Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is expanding its footprint in Australia and the Pacific with the signing of Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands, due to open in 2017.The new hotel joins Starwood’s extensive portfolio of 13 hotels at a time of unprecedented growth for the brand in the Pacific region, and follows Starwood’s expansion in Perth with the signings of The Westin Perth and Aloft Perth Rivervale earlier this year.Also this year, Starwood has opened three hotels in Australia and the Pacific; Sheraton Melbourne Hotel, Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane and Sheraton Resort and Spa, Tokoriki Island in Fiji, with a further two additions to be opened in Samoa by the end of the year.“Starwood’s growing footprint in Australia is well-aligned with the increased global demand we are seeing for quality lodging in the country and with our globally-recognised, nine design-led brands, strong sales platform and leading loyalty program, Starwood is well positioned to help our partners grow and meet the needs of the next generation of travellers,” Starwood Hotels and Resorts Pacific vice president Sean Hunt said.Designed by award-winning architectural company dKo, the new-build Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne Docklands will feature 269 guest rooms, offering harbour and city views, conveniently located in the newly developed Digital Harbour Precinct in Melbourne Docklands.The hotel will offer three food and beverage venues, fitness facilities including a 25 metre outdoor heated swimming pool, and flexible meeting and function space and services.Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
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WEGGIS, SWITZERLAND –The five-star 53-room Park Hotel Weggis, a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux portfolio premier hotels and resorts, is effectively incorporating its region’s natural resources into daily operations and is, in turn, saving money and preserving the environment. Located along the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, the luxury hotel has successfully implemented a heating and cooling system powered by using the water from the lake, thus reducing the amount oil needed by up to 20 percent each year.Park Hotel Weggis incorporated the heat pump technology in 1999 at a cost of approximately CHF 600,000 (nearly $600,000). To date, the technology has reduced the facilities oil usage by up to 20 percent equaling 100,000 liters less of oil used each year. Additionally, 80 percent of the hotel’s heat is drawn from this system. In the summer months, the energy created by drawing the water through the pump system cools the hotel’s air-conditioning system, and in the winter, the energy is directed into the hotel’s heating systems.In addition to Park Hotel Weggis, the Village of Weggis’s school and home for the elderly have also incorporated the technology to draw precious natural resources from the lake.“Our hotel is located in one of the world’s most beautiful settings,” said Peter Kämpfer, general manager of Park Hotel Weggis. “We believe it is our duty to preserve the area and its natural resources for future generations to enjoy. With this alternate energy technology we are effectively able to reduce our carbon footprint in quantifiable amounts. We will continue to develop additional environmentally-friendly initiatives to ensure that our hotel remains as “green” as the region that surrounds us.”Newly refurbished Park Hotel Weggis offers 53 guestrooms and suites, including the uniquely designed Adara Suites featuring unadulterated views of Lake Lucerne, luxurious baths and amenities, in-room wine coolers and the latest in technology. Asian-influenced private spa cottages, Tibetan themed spa treatment rooms and therapies and Japanese gardens provide a tranquil respite in which to unwind. The refurbishment features the incorporation of modern day luxury design and style in the original hotel structure that housed the Mark Twain and Queen Victoria Suites. The signature Aquarius Hall is the perfect venue in which to create unique occasions with its glass panels and specially designed lighting executed in Murano glass by Philippe Starck. The hotel is open year-round.* * * *For information and reservations contact Park Hotel Weggis at www.phw.ch or firstname.lastname@example.org or 011-41-2-41-392-05-05.* * * * The Park Hotel Weggis is a five-star member of Relais & Chateaux situated on the banks of Lake Lucerne just 30 minutes from Lucerne and one hour from Zurich. Founded in 1875 as the Hotel Bellevue by Wilhelm Strassli, the hotel is owned by M20-Immobilien AG and managed by Peter Kämpfer. Hotel Park Weggis features 53 guestrooms and suites, a sparkling wellness facility, private spa cottages, a state-of-the-art event hall, an authentic Vinothek with 2,600 labels of wine, the most extensive in Switzerland and recipient of 2005-2007 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, 3 award-winning restaurants including 15 points Gault Millau Gourmet Restaurant Annex, an infinity pool and is situated in the village of Weggis on Lake Lucerne with views of Mts. Rigi and Pilatus – considered the Mediterranean of Switzerland. Long established as the Jewel on Lake Lucerne the hotel has once again reclaimed its position after an extensive refurbishment program combining its original Art Nouveau façade with a new sleek design, modern day luxury elements and technology. For information and reservations contact us at www.phw.ch, email@example.com or 011-41(0) 41 392 05 05.
United Nations special adviser Espen Barth Eide’s visit to Cyprus next week will be his last as he officially leaves the post to pursue election in his home country, the Cyprus Mail has learnt.Eide’s office has already sent out invitations to diplomats and military and police officials to his farewell reception next Thursday.“Mr Espen Barth Eide requests the pleasure of your company at his Farewell Reception on Thursday, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, at the Ledra Palace hotel in the Nicosia buffer zone,” the invitation read.Eide had confirmed in an interview to daily Politis that he would be departing to pursue election in Norway in September, but had declined to say when he would actually leave.But although the Norwegian diplomat is not scheduled to return to Cyprus again after next week, in his role as special adviser to the UN secretary-general, he will remain in the post for the time being as he and his team draft the report on the Cyprus peace talks to the Security Council.Eide took over the post in August 2014, following a breakthrough that resulted in the February 2014 joint declaration by the two leaders in Cyprus. He replaced Australian diplomat Alexander Downer.He managed to bring the two sides closer than ever before on many of the outstanding issues and brokered two international conferences and three bilateral sessions in Switzerland, but was unable to catalyse what he frequently referred to as the “last mile”, which he acknowledged was the most difficult.You May LikeFigLeaf Beta AppHow to Become Fully Anonymous Online in Less Than 3 Minutes? Better safe than sorryFigLeaf Beta AppUndoYahoo SearchResearch Compact SUVs. New SUVs May Make You Want To Trade Yours In Today – See For Yourself!Yahoo SearchUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Brann’s legislation was supported by added testimony from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Michigan Humane Society.Brann’s two bills advance to the House for its consideration. Categories: Brann News,News 30May Committee approves Rep. Brann bills to improve pet protections The House Law and Justice Committee today approved legislation to improve protections for companion pets, sponsored by state Rep. Tommy Brann of Wyoming.Under House Bill 4332, it would be a crime to knowingly torture, mutilate or kill an animal with the intent to cause mental distress to or exert control over a person. The legislation would create first-, second- and third-degree offenses, partnering with HB 4333 to update sentencing guidelines of up to 10 years imprisonment.“Justice should include family pets because they could be used for manipulation or harm just like our loved ones on two legs,” Brann said. “As a pet lover myself, it pains me that animal abuse continues to be a growing a problem in Michigan and we absolutely need to address it. I anticipate that this legislation will be a solution to address this awful problem.”
Nassar case results in legislation to eliminate barriers for reporting sexual offensesA three-bill package has been introduced to better protect victims of criminal sexual conduct-based offenses in response to the recent Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University.State Reps. Klint Kesto, Kim LaSata and Brandt Iden are sponsors of the legislation.“After the disgusting circumstances of the Nassar case, there’s a clear need to make sure all Michigan students have a safe educational environment,” said state Rep. Klint Kesto, chair of the House Law and Justice Committee. “We must remove any barriers that hinder the reporting this criminal behavior, to make sure the proper authorities are alerted and action to protect students, athletes, and patients is taken. Nassar victimized young girls for two decades and this legislation will prevent another monster from doing the same.”Kesto’s legislation prohibits anyone in a position of authority from preventing an individual from reporting a crime, including criminal sexual conduct.The legislative package also adds a mandatory reporting requirement for K-12 and post-secondary coaches and athletic trainers for criminal sexual conduct offenses. Sexual abuse, assault, or rape also would be added to the state of Michigan’s OK2Say program, which allows anyone to confidentially report tips or criminal activities directed at Michigan students, school employees, or taking place on school grounds.“The victims of Nassar stated over and over they felt bullied or prevented from having a voice,” said LaSata, of Bainbridge Township. “This legislation stops that from happening again, while giving multiple options to report this illegal behavior.”The Nassar case showed a legal requirement for athletic officials must be added to Michigan law.“It is completely unacceptable that our coaches and trainers are not required to report allegations of abuse,” said Iden, of Oshtemo Township. “Our children look up to these individuals to guide and protect them, not to turn a blind eye when something is terribly wrong. Identifying athletic coaches and trainers as mandated reporters is a step in the right direction and I am proud to be a part of this change.”House Bill 5537, 5538 and 5539 have been assigned to the Law and Justice Committee.##### Categories: Kesto News,News 08Feb House bills to improve crime reporting for victims
06Jun Rep. LaFave: I will not be bought or intimidated Rep. Beau LaFave today stuck to his decision on Michigan’s outdated prevailing wage law despite unsuccessful efforts to buy his vote and intimidate him into changing his position.“I will not be bought or intimidated,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain, after he joined the House in voting to repeal the prevailing wage law. “I always vote in the best interests of hard-working Upper Peninsula taxpayers, and that is exactly what I did today.”LaFave said he recently was approached by a union representative who offered to have the union contribute to his leadership political action committee (PAC) if LaFave would vote ‘no’ on the bill.LaFave said he was not interested in a payoff. LaFave does not even have a leadership PAC.Within days, LaFave said his personal cell phone was flooded with an unusually high volume of harassing calls and texts demanding he change his vote. Many of the calls came from outside the area he represents in the Michigan House and at all hours of the night.“These dirty tactics were an attempt to undermine the people of the Upper Peninsula and my integrity,” LaFave said. “It’s exactly what’s wrong with politics today. I came to Lansing to clean it up, not cash in.”### Categories: LaFave News,News
25Jun Rep. Paquette invites residents to town hall meeting on road funding Categories: Paquette News State Rep. Brad Paquette of Berrien Springs will host a town hall meeting with special guest Rep. Jack O’Malley of Lake Ann on Monday, July 8 to discuss road funding in Michigan.“The legislature is hard at work on a plan to fix roads that focuses on innovation and responsible investment,” Rep. Paquette said. “This town hall is a great opportunity to share your thoughts and ask the questions you want answered.”Rep. O’Malley chairs the House Transportation Committee and is traveling to different parts of the state discussing road funding directly with local residents. Also participating will be Jason Latham, the Managing Director of Berrien County Road Department who has extensive experience in the road business both at the county and state level.The town hall will take place at the Niles District Library, 620 E. Main St. in Niles. The event will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. with time for questions from those in attendance. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.To register for this free event and for more information, please visit https://tinyurl.com/PaquetteTownHall. ###
Share4TweetShare7Email11 SharesBy Sage Ross – Vlastito djelo postavljača, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6533685March 23, 2016; Washington PostA three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has unanimously rejected arguments by the IRS and U.S. Justice Department that a trial judge acted improperly and, further, ordered the IRS to disclose the names of nonprofit organizations that might be eligible to join a class action lawsuit. The appeals court was especially harsh in criticizing the government’s lawyers, saying, “In this lawsuit, the IRS has only compounded the conduct that gave rise to it.”The basis for the class action is the disparate treatment by the IRS of “Tea Party” and other “conservative-sounding” applications for tax exemption beginning in 2010, collectively referred to as the “IRS scandal.” The scandal was first made public in May 2013 just before an inspector general’s report was released, titled “Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review.”The IRS had argued that it was prohibited from disclosing the names because Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) protects the confidentiality of taxpayer information. However, in the opinion of the appeals court judges, “Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers.”This isn’t the first time Section 6103 has hampered investigation and prosecution in the IRS scandal. NPQ reported in 2013 that investigators discovered the identity of the IRS employee who leaked tax information for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to ProPublica. Despite NOM’s stated desire for federal prosecution, the IRS argued that the investigation itself was protected from disclosure under Section 6103 because it was considered part of the taxpayer’s—NOM’s—confidential information.The Sixth Circuit isn’t the only appeals court to take a dim view of the government’s response to the IRS scandal. President Obama’s pick to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland, believed the IRS’s view that pro-Israel nonprofit Z Street could not sue the IRS until a 270-day waiting period has expired was ridiculous. “You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?”It’s too early to know what the potential outcome of the class action lawsuit might be, but one thing is very likely. Attorneys for the nonprofits will have the opportunity to conduct depositions of current and former IRS officials and others involved in the targeting scandal. Moreover, those depositions are likely to become public, either in court or in other ways. The government will likely demand tight controls on the depositions. Even if restrictions are granted by the trial court, there is no guarantee against unauthorized disclosures—leaks—of transcripts or even video of the depositions. Hardly the preferred way to promote governmental accountability and transparency (not to mention redressing wrongs against nonprofits applying for tax exemption as identified by the government’s own inspector general), but this is another example of the power of class action lawsuits.—Michael WylandShare4TweetShare7Email11 Shares
Share4Tweet23Share1Email28 SharesPixabay. Public domain. [CC 0]August 9, 2017; New America Media and Washington ExaminerThe U.S. allows about one million legal immigrants each year. On August 2nd, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) unveiled a bill that, if passed, would halve the number of legal immigrants over the next decade, eliminate family reunification and diversity visas, and limit refugees.“So much for the talking point that immigration hawks are ‘only against illegal immigration,’” wrote Alex Nowrasteh of the conservative Cato Institute.Though proponents claim the bill would increase “skill-based immigration,” Nowrasteh wrote that “nothing could be further from the truth.” In fact, “the new Cotton-Perdue bill will only increase the proportion of employment-based green cards by cutting other green cards. Saying otherwise is grossly deceptive marketing.”In February, GOP Senators proposed the RAISE Act (Reforming American immigration for a Strong Economy) with very similar provisions, but the bill stalled in the Senate. It purported to “raise the wages of native-born American workers by reducing the supply of lower-skilled immigrants.” But there is evidence that there is not a direct correlation between limiting immigration and increasing wages. For example, a study of the 1964 cancellation of the Bracero program, a guest worker program that allowed Mexican farmers to work on American farms, found that “the farmers did not adapt to the decline in legal migrants by raising wages. Instead, they mechanized and planted less labor-intensive crops.”Asian American leaders in San Francisco condemned the new bill this week. They compared it to the plan to challenge affirmative action in higher education announced last week, and see both as part of a white nationalist “ethnic cleansing agenda.”Dean Ito Taylor, executive director of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, told New America Media, “It’s almost like they sat around and said, ‘How can we [get rid of] all these Asians and Latinos coming to the country?’”Readers may remember that in late July, during Trump’s own “Made in America” week, the President not only dismissed criticism of his own companies’ foreign-made goods, his Mar-a-Lago Club and golf course in Florida filed H-2B visas to bring foreign workers for positions they claimed could not be filled by U.S. workers—15 housekeepers, 20 cooks, and 35 servers.—Cyndi SuarezShare4Tweet23Share1Email28 Shares
Share24Tweet19ShareEmail43 SharesBy Government of New York (Government of New York) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 15, 2018; Crain’s New York and New York Law JournalThe US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld the dismissal of free speech violation claims by Citizens United. In doing so, it allowed New York to require the public disclosure of donors who give more than $5,000 to nonprofits in the state.The ruling states that these regulations are “substantially related to the important interest in keeping nonprofit organizations honest” and don’t wrongly “chill the speech” of Citizens United or its donors.In an interesting twist, Citizens United argued its case based on a free speech/civil rights case from Alabama in the 1950s. In the case of NAACP v. State of Alabama Ex. Rel. Patterson, the Supreme Court found that giving a list of the NAACP’s members names to the state would reasonably subject them to the threat of violence. Apparently, Citizens United felt that their own political views might have the same violent reactions by citizens of New York. But the Appeals Court felt differently.The arguments centered on balancing the rights of free speech and association for nonprofits and the state’s interest in regulating and protecting citizens from fraudulent dealings in nonprofit fundraising and potential abuse of organizational nonprofit status, both 501c3 and 501c4.In a statement, [New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman] called the decision a “a victory for all those who believe in fairness across this vital sector of New York’s economy.”“Today’s ruling affirms that Citizens United can no longer shroud its biggest donors in secrecy,” he said. “State law demands that organizations like In Citizens United disclose their biggest donors to regulators so they can police fraud and abuse in the non-profit sector.”In a statement, Citizens United vice president and general counsel Michael Boos said the organization was extremely disappointed by the “adverse” ruling.“We suffered a similar fate when we challenged the federal ban on corporate sponsored political speech, but were ultimately vindicated at the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision,” he said.Boos said the group was evaluating its options, including an appeal to the Supreme Court.In an NPQ article last week, it was noted that the state of Arizona had passed legislation to make it illegal for municipalities to pass regulations or laws requiring the disclosure of major donors to nonprofits. Now, the federal courts in New York have ruled that disclosure can be legally mandated. Depending where you are, nothing is final…yet. Stay tuned.—Carole Levine Share24Tweet19ShareEmail43 Shares
Share12Tweet5ShareEmail17 SharesBy U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joan E. Kretschmer [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsJuly 2, 2018; DevexThe United States slipped down another rung on the ladder of global leadership last week when its candidate for Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Ken Isaacs, was rejected by the voting members for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and dismissal of climate change.Isaacs’ candidacy has been controversial since his nomination in February. Fifty NGOs sent a letter on June 20th that does not mention Isaacs by name but says that the director-general (DG) should have “a deep and authentic commitment to multilateralism” and “a record of and commitment to respecting diversity and condemning xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance.” Isaacs, meanwhile, has frequently tweeted statements belying a belief that Islam is inherently violent, and the Trump administration has drawn back from multilateral commitments such as the Paris climate accords, the Iran nuclear accord, and trade deals.That the US should nominate such a person to lead an international organization would problematic on its own, but the loss of the IOM’s DG post is historically significant. Since its founding in 1951, all the IOM’s leaders but one has been from the US. The overwhelming lack of support for Isaacs, while understandable given his views, signals a drop in America’s global standing.Burton Bollag at Devex reports, “Keith Michael Harper, former ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council under the Obama administration, issued a statement calling the election ‘yet another sign that US power, authority, and prestige has been so dramatically diminished. IOM director is seen as an ‘American seat’ and Trump was unable to place an American in it.’” Instead, António Vitorino of Portugal will lead the organization.There’s a solid argument to be made that seats on global commissions with a great deal of power, such as the IOM, should not be seen as anybody’s seat, or that another country that participates more fully in the global flow of refugees should have the leadership position. Like many levers of power, this one is pulled by money: The US funds about a third of the IOM’s budget. But international opprobrium at the Trump administration’s racist language and abusive immigration practices, as Human Rights Watch’s executive director of its US program put it, have outweighed even that substantial consideration.As the undercurrents of racism and “othering” that have directed US policy for decades become just plain currents in the national conversation, the global leadership position the US has held since the post-World War era seems increasingly in question. The consequences of this dynamic reverberate in the work of philanthropy and human rights, where foundations and organizations like USAID or Catholic Charities remain some of the largest and most prominent actors.The US continues to outspend every other country in foreign aid, though not when considered as a percentage of gross national income. That spending gives it a platform to decry human rights abuses and give its charities access and security in some of the world’s more tumultuous places, but this administration’s blatant hypocrisy on issues of human rights puts a significant dent in that platform while exposing some of the weaknesses of the civic sector.Geoff Mulgan, then-director of the Young Foundation, wrote in 2008, “The United States has led the world in social improvement and innovation…It remains in a league of its own as a giver. But over the past few years, the country’s insularity and parochialism, which have sometimes infiltrated the higher reaches of government, have also sometimes extended into civil society and philanthropy.”What Mulgan describes as American unwillingness to work within networks, connect social entrepreneurship to public policy, and look outward for ideas is connected to the rise of networked social movements and philanthropy’s increased focus on sustainable investment in more radically thinking, thoroughly networked social justice organizations.More traditional leadership positions like the seat at the head of IOM may slip from US control in the next few years, and if historically underrepresented countries rise to fill the void, that may even be a good thing. But if the civic sector is to continue its work in global human rights, medical aid, and other areas where it expects to lead, the lessons from those social movements will be critical to its evolution.—Erin RubinShare12Tweet5ShareEmail17 Shares
A bouquet of Christian thematic channels has launched via the UK’s Freeview HD service.The Christian TV package of channels includes Revelation TV and SonLife Broadcasting networks. It is delivered via Vision247’s broadband platform, which can be accessed by connecting a Freeview HD set-top box to the internet.
Broadcast equipment manufacturer Snell has named Andrey Velichko as head of sales for the CIS and Baltics.Velichko, who will take charge of the company’s Moscow office, supported by two local technical sales engineers, previously head a number of business development, sales, strategy, product marketing and consultancy roles at Sony.
Media company 7digital has signed an agreement to be the European music partners for Toshiba’s Places platform for connected TVs.Consumers with a Toshiba Places account will be able to browse 7digital’s music catalogue, create playlists and stream music to their TVs. The service will launch this month in the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.All stores will be optimised for individual countries with local language, catalogue and pricing.7digital is already available on other Toshiba devices, including laptops, Android tablets and smartphones.“This partnership is our first move into the connected TVs space and supports our platform agnostic strategy, allowing consumers to access their music on the platform of their choice,” said Ben Drury, CEO of 7digital. “The co-branded store offers a familiar browsing and purchasing experience so users can integrate their music collections across all devices, choosing to listen to the music they own in the way that suits them. Connected TVs offer exciting opportunities for us, and we will be looking at how we can further support these, and other connected devices, in future.”
HBO’s Game of ThronesThe launch of HBO’s Nordic online video service has been delayed, the cable network has confirmed.HBO Nordic had planned to roll out its first HBO-branded service in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland this month.“The launch of the HBO Nordic network and streaming service is highly anticipated and will be deserving of HBO’s high-quality reputation. We have been in contact with and are listening to our significant local fan base. Slightly pushing back the launch is not tied to one specific reason but simply our desire to meet all expectations. This has been communicated directly to those awaiting HBO Nordic and we have gotten nothing less than an enthusiastic response,” said HBO Nordic CEO Hervé Payan in a statement. He did not say when the service will launch or give a reason for the delay.The Scandinavian market has seen an influx of OTT services, with Netflix being the most recent big-name operator to launch in the region. Other services available in the region include C-More’s Filmnet, Voddler and Modern Times Group’s Viaplay.HBO Nordic online offering will include movies from major Hollywood and international studios, local distributors and independents, as well as HBO series including Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, Game of Thrones, True Blood and Veep. The premium linear and on-demand offering will be available for less than €10 per month via the streaming site hbnordic.com.
French transmission provider TDF has merged its media services subsidiaries into a single company, Arkena.The new division, comprising the former Cognacq-Jay Image, PSN, Qbrick and SmartJog units, will create “one of Europe’s largest media services companies”, according to TDF.Arkena’s products and solutions cover a wide range of media services activities including playout, headend services, content delivery, transcoding and storage, OTT content publication and content delivery networks.Arkena has a presence in eight European and countries and the US, and has over 1,500 customers according to the company.Key products include linear playout and headend services, an OTT solution, Arkena Cloud4Media for file transfer, storage and transcoding of assets and Arkena OVP and CDN for publication and distribution of online video channels and non-linear content.“For decades, Arkena’s individual companies have been serving the media and telecom industries, by providing specialized technical services to manage their video content, adapt it to multiple formats and deliver it to all screens. By bringing all our services and expertise under the Arkena brand and organization we are ideally positioned to help the media industry adapt to constantly evolving market requirements by offering the most relevant solutions,” said Julien Seligmann, CEO of Arkena.
Lower TV sales led the German consumer electronics market to experience a top line decline of 2.6% last year, with a return to growth expected this year, according to consumer electronics association the GFU.According to the trade body, sales of consumer electronics goods amounted to €27 billion in 2013, down from €27.7 billion the previous year.The drop was attributed to a strong prior year, which was boosted by major sporting events including the Olympics and the impact of digital switchover of satellite services.As a result sales of TVs fell by 19.8%. However, sales of other goods continued to grow. Smartphone sales grew by 18.8% and tablet sales grew by a massive 36.1%, according to the GFU.Within the TV market, larger screens increased their share of sales, with screens sized 37 inches and above accounting for 77% of sales, compared with 70% of sales in 2012. LCD TVs accounted for 97% of the overall market.Smart TVs accounted for 56% of all TVs sold, compared with 50% in 2012.Smartphone sales accounted for 22.4 million units sold in 2013, up from 18.4 million units in 2012, while tablet sales accounted for 5.6 million units and €1.8 billion in revenue. Notebook PC sales fell while desktop sales were more or less flat.TV sales for 2013 amounted to €4.7 billion, while private telecom goods represented sales of €8.6 billion and private IT products €7.6 billion.The GFU said it expected growth this year to be driven by the impact of events including the World Cup. The body expects overall growth of about 1% in the market for 2014.
Irdeto’s Dutch officesSome 70% of US and 72% of UK consumers are unlikely to watch pirated content, according to new research by multiscreen, revenue assurance and media protection firm Irdeto.The global study found that though viewing pirated content was still “clearly prevalent,” more than 90% of those that do watch pirated content in the US and 52% in the UK said they do so only a few times a year or less.This indicates that in markets where more content is available, there is less of a need to download it illegally, said Irdeto.The study noted that young viewers were still far more likely to view pirated content than older viewers, with 62% of 18-24 year olds in the UK and 54% of 18-34 year-olds in the US admitting to watching pirated content.“One of the most interesting findings from our survey was that availability, poor quality, and security issues are deterrents for downloading illegal content. This is a clear message to operators to provide high quality content at the right price. This could be a differentiator to remain competitive in a diverse region like Asia Pac,” said Bengt Jonsson, Vice President for Asia-Pacific at Irdeto.The research found that a “large majority” of consumers in Asia Pacific where open to consuming entertainment illegally. The proportion of respondents who said that they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to watch pirated content in Australia was 40%. In India the proportion was the same, while in Singapore it was 31%, and in Indonesia it was just 9%.The number one reason listed for watching pirated video by most consumers in Australia (26%) and Singapore (31%) was because the content is not available legally in their location. However, price was a top driver for pirate video consumers in India (29%) and Indonesia (36%).“The laptop and desktop have overtaken the TV as the most preferred device in some parts of Asia. This signals the onset of the multi-screen phenomenon in Asia Pacific. Countries like Singapore tend to be early adopters of technology and the trend is also evident in Asian countries such as Indonesia and India. It is a reflection of how hungry for content the consumers are in this region, and their desire to own and consume content on multiple screens,” said Jonsson.
Wyn BaptisteThe BBC’s online video service BBC iPlayer is today launching four exclusive documentaries ahead of this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival in London.Made by ACME Films, the docs will seek to tell the stories behind the event, which has been held in west London every year since 1966.Big Tunes will feature contributions from urban music stars such as Ms. Dynamite and Toddla T, who pick their top Carnival tracks and explain how massive tunes can change the dynamic of the event.Who Started It?, is billed as a “very personal journey of exploration” presented by Wyn Baptiste whose father was the first chair of the Notting Hill Carnival Committee.Sound Systems looks at the people that build the Carnival’s trademark music systems, while MC Rodney P presents Hard Food, which looks into Caribbean food and questions why it is not more readily available across the UK.“We want BBC iPlayer to celebrate and reflect Britain’s vibrant culture of festivals and events throughout the calendar year,” said BBC iPlayer’s head of TV content Victoria Jaye.“This commission is a great example of how we’re evolving iPlayer’s promise from catch-up TV, to a primary entertainment destination, offering audiences more new and original content.”The Notting Hill Carnival takes place from Sunday August 24-Monday 25 August, and is expected to attract more than one million people.
Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is set to finalise its acquisition of Modern Times Group’s (MTG’s) Hungarian Viasat3 and Viasat6 TV channels and Viasat Play VoD service, after gaining regulatory approval.SPT said that it expects to close the deal in the coming days after getting the green light from the Hungarian Competition Authority. The news comes a day after MTG separately announced it has sold its Russian and international pay TV channel businesses.Once the SPT-MTG deal is complete, Sony will fully own and operate the two free-to-air Viasat channels and their associated Hungarian VoD service, expanding its current portfolio of brands in the country – which already includes the AXN, AXN White and AXN Black linear channels and the two digital services AXN NOW and AXN Player.“This acquisition is a cornerstone to increasing our foothold in the Central European market, and will provide countless benefits to our business partners and viewers. We are focused on further growing our business over the coming months, building on the considerable success our channels and digital services have already had,” said Lyle Stewart, senior vice president, SPT Networks, CEEMA.SPT, which first announced it was buying the Hungarian assets in February, said that Viasat3 will continue to target women aged 18-39 as a general entertainment channel, while Viasat6 will still target a young male audience with movies, action and comedy series.Both channels will continue to be carried by the main cable and satellite operators in Hungary and SPT estimates that, after the deal closes, it will have a 6.3% audience share of the 18-49 demographic in Hungary.John Rossiter, general manager, SPT Networks, Central Europe, said the channels will “make a great addition to our existing portfolio, allowing us to establish multiple strong brands in the market.”“This acquisition makes us the second biggest cable/satellite channel portfolio in the country in terms of audience share and is a milestone in our plans to boost SPT’s position in Central Europe,” he added.This week MTG said it had completed the sale of its Russian and international pay TV channel businesses for a total of US$45.5 million, ahead of the implementation of changes to Russian media law that will limit foreign ownership of companies. Russian company LLC Sinerdzhi has acquired the Russian channels business while Sabiero Holdings Limited, a subsidiary of private equity firm Baring Vostok, has acquired MTG’s international channels business.