Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) is excited to announce that LUV has officially landed in West Michigan with service to Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR). The Grand Rapids community rolled out the red carpet today as Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan (RAAWM) Founder & Chairman Dick DeVos joined the Gerald R. Ford International Airport officials and community leaders in welcoming Southwest’s first Customers to Grand Rapids. With the introduction of Southwest’s larger Boeing 737 aircraft to the market, passenger seat availability will increase 117 percent, up dramatically from approximately 2,600 seats per week available on AirTran to Southwest’s availability of more than 5,800 seats per week. Southwest’s vast network will provide Grand Rapids Customers with more availability and better options. “Our arrival in Grand Rapids represents one of the true benefits of our integration with AirTran Airways, allowing us to continue to bring low fares and legendary Customer Service to the People of Grand Rapids,” said Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President, Ron Ricks. “We’re thrilled to provide West Michigan Customers access to our broad network of destinations; and just as importantly, giving better access to Michigan for our existing Customers across America. This growth is exciting for Southwest Airlines.” Southwest attributes its entrance into the market to the roots planted by its wholly-owned subsidiary AirTran Airways. AirTran served three daily nonstop departures to Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Orlando International Airport. Southwest doubles service options with six daily departures to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, St. Louis, and Denver, connecting Customers to more than 70 destinations—a 35 percent increase in cities served. And beginning next spring, the carrier will add daily nonstop departures to Ft. Myers and Tampa Bay. “Today is a special day for West Michigan with the addition of Southwest Airlines in our market,” said Brian Ryks, Executive Director of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. “We appreciate Southwest embracing our community to bring the very best in air service and we are eager to expand our partnership as we promote LUV throughout West Michigan.” Southwest celebrated its inaugural Grand Rapids service today with a press conference and welcome reception at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Southwest showed its dedication to the community by partnering with Make-A-Wish® Michigan to help make a child’s wish come true. Southwest and Make-A-Wish Michigan will help send five-year-old Aryka and her family from Grand Rapids to Orlando to go to Walt Disney World® Resort.
Consumer Confidence Forecast Freddie Mac Home Sales Mortgage Rates 2014-04-18 Colin Robins in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News April 18, 2014 457 Views Freddie Mac: ‘Noise’ Disrupting Housing Hopes Share Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for April, noting that the housing market continues to be “noisy,” giving mixed signals heading into spring.Freddie Mac projects that new home construction will increase by 18 percent, while home appreciation will moderate to an annual growth of 5 percent for 2014.The company also commented that due to a slower than normal first two months of the year, it is lowering its home sales projections slightly from 5.6 million to 5.5 million.”We’re getting mixed signals as we start the spring home buying season. Tight inventory may pose a significant challenge for home buyers in many markets across the country, which may result in higher home prices and sales being lower than expected,” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac.Nothaft added, “This is good news for those markets that have room to run on the house price appreciation front, but it’s also going to increase the affordability pinch in many markets, especially along the country’s east and west coasts. Two indicators that are supporting local housing activity are rising consumer confidence and declining unemployment rates.”The housing market is being helped by local employment, which saw all 50 states experience a decline in unemployment rates, according to Freddie Mac. Eighteen states saw at least a half percentage point reduction in their unemployment rate over the previous three months ending in February.Although consumer confidence waned slightly over the latter half of 2013 from an increase in interest rates, Freddie Mac found that confidence is tracking higher, and noted, “March was at the highest level since January 2008.”The company believes that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will continue its path of gradual increases, eventually ending the year around 5 percent.
On hand for the ceremony were from left: Jamie Clover Adams, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development director; McBroom; Sen. John Moolenaar; Gov. Rick Snyder; Rep. Frank Foster; Sen. Darwin Booher, Rep. Bruce Rendon; and Sen. Tom Casperson.Legislation to encourage owners of the 11 million acres of private forestlands in Michigan to join the state’s Qualified Forest Program for timber harvesting and management was signed into law today. The nine-bill package, which includes a measure sponsored by Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, updates the program’s property tax incentives and offers educational and technical assistance.The program is capped at 1.2 million acres but less than 80,000 acres have been enrolled in the program designed to ensure and increase a steady, sustainable supply of timber to an industry that generates $14 billion annually and directly employs 26,000 residents. The package includes Public Acts 42-50 of 2013. 06Jun Qualified Forest Program bills signed into law Categories: News
Categories: News 23Oct Heath Robinson Memorial Bridge considered House panel hears father, Foster testimony to honor war heroDan Robinson of joined state Rep. Frank Foster before the House Transportation Committee this week to provide testimony on naming the U.S.-2 bridge over the Cut River the Heath Michael Robinson Memorial Bridge. Heath was killed in action Aug. 6, 2011 in Afghanistan during a Navy SEAL rescue mission.The US-2 bridge crossing the Cut River in Mackinac County could be renamed to honor Heath Robinson, a 1995 Petoskey High School graduate and Navy SEAL who was killed in action Aug. 6, 2011 when a Chinook Helicopter he was in with about three dozen other military personnel was shot down in Afghanistan.State Rep. Frank Foster is working on House Bill 4957 with Hendricks Township residents and businesses to recognize Special Operator Senior Chief (Navy SEAL) Heath Michael Robinson’s service and sacrifice, while maintaining the legacy of the Cut River area.This week, Foster welcomed Robinson’s father, Dan Robinson, to provide testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the legislation.“It would truly be an incredible honor for the Robinson family, the state of Michigan and the United States of America, to acknowledge a Michigan heroic warrior by aligning Heath with such a magnificent structure, the Cut River Bridge,” said Robinson of Emmet County. “People from coast to coast and around the world travel over this passage some 140 feet above the Cut River’s bottom and cruise the magnificent 600-feet plus span to safely arrive on the opposite side. I am sure Heath would take great pride knowing he still is working diligently to protect and serve this great nation and her citizens, and this will be his new mission, always guarding against any foe, always protecting freedom!“Heath is buried in Arlington National Cemetery as a permanent memorial — the memorial bridge will pay tribute to all our fallen heroes, and the merger between Heath Michael Robinson and the Cut River Bridge will be a great story shared with visitors for years to come, with the pride for which this great nation was built.”The bridge is located about 25 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge and was selected for the memorial as a link to Heath’s great-grandfather and grandfather, who built bridges all over Michigan, according to his mother, Debora Robinson-Coxe of Moran Township, in written testimony. She said he also often traveled over this particular bridge often while visiting friends, and it served as a connection between Heath’s two favorite places – Mackinac Island and Coronado Island, California.“There are many similarities between my son, the warrior, and the bridge,” she wrote. “Heath was a Navy SEAL sniper; the bridge is located in a wooded area and is mostly hidden from view. Heath was silent, unpretentious, and did the job he loved, much like the Cut River Bridge. I can image his teammates repelling off it, climbing up it, or simply raising a glass at the base of the bridge to honor the memory of all the fallen heroes. Something to share is that even as brothers in arms, SEALS are extremely competitive, and the challenge of whose bridge is taller, wider, stronger, longer, or better looking brings a smile to my face, because at some 147 feet above the ground, Heath’s bridge might be one of the tallest. And I love that this bridge is close to home.”A 34-year-old chief petty officer, Robinson was born in Alma, MI, joined the U.S. Navy in January 1996 and served on six Special Warfare Units from 2000 to 2011.Robinson was killed while attempting to re-enforce U.S. Army Rangers under fire in the single largest loss of U.S. troops in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full honors, leaving behind a wife, daughter, his parents and two brothers.Foster said the bill remains before the transportation committee while some technical revisions are worked out.“The loss of a father, husband, son, brother and friend can never be replaced,” said Foster, R-Petoskey. “Heath’s family, friends and all of us can be proud of his commitment to bring freedom and democracy to people throughout the world, and his sacrifice in serving to help rescue his comrades in arms. Memorializing Heath at the Cut River Bridge recognizes the life and memory of a special person at a special place.”
LANSING, MI — Gov. Snyder signed five bills into law on Tuesday as he approved a bipartisan bill package to reform civil asset forfeiture laws. State Rep. Triston Cole of Mancelona, left, authored House Bill 4503 now Public Act No. 150 of 2015, which will safeguard oversight of civil forfeiture by ensuring that forfeiture funds are properly used and that state department agencies do not pursue an improper source of revenue. The approval of this landmark legislation will provide much need transparency to the forfeiture process and serves as a good starting point going forward with the new forfeiture-reporting act.###### Tags: #SB, civil asset forfeiture, Cole, HB4503 Categories: Cole News,Featured news,News,Photos 22Oct Rep. Cole’s bill to reform civil asset forfeiture signed into law by Gov.
Legislation will expand career instruction in K-12 classroomsThe Senate Economic Development and International Investment Committee today approved state Rep. Bronna Kahle’s plan to expand professional trade instruction and provide career-oriented development in Michigan high schools.“We all know of the incredible impact that good teachers can have on their students and we need to open the door to experienced skilled trade professionals to share their experience in our classrooms,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “There is a talent gap across the state and these skilled professionals can be crucial to bridging this gap. This plan will help across the state, addressing the current demand and expected future needs for talented professionals into skilled fields.”Specifically, her legislation will permit schools to hire professional trade instructors to teach classes that align with their expertise in which they hold a license or certificate, leaving the decision to local school districts when considering teachers for these high-demand positions. Kahle’s bill is part of a four-bill package developed from the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, which includes state K-12 education and employment leaders working together to help strengthen Michigan’s future.In addition, the legislative package will:Create a K-12 model program that emphasizes career learning and themes for each grade level, while focusing on engaging with parents, community businesses and industry interests;Provide continuing education and professional development credit for teachers who spend time engaging with local employers and professional trade centers;The legislation has the support of Mark Haag, superintendent of the Lenawee Intermediate School District; Dan Garno, executive director of Staff Resources at the Lenawee ISD; and Dan Rogers, director of Center for Science and Industry in Hudson. Each joined Kahle in testifying in support of the legislative package in October 2017.“Young people need to know about these education and career options, get practical real-world instruction and have the opportunity to train in these fields,” Kahle said.House Bill 5141 advances to the Senate for its consideration.##### 07Jun Kahle: Senate panel approves bill to attract skilled trade teachers Categories: Kahle News,News
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Aaron Miller of Sturgis was joined by local law enforcement officers for the Michigan House’s Sept. 11 Memorial Service. Pictured from left are St. Joseph County Capt. Jason Bingaman, St. Joseph County Undersheriff Mark Lillywhite, Rep. Miller, and Sturgis Director of Public Safety Geoff Smith. The observance held Sept. 6 at the state Capitol memorializes Michigan first responders and military members who died in the line of duty in the past year. Categories: Miller News,News 07Sep Rep. Miller joins law enforcement officers for Michigan House Sept. 11 ceremony
19Feb Rep. Lower resolution protects the unborn State Rep. James Lower today introduced a resolution calling for the protection of life by preserving legal safeguards for unborn children in Michigan. The resolution also calls for recognition of any abortion as a tragic loss of human life.Lower said history will measure Michigan by how well it protects its most vulnerable residents.“We must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, especially the unborn,” said Lower, of Cedar Lake. “By approving this resolution the Michigan House of Representatives has the opportunity to affirm and defend the sanctity of life, from beginning to end.”“All life is important. There is no known medical reason for an unborn baby to be killed in the third trimester of gestation,” Lower said. “Life should be protected from this action before or during the course of a delivery.”#### Categories: Lower News,News
Share9TweetShare6Email15 SharesMarch 14, 2016; KELO-TV (Sioux Falls, SD)In 2013, NPQ reported on South Dakota’s decision to allow school district staff or volunteers to be armed while performing their duties. The “school sentinel” bill was enacted in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and other cases of gun violence on school grounds. No school districts chose to implement the law—until now.Tri-Valley School District, about 10 miles north of Sioux Falls, has a population of about 5,500 and teaches just over 800 students. Despite its proximity to the state’s largest city, it has no local police force or school patrols. There is a sheriff’s deputy that acts as a school resource officer “most of the time,” according to district officials. In the event of trouble, the school does have a lockdown “panic button,” but officials fear county law enforcement would not be able to respond in force in a timely manner to protect students and staff. Fears of school violence and previous planning steps have led the school board to provisionally approve a school sentinel program as the next step in what is hoped to be providing a safer campus.If given final approval next month (as currently appears likely), the district’s school sentinel policy would require individuals to apply, undergo psychological evaluation, secure a concealed weapons permit, and complete state law enforcement training. The final step is approval by the school board.Three aspects of the proposed policy are unsettling. First, the identities of Tri-Valley’s school sentinels will be kept secret. The superintendent and school board will know, but the public will not. It’s not clear whether even the building principal and staff will know who is authorized to be armed on campus. Second, the weapon used by the school sentinel will likely be in a locked cabinet, not with the person. While this might sound safer than carrying a weapon when among students, it means that quick reaction to threat situations—the purpose of the policy—might not be possible. Third, while discussion surrounding the policy assumes the sentinel or sentinels will be employees, the policy itself refers only to “individuals,” leaving open the possibility of volunteers being authorized.We understand the desire to keep children safe, but is this the best way? Imagine a nightmare scenario where one or more armed people storm the school. Staff see one person—staff or school volunteer—scrambling to get to wherever their weapon is locked up, apparently not following procedure by sheltering in place or protecting students in their classroom. They may not even be able to access their weapon, depending on where the shooters are located and how the anticipated school lockdown protocol works. Assuming the sentinel is able to retrieve the weapon, the sentinel attempts to defend the staff and students, who don’t immediately know the sentinel’s identity and only see a person in street clothes with a gun in their school during a shootout, hostage situation, or similar tragedy in progress. When law enforcement arrive on the scene, they also will likely not be immediately aware of the sentinel’s identity. Even if the superintendent is able to communicate with law enforcement, communication takes time and, besides, law enforcement protocols tend not to distinguish between armed civilians at a crime scene.The district superintendent has sent a letter to parents about the proposed policy. The school board has not yet heard public input yet, but it may well hear concerns before it takes final action.—Michael WylandShare9TweetShare6Email15 Shares
Share7TweetShareEmail7 SharesBy Dave Brenner, SNRE [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 7, 2018; The ConversationIt’s been six years since activist Bill McKibben called for institutions to divest assets from fossil fuel companies, declaring in Rolling Stone that fossil fuel companies were “Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization.” Writing in The Conversation, Jennie Stephens, Director of the School of Public Policy at Northeastern University, takes stock of the movement as it turns six.Climate advocacy, notes Stephens, “has become well established on US campuses over the past decade,” with over 600 schools signing the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. But McKibben’s call for colleges to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies has found fewer adherents. “So far,” notes Stephens, “only about 150 campuses worldwide have committed to fossil fuel divestment—and less than a third of those are in the United States.”While only a limited number of schools have divested, student and faculty support for divestment is high. A survey at Harvard last spring, for instance, found 67 percent of faculty favored divestment, with nine percent opposed and 24 percent neutral.Stephens argues there are two main obstacles to making divestment more widespread. “First,” Stephens writes, “divestment is controversial because it acknowledges the need for radical change.” There’s also a disconnect in institutional priorities between administrators and their students and faculty. Harvard, for instance, despite overwhelming faculty support for divestment and even pressure from one of its own trustees, has yet to shift assets away from fossil fuels.One reason administrators cite, says Stephens, is “their fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns on endowment investments.” However, a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Ecological Economics found that, if, for the 1927–2016 period, you compared a portfolio with fossil fuels stocks from one without, portfolio performance is not affected.Stephens suggests that some university leaders may oppose divestment to avoid alienating constituents connected to the fossil fuel industry. Stephens adds university leaders may feel pressure “to protect direct or indirect funding from fossil fuel companies for academic programs, or to maintain a non-threatening environment for board members with fossil fuel interests.”That said, to date more than 40 US colleges have divested themselves of at least some fossil-fuel stocks. The University of Massachusetts board, for example, voted unanimously to “divest from all direct fossil-fuel holdings in its $770 million endowment” in May 2016. Syracuse University divested a year earlier. And a few prominent universities—including Columbia, Stanford, and Georgetown—have divested from coal companies. Georgetown also recently decided to pull out of the tar sands industry.Prodded by growing climate change-related weather disruptions, worldwide some 985 institutions with $6.24 trillion in assets have divested at least some assets from fossil fuel industries. While universities are highly visible, faith-based institutions and foundations often lead the way. Also, public pension funds (including the two largest public employee pension funds in California) and city governments—including such cities as Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco, California, with New York City expected to follow— have divested. Internationally, in July 2018, the Irish parliament passed a bill that, once the upper house concurs, as expected later this year, would make Ireland the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels.As NPQ’s Rick Cohen observed when discussing McKibben’s motivation for launching the campaign, the idea is not that divestment will stop fossil fuel companies from accessing investment dollars on capital markets. Rather, as McKibben put it in a Washington Post op-ed years ago, “Divestment will undercut the industry’s political power, just as happened a generation ago when the issue was South Africa and hundreds of colleges, churches, and state and local governments took action…divestment is one tool to change the zeitgeist, so that the day arrives more quickly when the richest and most powerful can no longer mock renewable energy and play down climate change.”Divestment, Cohen also noted, has played such a role before, not just by undermining support for South Africa’s apartheid regime, but, more recently, in undermining support for the tobacco industry. “When Harvard University divested from tobacco, the reverberations were powerful and have continued,” Cohen wrote a few years ago.With fossil fuels, when might a tipping point arrive? That’s hard to say. Certainly, pressure on trustees to divest is likely to increase. As noted in NPQ earlier this year, hundreds of universities have declared a public mission that involves, simply put, living their values in their actions. As Stephens puts it, “At this moment in human history, education must engage with how to bridge the gap between knowledge and action. Divestment debates are forcing colleges and universities to reconsider how to contribute to a more resilient and sustainable future.”—Steve DubbShare7TweetShareEmail7 Shares
The French government has decided on former RTL programming director Yves Bigot as its preferred candidate to be head of international Francophone channel TV5 Monde, according to a report in financial daily Les Echos.Bigot, who has also served as programming director at Belgian broadcaster RTBF, which holds an 11.1% share in TV5, and was co-creator, with Antoine de Caunes, of the show Rapido, was earlier identified by La Correspondance de la presse as the preferred candidate amongst the channel’s international stakeholders.The post of TV5 chief became vacant after Marie-Christine Saragosse was named as the new chief of the Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF), the body that oversees France’s external media activities. Bigot’s appointment must be approved by TV5’s partners.
UK digital-terrestrial service Freeview is now used on the main TV set in more than 11 million homes, a record figure for the service, according to new company stats.Freeview said that homes with Freeview on a main or second TV is also now almost 20 million, or 76% of UK television homes.It added that HD uptake was also on the rise, with the total number of homes with Freeview HD on their main set reaching 3.53 million. Cumulative Freeview HD equipment sales standing at 7.6 million three years on from launch.The news comes as the BBC launched its BBC2 HD channel, replacing the older BBC HD channel feed on TV platforms in the UK. Freeview said, subject to regulatory approval, a further 10 HD channels could launch on Freeview by the end of the year.“The last 12 months have been a landmark year for Freeview. For the first time, the whole of the UK was able to receive Freeview and Freeview HD following the completion of digital switchover,” said Freeview MD Ilse Howling.
German hybrid network operator NetCologne now serves over a third of its customers via its own fibre network. The Cologne area operator had 139,000 fibre customers at the end of last year, up 16,000 year-on-year, out of a total fixed line customer base of 381,000.NetCologne grew its TV subscriber base last year by 12,000 to end the year with about 200,000 TV homes.Over 45,000 apartment buildings, homes and business premises are now reached by NetCologne’s own broadband network, up from 41,000 a year earlier.The operator has also signed a series of partnership agreement with municipalities, cities and utilities, recently beginning work in Wesseling, Frechen and Pulheim, with plans to expand in Windeck, Siegburg, Burscheid, Betzdorf and Niederkassel.NetCologne reported net income of €15.8 million on sales of €242 million. Operating profit for the full year grew by 7.6% to €56.9 million.
Contentwise is providing personalised recommendations for Sky Italia’s Sky Online OTT TV service, launched earlier this year.Sky Online provides subscribers with access to a content catalogue including movies, sports and TV series.Sky Italia has targeted its subscription-based linear TV and on-demand service at non-Sky customers, particularly younger people. The service does not require a set-top box and is available via the web, iOS and Android devices, and via Xbox and PlayStation game consoles.ContentWise CEO Paolo Bozzola told DTVE that recommendation is one of the pillars in the design of the service. The company’s recommendation engine is supplied to the pay TV operator via Ericsson, which acted as system integrator for the project.Sky is offering a selection of live channels via two packages – on covering entertainment and the other covering movies – and on-demand content, including limited-duration passes to sports events.Bozzola said that recommendation is integrated into all aspects of the UI.“We try to put personalisation everywhere,” he said. Personalisation extends to features including the services list of the ‘most popular’ titles, with this list varying according to different categories of subscriber, according to Bozzola.Content can be pushed to subscribers through editorial recommendations as well as presented purely on the basis of past behaviour. ContentWise’s technology also predicts what viewers are likely to want to watch at certains times based on context.Bozzola said that ContentWise used a mix of techniques, including both past behaviour and metadata, to serve content to customers. He said that based on experience with other service providers, personalization can provide uplift in terms of on-demand consumption of the order of 30%.Bozzola said that ContentWise, whose existing customer base includes Mediaset and Telecom Italia as well as Germany’s Maxdome and TIM Brasil, expects to announce two new North American customers and one UK customer soon.ContentWise is not providing the search engine for the Sky Italia service, which is provided to Sky by an existing supplier.
Bouygues TelecomCable and telecom investor Altice has hit out at Bouygues’ rejection of its €10 billion offer for Bouygues Telecom and has accused the French conglomerate of failing to engage with it before presenting the offer to its board. Rejecting suggestions that the bid was not serious and was entirely dependent on debt, Altice said that its offer was fully financed with commitments form BNP, JP Morgana and Morgan Stanley and that it would have bee financed through a mix of debt, shares and cash.Specifically, it said, its offer comprised about €3.5-€4 billion in debt, about €6-€6.5 billion in capital comprising €3.5-€4 billion in asset sales and a capital incrase reserved for Bouygues group, and €2.5 billion in cash.Altice said the offer represented 15 times Bouygues Telecom’s 2015 EBITDA and 25 times Bouygues’ own estimates for the unit’s 2017 EBITDA. It also represented a multiple of between two and three times the average value for similar assets in the European market, said Altice.Patrick Drahi’s group pointed out that it had engaged with Free to dispose of assets and assuage regulatory risks and had committed to maintain employment levels at Bouygues Telecom in line with what it had done with regards to the acquisition of SFR.Separately Altice has announced a cross-border merger with a newly formed Dutch entity that will see the current Altice entity taken over and disappear.Dexter Goei, CEO of the Altice Group said: “Pursuant to the Merger, the Group will benefit from a powerful equity acquisition currency without prejudicing voting control of the company’s founding shareholder group. This will further strengthen Altice’s position in the next phase of value-enhancing growth.”
European telecommunications and pay TV firm Altice, owner of service provider Numericable-SFR, has snatched exclusive English Premier League football rights in France from Canal+.The EPL yesterday released a statement confirming Altice had been awarded a three-season agreement that begins in the 2016/17 season and runs through to end of 2018/19 season.Altice gets exclusive rights in Monaco, plus non-exclusive rights in Andorra, Luxembourg and Switzerland.According to the Financial Times, Altice will pay around €100 million a season for the EPL rights.The deal is a huge blow to Vivendi-owned subscription TV service Canal+, whose business model is largely driven by premium content offers such as football and movies. Canal+ still has rights to French Ligue 1 football.“Altice has an established track record as a global telecommunications company and we look forward to working with them to deliver high-quality coverage of the Premier League to our many fans in France, and the other territories for which Altice has acquired our rights,” said EPL executive chairman Richard Scudamore.Netherlands-listed Altice has made a series of plays in the international content space in recent weeks. Subject to approval, it is buying US cable operator Cablevision in a US$17.7 billion (€16.7 billion) deal and has been given the green light to acquire French network RMC Découverte’s parent, NextRadio TV.The company has also launched an SVoD player Zive, which will be included in new cable packages and through a new set-top box; and owns France’s second-largest mobile operator and web provider Numericable-SFR.
Brightcove has launched OTT Flow, an over-the-top solution for media companies and content owners that it developed in partnership with Accedo.OTT Flow is designed for rapid deployment of direct-to-consumer, live and on-demand video services across platforms.Brightcove and Accedo said that the offering will “dramatically lower” the barrier of entry to starting a multi-platform OTT service, reducing launch time to “weeks rather than months”.The service offers a consistent user experience across multiple platforms, including desktop, iOS, Android and Google Cast. It supports advertising and subscription video-on-demand models with with ecommerce, CRM, and billing engine interfaces.The technology used is based on the Brightcove Video Cloud, integrated with UX and video app specialist Accedo’s App Grid and VIA GO services.“Brightcove OTT Flow dramatically changes the dynamics of launching new OTT services, making OTT accessible to nearly any content owner,” said Anil Jain, senior vice-president and general manager, media, Brightcove.“Combining Accedo’s multi-platform application expertise with our video platform and solutions capabilities, we are bringing to market a turnkey solution that eliminates technical barriers and simplifies the OTT cost structure for anyone seeking to take their content over-the-top.”
Worldwide shipments of virtual reality (VR) hardware will “skyrocket” in 2016, reaching 9.6 million units, according to research by IDC.Hardware revenues will hit roughly US$2.3 billion this year, driven by sales of key VR products from Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, while Augmented Reality (AR) hardware sales are tipped to ramp up over the next few years.Combined AR and VR hardware shipments will pass 110 million units in 2020, said the research.“In 2016 the first major VR Tethered head mounted displays (HMDs) from Oculus, HTC, and Sony should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units,” said Tom Mainelli, vice president for devices and displays at IDC.“When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target.”Lewis Ward, research director of gaming, said: “video games will clearly be the lead rationale for people to pick up an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR this year.“While there have been some launch window hardware shipment hiccups that must be addressed near-term, I’m confident that they will be ironed out before the holiday season. The addition of exciting new titles will lead to a new wave of VR HMD hardware interest among those buying for themselves or family members and friends.”
Russian pay TV provider Tricolor TV has added new comedy channel KVN TV to its programming line-up.Tricolor struck a deal with Gazprom Media-owned Red Media to include the channel in its offering. KVN TV is a joint venture between Red Media and production group AMIK.The channel will be included in Tricolor TV’s basic offering. The operator already offers 25 channels from Red Media in its packages, spanning sports, lifestyle and entertainment genres.The channel will air the KVN competition, a long-running comedy phenomenon in Russia that sees teams from across the country compete in developing sketches and comedy routines through a number of leagues in front of a live audience and an panel of judges.
The DTG has released D-Book 10, the latest specification for UK television that is designed to enable to the continuing transition towards HbbTV.D-Book 10 is an industry determined, next-generation specification, which supports future interactive services and marks an update to D-Book 9.Among the updates contained in D-Book 10 is the introduction of Single Frequency Network (SFN) support for the migration of COM 7&8 T2 multiplexes into the 700 MHz band.An ‘IP Software Upgrade Option’ has also been included in response to manufacturer requirements for software upgrades to today’s complex TVs, avoiding the need for SSU Broadcast updates.“The DTG team thanks all of our members whose hard work has contributed to D-Book 10,” said Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the DTG.“Open, democratic and supportive of public policy, the DTG’s D-Book is continually updated and peer-reviewed by industry experts, to help drive the UK TV market towards innovation and deliver real economic value in our industry.”“It stipulates the specifications for every new TV and digital terrestrial television (DTT) receiver in the UK and protects both viewer and industry. We’ve been driving industry collaboration for more than twenty years and I’d like to thank the industry for its continued support and commitment to ensuring innovation and development which delivers a great experience for consumers.”Klaus Illgner, chair of the HbbTV Association, said: “The HbbTV association would like to congratulate DTG on the publication of D-Book 10 and its continued support for HbbTV 2.0.1. We believe the planned development of a code of practice for the implementation of interactive services will greatly benefit the quality of HbbTV services in the UK and beyond.”The DTG is a UK collaboration centre for innovation in digital media technology. It was set up in 1995 to look after the digital TV marketplace and it underpins the free-to-air platforms Freeview, Freesat and YouView.