Related posts:Climate change to create unprecedented temperatures in San José by 2037 World Bank turns to hydropower to square development with climate change Tico hikers to trek coast-to-coast to draw attention to climate change Region to pay hefty price of climate change WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scientists said on Monday they have identified a physical mechanism behind the extreme weather that has plagued many parts of the world in recent years – and that it is tied to climate change.Since 2010, for example, the United States and Russia have each suffered scorching heat waves, while Pakistan saw unprecedented flooding.Scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have traced the events to a disturbance in the air currents in the northern hemisphere, in a new study out Monday in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“An important part of the global air motion in the mid-latitudes of the Earth normally takes the form of waves wandering around the planet, oscillating between the tropical and the Arctic regions,” lead author Vladimir Petoukhov said in a statement.“During several recent extreme weather events, these planetary waves almost freeze in their tracks for weeks. So instead of bringing in cool air after having brought warm air in before, the heat just stays,” he said.In an ecosystem ill adapted to long periods of extreme heat, the stress can be disastrous, with high death tolls, forest fires and agricultural losses.For instance, during Russia’s 2010 heat wave – the worst in its recorded history – wildfires spread out of control, killing dozens of people, burning down thousands of houses and threatening military and nuclear installations.Global warming, despite its name, is not uniform across the planet. At the poles the bump in temperatures – amplified by shrinking snow cover and ice – is greater than in the swathes between, the scientists said.This reduces the temperature differences between the Arctic and the middle latitudes, which affects the flow of air around the globe.In addition, continents heat and cool more rapidly than large bodies of water, the scientists said.These two factors “result in an unnatural pattern of the mid-latitude air flow, so that for extended periods the slow synoptic waves get trapped,” Petoukhov said.Fellow author and PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber cautioned that the 32-year period used in the study is too short for definitive conclusions.“The suggested physical process increases the probability of weather extremes, but additional factors certainly play a role as well, including natural variability,” he added.Nevertheless, he called the new research “quite a breakthrough,” that helps explain the relationship between the spate of weather extremes and climate change. Facebook Comments
Categories: Barrett News 04Apr Rep. Barrett supports more class, career choice for students A Merit Curriculum bill package was recently approved by the state House of Representatives, giving students and their families added options toward graduation and post-high school career preparation.“This legislation gives more control to students while also helping our state gain more professionals in skilled trades and information technology,” said Rep. Tom Barrett, who is a co-sponsor of the four bills. “On a student-by-student basis, our education system is based on preparing high school students for life after graduation. This legislation helps make that a reality while allowing more choices for classes that qualify for graduation.”The four bills in the legislative package will allow statistics, computer coding and a certified safety program course to count toward graduation requirements, and give students an option to fulfill a 21st Century Skills requirement by completing a combination of career/technical education (CTE) or visual/performing arts courses.“Career options have changed a lot over the past 10 years, just as the demand for young professionals prepared in vocational education classes has increased, so our education system must adapt to that demand,” said Barrett, of Potterville. “This legislation will expand the path to graduation for many high school students by adding options to the required curriculum. My vote was to help our students today prepare for what’s available to them tomorrow.”House Bills 4315-4318 advance to the Senate for consideration.#####
Legislation also forgives all outstanding debt State Rep. Eric Leutheuser today voted for bipartisan legislation that ends driver responsibility fees and forgives outstanding debt.Leutheuser, of Hillsdale, said he voted for the eight-bill package because the 2003 law establishing the fees was flawed, doing nothing to improve driving skills and sending families throughout the state deep into debt.“Driver responsibility fees were contrived by a previous administration as a way to fill a shortfall in the state budget and were never intended to correct dangerous driving habits,” Leutheuser said. “It left people without driving privileges, which often led to unemployment and dependency on public assistance.”Leutheuser said the fees will be eliminated on Oct. 1, 2018. In the meantime, those owing fees can work off their payments by participating in community service or workforce development programs.“People who have been unable to go to and from work have a chance to have driving privileges restored,” Leutheuser said. “Then they can go back to work and provide for their families, taking part in the state’s economic comeback.”The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.#####The bills are House Bills 5040-5046, 5079 and 5080. Categories: Leutheuser News,News 02Nov Rep. Leutheuser votes to eliminate driver responsibility fees
Share13TweetShare2Email15 SharesNovember 6, 2015; Canadian UnderwriterLast week, the Legatum Institute, a British think tank, released its 2015 “Prosperity Index” ranking the world’s most prosperous nations—Norway on top, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, and Sweden (the U.S. ranked 11th). Particularly interesting is the country ranking 6th on the list: our northern neighbor, Canada.In the multi-issue scale used by Legatum, Canada ranked first in terms of “personal freedom” with the following variables: “tolerance for immigrants, tolerance for minorities, civil liberty & free choice, [and] satisfaction with freedom of choice.” Canada ranked first in tolerance toward immigrants (ahead of Norway, New Zealand, Iceland, and Ireland), fifth most tolerant of ethnic minorities, and fifth in terms of the feelings of citizens “that they have the freedom to choose the course of their own lives.”Remember that this scale was compiled during the long term of office of conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Tories were recently booted from office in the Canadian national elections held October 19th. Contrast Canada’s ranking on the personal freedom sub-index with this country’s at 15th, presumably because of the continuing controversies around government monitoring of citizens’ emails and telephone communications. How did Canada grab the title of “land of the free” and what does it do to keep it, especially since on governance, Canada also ranks ahead of the U.S.—seventh internationally, compared to eleventh?This columnist’s recent visit to Canada indicates that Canadian nonprofits are quite attentive to the personal freedoms of their constituents and stakeholders. One example is the recent enactment in Ontario of an anti-SLAPP bill. The legislation—the Protection of Public Participation Act—would identify lawsuits that “unduly restrict free expression in the public interest.”Most SLAPP suits are really intended to simply scare off or otherwise shut up critics. This bill would give the courts some ability to “deal with” SLAPP suites, according to Yasir Naqvi, the province’s Liberal Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, last March. “These [SLAPP] cases have little or no merit,” said Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur in the Canadian Underwriter article on the bill. “Most are dropped before the lawsuit goes to trial, sometimes just weeks later. Meanwhile, the damage is done. Financially and emotionally drained, the target of a strategic suit is effectively silenced.”Nongovernmental associations had promoted this legislation, having suffered the negative impact of SLAPP suits. “On our shoestring budget, we’ve been forced to pay a huge sum for liability insurance, just in case a SLAPP suit should occur,” testified Sandy Buxton, president of the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, at an October 1st legislative hearing. “Some of our most generous donors have requested anonymity, fearing an attack of some kind by the developers.”“The Protection of Public Participation Act will put a stop to the growing use of lawsuits used to silence and dissuade individuals from freely expressing and broadly participating in matters of public interest,” added Eileen Denny, president of the Teddington Park Residents Association. “It provides a defined purpose and a quick review process for identifying and dismissing lawsuits via motion. The act also proposes cost consequences that discourage strategic lawsuits from starting.”Canadian attorney Derek J. Bell thinks the PPA could have some “real teeth.” If a defendant in a potential SLAPP suit invokes the PPA, the court must hear the defendant’s motion within 60 days, during which time all other activity in the case is suspended. If the court rules that the case is a SLAPP suit, the defendants could get more than court costs on the motion, up to “full indemnity” on the entire SLAPP action itself, and potentially even require the initiator of the SLAPP suit to pay damages.In the U.S., 28 states have anti-SLAPP laws, but many are quite restrictive regarding the circumstances under which an anti-SLAPP action might be brought. Twenty-two have none at all. Think this isn’t a real issue? Monika Bauerlein, the CEO of Mother Jones, and Clara Jeffrey, the editor-in-chief, wrote last month about a suit SLAPPed against the magazine lodged by Idaho billionaire Frank VanderSloot. Mother Jones had alleged that VanderSloot and his company, Melaleuca, had made substantial donations to Mitt Romney’s 2012 election super-PAC and had had trouble with regulators. One of Romney’s national finance chairs, VanderSloot filed a defamation suit against Mother Jones and specifically against the reporter of the story, Stephanie Mencimer, and Bauerlien, the latter because she tweeted about the Mencimer coverage. Mother Jones won in court that its statements were true, but that still left the magazine with $650,000 in costs that it had incurred in fending off the litigation. The reason? Partly, it is because the case was filed in Idaho, which doesn’t have an anti-SLAPP law.The lesson of Canada’s personal freedom ranking in the Legatum Institute’s “Prosperity Index” is that you can’t simply assume that personal freedom is a given. A society has to fight for it, protect it, shore it up against attacks from special interests that would be better off if citizens were quiescent and inconsequential. It looks as though in Canada, personal freedom has for some years running been a core value that inspires much of the work of that nation’s nonprofit sector. In the U.S., we could compete for the “land of the free” title if personal freedom were ratcheted up the priority list of nonprofits engaged in public policy at the state and national government levels. Perhaps it’s time for a federal anti-SLAPP law (perhaps along the lines proposed by Texas Republican Blake Farenthold whose 27 co-sponsors on the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015 include 19 Democrats). Maybe the U.S. might become a little freer as a result.—Rick CohenShare13TweetShare2Email15 Shares
Share14Tweet3ShareEmail17 SharesBy Adam from UK (Temazepam 10mg tablets-1) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMay 9, 2018; The Washington PostFrom criticism of the Sackler family who owns the Oxycontin manufacturing Purdue Pharma, to government agency lawsuits, and the lackluster federal response, NPQ has covered the gamut of the opioid crisis. Throughout this coverage what remains clear is a gamut of failures that has led to an opioid epidemic that has claimed over 200,000 deaths so far. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies and distributors continue to try to shift blame, while government agencies and nonprofits are left to pick up the pieces.Fingers have been pointed at physicians, manufacturers, and pharmacists, but distributors are also coming under fire. A colossal “pill dumping” case out of West Virginia has shed light onto companies who distribute opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The distributors appear to exhibit, at best, an amazing lack of oversight that has helped West Virginia’s rate of opioid overdose deaths to soar until it is among the highest in the country. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia suffered 52 deaths per 100,000 for drug overdoses in 2016, more than twice as a high as the national average—itself a record—of 19.8 deaths per 100,000.Recently, executives from the wholesale pharmaceutical distributing companies McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and Miami-Luken were summoned to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss their roles in the epidemic. These distributors stand accused of skirting Drug Enforcement Agency suspicious activity reporting requirements, resulting in the distribution of millions of pills. These reporting requirements explicitly state: “The registrant shall inform the Field Division Office of the Administration in his area of suspicious orders when discovered by the registrant. Suspicious orders include orders of unusual size, orders deviating substantially from a normal pattern, and orders of unusual frequency.”Aside from their obvious failure to exercise common-sense judgment and their ethical responsibility to exercise care and keep narcotics out of non-prescribers’ hands, pharmaceutical distributors have a clear legal responsibility to alert the DEA of suspicious orders, such as the sale of 39,000 pills in the span of two days to two West Virginia pharmacies within walking distance of each other.At the hearings, one executive, Joseph Mastandrea, chairman of Miami-Luken, responded “yes” when committee chair Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), asked if he believed that his company had contributed to the widespread opioid problem.The other four executives denied that their companies had any role in the opioid epidemic. Gregory Barrett, chairman of Cardinal Health, at least tried to sound contrite: “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish we had moved faster … I am deeply sorry we did not. Today, I am confident we would reach different conclusions about those two pharmacies.”A Pulitzer-winning piece of investigative journalism by Eric Eyre shows that pill dumping in West Virginia goes beyond suspicious activity to downright negligence on the part of distributors. Eyre’s research found that “AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s third largest drug distributor, shipped 60.9 million hydrocodone pills and 26.6 million oxycodone tablets to West Virginia. That’s 33 hydrocodone pills and 15.5 oxycodone pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.” The article goes on to detail the sheer number of pills distributed by different companies to mom-and-pop pharmacies in West Virginia, driving home the point that the number of pills distributed to this region was far greater than the amount that could be reasonably consumed if used as prescribed.Delegate Don Perdue of West Virginia said, “The distribution of vast amounts of narcotic medications to some of the smallest towns and unincorporated rural areas of our state should have set off more red flags than a school of sharks at a crowded beach.”Echoing this sentiment, Michigan Representative Tim Walberg said, “The sheer number of opioids dumped into small towns is just baffling and simply incomprehensible.” In other words, the companies distributing hydrocodone and oxycodone to the region almost certainly had to know what they were doing. In fact, distributors Cardinal Health and McKesson continued to dump pills into West Virginia despite getting slapped with fines of $30 million and $13.2 million, respectively, as far back as 2008. It would certainly appear that these distributors recognized suspicious orders and blatantly disregarded federal reporting requirements to chase down huge profits.—Sheela NimishakaviShare14Tweet3ShareEmail17 Shares
Share7TweetShareEmail7 Shares November 26, 2018; Philadelphia InquirerPhiladelphia Anchors for Growth & Equity, or PAGE, is a new citywide initiative that seeks to significant boost local purchasing by 13 city universities and hospitals, writes Diane Mastrull in the Philadelphia Inquirer.“This is a unique collaboration between the city, a nonprofit, and all of our major eds and meds institutions.… They’re all lined up to figure out how to use their purchasing power to create more jobs,” says Jeff Hornstein, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, the nonprofit that founded and is leading the PAGE initiative.The Economy League seeks, over the next 8–10 years, to “localize $500 million in contracts at 13 city hospitals and universities for goods and services—such as office supplies, lab equipment, food, video production, and web design,” Mastrull explains. If the League succeeds, that level of redirected purchasing could generate as many as 5,000 living-wage, middle-skill jobs for Philadelphia residents. The scale of the effort is audacious. But there is precedent. As NPQ reported earlier this year, in Great Britain, a buy-local effort in Lancashire (county seat: Preston) shifted nearly £200 million in spending (about $255 million at current exchange rates) and is estimated to have generated 1,600 local jobs in four years.Harold Epps, Philadelphia’s commerce director, notes that, “We have a lot of power in where and how we spend our dollars.” Along with the Commerce Department, the other participating anchors are Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Temple University, Temple University Health System, all of which provided seed funding. Also participating are Salus University, Community College of Philadelphia, Einstein Healthcare Network, La Salle University, St. Joseph’s University, and University of the Sciences.Hornstein, before directing the Economy League, had worked for the city of Philadelphia as director of financial and policy analysis. Hornstein was project director for a 2014 Controller’s Office report that found that a 25 percent increase in local spending by area institutions would mean 4,400 new jobs and create an additional $14 million in annual tax revenue for the city. A little over a year ago, in May 2017, Philadelphia voters approved a ballot question that gives small businesses a better shot at nonprofessional services contracts with the city by allowing that work to be awarded based on “best value” rather than lowest price.PAGE’s public launch follows a report by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Titled Local Procurement: An Evaluation of Barriers and Solutions from the Business Perspective, that called on “city government and local anchor institutions (especially hospitals and universities) to buy more goods and services locally in order to promote a ‘vibrant, equitable, and resilient economy.’”The PAGE effort also borrows lessons learned from similar (if smaller) efforts in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. Mariya Khandros, who is director of shared services at the Economy League and is leading the PAGE project, observes that, “We are pioneers in certain strategies to do this work, but we are following in the footsteps of several successful initiatives.”Kurt Sommer directs the Baltimore Integration Partnership, one initiative that has inspired PAGE. The initiative Sommer leads has worked the past eight years to support job opportunities for low-income, predominantly Black residents of Baltimore.“The work is hard, without a doubt,” Sommer concedes. “We’re taking large institutions that typically compete with each other…slowly through the years, [we] have built a table of trust…where there are common goals of supporting community needs in Baltimore…by recognizing there’s more to gain by working together in certain areas.”Key tactics have included vendor fairs, workforce development, and small-business capacity-building. “This work is as much of an art as a science,” Summer says. “You’re working to take things institutions do at ease, going against the grain and trying to carve out intentional approaches to support local economic needs.”Supra Office Solutions Inc. in West Philadelphia is one business that could benefit from PAGE. Lin Thomas, president of Supra, notes that small businesses face many obstacles to obtaining contracts.“It’s been difficult to be much in the game when customers are looking to keep things with one vendor or one or two primary vendors for simplicity for billing and receivables and payables,” Thomas explains. Ken Carter, who is a partner at Supra, also notes that the firm routinely faces the misconception that “smaller enterprises are not savvy enough to work with the larger institutions.”But these obstacles can be overcome. Already Thomas says PAGE has helped a subsidiary business of Supra which produces medical lab supplies to get a foot in the door and ultimately land a “major dollar” contract with Penn. The new contract is expected to increase the company’s annual sales to the university to between $17 million and $25 million, up from $500,000.—Steve DubbShare7TweetShareEmail7 Shares
A question mark has arisen over the future of UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, following the release of emails by News Corp to the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking that appeared to show Hunt had indicated, ahead of a statement to parliament, that he was minded to give a green light to News Corp’s merger with BSkyB.The Leveson inquiry was shown emails from News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel that appeared to throw doubt on Hunt’s impartiality and suggested that News Corp’s view was that Hunt was favourable to the bid. Former BSkyB executive chairman James Murdoch also confirmed in his evidence to the inquiry that he had spoken to Hunt personally by phone.Hunt has responded by asking the Leveson inquiry to bring forward the timing for him to give evidence. He said in a statement that some of the evidence given reported meetings and conversations that didn’t happen, and maintained that his priority had been to give the public confidence in the integrity of the process.News Corp’s bid to merge with the UK pay TV operator was abandoned after revelations about the extent of phone hacking by the News of the World newspaper became public.
Channel 4’s online service 4oD is growing in popularity, with 217 million views in the year to end-May, up 18% year-on-year. The platform, available online and via Playstation devices and TV services from BT Vision, Virgin Media and Talk Talk, recorded 39 million views in May and now has 3.9 million average monthly unique users.Entertainment was the most popular genre in May, accounting for 5,038,917 views, followed by comedy with 4,454,768 views and drama with 3,893,927 views. Made in Chelsea was the most watched series in May.
French cable operator Numericable has signed an agreement with social housing group Société Nationale Immobilière (SNI) to provide its Service Unique Numérique (SUN) to SNI residents. SNI manages about 350,000 dwellings, and Numericable’s network covers about 150,000 of these. The agreement covers future construction projects by SNI.Numericable’s SUN provides a basic bundle of 2Mbps internet access, 18 free-to-air national and 30 international TV channels and a phone line.Separately, Numericable has added UniversCiné to its video-on-demand offering. The deal adds UniversCiné’s 2,500-plus film titles from independent studios to the Numericable VOD catalogue. Titles from UniversCiné include Au bout du conte, Entre les murs, Les invisibles and Quartet.
The co-founders of Shine Group-owned online multi-channel network ChannelFlip, Justin Gayner and Wil Harris, are both set to leave the firm.Creative director Gayner and managing director Harris are due to depart in the spring after a handover period, with the former head of Fremantle’s FMX digital division, Claire Tavernier, taking on the MD role on an interim basis.“Both Wil and I have taken the very difficult decision that now is the right time for us to leave and scratch again our entrepreneurial itch,” said Gayner.“Having taken ChannelFlip from zero to over two billion video views, and establishing the company within Shine over the last two years, we have decided it is time to let the next generation take it through its next chapter.”As part of changes, ChannelFlip content director Jamie Lennox becomes creative director, while sales director Matt Rook has been promoted to the newly-created role of commercial director – both effective immediately.ChannelFlip was founded in 2007 and has been part of Shine Group since January 2012. The firm currently manages more than 200 YouTube channels for established celebrities including Ricky Gervais and David Mitchell.
Sky Deutschland has renewed and expanded its deal with Paramount for video-on-demand movies.The deal covers pay-per-view and VoD licensing for the next few years, with movies including Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Transformers: Age of Extinction to be made available on the Sky Select and Sky Select on Sky Anytime service.The Sky Select makes available a changing selection of feature films on Sky DVR boxes. Sky Select on Sky Anytime is a VoD offering that makes a range of films available in the same window as their DVD release.
AB Group’s Jook Video subscription video-on-demand service has launched on Orange’s TV service in France. Orange TV customers equipped with a Livebox Play set-top can access Jook Video as part of the Pass Video offering on the platform, which also includes Filmo TV, Canalplay and Pass M6.Jook Video claims to offer about 10,000 titles, with movies including Spiderman, The Matrix, Hancock, Men in black, Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill 1 and 2, series including The Big Bang Theory, Vampire Diaries, Gossip girl and Damages.Orange is offering Jook Video for €1 a month for the first two months to those who sign up for a subscription before July 2, or for €7.99 a month without a commitment.AB Group launched the SVoD service in March after several delays, initially available on PC and Mac computers, tablets and smartphones. AB Group CEO Jean-Michel Fava had earlier set a target of reaching 300,000 subscribers for the service, without specifying a date.
Fox International Channels (FIC) has renewed a broadcast services contract with TDF Group-owned Arkena for the playout of Voyage HD and Nat Geo Wild HD in the French market. Arkena has been providing playout services to FIC France since June 2000. In addition to playout, the contract consolidates the operation and maintenance of the channels’ post-production platform as well as content management services.“Our long-term relationship with Arkena has been a key parameter to this renewal. We have been working closely together for more than a decade, and they know our needs as much as we know their ability to deliver the quality of service we expect,” said Stephanie Holm, director of operations at FIC.“Our understanding of Fox International Channels France’s expectations in terms of agility, proximity and quality of service illustrates Arkena’s objective to become our customers’ favourite media services partner. Our teams have a strong service-oriented attitude which, combined with our technical expertise, has convinced Fox to remain a trustful Arkena’s partner,” said Ricardo Moreira, senior sales account manager at Arkena.
UAE-based fixed-line operator Du has launched a new mobile TV app, Du View, on the Xbox One platform. The Du View app, which will enable viewers to watch content on smart TV, iOS and Android devices as well as Xbox game consoles, will initially allow Du TV viewers to watch their subscription packages on multiple devices, with on-demand content to be made available later.Du View Anywhere allows existing home service subscribers to watch content on the Xbox One, with an interactive programming guide showing the current programs and the programming for up to seven days.The app is also Kinect-enabled.“We’re excited to bring this revolutionary app to our customers, putting them ahead of fellow gamers in the region with an innovative View Anywhere technology. The additional convenience of the du View Anywhere app’s Kinect compatibility emphasises on the simplicity that technology brings to our communications; interaction is, today, as simple as gesturing at your screen,” said Fahad Al Hassawi, chief commercial officer, Du.“By giving our customers the option to view their du TV subscription on devices other than their television, we are facilitating the UAE’s smart city progression, in which we will see increased screen convergence as content becomes viewable as, where, and how our customers want it. This is all part of our commitment to our customers, to bring them the innovations and technology that adds life to their life in the most unexpected ways.”The Du View service, which was designed by TV App Agency, was unveiled at the GITEX Technology Week event.
The parent of Swedish commercial broadcaster TV4, Bonnier, has appointed a head of corporate development and M&A.Fredrik Linton’s role will be to manage acquisitions and divestments business at the media group, as well as assessing Bonnier’s existing holdings on an on-going basis.“In our current circumstances where we need to be active in assessing our holdings, he can provide a strategic look at the companies that are already part of Bonnier today as well as the relevant companies and markets outside,” said Bonnier CEO Tomas Franzén.Linton joins Bonnier from Sweden-based telecoms and digital TV group Tele2, where he was head of M&A between 2005 and 2013. While there, he oversaw the sale of Tele2’s Belgian holdings to Dutch-based operator KPN, French holdings to SFR in France and Spanish and Italian assets to Vodafone Italy.Bonnier’s media assets include various magazines and trade business titles, TV4 and its channel bouquet, Swedish media group Svensk Filmindustri, and feature film producer Sonet Film, which has made moves to enter the TV space.Svensk Filmindustri is part of theBonnier Growth Media division, which includes subsidiaries such as Tre Vänner and Scandinavian Studios, whose founding CEO Anna Bråkenhielm left in 2013 and was subsequently replaced by Strix exec Sebastian Ljung and FremantleMedia Sweden managing director Claes Leinstedt.Bonnier bought former ITV Studios Scandinavia boss Bråkenhielm’s shares in Scandinavian Studios upon her exit.
German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 is to take a majority stake in programmatic advertising specialist Virtual Minds.United Internet-backed, Freiburg-based Virtual Minds is a specailsit in digital advertising and technology, with its own data centre and expertise in the automated selling and buying of digital advertising.Core elements of Virtual Minds’ programmatic advertising systems include Yieldlab, which allows publishers and marketers to sell their ad inventory in real time through an automated process, Active Agent for real-time media purchasing for agencies and advertisers, and ADITION Unified ad servers. The group also has a number of minority interests, including in the ADEX data management platform in Berlin.Investor United Media will continue to hold a 25.1% stake in the company, while Virtual Minds’ founders and management will remain involved in its ownership. The deal is subject to approval by German competition authorities. “Virtual Minds is one of the pioneers in the dynamically growing market for programmatic advertising and has had an impressive success story. We now intend to continue that success story together with the excellent management team and United Internet. Our goal is to further establish Virtual Minds on the German and European market as a first-rate alternative to products from global advertising technology players,” said Christian Wegner, digital director at ProSiebenSat.1 Group.“ProSiebenSat.1’s entry as an additional strategic investor alongside United Internet will allow us to sustainably expand our extensive digital and media technology expertise for the future market in digital and programmatic advertising. This will allow us to provide display and video advertising platforms to publishers, marketers, agencies, and advertisers from a single source in the future that are geared even more specifically to their specific needs and the quality demands of the German and European digital market,” said Andreas Kleiser, founder and CEO of Virtual Minds.
Christophe Rufin at this year’s Content Innovation Awards.Orange is planning to launch a new version of its Watch with Twitter social TV platform next year that will see the service more closely integrated with the French service provider’s EPG. Orange also plans to launch Watch with Twitter internationally once the new version is up and running.Speaking at the OTTtv World Summit in London this morning, Christophe Rufin, cloud TV and entertainment ecosystems director at Orange, said the group would focus on quality over quantity in bringing new features to its social TV programme. He said that the company had gained valuable feedback from its existing Watch with Twitter service and will launch a new version next year that will also be taken to other territories in which the company is active.Rufin said that the new version of Watch with Twitter, which enables viewers to choose channels and content based on what is trending on Twitter and also displays Twitter feeds related to particular programmes on the TV screen, will be blended into the live TV service and the EPG rather than requiring people to go into a separate screen on the TV. “This is something we are working on,” he said.The Watch with Twitter ‘popular programme’ feed will be incorporated closely with the existing EPG to give additional information to that already visible in the EPG, giving users the choice of whether to rely on the EPG information or Twitter to choose what programmes to watch, said Rufin. “For most, the traditional EPG will remain the instrument of choice. But some socially-aware users might like to browse programmes by popularity. Adding the ability to tune in to programmes that are socially popular [feeds] a natural behaviour.”Addressing the question of broadcaster’ investment in EPG positioning and information, he said that viewers were already using Twitter to choose what to watch, and that by integrating Watch with Twitter with the EPG, Orange will make this easier. “We think it’s better to control this. If we don’t do anything it will happen anyway but outside our service,” he said.Rufin said that Orange wanted to learn from the French deployment ahead of launching it internationally. Because of language issues it takes some work to localise the service, he said. “ We are working hardto make sure it’s properly adapted to the specifics of each country,” he said.Rufin said that a key priority is integration of Twitter with the live TV service. He said that shows with live hashtags encourage interaction, and Orange will display calls to action when the programme starts. Rufin said that Orange would also like to integrate Twitter into its own app on second screen devices. “We have a successful Orange TV app. For the moment people can interact through the native Twitter interface, and their own Tweets displayed on the show. We want to add this feature to our own apps, and we are discussing this with Twitter,” he said.The Watch with Twitter service is currently entirely free, but when Orange reaches scale it will be able to make money from it through advertising, said Rufin. However, he said Orange had yet to have detailed discussion with channels on this.On whether Twitter can contribute to more TV viewing, Rufin said it is difficult to determine the impact of Twitter on TV by separating this from the impact of TV on Twitter. However, he cited a study undertaken last year that showed, by looking at the impact of Tweets seven days after a show was aired, that an uplift of 10% of Tweets related to a particular show led to an uplift in audience of 1.8% after seven days.Rufin said there are 2.3 million Twitter users in France and 6.3 million Orange households. However, Watch with Twitter content can also benefit those who do not yet use Twitter, he said.He said that social is seen as a way to discover content through a ‘personal programme guide’ enabled by Watch with Twitter. Adding social media to the content and engaging viewers are two separate activities, said Rufin, and Watch with Twitter is the former type of service, adding content via Twitter in a lean back experience.Watching TV is still largely passive, and is also a shared experience, said Rufin. Orange has worked with Twitter to make the most of these characteristics, he said, adding that TV being ‘passive’ means focusing on simple interactions and TV being ‘shared’ means no login.Twitter provided a private API to enable the service. Content that appears on the TV is matched against the live show. Even if users don’t use hashtags associated with the show, the system can learn if Tweets are associated with particular shows by analysing the content on Twitter and matching it with the show being watched, said Rufin.Orange’s Watch with Twitter service won the award for ‘Social TV Innovation of the Year’ at this year’s inaugural Content Innovation Awards – an event run by DTVE in association with its sister title TBI on the eve of the MIPCOM content market in Cannes.
Stephane RichardThomson Video Networks has named Stephan Richard as vice president, strategy and business development. Based in San Francisco, California, Richard is responsible for managing and developing the company’s OTT partnerships and alliances in North, Central, and South America.Richard joined Thomson Video Networks from Sling Media, an Echostar company, where he served as director of product management. He also held the position of product manager and sales engineer at Modulus Video and worked in various engineering, sales, and marketing capacities for Kasenna, now Espial, a VOD and middleware company.“Momentum is building for Thomson Video Networks solutions in the U.S. and throughout the Americas — particularly with regard to OTT deployments — and we’ve had several recent major successes in the region,” said Eric Gallier, vice president, marketing, Thomson Video Networks. “With a proven track record of driving company success, Stephan is the ideal choice to shape our OTT marketing vision and to pursue partnership opportunities within the video ecosystem and beyond. He brings a wealth of leadership expertise and functional capabilities to this role.”
Warner Bros Home Entertainment will release its first Ultra High Definition Blu-ray titles – the films Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas, The Lego Movie and Pan – on March 1.These initial titles will be followed by selected new releases available day-and-date with their initial home entertainment releases and a selection of catalogue titles throughout the year including Man of Steel and Pacific Rim.The Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack will include an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with high dynamic range (HDR), a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features in HD, and a Digital HD version of the film.For viewers to get “the complete 4K Ultra HD experience with HDR” they will need a 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and a high-speed HDMI cable.
The BBC has launched a kids-specific version of its iPlayer on-demand service and pledged to keep its linear channels in place.The BBC iPlayer Kids app was launched today and after the transition of BBC Three from a linear to online service, prompted questions about whether the Cbeebies and CBBC channels were on the same path.Speaking at the London launch event, BBC kids boss Alice Webb said the linear services will remain in operation for the forseable future. “That is absolutely the plan, what I am planning as head of Children’s, that we will be here with our TV channels for as long as children are watching them,” she said. “And the majority of viewing is still coming through those channels.”The new kids app offers content from both BBC kids channels. Shows can be streamed or downloaded for offline viewing and there will be 10,000 episodes of kids content made available this year.“Children’s is so important to the BBC, and what the BBC can offer this country, there is nobody else investing in UK programming for UK children,” BBC director general Tony Hall said at the launchHe added: “To see the innovation and way in which we are changing what we offer to suit how kids are consuming is really good. I love the fact that from the point of view of parents, this is great, as kids get content designed exactly for their age group, so the adults can feel safe and secure.”Webb faced a barrage of questions about whether the app would mean kids watching shows late into the night, or make bedtimes difficult for parents.The CBeebies linear service ends with the Bedtime Hour at 7pm and CBBC has recently extended its hours and now finishes at 9pm.“We know that at any time there are a million kids watching our [CBBC] content between 7 and 9pm, but our experience is parents and carers are engaged with what kids are doing and what we are doing is here is appropriate,” Webb said.The roll out of the BBC iPlayer Kids app comes soon after Sky launched its new streaming service for kids. The pay TV operator announced two original series for itsapp, and speaking to TBI at the launch of the BBC, Webb said she planned to add original content on the new kids-specific iPlayer.There are also plans for the content available on the kids app will extend across other genres over time and work with third-parties such as animal charities.“We know children love lots of other content that isn’t made by the Children’s department and isn’t children specific and what we’d love to try and do is put some of that in here, stuff that is age appropriate, whether that is a bit of natural history or funny outtakes from a science show, we’ll try it.”