No related posts. WASHINGTON, D.C. – The marathon legal battle over same-sex marriage faces its moment of truth on Wednesday with the United States Supreme Court poised to issue rulings whose impact may be felt for years to come.Unless the justices fail to agree on two same-sex marriage cases before the court, and decide to revisit the matter when they reconvene later this year, the final opinions will be issued on Wednesday.With the court shrouded in secrecy, a frenzy is expected when the panel presided over by conservative Justice John Roberts divulges whether the definition of marriage can be extended to include same-sex couples.In a country where 12 U.S. states plus the capital allow gays and lesbians to marry, the top court is due to take a stance on two appeals and decide whether the principle of equality defended by the Constitution has been violated.In the first case, a gay widow from New York, Edith Windsor, backed by the Obama administration, is challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).That controversial 1996 law denies gay and lesbian couples the same federal rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples take for granted, from tax breaks and welfare benefits to access to a hospitalized spouse.The second case deals with the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that saw the nation’s most populous state ban same-sex marriage.At its hearing at the end of March, the top court seemed ready to repeal DOMA but reluctant to legalize gay marriage in California.The court could rule on California alone, on the states that have similar legislation on civil unions, or on those that still ban gay marriage.Analysts say the decisions could go either way.“This term, in particular, it’s very risky to bet on what the Supreme Court will do,” said lawyer Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center.As with most of the important cases, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who usually votes with the right, “could be the deciding factor,” she said.David Cruz, law professor at the University of Southern California, said it was very unlikely that the court would adopt a broad ruling that strikes down all gay marriage bans.“I think seeing all same-sex couples being able to get married in every state is probably not going to happen immediately … because of the tradition in the court: the Justices often move in steps, they rule incrementally,” he said.Thomas Keck, political science professor at Syracuse University, said that whatever the justices decide, “it is going to be high-profile and it is going to get lots of attention.”Fifty-three percent of U.S. citizens support gay marriage, according to a recent survey by the Gallup polling institute.A Pew Research Center survey found that 47 percent of nearly 500 gay marriage news stories studied between March 18 and May 12 – a period marked by Supreme Court deliberations – primarily focused on support for the measure. Facebook Comments
Grapes in Charts: Mexico helps make America grape … July 18 , 2019 The calm before the storm: Undersupplied U.S. tabl … You might also be interested in Table grape growers in the state of Maharashtra could soon be boosted by the formation of a federation which would improve marketing efforts, according to the Financial Express.The state’s Nashik is the leading production and export area for the fruit, having last season reached record exports of 143,000 metric tons (MT).But despite this success, the area’s grape farmers have long-remained unorganized, an issue that the Maharashtra Grape Growers Association (MGGA) has decided to tackle.To do this, the association plans to bring farmers together to form farmer producer companies. These groups could then join forces under a common federation for grapes.This could have positive implications for the 50,000 farmers associated with grape farming in the district, who grow across 150,000 hectares of farmland. One of the goals the federation would have would be to improve marketing, which is currently a big challenge for most farmers, says the publication.Kailas Bhosale, the secretary of the association, was quoted as saying: “There are several factors involved right from getting the right prices for grapes, lack of insurance, traders not honoring their financial commitments and the absence of a platform for addressing farmer grievances.” Study finds molecules in oranges, grapes, carrots … Yet he believes farmer producer companies, able to market produce together through a common platform, would be more effective.This strategy would help eliminate the common risks posed by farmers needing to rely on agents or traders.“At present, most farmers end up contracting their produce to commission agents or traders, and there have been several cases of traders duping farmers of their money,” Bhosale was quoted as saying.Moreover, because of the unorganized nature of the market, farmers end up taking whatever prices they get, he says. For example, he notes that in the season that just concluded, farmers received barely Rs 18-36 per kg (US$0.26 – US$0.52) for the fruit.The situation was similar in the export campaign as well because traders ended up dictating their price, he adds.But the federation could invite traders to register so that local farmers only sell their produce to registered traders. This approach would follow the example of APEDA, in which grape growers have to register themselves with GrapeNet.Read the full story here
The Michigan House of Representatives today approved state Rep. Pete Lucido’s bill to amend the Revised School Code to require students to pass a civics test similar to the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.“Let’s face it, immigrants coming into this country have worked tirelessly to get here and will do whatever it takes to fully understand and comprehend American government and our nation’s history,” said Rep. Lucido.“I whole-heartedly believe children living in America right now ought to be required to know this same pertinent information.“This bipartisan bill proves that we, as a representative body, feel it is important for a graduating high school student to have more knowledge about American Civics then about a fast food dollar menu.”House Bill 4163 serves as a condition of the student earning credit in high school civics, however there is no requirements in the bill for the results of the test to affect the student’s GPA.“Students are simply not learning the difference between federal, state and local government entities, nor do they have clear understanding about the three branches of government and their distinct and exclusive powers,” Rep. Lucido said.“These are the students who will grow up to take our places in many disciplines, and all walks of life, including government. We should expect that they will know that ours is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We should demand more from the next generation and require that there be more than just a basic understanding of civics but rather a thorough comprehension and fond appreciation for American history.”HB 4136 now moves to the Senate for consideration.###### Tags: #SB, American government, civics, civics requirement, immigrants HB 4163, Lucido, students 31May Rep. Lucido’s civics test bill clears House Categories: Featured news,Lucido News,News
21Dec Rep. Lucido supports bills to expand skilled trade opportunities State Rep. Peter Lucido, of Shelby Township, recently voted for a bipartisan legislative package to enhance trade and career skills education in Michigan’s public schools.“When I hear our state has over 100,000 open jobs, but not enough qualified professionals applying, then I wonder what can we do? These bills are exactly what we must do,” Lucido said. “Our state’s students will benefit from having more emphasis on career skills, more experienced instructors in the classroom and more information on post-high school programs.”The five bills are inspired by the Career Pathways Alliance, a coalition of state employment and education leaders tasked with improving Michigan’s professional landscape for job growth.The legislation:Creates 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;Provides continuing education and professional development credit for teachers who spend time engaging with local employers and professional trade centers;Allows proprietary schools, community colleges and skilled trade employers access – with parental consent – to high school pupil directory information for the purposes of recruitment and career opportunities; andPermits schools to more readily hire professional trade instructors to teach classes that align with their expertise.“We keep calling Michigan the ‘comeback state’ and this legislation will help continue that designation,” Lucido said. “The demand in skilled trades, technology and this medical professions is going to continue to grow. We have to work with our educators and business owners to prepare the next generation.”##### Categories: Lucido News,News
Categories: Daire Rendon News,News 29Nov Committee approves Rep. Rendon’s plan to help people who need elderly care The House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee today approved a plan introduced by state Rep. Daire Rendon to help give senior citizens high quality care within their communities.Rep. Rendon’s bill allows the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) to operate per zip code to eliminate duplication.“The PACE program allows an individual to age at home, while getting the services they need,” said Rendon, of Lake City. “This plan ensures that senior citizens who qualify for the program are getting the highest quality of care they deserve.”A PACE organization could be a not-for-profit, for-profit, or public entity participating both in Medicare and Medicaid.The program offers multiple services as well as Medicare and Medicaid financing for elderly individuals who meet the requirements.House Bill 6551 advances to the full House for consideration.###
Categories: Kahle News,News 24May Rep. Kahle: House advances historic plan to guarantee car insurance savings for Michigan drivers State Rep. Bronna Kahle today voted to advance a bipartisan plan that delivers significant savings for Michigan drivers on their car insurance bills.Kahle and the House approved a plan guaranteeing lower rates by giving drivers more choice on personal injury protection coverage, stopping price gouging on medical services for car accident victims, and combating fraudulent claims. All Michigan drivers will save money on the PIP portion of their policies, and some could save hundreds of dollars a year, depending on which coverage options they choose.The bipartisan solution – coming after weeks of negotiations – is designed to end Michigan’s long tenure as the state with the most expensive car insurance rates in the nation. The plan should soon be headed to the governor for her expected signature.“I’ve heard your concerns about the high cost of car insurance – and I am thrilled to say we are making great progress to address those concerns,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “This plan will make driving far more affordable for our friends, families and neighbors in Lenawee County and across the state. But we can’t relax after this vote. We need the governor to finish the job and put this solution into state law – finally delivering the rate relief drivers deserve.”Michigan’s costs are high largely because it’s the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The bipartisan reform plan allows those currently using the coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it – while providing more affordable options.The legislation is Senate Bill 1.#####
Share11TweetShareEmail11 Shares July 9, 2015; WAMC Public RadioA report by economics professor Stephen Sheppard of Williams College finds nonprofits in Berkshire County account for almost half of that region’s economic activity. Specifically, nearly 373 nonprofits now account for $2.4 billion of the total $5.6 billion in economic activity in Berkshire County. And while the whole economy is operating at 14 percent below its peak output in 2005, nonprofits have reportedly recovered to pre-Recession levels.Sheppard said that though all subsectors of nonprofits in that county except arts and culture were running operating deficits in 2010, most have been able to recover. “Fortunately they have been able to respond,” he said. “The economy has improved somewhat. They’re now operating, in the most recent data available, at ratios between 0.87 and 0.95. So that suggests that the local nonprofit sector remains reasonably healthy.”“Eds and meds” led the way, with health nonprofits contributing $870 million in 2012, followed by education and human services with a bit over $354 million. But the arts sector stands out in this county, home of Tanglewood. There are 74 arts organizations in the county. “The only metropolitan area in the United States that has higher levels of arts and cultural expenditures per capita than Berkshire County is metro Washington, D.C.,” said Sheppard.Berkshire County’s nonprofit assets per capita in general stand out from the ten other communities used as comparisons. Berkshire County’s nonprofit assets per capita were $37,353 in 2012, while St. George, Utah had the low of $880. Burlington, Vermont and Providence were closest on this measure at $22,899 and $21,030, respectively. However, it is worth noting that Burlington had by far the biggest growth.—Ruth McCambridgeShare11TweetShareEmail11 Shares
Share11TweetShareEmail11 SharesJanuary 4, 2016; Seattle TimesLast September, the Washington State Supreme Court held that “charter schools did not meet the definition of a common or public school and were not eligible for a share of state education funding.” While the ruling directly affected only the 1,200 students who were beginning their school year, the court highlighted the need to clearly define what makes a charter school a public school.For many charter advocates, being free from the rules and regulations that apply to traditional public schools is an essential ingredient for success. This high level of autonomy allows charters great latitude to define their curriculum, their educational philosophy, and to operate outside of existing union contracts with their own governance structures. And therein lies the rub. Traditional public schools operate in a publicly accountable framework; their governing bodies are directly elected or appointed by an elected mayor or governor and their operations are held to the same level of oversight as are other public bodies in their jurisdictions. The Washington Supreme Court’s ruling asked us to think of another way to ensure public accountability for our schools.As a new legislative year begins, two Washington lawmakers have proposed legislation that they believe will meet this challenge. According to the Seattle Times, their proposal is modeled on frameworks being used in Boston and Los Angeles, where charters fall under the direct auspices of the local school board:Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, are co-sponsors of the bill, which they think would pass constitutional muster because the charters would be directly accountable to an elected school board.The proposed legislation tries to find the right balance point that can unlock innovation and still remain accountable.Billig said that under his proposed bill, school districts would have much tighter control over the charter schools, with more freedom to revoke contracts or choose not to renew them. The charters still would differ from other public schools, with the power to decide the length of the school day and year, staffing levels, and how to train, hire and fire staff. They also would have their own privately appointed boards, but the elected school board would have to approve the details, which doesn’t occur now.This structure brings traditional public schools and charter schools closer to alignment, but still leaves some key questions unresolved. Are educational innovation and improvement only possible outside the current structure of public education? Is the level of public engagement possible within the framework of traditional public education systems antithetical educational excellence? Are we willing to trade off the messiness of democratic governance for the hope of improved schools?—Martin LevineShare11TweetShareEmail11 Shares
Share10TweetShare11Email21 SharesAugust 9, 2016; Education Week BlogsNewton’s Third Law, which says that for every action there is an opposite reaction, sometimes applies when we are advocating for equality. One voice challenging the role of choice and charter schools in public education is matched by another voice speaking in support of having options. So when the delegates to the recent NAACP Convention called for a moratorium on new charters, it was not surprising to see an announcement from Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) calling on the NAACP’s board of directors to quash that action. BAEO has been an advocate for the core principles of the educational reform movement—choice, charters and the common core curriculum—since its formation in 2000. They have seen school choice as empowering poor and minority communities and providing a road to future success. Jacqueline Cooper, the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, laid out BAEO’s reasoning in a statement given to Education Week.The fact that the NAACP wants a national moratorium on charter schools, many of which offer a high-quality education to low-income and working-class Black children, is inexplicable. The resolution is ill-conceived and based on lies and distortions about the work of charter schools.In posing the choice as binary, Ms. Cooper is making the problem too simple. Shavar Jeffries, the president of Democrats for Education Reform, another pro-reform advocacy group, recognized in a statement that the challenge is more complicated than that: “We should be fixing what’s broken and expanding what works, not pre-empting the choices of parents of color about the best schools appropriate for meeting the particular needs of their children.” And to do that, we need to do the work of understanding what might not be working to maximize all the educational benefits available to impoverished children and families of color.Charter schools are part of the effort to shift responsibility for ensuring all children receive an equally excellent education from their respective communities. As public schools often managed by private organizations, however, some charter school boards are not connected to the political and social matrices of their students’ neighborhoods or school districts. Parents have the power of choice but sometimes lose their power as voting citizens. Giving parents the power of choice in exchange for political power makes sense only if the choices are real. In an age of standardized testing to determine educational effectiveness, we do not yet know if the results charter schools produce are predictive of future academic or vocational success. And we do know that many charter schools selectively choose students in order to ensure positive test results. Many parents find it difficult to manage these systems of choice, which require time-consuming study and computer access, which can be hard to come by for low-income working parents.Jonathan Stith, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Educational Justice and co-author of the Movement for Black Lives’ (MB4L) education proposals, described the negative community impact of charters and school choice in an interview with the American Prospect’s Rachel Cohen.We feel that is a false choice; charter schools are used to pull funding from other schools, they destabilize traditional public schools, and ultimately lead to their closures. […] For us, the ideal that we’re seeking is community control and an end to privatization.As the educational market has developed, we have other issues to ponder. Is the fact that charter schools are on average less racially and economically diverse than the typical public school good or bad, or just symptomatic of the underlying economic and residential segregation of our nation? Does it matter that many urban charter schools have adopted “no-excuses” disciplinary rules that lead to high rates of in-school and out-of-school suspensions?In light of these concerns, the NAACP’s call for a moratorium seems on target. Doing so might give us time to reflect on the consequences of these policies and decide if charter schools actually deliver promised benefits or benefit only the select few.—Martin LevineShare10TweetShare11Email21 Shares
Share32Tweet1Share22Email55 SharesPixabay. Public domain.May 31, 2017; Washington CityPaperA lack of affordable housing is a pervasive problem in urban areas. Last month, NPQ examined efforts to find the right policies that would effectively lead to developers building new affordable housing stock in our cities. Expanding the base is one part of the answer, but it must be matched with making sure that existing affordable housing is not lost. Recent events in Washington, D.C. illustrate the struggle to protect low-income tenants from losing their housing to the forces of gentrification.Property owners can see low-income tenants as a barrier to the greater profitability that can come from gentrifying their property. There are legal barriers to just evicting current tenants, but creating vacancies by making a property unlivable or by refusing to accept rental vouchers from tenants needing government help can accomplish that goal. American University professor Derek S. Hyra, who spent six years researching the life cycle of Washington, D.C.’s affordable housing complexes for his book, Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City, described this process earlier this year in an interview with Washington CityPaper: “The price for the asset is higher when there are fewer tenants in there…When there becomes more of a population demand for the area, the landlords and the owners are going to look to get out the low-income population that are living in these buildings.”Recent events in D.C. illustrate how these strategies are employed against the housing interests of low-income tenants and the efforts of nonprofit organizations and local government to restrict profit-seeking by private owners.For those moving from shelters and other forms of temporary housing into more permanent accommodations, a variety of government-funded programs are available to help with making the difficult transition. In the nation’s capital, a city with rising rent rates, creeping gentrification, and a shortage of affordable housing, organizations like the Equal Rights Center have been aggressively working to ensure that low-income tenants’ rights are respected by property owners. According to the Washington CityPaper, the ERC has recently went to court demanding that a large property management firm accept housing vouchers as they are legally required to do. Their suit claims:Defendants’ employees and/or agents told an ERC tester and a Housing Counseling Services case manager who called the property that they do not accept any temporary subsidies, including [Supportive Services for Veteran Families Rapid Rehousing Assistance]. [This] policy or practice…therefore constitutes unlawful source of income discrimination….In a statement issued by ERC explaining its legal strategy, the organization’s executive director, Melvina Ford, wrote, “By filing this action, we hope to put more housing providers on notice that this type of discrimination is illegal and will not be tolerated…many voucher holders are at significant risk of becoming homeless.”Earlier this year, the Equal Rights Center and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs sued another landlord for similar practices. WLC Executive Director Jonathan Smith issued a statement when that suit was filed, stating, “Source of income discrimination in the District is a pernicious and persistent problem that creates unnecessary and unlawful barriers to meaningful housing choice for Voucher holders and which perpetuates racial and economic segregation. For too long, landlords have refused to rent to Voucher holders, which contravenes the Voucher Program’s goals and makes our communities less integrated and less equitable.”Keeping vacant units vacant by rejecting possible tenants because of how they will pay their rent may be one strategy for emptying a property. Another is to allow buildings to fall into such disrepair that tenants “voluntarily” choose to leave their homes. The same property owner just sued by ERC for not accepting vouchers is also in battle with District officials over numerous building code violations.In one housing complex, city inspectors are currently contending with the owner over more numerous building code violations. According to a Washington CityPaper story, “In mid-March, D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs inspected almost 60 units at the property, following an order by Mayor Muriel Bowser to inspect all Sanford properties, and found more than 160 violations of the District’s housing code at Belmont Crossing alone. This amounted to thousands of dollars in possible civil fines. Sanford Capital has appealed all 1,083 housing code violations DCRA found at its properties this year—the equivalent of roughly $540,000 in potential fines.” Issues ran from minor issues with door locks to serious problems like raw sewage and gas leaks.Efforts to protect existing affordable housing stock are important. ERC is motivated by a vision that recognizes how important stable housing is.Where you live impacts you and your family’s access to good jobs, high quality education, reliable transportation, healthy food, government services, healthcare and even personal safety. Further, you should be able to seek refuge in your home free from harassment. Housing discrimination interferes with your ability to find a home that meets your needs in a neighborhood that offers opportunity to you and your family. It also reinforces longstanding patterns of segregation that are at the core of American inequality.—Martin LevineShare32Tweet1Share22Email55 Shares
Share64Tweet11ShareEmail75 Shares“Bridge Over ‘Reversing Falls’ at Low Tide—Saint John, New Brunswick, September 2017,” Ron CogswellJanuary 11, 2019; TruthoutIn the wake of the Great Recession, observes Laura Flanders (of The Laura Flanders Show), co-ops are now expanding, but can they actually begin to reverse the nation’s rising inequality? The nation’s growing wealth inequality has many causes, but some of the wealth-shifting mechanisms can be easily identified simply by examining what have become business standard operating procedures. Amazon, which was briefly valued at over a trillion dollars, is a case in point. First, and most directly, Amazon concentrates profits at the top with a single chief executive, Jeff Bezos, who’s now worth over $100 billion. A second route is by undermining existing local businesses and economies.To address how to change these kind of numbers, Flanders interviews Nathan Schneider, a media studies professor at the University of Colorado. Schneider, in addition to his academic position, is a leader in the platform cooperative movement. Platform co-ops are member-owned businesses for whom the app or platform is owned in common. Platform co-ops are a potential tool for fostering more democratic control over tech assets. For example, a driver-owned ride-hailing service that competes with Uber is one kind of platform co-op. Another is Stocksky, a photographer-owned website that, notes MJ Kaplan in NPQ, brings together “1,000 contributing artists who earned $4.9 million in royalties based on revenues of $10.7 million in 2016.”Beyond platform co-ops, interest has spiked in worker-owned enterprises broadly speaking, notes Flanders, with “cities from New York to Madison, Oakland and Jackson…investing in worker-owned businesses and business incubators.” Many of these efforts are highly inspiring. Here at NPQ, we have covered many of these developments, both in print and in webinars.In interviewing Schneider, though, Flanders poses a big question: “Can collectively-owned co-ops take on the robber barons?” she asks. It is also a question that we have posed at NPQ. Schneider, who also recently authored the book Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition that Is Shaping the Next Economy, makes a few observations.First, Schneider suggests learning from history—and especially the history of cooperative development that came out of the Great Depression: “It’s hard to believe what happened in the 1930s after the Rural Electrification Act, [which] just enables electric utility cooperatives to access loans at the cost that banks are getting their money. Suddenly, within a decade or so, you had nearly all of rural America electrified. That is an astonishing accomplishment, demonstrating that models are financeable, scalable, and powerful if we allow ourselves to recognize that.” For example, one area where NPQ suggested building on precisely this model, was to leverage the existing rural electric co-op network to expand broadband access.Schneider also suggests taking a pragmatic approach to ownership. As Schneider puts it,I think we need to become artists of ownership. Recognize that ownership is a fluid medium. It is something that is crafted through law and through contract and through practice. And I think there’s been a tendency, in my generation…to want to relinquish it and enter a sharing economy where everything is shared, but really it turns out to be a situation where everything is rented and those bosses are not giving up their ownership.So my view is kind of like, until they give up ownership, nobody else should. We need to learn how to practice it more creatively and make sure that whatever economy we’re moving into, we’re coming into it from a place of more power and control over our lives. We’re in a moment where inequality is being driven by inequalities of ownership. We have to start there before we can talk about what comes next.Flanders also asks Schneider: if the economy were to falter again as it did during the Great Recession, how should the civil sector respond? Schneider gives a few basic suggestions, including making sure credit unions are “powerful enough to be a meaningful alternative to banks,” as well as broader regulation of both business and the use of internet data.Most of all, however, Schneider emphasizes the importance of imagination. “We were in a moment of such a lack of imagination ten years ago and in the years following,” he explains. For him, the impact of social movements like Occupy has been to reclaim and recognize that “we haven’t even asked ourselves what we really want.”Schneider adds, however, that we cannot just wait for the economy to falter, but instead need to build the infrastructure now. “All of these things need to be,” Schneider explains, “not only part of our imagination, but part of our process of building power behind it.”—Steve DubbShare64Tweet11ShareEmail75 Shares
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British public broadcaster, has struck a raft of digital programming deals in Spain. The distributor has closed deals with Spanish digital platforms Telefónica, Youzee and Cameo.Telefónica is launching its new video-on-demand service with over 260 hours of BBC Worldwide content including Doctor Who, Sherlock, Misfits, Charlie & Lola, Louis Theroux: Hunting and Amazon with Bruce Parry. New video-on-demand platform Youzee is launching with 65 hours of BBC Worldwide series across comedy and drama including Extras, Luther and Pride & Prejudice, while Cameo has acquired 170 hours for their video-on-demand platform Filmin, including Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show, The Thick of It, The Shadow Line, Life on Mars and Wallander.Gary Woolf, vice-president, business development and digital, sales and distribution said: “Digital sales are a key focus for our business and these Spanish deals are further evidence of the growth we continue to see throughout EMEA and globally.”
Portuguese cable operator Zon Multimédia has added two new HD channels to its line-up, taking the total number of HD channels available to its subscribers to 38.NBA TV HD airs coverage of basketball tournaments, including NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League.The operator is also adding action channel Fuel TV to its line-up. The Fox-owned channel offers programming based on extreme sports including skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, BMX and motocross.
Verimatrix hosted the Multi-Network Solutions panel at NABLack of awareness of TV Everywhere services and reluctance to pay for content remain significant hurdles for the successful monetisation of such services, NAB Show attendees heard yesterday.At a session on Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World hosted by content security provider Verimatrix, attendees were told that 86% of pay TV customers in North America have access to TV Everywhere services but only 25% of US pay TV subs are aware of such services, according to figures provided by Parks Associates.However, 43% of consumers watched live and on-demand content on mobile phones in 2012, while by 2015, 95% of pay TV subs will have access to multiscreen services, according to Parks Associates. Tablets are meanwhile expected to become the major device for OTT video consumption, having overtaken games consoles and Blu-ray players in 2011, the research firm said.Steve Oetegenn, cheif sales and marketing officer at Verimatrix, told the session that content owners wanted to make money from content and that meant ensuring that anyone who is viewing is actually paying. Oetegenn cited figures provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers that found that 81% of people between 18-26 said they were likely to pirate video content in the next six months. Forty per cent said they would use mobile access to try to pirate content.Speaking at the same session, Michael Kazmier, chief technology officer, Vubiquity said that mobile video had been slower to take off in the US than in other markets because of the desire to protect the existing revenue model of pay TV distributors. Mobile video typically was therefore coming from existing pay TV operators launching TV Everywhere services. “It’s driven more by the operators and their support of the existing ecosystem. Upsetting that applecart is a risky proposition,” he said.Julien Signes, CEO of compression specialist Envivio, also speaking in the session, said that the resolution of video content available for different screens was improving but bandwidth remained a bottleneck. He said that ‘TV without boundaries’ was costly and not profitable for operators today, content rights were not completely clear and end users did not want to pay a large premium for the service. The premium that operators could charge for multiscreen is relatively small, so monetisation trhough advertising will be key, he said. “One of the key parts of personalisation is getting better advertising that you can monetise,” said Signes. It is now possible to port internet advertising techniques to the video world and learn from the experience of the internet, he added.
Internet video platform provider Blinkx has struck a deal with social video platform provider Ustream to enable Ustream events to be shown live on the Blinkx.com portal. The first Ustream event to be shown on Blinkx.com will be this week’s 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Ustream will place advertising against the stream and participate in a revenue share with Blinkx.“We’re very pleased to partner with Ustream to broadcast live events, and thrilled to launch this opportunity by bringing a legendary festival like Bonnaroo to blinkx.com,” said S Brian Mukherjee, CEO of Blinkx. “Ustream’s live Bonnaroo coverage will allow music-loving blinkx users around the world to enjoy the same fantastic lineup on their laptops as enjoyed by fans camped out on location in Tennessee.”San Francisco-based Ustream, which was originally founded to connect military service members with their families, provides a cloud-based streaming network and has facilities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Budapest, Tokyo, and Seoul.
Polish pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat will progressively test the market by adding more services to its ipla OTT offering, while trying to avoid cannibalising its main pay TV services, according to Albert Szybinski, deputy director of marketing for online services, Cyfrowy Polsat. “We are trying to figure out how to push pay content but it’s a problem. We have a piracy problem but we are trying to offer as many choices as possible,” said Szybinski, speaking at Informa’s Digital TV CEE conference in Krakow this morning.To test the market for pay content, Cyfrowy Polsat is trying to push live sports and other services on ipla, its OTT service. Overall, ipla is offering a mix of free content, pay live content and pay VOD including movies from major studios.Cyfrowy Polsat recently launched a package of 15 pay channels on ipla for PLN10 (€3), including Kino Polska, Discovery and a range of Filmbox movie channels.Szybinski said the question of how to ensure that the launch of pay channels on ipla did not cannibalise the Cyfrowy Polsat base is still an open one and subject to discussion. “We are testing and feeling our way,” he said, adding that it was important to make sure that the group stayed ahead of viewing and usage trends while avoiding damaging its existing business.At the moment ipla has far fewer channels available than the main Cyfrowy Polsat service. However, this could change as viewers migrates to online services, he said.There are currently four pay packages, iplaEXTRA for PLN4.90 allows viewers to watch content without advertising that can normally bee seen free with ads. iplaFILM, for PLN19.90, is a film SVOD service. ipla also offers sports and international services. The iplaWORLD service, aimed at Poles living abroad, is available for PLN19.90.Szybinski said that, while piracy presented a challenge to those trying to sell pay online movie services in particular, the ability of ipla to enable customers to move between devices offered a route to differentiate the product. Another strategy is to make shows available before they are air on linear TV.Szybinsky said over 50% of ipla content is now watched on devices other than PCs. Often people switched devices mid-programme, so it is important for service providers to enable viewers to do this smoothly and easily, he said. Viewing video on tablets and computers matches primtetime viewing while mobile device usage peaks later, with mobiles often being watched by people in bed late in the evening.Tablets and Smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular, said Szybinski. ipla is also available to Cyfrowy Polsat’s three and a half million pay TV subscribers. “We are just starting this project but we see a strong push from the users to watch OTT content on their set-tops,” he said.
Travel Channel president Laureen Ong will step down as president of the US network at the end of October, parent firm Scripps Networks Interactive has announced. Ong joined the firm as Travel Channel president in April 2010, having previously worked as chief operating officer of Hong Kong-based Star Group Limited.Burton Jablin, president of Scripps Networks’ operating division will oversee the network on an interim basis while the company searches for a full-time replacement for Ong.“I feel my mission at Travel Channel is complete. I came here to help transition Travel Channel into the Scripps family of lifestyle brands, put together a great leadership and creative team, and position the network for unprecedented growth. With those objectives accomplished, I’m looking forward to Travel Channel’s continuing evolution into a uniquely defined and competitively powerful lifestyle television brand,” said Ong.Outside the US, Travel Channel now also broadcasts to 130 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific 24 hours a day in 21 languages.
UK youth-skewing network E4 is launching a new on-air look with new idents and branding.The refresh, which launches tonight, is designed to reaffirm the channel’s “British roots with a humour and irreverence that viewers have come to love,” said E4’s creative director, Neil Gorringe.The channel said that new on-air packaging takes inspiration from plastic peg display boards, with the channel’s feature purple remaining a distinct marker of the brand.The new branding is E4’s first since 2007 and launches to coincide with the return of US comedy The Big Bang Theory and the debut of brand new comedy drama called Drifters.
Mediaset-owned digital-terrestrial tower business EI Towers is making a €1.22 billion bid to take control of the rival transmission business owned by public broadcaster Rai. EI Towers, in which private equity company BlackRock holds a minority stake, is offering €4.50 a share for RaiWay, including €3.13 in cash and 0.03 new EI Towers shares for each RaiWay share. The price represents a premium of 22% on the price of RaiWay shares as of February 23. RaiWay floated its stock in November last year.EI Towers said the acquisition would create a single major player in the market, removing inefficiencies associated with the duplication of infrastructure. The company said it would continue to ensure non-discriminatory access to all TV players.EI Towers’ bid for RaiWay comes shortly after Fininvest, the investment vehicle of the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, reduced its holding in Mediaset to about 30% by selling a significant tranche of shares.“The Board of Directors of Mediaset has reviewed and approved the terms and conditions of the transaction announced today by EI Towers to create an aggregated national telecast infrastructure,” Mediaset said in a statement.“Mediaset therefore will vote in favour of the proposed capital increase at the extraordinary meeting of EI Towers scheduled for 27 March 2015.”
Google is reportedly building a live-streaming app called YouTube Connect to take on rivals like Twitter’s Periscope service and Facebook Live.According to a VentureBeat report, YouTube Connect will be available on iOS and Android devices, allowing users to stream video direct from their smartphone or tablet.Videos will be available to watch in the app or via the YouTube site, with users able to save broadcasts once they are over, according to the report. The app will also reportedly include chat and tagging features, while a news feed will surface the latest videos.The news comes in the same month that live streaming video app Meerkat is working on a new product, citing competition from Periscope and Facebook and admitting that mobile broadcast video “hasn’t quite exploded as quickly as we’d hoped.”YouTube first started opening up live streaming options to any channel that has more than 1,000 subscribers back in 2013, but has not previously launched a dedicated live-streaming mobile app.Last year, YouTube added 60fps live streaming, a few months after rolling out support for higher frame rate video playback on its site.Separately, a GlobalWebIndex report claimed this week that 41% of Periscope’s users are aged 16-24 and 75% of them are under 35.