to motivate Harry Potter readers relates to Rowling’s increasingly dark storyline as well as the nature of much modern fantasy writing nowadays. The dystopian post-apocalyptic theme is long and distinguished in classic fantastic literature, as with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and George Orwell’s 1984. Rosenberg takes special note of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series, which, like the Potter books, uses a dystopian theme aimed at young adults but argues for a just and honorable outcome. Videogames such as Bioshock and graphic novels like V forVendetta and Watchmen also capitalize on the dystopian theme combined with the recognition that a more just world is possible in the alternative.“If Harry Potter [as a franchise] were to be in alignment with the values of Harry Potter [himself], it could be a real symbolic and coherent victory,” explained Slack to Rosenberg about the HPA motivation and strategy. “Harry Potter, more and more, is becoming a classic, and one that children are growing up on, with all seven books having been written. It’s part of the culture. It represents righteousness, nobility, love, so much beauty and a place of safety that people go to, and moral authority. If the Harry Potter brand were to move something like fair trade, it would be making a statement that not only is the Harry Potter brand a cut above the rest, but that [other franchises] have to catch up to it.”Rowling herself is politically active, opposing Scottish independence and, according to Rosenberg, “slapping back against media mogul Rupert Murdoch on Twitter over his suggestion that Muslims take collective responsibility for the murder of Charlie Hebdo staff and Paris police officers.”As Rosenberg suggests, the HPA activism—or the activism of Harry Potter aficionados, at any rate—doesn’t appear to be motivated by an overarching ideology. Rather, as with the campaign about Harry Potter chocolates, it is situational, tying possible issues to the “just world” interests of Potterheads. HPA’s “major funders” show the protean approach of the nonprofit. On the relatively brief list are Chase Community Giving, through which grants are determined by the votes of Chase customers and employees; a Montana nonprofit called the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, created by vloggers involved in Project for Awesome (which promotes videos about charities that “decrease the overall level of world suck”); and the UK-based Roddick Foundation, the family foundation of the late Anita Roddick, co-founder of the Body Shop, which is focused on “social, labour and environmental justice, and human rights.” It is an eclectic mix of funders supporting the Harry Potter Alliance, reflecting the diversity of Harry Potter fandom.Give the Harry Potter Alliance credit. They may have been inspired by fictional wizards, but it was through the effort of Muggles that Harry Potter chocolates will, by the end of 2015, be fair-trade certified.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share27TweetShare4Email31 SharesAugust 3, 2016; Washington Post, “Wonkblog”After the Baltimore County Council defeated a proposal that would prevent housing discrimination against households with a housing choice voucher (HCV), Emily Badger, Washington Post columnist, called out this “pervasive form of housing discrimination that’s still legal.”In her article, Ms. Badger explains that “source of income” (SOI) legislation has been enacted and challenged around the country as communities grapple with this loophole in federal fair housing laws. By adopting a “no Section 8” policy, landlords can largely exclude prospective renters based on race, gender, and familial status because female-headed minority families are overrepresented in HCV programs.Ms. Badger’s article goes on to recount other examples of how Maryland’s Baltimore County, which consists of largely white inner ring suburbs around the City of Baltimore, has worked to keep African American households bottled up in the city. She cites a 1970 case where HUD withheld sewer funding from Baltimore County for promoting racial segregation. This past year, advocates have charged that the state of Maryland has assisted in keeping low-income Baltimore residents away from suburban employment opportunities by vetoing a mass transit plan and investing in “inner city redevelopment” as an alternative.HUD involvement in the Baltimore County proposal is significant. Opponents of the proposal argued that they were being forced to consider SOI protection because of a “big government” settlement of a fair housing complaint to which the county was not a party. HUD’s understanding of the dispute differs from the County Council: “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced a settlement agreement with Baltimore County, Maryland to expand affordable housing in higher opportunity areas throughout the County.” Among the remedies in this Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) is: “Seek the enactment of legislation that prohibits discrimination based on source of income.” However, the details in the VCA suggest that the time of enactment may be stretched out until 2019.Failure to comply with the VCA could put at risk a host of Federal assistance grants that come to the County. All this controversy comes at a time when Baltimore’s race and inequality issues are already under a spotlight. A new book called Coming of Age in the Other America charts the course of a cohort of young people in Baltimore who had the chance to use an HCV to move to “slightly better” neighborhoods within the city limits. Authors DeLuca, Clampett-Lundquist, and Edin write, “Few would argue that it was not a good idea to get families out of the distressed high-rises, but entirely different policies are required to help them reach higher-opportunity neighborhoods.”—Spencer WellsShare27TweetShare4Email31 Shares
Share81TweetShare11Email92 SharesOctober 19, 2016; New York TimesThe United States leads the world in many ways in which we can take pride, but leading most of the industrialized world in child poverty brings shame.This statistic translates into more than 14.5 million young people starting their lives at the bottom of a very steep hill. While this number has shown some improvement as the overall economy has recovered from the depths of the 2007 recession, it remains at a disturbingly high level.Efforts to directly alleviate the pain of growing up poor have missed their target. Eduard Barros, writing in the New York Times, recently wrote,The child tax deduction—which allows families to exclude $4,000 a child from their taxable income—avoids the poor almost entirely. Just over 1 percent of the $40 billion it costs the federal budget every year flows to the poorest fifth of the population….The $58 billion child tax credit that reduces a tax bill by $1,000 a child is more progressive. But families in the bottom fifth get only a tenth of the money.This is a safety net that will let the poorest easily slip through.Perhaps it’s time to consider a different approach, one backed by nine experts on poverty and child well being and that received support from pundits as diverse as Daniel P. Moynihan and Milton Friedman. Rather than the current system of tax credits and deductions, they propose providing every child with a monthly stipend of $250.The benefit would be universal, like Social Security, rather than aimed at low-income families alone. And it would decouple government assistance from work, a sharp departure from the track followed since the welfare reform of the 1990s, when cash assistance was replaced with tax credits.At the level being proposed, $3000/year, child poverty would not be eliminated but millions of children’s lives will be improved. It ensures that the poorest of children are not left out. This new approach is estimated to cost about $190 billion annually, less than twice the cost of the current program of credits and deductions. When compared to other countries using similar approaches, it does not seem extravagant.Austria, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all already have some sort of child allowance. In Germany, the benefit for a family with two children adds up to $5600 a year. In Canada, it is worth $4935 per child under 6, and $4164 for children ages 6 to 17.As a universal benefit, it eliminates the stigma associated with need-tested programs. Because it does not require demonstrating one’s poverty, it would reduce the need for a large government bureaucracy to manage the program. And it would take the welfare of our children away from the ongoing political arguments over work that have marked decades of “welfare reform” efforts.Creating a new universal benefit would not be easy in our current political environment. It asks that easing the pain of children be placed above political ideology. It asks us to be willing to critically think about what has worked and what has not in earlier efforts. These are clearly not easy challenges. However, 14.5 million impoverished children should be enough cause for politicians right, left, and center to seriously grapple with this moral imperative and end our global shame.—Martin LevineShare81TweetShare11Email92 Shares
Video transport technology specialist Net Insight has been chosen by Telecom Italia Media Broadcasting (TIMB) for a contribution network.TIMB, a Telecom Italia Group company, operates terrestrial TV networks in Italy over which its own and third party digital and analogue TV channels are delivered.Net Insight’s Nimbra platform will transport media between studios and sites in Rome and Milan using JPEG2000 technology for video compression. The order also includes Nimbra Vision, a network management system for status and performance monitoring of Nimbra-based networks.“We chose Net Insight from a Quality of Service perspective and the fact that it is a one integrated solution, easy to implement and use”, said Crescenzo Micheli, chief technology officer at TIMB. “We were also impressed by the performance of the JPEG 2000 compression solution over our existing network as well as the performance monitoring capabilities of the infrastructure.”
The BBC has confirmed that it will air some Olympic events, including the men’s 100 metre final, in 3D.The public broadcaster will also deliver 3D coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and a highlights package at the end of each day. 3D content will be available via the BBC’s HD channel on all platforms.The coverage is one of a number of 3D trials being undertaken by the BBC. Last year it aired the men’s and ladies’ finals of the Wimbledon Championships in 3D as well as the final of Strictly Come Dancing.Kim Shillinglaw, head of BBC 3D, said: “We have always said we believe some of 2012 should be captured in 3D, and we’re delighted to confirm our offer to audiences in the UK, providing them with a new way of getting close to some of the key moments from the London 2012 Olympic Games.”
Russian service provider VimpelCom has named Viktor Pavlov as director of its Southern and North Caucasus region subsidiary. Pavlov will be responsible for all activities in the 13 branches of VimpelCom’s merged Southern and North Caucasus regional operations, covering the cities of Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar, Stavropol, Elista, Sochi, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Circassian, Grozny, Nazran, Nalchik , Vladikavkaz and Makhachkala. He was previously head of residential sales for the region.
Virgin TiVo BoxAnnouncing its quarterly figures, Virgin said that TiVo customers now number 1.5 million, with the increase helping to boost the firm’s revenue and earnings.“We had a good start to the year with accelerated revenue growth, improved churn, and strong free cash flow growth. The great value we provide through our collections packages, which bundle superfast broadband and our next generation TiVo service, has seen new customers join and our existing customers stay loyal to us,” said Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett.He added “this positive momentum in the business positions us well for our planned merger with Liberty Global” – which was announced earlier this year.In total, Virgin’s revenue was up 3.6% year-on-year to £1.04 billion (€1.22 billion). Operating income increased 14% to £150m, while net income was £139m, up from £7m in the same quarter last year.Virgin added that its paying TV customers increased by 13,700, reaching 3.3 million in the quarter. It also added more HD channels to its TV line-up this year, taking this total to 43, and launched 21 new live channels to its cloud-based entertainment service Virgin TV Anywhere.
French media regulator the CSA has issued a warning to Orange Cinéma Séries (OCS) after it made an allegedly pornographic film available on its on-demand service.The CSA said that OCS made the film The Last Son: la malediction available during the night of May 21-22 without access control to prevent it being watched by under-18s.Separately, the CSA has taken thematic channel NRJ 12 to task after the latter broadcast NRJ Replay, which allowed viewers to choose highlight programmes from the channel’s line-up and to zap to shows aired the previous day without the CSA being informed in advance.According to the CSA, the programmes to which NRJ Replay gave access where not clearly signposted regarding their content. The channel’s licence mandates it to inform the CSA of its schedule at least 18 hours before it airs.
Khalid BalkheyourMiddle East satellite operator Arabsat has signed a deal to provide satellite capacity over Africa to UAE-based IT and communications investment firm MICT (Morgan for Information and Communications Technology).Arabsat will provide MICT with satellite capacities on Arabsat-5C at the orbital position 20° East, providing full coverage to the African continent, as well as Arabsat’s usual coverage to the Middle East and parts of Asia and Europe.Arabsat CEO Khalid bin Ahmed Balkheyour said his company would provide full support for the initiative.“The importance of this agreement is not only in its value and financial returns, but also in the glimmer of hope it gives despite the difficulties and challenges facing the region – it’s a message that we still care and hold a lot of hope and a little of the welfare to all the communities of the African continent,” said MICT CEO Kazem Zain.“The implementation of this contract starts with building and operating two ground stations in Africa this year, to be expanded in the coming years to accommodate the growing needs of the African and the region.”MICT says its company aim is to provide national institutions with ICT solutions and to develop applications of integrated information according to international standards of measurements and specifications.
With continued access to funding, trends from last year – and with M&A driven primarily by the availability of funding – the pattern of consolidation and investment in cable and telcoms seen last year will continue in 2014-15, with investors looking for stability of cash flows more than long-term growth prospects, according to Piotr Nocen, founder and managing partner, Resource Partners, speaking at the Digital TV CEE conference in Budapest this morning.Nocen said telcos have issues with declines in core revenues and that convergence will continue to be a theme of M&A activity. “When you can make money from leveraging deals, startups are only for the brave,” said Nocen. Cable, DTH and infrastructure players will attract internet, while niche TV channels, DTT, OTT players and online media will attract interest, and IPTV and mobile TV will struggle to attract investors, he said.Nocen said that the primary driver for convergence will not be from cable operators consolidating with each other but from mobile and telecom players trying to protect their own cash flows and fight against revenue decline. He said this happened in Poland, where mobile and fixed were owned by the same player.The level of optimism in central Europe is now higher than elsewhere in Europe, according to Nocen. “My personal worry is about western Europe. in spite of seven years of fuelling the economy we don’t see significant improvement in GDP growth rates,” he said.Despite low growth, there have been transactions in cable and telecoms in the region. the creation of United Group in south-eastern Europe had seen the entry of private equity giant KKR into the region. More interestingly Poland had seen the merger of Cyfrowy Polsat with mobile operator Plus. There was growing interest in online media companies as well, said Nocen.Addressing the impact of the wider economic background on the industry, Nocen said that it is difficult to predict how markets will respond to tougher central bank-imposed credit conditions. Business sentiment in western Europe is now on an upward trajectory again, but with low interest rates. In central and eastern Europe, there was recovery after the 2008 bust but no return to high growth. However, Nocen said there were significant differences in growth rates between counties in the region.