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Personal Travel Managers Cruising into 2019

first_imgPTMs were treated to a three-course onboard lunch and ship inspection as part of their training dayPersonal Travel Managers Cruising into 2019When the Majestic Princess, the newest vessel of the Princess fleet, sailed into Sydney Harbour in early December, she provided a stunning venue for the third of a series of Cruise Masterclass days attended by personal travel managers (PTMs) in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.A total of 111 PTMs attended the training days, which were organised by TravelManagers’ National Partnership Office (NPO) and scheduled to coincide with the company’s final round of state meetings for the year – a convenient concurrence that was welcomed by the PTMs during a busy time of year.“As a regional personal travel manager, travelling to Sydney to attend product training sessions is not always possible,” explains Debra Deane, who is representative for Port Macquarie, NSW. “TravelManagers are amazing at bringing product training to PTMs wherever are based, but in this instance, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend a cruise master class on board the stunning Majestic Princess and expand my cruise knowledge in the process.”Princess Cruises’ Grand-Class ship, the Golden Princess, provided the venue for TravelManagers’ Melbourne cruise master classPrincess Cruises also provided the venue for the Melbourne cruise master-class, which was held aboard the Golden Princess, while PTMs in Brisbane spent the day on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) Norwegian Jewel. Attendees at all three master classes received updates on the ten different cruise lines and 100 cruise ships fall under the World’s Leading Cruise Lines (WLCL) consortium, of which Princess Cruises and NCL are both members.PTM Sue Wright travelled to Brisbane from Shoal Point, QLD, to attend both the cruise master class and the state meeting.“The master class provided a wonderful opportunity to see the Norwegian Jewel first-hand and having just undergone a multi-million-dollar refurbishment she is looking very impressive!” says Wright, who describes herself as a big fan of cruise holidays. “Spending time on board the ship has reminded me what a terrific holiday experience cruising can be and I am so looking forward to sharing the latest developments in cruising with my clients.”TravelManagers’ Executive General Manager, Michael Gazal, says many PTMs travelled considerable distances to attend the cruise master classes, and were appreciative of the opportunity to combine two very enjoyable and rewarding days.“We are very fortunate to have wonderful support from partner suppliers such as Princess and NCL, who provided us with the best possible venues in which to hold our cruise master classes,” Gazal explains. “With the opportunity to experience these ships first-hand and enjoy a three-course lunch while on board, it’s no wonder that PTMs came from as far away as Wagga Wagga and Parkes to participate.”For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599. About TravelManagersTravelManagers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.8 billion for 2018. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 550 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are secure and only used for client purchases. Source = TravelManagerslast_img read more

Top Stories

first_img Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Rams won 31-9. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) “It’s been really difficult and really frustrating,” Fitzgerald said of the home record. “This is a place that we’ve played well in historically and to not play well here all season, it’s disturbing.”And with the questions looming whether or not Fitz has played in his last game at State Farm Stadium, the fans let the wideout hear it, ringing out “Larry” chants throughout the game.“I play a team sport,” Fitzgerald said when asked if he heard the crowd. “I’m not Michael Phelps or Tiger Woods or those guys who do individual things. Everything I do in my life is in context of a team setting, so it’s a little uncomfortable being singled out.“There are 11 other guys with me and I can’t do my job without every single guy doing it. It’s cool but you never get used to it.” – / 29 Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact The wide receiver got off to a fast start doing what he does best in a 31-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, catching five of his six targets for 41 yards.He also added a touchdown, but not the way you would normally think.Looking at 1st-and-10 at the Rams’ 32-yard line, rookie quarterback Josh Rosen dropped back to pass, finding Fitzgerald in the backfield. But instead of turning upfield, Fitzgerald let it fly, connecting with a wide open running back David Johnson for Arizona’s first — and only — touchdown of the game.Related LinksCardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald throws first career touchdown passRapid Reactions: Arizona Cardinals blown out by Rams in home finaleAfter loss to Rams, Cardinals’ Wilks remains focused on job at hand“That’s like a layup in basketball, you can’t miss it,” Fitzgerald said of his touchdown. “I just wanted to put a little air on it. It came out a little wobbly. Looked like Kurt Warner’s ball right there.“As Kurt Warner’s was, it was effective.”But just as it seemed Fitzgerald might be turning in one of his trademark big games, he, and the Cardinals offense, fell silent in the second half, while the Rams continued to move the ball. He made just one more catch for 12 yards.With the loss, Arizona falls to 1-7 at home this season. At home this season, Fitzgerald recorded 31 receptions for 333 yards and four touchdowns.center_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 3 Comments   Share   GLENDALE, Ariz. — First career touchdown pass.Potentially his last home game as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.While the moments of Sunday’s game will be remembered from those on the sidelines and in the stands, don’t bet on Larry Fitzgerald reliving the feeling.“It’s hard to soak in something like this,” Fitzgerald said when asked about if he was taking in what might be his home finale. “Not a good day across the board.”last_img read more

Kesto McCready host town hall on human trafficking in Michigan

first_img Categories: Kesto News,McCready News,News 17Oct Kesto, McCready host town hall on human trafficking in Michigan Lawmakers work to protect families from exploitationState Reps. Klint Kesto and Mike McCready will host a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19 focusing on how to prevent human trafficking in Michigan.Both Kesto, R-Commerce Township, and McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, will meet with residents from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the West Bloomfield Public Library, 4600 Walnut Lake Road, to address the issue of human trafficking.“Human trafficking is one of the most costly criminal activities in the world. Unfortunately, as a border state, Michigan is a prime target for trapping people in forced labor and sexual exploitation in the United States,” said Kesto.  “It is our duty as Michigan lawmakers to meet with members of our communities and discuss the issues and concerns surrounding this subject so we can protect families.”McCready said human trafficking is widespread throughout Michigan, and the Legislature is working hard to crack down on what is often referred to as modern-day slavery.“Whether it is in small towns, suburbs or big cities, there is rarely a spot in Michigan that has not been touched by human trafficking,” McCready said. “The Legislature is taking active steps to identify and eliminate this heinous crime.”Joining Kesto and McCready will be guest speaker Kathy Maitland of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is made up of more than 90 agencies in Michigan working toward the prevention and punishment of human trafficking.No advance registration is needed. For more information, contact Kesto at 517-373-1799 or via email at KlintKesto@house.mi.gov.#####last_img read more

Rep Glenn welcomes Dow placekicker to governors speech in Capitol

first_img Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, on Tuesday evening welcomed H.H. Dow High School senior Ashton Brooks and her mother, April, both of Midland, as his guests to the Michigan House of Representatives to hear Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2017 State of the State address.Ashton was the Dow varsity football team’s league-leading placekicker this past season and the target of a racially derogatory Facebook post in October that drew international attention and condemnation in mainstream and social media.“It was my pleasure and privilege to have Ashton and her mother as my guests for the governor’s State of the State address,” Rep. Glenn said. “As a football fan, I was impressed and proud of Ashton’s athletic ability and performance, but as her state representative and a father, even more so by the maturity, grace and discipline with which she responded to suddenly being thrust at a young age into a national spotlight. Her example is worthy of recognition, and I hope her being here is an encouragement that sends a strong message that the Midland community and the entire state of Michigan value, respect, and support her and all our young people ‘not by the color of their skin,’ as Dr. King said, ‘but by the content of their character.’”Ashton and her mother attended a private reception in Gov. Rick Snyder’s office prior to his address to a joint session of the state House and Senate. Each state representative is allowed to invite one guest to the House floor each January as the governor outlines his legislative agenda for the coming year.Ashton last year was the first female to play for a high school football team in Midland. Also a member of the Dow soccer team, she scored more extra points than any other kicker in the Saginaw Valley League Blue Division, was named 2nd team All-Conference, as well as the Dow High football team’s Most Valuable Player and Special Teams Player of the Year. She plans to attend Northwood University in Midland on academic and soccer scholarships. 19Jan Rep. Glenn welcomes Dow placekicker to governor’s speech in Capitol Categories: Glenn News,Glenn Photoslast_img read more

Whitefords plan would better connect people in crisis with mental health experts

first_img Categories: Whiteford News Tags: CARES Task Force, Health Policy, Mental Health Solution developed from House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force recommendationState Rep. Mary Whiteford today delivered testimony before the House Health Policy Committee regarding her plan requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to create a hotline telephone referral system connecting those in crisis to a local mental health provider.Under this plan, the experts operating the referral system would be able to assess the needs of the caller and refer them to the appropriate behavioral health professional or facility, possibly making an appointment for them while they speak.“I’ve seen firsthand the effects of depression and anxiety leading to a crisis for my loved one,” said Whiteford, as she testified about her experience with a close friend “When someone reaches out for help, it is vital that they are connected to help. “This hotline can refer the individual to local behavioral health professionals or a behavioral health facility, essentially pointing those who have no place left to turn in the right direction and connecting them with the help they so desperately need.”Whiteford said she was inspired to introduce the legislation not only by her personal experience with her friend, but also based on her involvement in the House bipartisan mental health C.A.R.E.S. Task Force, named for its commitment to community, access, resources, education and safety.“Throughout the state, families, law enforcement and mental health experts told us their stories during our meetings throughout the state,” Whiteford said. “It’s because of them that these important changes are being made to our state’s broken mental health care system, and it’s up to us to help implement those changes.”House Bill 6202 remains under consideration by the House Health Policy Committee for consideration.###center_img 26Sep Whiteford’s plan would better connect people in crisis with mental health expertslast_img read more

Academic Freedom under Threat in Central Europe

first_imgShare4TweetShareEmail4 SharesBy Európa Pont (Flickr: EC13) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 4, 2017; ReutersThis week, thousands of young people protested a new Hungarian law targeting foreign universities that has been seen as “political vandalism” and an authoritarian attack on academic freedom. The crackdown on civil society mirrors many other countries, including China and Russia, where large-scale protests last week denounced government corruption. Even the U.S. was criticized for efforts to restrict the right to protest. Whither democracy? Is the future of international collaboration at stake?As NPQ reported last week, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been creating and riding a wave of nationalist, anti-refugee sentiment to consolidate power. Legislation passed by the right-wing Fidsez government as part of their self-proclaimed “spring offensive” puts the popular George Soros-funded Central European University at risk with tighter regulations.Under the new law, foreign universities must have a campus located in Budapest and a campus in their home country. CEU does not have a U.S. campus. Further, the law mandates that foreign colleges and universities may only award degrees if the Hungarian government and the government of the university’s home country have an accord in place within six months of the law taking effect.Soros founded the University in 1991, when “revolutionary changes were throwing off the rigid orthodoxies imposed on Central and Eastern Europe.” The Budapest campus now serves about 1400 students from 130 countries. (Ironically, Orbán was once an ally and beneficiary of Soros’ largesse before moving rightward.)John Shattuck, a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, served as president of Central European University from 2009 to 2016. He offered this scathing assessment of the news in an op-ed for the Boston Globe:The Hungarian government’s attack on CEU endangers universities throughout Europe and is sending shock waves across the Atlantic to the school’s many US academic partners. If the government of an EU member state can undermine a world-class private international university through destructive regulation, no European or American academic institution can be fully protected from the wave of nationalist authoritarian politics that is sweeping Europe and the United States.Why is this university in particular being threatened? Shattuck argues that Orbán needed a “liberal bogeyman” to rouse his base before next year’s election and has also followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s “protectionist playbook” in accusing CEU of unfairly competing with local institutions.The debate over the future of CEU is about the defense of democracy, open inquiry, and the pursuit of knowledge. These are at the heart of what a university can contribute to society, and why the academic freedom of CEU matters and must be defended.The leaders of CEU quickly launched an international campaign to challenge the legislation and the protests made headlines around the world. According to Reuters, CEU Rector Michael Ignatieff was in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with lawmakers and government officials.Freedom House, an American nonprofit supporting democratic change, went even further, calling the crescendo of suppressions in Hungary a “spectacular breakdown of democracy” in a new Nations in Transit report called “The False Promise of Populism.”Both Poland and Hungary were exemplars of democratic transformation in the 1990s. The spectacular breakdown of democracy in these countries should serve as a warning about the fragility of the institutions that are necessary for liberal democracy, especially in settings where political norms have shallow roots and where populists are able to tap into broad social disaffection. Despite their apparent maturation, the media, the judiciary, and institutions of democratic representation in Poland and Hungary have turned out to be quite vulnerable, lacking both elite consensus on their inviolability and the necessary public support to turn back partisan attacks.It seems the only good news here is that the protesters, whether in Hungary or Russia, have captured the attention of the world. Now, we’re all watching.—Anna BerryShare4TweetShareEmail4 Shareslast_img read more

Chicago Stop Losing Credibility and Cash—Instead Cut Costly Criminal Cops

first_imgShare3Tweet2Share1Email6 Shares“Chicago Police Department” by MariamJune 8, 2017; Chicago ReporterFor more than five years, Chicago has paid millions in police misconduct settlements and their litigation costs. This year, the city is banking on a three-pronged strategy—aggressive recruitment and training, a hopefully more openly negotiated union contract, and the implementation of the reforms suggested by a U.S. Department of Justice report—to provide light at the end of this tunnel.The litany of infractions outlined in the study have a few things in common. They take place in African American and Latino neighborhoods, with two thirds in majority-black census tracts. Three-quarters alleged excessive force, false arrest, or both and a quarter claimed that two or more officers conspired to violate a person’s rights. “In an additional 31 cases, officers allegedly drew their guns and pointed them at people, including, in some cases, children.”In an effort to catalog and provide “transparency” surrounding the city’s police civil suit obligations, the Chicago Reporter’s publication/database, Settling for Misconduct, updated as required, serves as a stunning compilation: the cost, police participation, level of misconduct, crime location, and the misconduct payment aftermath.The city paid more than $12 million last year for 14 police shootings, seven of them fatal.The money is staggering. Accordion to the report and other articles, “Chicago spent more than $280 million on misconduct lawsuits from 2011 to 2016, plus another $91 million for outside lawyers to help defend police officers in those suits.” Adding insult to injury, according to the same article, the city routinely underbudgets for payments, leaving the city council scrambling for loans with high interest rates from Chicagoland bankers. Unfortunately, Chicago is not alone. Increasing civil suits brought by victims and their survivors are becoming a tragic norm in major urban centers. But the mayor has a plan.On June 26th, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his police superintendent welcomed the most recent class of new police recruits. The recruits are part of a two-year effort to add one thousand officers to the force. This latest class is the sixth class this year. Many are military veterans, hail from Chicago communities, and are public school graduates. The goal is to gain recruits who are more vested in the city’s success.Classes are smaller but onboard more often, and will be the first to take the city’s new curriculum based on newly developed use of force policies. The training focuses on policies and skills identified through citywide public comment and officer and supervisor focus groups on the use of force. According to the city’s website, “They provide clear direction for officers when the use of force is permitted and emphasize sanctity of life, de-escalation and accountability.” Cultural awareness is also a component.New recruits are not the only focus. The department has new policies, and effective fall of 2017, every member of the force will have taken this first four-hour course. It is not clear if there are contingency plans for the square-peg officers who might not fit into the mayor’s new round holes. The goal is for the new Fraternal Order of Police contract, due to begin negotiations at the end of this month, to provide an opportunity for change.The recent contentious union election, with one of the largest turnouts in recent history, resulted in a new president. The selection was not what the city had hoped for. The new police union leadership has pledged to support and protect officers from the perceived wave of anti-police media and protests. Many of the current contract provisions, which the new leadership has pledged to support, are standard in large city contracts. They include giving officers 24 hours to respond to a complaint, allowing officers to review evidence before responding to complaints, and disallowing anonymous complaints by forcing complainants to appear in person and sign an affidavit. These provisions have curtailed complaints in all but high-profile cases, but more importantly, they institutionalized components of the “thin blue line.” The corresponding strategy for activists has been to make as many complaints as possible high profile.The Department of Justice recommendations echoed those outlined in the police department’s internal report, “Next Steps for Reform.” Most prominent was the need for risk analysis, which would include flagging frequently sued officers, and to identify ways to reduce or eliminate officer misconduct and the consequent litigation and payouts. The database will be useful in determining who should be encouraged to leave, be removed, or at the very least invited to enjoy early retirement. With what the city currently spends on litigation and settlements, there is a strong possibility that it would be more cost-effective to lose the kind of reoffending officers that ongoing risk analysis will identify.Like-minded stakeholders are key allies in creating significant change. Chicago residents are dying and protesting in the streets. They have not always agreed with the mayor, but his quest to remove current archaic components of the contract should generate citywide support. The “Settling for Misconduct” data bolsters his argument. Money spent on defending and settling lawsuits would more than cover any proposed salary hikes, and removing the reoffenders would free up another source of revenue. Still, Emanuel must tread lightly and enlist the aid of his allies, as union bashing is never a good look for a Democrat.—Mary Frances MitchnerShare3Tweet2Share1Email6 Shareslast_img read more

Pennsylvania Launches Tax Break Program for Emergency Service Volunteers

first_imgShare11Tweet11Share10Email32 Shares“Live Burn Fire Training 8” by Jereme RauckmanOctober 23, 2017; Delaware County News NetworkThe latest figures from the National Fire Protection Agency reveal that of the more than 1.16 million firefighters across the U.S. in 2015, 70 percent—814,850, to be exact—were volunteers. Many of these volunteers work in rural communities where budgets cannot meet the need for emergency services, and when budgets are stretched past thin, some of them need to cover their own costs, including training. This has caused many states and localities to consider a variety of incentives, including tax breaks.For instance, the borough council of Morton, Pennsylvania, has elected to reward its volunteer emergency first responders with a 20 percent property tax break, a measure which is expected to be replicated in Rutledge, which shares Morton’s emergency department.The tax credit program was enacted after 2016’s State Act 172 laid the groundwork for such local ordinances. Only around $5000 of tax revenue is expected to be lost, which is minimal next to the costs of paying staff, which are estimated $6 billion across the state ($140 billion across the nation).The tax break does require a real, demonstrated commitment:The next step in getting the tax incentive program up and running begins at council’s November meeting when the program criteria will be established by council through a resolution. The annual criteria that must be met to qualify for credits under the program is based on the number of emergency response calls to which a volunteer responds, the level of training and participation in formal training and drills for a volunteer, and the total amount of time expended by a volunteer on administrative and other support services such as fundraising and providing facility or equipment maintenance.“I think this is a great opportunity, to not only reward our current volunteers, but as a recruitment tool for future members,” said Morton-Rutledge Fire Chief Dean Kemp, who is also borough fire marshal.Springdale Borough is preparing to adopt the same policy, as are O’Hara and Anne Arundel Counties.Of course, the property tax relief is only the tip of an iceberg of available pot-sweeteners. In Connecticut, a report details the benefits afforded to emergency service volunteers:State law allows municipalities to (1) provide property tax relief to emergency services personnel and (2) enroll firefighters and volunteer ambulance service members in their group health insurance plans, under specified conditions. It (1) requires the state’s public colleges to waive tuition for dependent children of volunteer firefighters who die in the line of duty; (2) prohibits employers from discharging, or discriminating against, volunteer firefighters or emergency services personnel who are late for, or absent from, work because they were responding to emergency calls; and (3) gives workers’ compensation coverage to volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance service personnel injured while engaged in fire or emergency services duties.—Ruth McCambridgeShare11Tweet11Share10Email32 Shareslast_img read more

Nonprofits Sue Interior Department to Protect Migratory Birds

first_imgShare35Tweet12ShareEmail47 SharesMay 24, 2018; Reuters and AudubonFor birders in the Northeast, May is the high point of the year. Migratory birds return from as far away as South America on their way to local and more Northern nesting spots. This spring ritual is deeply threatened by climate change, urban development, industrialization, and the continued loss of habitats that support migratory birds. What little protection these species have is embodied in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which for the past century has made it illegal to kill or “take” migratory raptors, waterfowl, and songbirds.In a little-noticed legal memo issued in December 2017, however, the Interior Department reinterpreted the MBTA to reduce industry’s culpability in the “incidental” taking of birds. That decision is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by the National Audubon Society, along with the American Bird Conservancy, the National Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and others committed to conservation.The prohibition on the killing or “taking” of migratory birds has long been interpreted to extend to industrial activities that may be “unintentional” but are “predictable and avoidable.” Under the new interpretation, penalties will only apply to “purposeful” killing of birds—i.e., poaching or unlawful hunting.The MBTA, wrote Daniel Jorjani, principal deputy solicitor for the Interior Department, in the memo, “applies only to direct and affirmative purposeful actions that reduce migratory birds, their eggs, or their nests, by killing or capturing.”According to a press release from the National Audubon Society, “the risk of liability under the MBTA” has long been an incentive for energy developers, power transmission operators, and others to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and others to reduce impacts on migratory bird populations. The wind energy industry, for example, worked in concert with environmental groups and US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop best practice guidelines for siting and developing windfarms. The new interpretation of MBTA reduces these incentives, since corporations will not be fined for bird deaths that are “incidental” to their activities.The oil and gas industries are particularly dangerous for migrating birds. Audubon notes that when the Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, “more than one million birds were killed in the four years following the blowout.” British Petroleum (BP) paid fines of $100 million under the MBTA, money that was used to revitalize wetlands and to support migratory bird conservation. These fines would no longer be levied under the new rules.“The new policy makes it much harder to protect birds from major bird traps—threats like oil pits, wind turbines, and communication towers in bird migration hotspots,” said Mike Parr, president of American Bird Conservancy, in the press release. “Leaving these threats unattended is like leaving manhole covers off along the sidewalk during rush hour—it’s negligent, irresponsible, and guaranteed to cause harm.”Reuters reports that the memo is already being followed and that “one or more companies constructing natural gas pipelines were told that they may cut down trees with nesting birds during the breeding season.”Therefore, the plaintiffs have asked the court to order the defendants to “revert to their prior, correct longstanding interpretation and policy.”Let’s hope the court is moved to ensure that more migratory species don’t go the way of the passenger pigeon, and we can all continue to enjoy the amazing, vibrant colors and sounds of spring migration.—Karen KahnShare35Tweet12ShareEmail47 Shareslast_img read more

Polish cable operator Netia has added the sport on

first_imgPolish cable operator Netia has added the sport on-demand platform Sport.TVP.PL to its Netia Player hybrid platform.The sports service, operated by broadcaster TVP, is airing all matches from the Euro 2012 football tournament live, along with highlights and player interviews. After the tournament, Sport.TVP.PL will deliver coverage from various events, including the Olympics Games.The service is available via an app on the Netia Player service, Netia’s platform that offers a mix of IPTV content, DTT channels and internet services, including YouTube and Facebook.last_img

Italian freetoair channel La3 is offering a sync

first_imgItalian free-to-air channel La3 is offering a synchronized TV app using technology from Civolution and Italian multiscreen TV technology specialist Vetrya.La3 is using technology provided by the pair to deliver the customised HyperSync app, which presents viewers with synchronized content on a variety of devices. The app, developed by Vetrya and powered by Civolution’s SyncNow audio watermarking technology, enables real-time identification and synchronisation, including automatic check-in, between broadcast, on-demand or recorded TV content and interactive apps on tablets, smartphones and laptops.Features enable by the technology include the provision of behind-the-scenes extra information on the programmes or characters.Speaking to DTVE at the NAB Show recently, Civolution CEO Alex Terpstra said that the company had a number of European deals “in the pipeline” following agreements including recent agreements with companies including France Télévisions and Lagardère. “Especially in Europe, watermarking synch is selling very well,” said Terpstra. “It’s a mature product now.”Terpstra said Civolution was also looking to take forward live synchronisation of movie-based content with second screen apps in cinema settings following the success of its app for Dutch production company 2CFilm’s movie App.“The movie had a second screen app that you could download before you went to the cinema. You have all the video in the app synchronised with the movie,” said Terpstra. “There was a good reaction from the target audience group. You know things that the actors don’t know yet. It takes you deeper in the story. We used the vibration function of the phone to alert people that something was about to happen on the phone. The movie is designed so that you don’t miss anything significant on the screen.Terpstra said the development of the app required a lot of work.“The timing of all these interactions took a lot of attention. There are 32 very distinct actions that happen on the second screen.” He said the 2CFilm app would also be available when the movie hits TV screens.Terpstra said Civolution was now looking to develop ways to monetise second screen synchronisation.“The next topic is how to monetise these apps. We have invested in a product called Advertising Identification,” said Terpstra. “We also provide broadcast monitoring.  We took some of that to identify ads in real time and can trigger ad placements on the second screen that are in synch with the ad on the main screen.”last_img read more

Arris has signed an exclusive deal with EchoStar C

first_imgArris has signed an exclusive deal with EchoStar Corporation-owned Sling Media, establishing it as the sole provider of Sling technology to cable, telco and wireless service providers around the world.Arris will now provide Sling Media’s placeshifting technology for video gateways and standalone devices for cable and telco providers.The firm said it is planning a phased rollout of the Sling Media technology to service providers with the launch of the MS4000 in early 2014, followed by video gateway offerings and technology licensing for multivendor devices.Arris announced last month it was partnering with Sling Media on the Arris MS4000 (Media Streamer 4000), which will work with the Arris MG5000 Media Gateway Series to let subscribers watch live and recorded content on tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices – both in the home and on-the-go.“Our exclusive agreement with Sling Media further solidifies our position as the leading provider of transcoding solutions for the future of multiscreen – everywhere,” said John Burke, SVP corporate strategy and development and president cloud solutions business, Arris.“We selected Sling Media for their complementary expertise in placeshifting technology. This collaboration rounds out our broad multiscreen portfolio in the cloud, network, and home to give global providers a variety of ways to let consumers enjoy their media, their way.”Michael Hawkey, vice president and general manager Sling Media said: “We are very pleased to announce this agreement with Arris –which will enable our two companies to closely collaborate on a range of integrated and standalone video solutions that deliver HD-quality content across multiple mobile devices, accessible anywhere. In addition, Sling Media is very pleased with the worldwide leadership and industry experience that the company’s relationship with Arris provides.”last_img read more

Kudelski Groupowned content protection specialist

first_imgKudelski Group-owned content protection specialist Nagra has selected S3 Group’s StormTest Development Center to automate testing of its OpenTV 5 set-top box middleware and guide solutions.Nagra said it will use the S3 Group platform to scale globally, meet demand for its products, ensure quality assurance and improve responsiveness and turnaround times.“After a thorough evaluation, we decided on S3 Group’s StormTest Development Center as the solution that best meets our requirements. StormTest Development Center allows us to rapidly create and execute tests for our STB middleware and guide solutions, resulting in increased productivity and quicker ROI,” said Mervin Zhang, head of solutions engineering R&D at Nagra.Nagra’s OpenTV middleware solutions provide the core operating software for STBs and gateways, while its guide solutions provide universal interfaces that integrate traditional broadcast TV with locally stored media, internet media and on-demand content.S3 Group specialises in enhancing the performance and service readiness of video platforms across connected devices and claims more than 100 customers, across 28 countries – including BSkyB, BT, Comcast, Kabel Deutschland and Liberty Global. Nagra is exhibiting at ANGA COM in hall 10.2, booth E11. S3 Group can be found in hall 10.1, booth S29.last_img read more

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch UK satcaster BSkyB has conf

first_imgSky CEO Jeremy DarrochUK satcaster BSkyB has confirmed its takeover of European pay TV sister companies Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.The agreement with 21st Century Fox will hand Sky 57.4% of the Germany business and 100% of Sky Italia.Sky will pay £2.9 billion (€3.66 billion) in cash for Sky Deutschland and £2.45 billion for Sky Italia through a £2.07 billion cash offer and transferring its 21% stake in National Geographic Channel, which is worth £382 million.Sky has also offered to buy rest of the Sky Deutschland shares that are publicly traded at €6.75 each. However, Sky said it can “realise the advantages of closer collaboration” with the majority 57% should shareholders choose to keep their holdings.Should Sky Deutschland’s minority shareholders all choose to sell, however, the total consideration of two deals could hit £7 billion.Sky will in part finance the deal through the proceeds of placing 156.1 million new ordinary shares, which comprise 9.9% of the business, on the market. 21st Century Fox has guaranteed it will acquire 61.1 million of these to keep its shareholding in Sky at 39.14%.Sky also made £481 million last week by selling its 6.4% stake in UK broadcaster ITV to cable operator Liberty Global.This will create a ‘Sky Europe’ business that has 33,000 employees and 20 million subscribers across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Sky pointed to IHS estimates that 72% of Italian homes and 81% of German homes do not yet have pay TV as a “highly-attractive” reason behind the deal.Regulatory approval is expected to take “several months” to be granted, said Sky’s CEO, Jeremy Darroch (pictured), who said he looked forward to working closely with Sky Deutschland CEO Brian Sullivan and Sky Italia chief executive Andria Zappia, both of whom have worked for Sky in the past.On an aggregated basis, Sky expects its group revenues to grow from £7.6 billion to £11.2 billion a year. It also expects the merger to lead to £200 million in cost-savings by the end of the second full financial year after the deal completes, especially across the BSkyB and Sky Italia, which operate similar direct-to-home pay businesses.“Joining together in this way will help us grow faster – reaching out to more of the 66 million who have yet to take pay TV in our markets, selling more services to  existing customers and launching new products in multiple territories,” Darroch said in a note to staff. “The opportunity is substantial and that is why we believe  this is great news for customers and shareholders alike.” See more here.Early speculation is Fox CEO and chairman Rupert Murdoch will use the cash from the deal to finance an improved bid for US media giant Time Warner, having had an US$80 billion offer turned down earlier this month.Murdoch will continue to control Sky through his controlling 39.1% stake, which gives him a majority of voting rights.last_img read more

Netflix will hit 17 million paying subscribers thi

first_imgNetflix will hit 17 million paying subscribers this year, according to the latest forecasts.Digital TV research has subscriber projections by territory for the US-listed streaming service. Its forecasts for end of 2014 are slightly ahead of those of the company itself, which, at it last results announcement in October, said it would have 16.5 million paying customers by year-end.Simon Murray, principal analyst at UK-based Digital TV Research, said that the company had upwardly revised its figures to reflect strong growth in Latin America and weak take-up in the UK. “We have made several adjustments to our previous estimates,” he said.Murray added: “Subscriber numbers are now a lot higher in Latin America (and a little higher in Canada). Subscriber numbers are now a lot lower in the UK (and a little lower in the Nordic countries).”By region, Europe accounts for about 6 million of Netflix’s international subs base, Latin America 4.8 million and Canada 3.5 million. Netflix rarely breaks out subscriber numbers by territory, but did recently note it had surpassed 5 million customers in Latin America, including those paying and those taking a free trial.Within the region, Brazil had the most paying Netflix subs by the end of the third quarter, according to Digital TV Research, with 2.2 million. Mexico was at 1.2 million.In Europe, the UK and Ireland will have 3.04 million customers by next January, the research house said. By October, the Nordic territories had 2 million subs.Netflix launched in a swathe of European territories this and Digital TV Research is also tracking its progress with the new roll outs. Soon after launch in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland it had, cumulatively, about 320,000 customers.Digital TV Research said that Netlfix has 1.5 million customers on a free trial internationally.last_img read more

Com Hem and its NorCell Sweden Holding subsidiari

first_imgCom Hem, and its NorCell Sweden Holding subsidiaries, have agreed a SEK1 billion (€107 million) long-term financing agreement with Norwegian financial services group DNB.The Swedish cable operator said that the deal is expected to allow it to reduce the group’s interest cost by approximately SEK100m annually compared to the Q2 2015 level.Com Hem said it intends to use the new credit facility – together with new short-term facilities from Nordea and Danske Bank totalling SEK500m and existing unutilised facilities – to redeem the €187m Euro Notes issued by NorCell Sweden Holding 2 in November 2015.The new credit facility with DNB matures on 26 June 2019 with similar conditions as the company’s existing bank financing.last_img

The number of HDTV channels on SESs satellite pla

first_imgThe number of HDTV channels on SES’s satellite platforms grew by 7% last year to reach 2,495, or one third of all channels on the fleet, the company has revealed.SES now claims to carry 27% of all HD channels globally, with over 60% of all channels on its fleet now broadcast in the MPEG-4 compression standard.Europe was the key driver of SES’s overall HDTV expansion last year, where the number of HDTV channels grew by 14% to more than 750 channels. The Americas also saw strong growthSES says it has also secured agreements to broadcast 21 Ultra HD TV channels, compared with eight UHD channels a year ago. The company claims to broadcast nearly 50% of all the UHD channels carried over satellite globally.SES said that last year’s acquisition of RR Media and the subsequent creation of MX1 through a merger with SES Platform Services helped it deliver HDTV and UHD growth in Europe and North America, while the launch of SES-9 was a significant factor in supporting growth in Asian markets. The launch of SES-10 and SES-15 later this year will deliver further growth potential for the Americas.“With more TV channels than ever before, this confirms SES’s leading role as a TV broadcasting infrastructure and driver of global digitisation” said Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer of SES.“Through the growth of its channels portfolio and through major acquisitions in 2016, SES is exceptionally well placed to leverage major growth opportunities, especially in new and emerging markets. Our current launch programme is a dynamic engine for this future growth. With more and more channels being broadcast in HD and Ultra HD, 2017 and beyond will see continued growth and accelerated development for SES’s video segment.”last_img read more

Sergei Anokhin Russian service provider Rostelecom

first_imgSergei AnokhinRussian service provider Rostelecom has named Sergei Anokhin as senior vice-president, responsible for strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions and investor relations.Anokhin will be charged with coordinating the implementation of the service provider’s development strategy as well as driving operational efficiency and transformation.Anokhin previously worked for VTB Bank, since 2011 as deputy chief financial officer. He also has experience in the high-tech sector with SAS.Anokhin’s appointment follows the naming of Mikhail Oseevsky as the new president of Rostelecom earlier this month, replacing Sergei Kalugin. Oseevsky, like Anokhin an alumnus of VTB Bank, where he served as deputy chairman, was appointed for a five-year term.last_img

Facebook feasts on TV channels content but fail

first_imgFacebook “feasts” on TV channels’ content but fails to pay for the privilege, a situation that must change if professional journalism is to have a future, according to Channel 4 new presenter Jon Snow, delivering the annual McTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival.Jon Snow“We have to look at the new players in this digital age. Facebook needs to pay more taxes; Google needs to pay more taxes, the rest too. The digital media, the duopolies, have to pay more to carry professional journalism,” Snow told attendees in Edinburgh.“It cannot be beyond the bounds of human understanding to come up with a way of ensuring that these mega-entities have to pay to play.”Snow said that Facebook “feasts on our products and pays all but nothing for them”, a situation that “cannot last” if professional journalism is to be preserved. He called on governments and the EU to find way to force internet giants to pay for the content that helped drive usage of their platforms.In a wide-ranging lecture focusing on the disengagement between media organisations and wider society, and the growing social divide exemplified by news coverage of the Grenfell Tower disaster, Snow said there was a danger that the “monopoly over the world’s information” held by Google and Facebook presented a massive challenge, particularly given that both organisations took “so little responsibility” for what is disseminated on their platforms.last_img read more