September 10, 2008 This continues the 9/8/08 report with the continuation of same concrete pour. Once all of the concrete was in place on level 3 of the new handicap access ramp, the crew got busy on the rest of level 5 of the ramp. Part of level 5 was poured and finished on the previous day. [Photo & text: sa] As the crew works on level 5, we can see the covered level 4 ramp, which was poured on the day before. Below Level 4, part of the construction team is fine finishing the surface of level 3 ramp. [Photo & text: sa] A view from the visitors center bridge at the rop of Crafts III shows the finished parts of the zig-zag shaped access ramp. Level 6 was poured and finished on day 1 of a 3-day effort, level 5 and part of level 4 were completed on day 2, and level 3 and the rest of level 4 were finished on day 3. [Photo & text: sa]
19Feb García introduces legislation authorizing new SmartZone satellites to create jobs, retain talent Categories: Garcia News,News State Rep. Daniela García today introduced legislation to expand Michigan’s SmartZones program to create jobs and retain talent across the state.SmartZones are distinct geographical locations that encourage high-tech development by promoting resource collaboration between universities, industry, research organizations, government and other community institutions. An example of a high-performing SmartZone is in Grand Rapids, where heavy investment in medical technologies and life sciences resulted in the birth of the Medical Mile.House Bill 4226 authorizes six SmartZone satellites, bringing the total number of satellites to nine. Some communities, such as Holland and Holland Twp., are ready to move forward with plans to implement new development if they are designated as a SmartZone satellite.“In Ottawa County, we have seen great successes from collaboration,” said Rep. García, R-Holland. “Sharing resources provides endless opportunity for residents and employers to succeed. This legislation provides the potential for substantial job growth, here in our community and in other areas across the state.”“This legislation is a key component of our entrepreneurial development strategy focused on regionalism,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “The bill is focused on supporting the companies that will fuel the future of our community and allows our regional partnership to move forward.”Dr. Paul Hunt, a senior associate vice president of research and graduate studies with Michigan State University said: “This legislation will provide an opportunity for the MSU BioEconomy Institute to be an economic research and development innovation anchor in Holland and the surrounding area.”“The Grand Rapids SmartZone, which includes the Medical Mile, has helped support and spur entrepreneurship and growth in West Michigan’s high-tech business sector,” said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “The legislation will extend the success of Grand Rapids’ SmartZone to include our partners in Ottawa County, and would help to support our shared goal of making West Michigan a top-of-mind region.”
Categories: Hughes News 11Jun Rep. Hughes announces seventh annual Veterans Job Fair State Rep. Holly Hughes invites residents to the seventh annual Veterans Job Fair on Friday, June 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LC Walker Arena, 955 4th St. in Muskegon. The job fair is open to veterans, family, friends and the general public who are interested in starting a career, changing a career or upward mobility.The event was started in 2012 by Rep. Hughes and Dave Eling, director of the Veteran’s Center of Muskegon County, helping hundreds of people meet with local employers. This year there will be at least 71 employers from a variety of different industries attending to meet potential employees.“This fair is a great way to connect employers with veterans and local workers,” Hughes said. “I invite all residents who are looking to start or change a career to come to the Veterans Job Fair.”For more information, contact Rep. Hughes at 877-633-0331, via email at HollyHughes@house.mi.gov or the Veterans’ Center of Muskegon County by calling (231) 724-7143 or visiting www.muskegonveterans.com.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford announced plans to meet with residents of Allegan County during scheduled office hours.“I want to have the opportunity to meet with as many people in the community as possible,” Whiteford said. “Office hours are an excellent way to meet with constituents from Allegan County and hear what matters most to them.”Rep. Whiteford will be available at the following times and locations:Monday, Dec. 17Noon to 1 p.m. at the Laketown Township Hall, 4338 Beeline Road in Holland;2 to 3 p.m. at the Allegan District Library, 331 Hubbard St. in Allegan.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times, but would like an opportunity to speak with Rep. Whiteford may call her office at (517) 373-0836 or email MaryWhiteford@house.mi.gov. Categories: News,Whiteford News 05Dec Rep. Whiteford announces December office hours
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 20, 2015;Baltimore SunIn November of 2014, a new governor was elected in Maryland—a Republican who is pro-charter schools. In December, then-governor-elect Larry Hogan said he was going to work hard to increase the number of charter schools operating in the state. Now, a report has been issued by Baltimore’s Abell Foundation recommending changes in the charter school laws of the state, making it a more attractive environment for charter management organizations (CMOs).Maryland is somewhat unique in the world of charter schools. Unlike most states, the school districts charter the schools and the teachers all have to be part of the teachers union; they pay dues, and schools must abide by whatever contract has been negotiated with the union. The local school boards also have the authority to close low-performing charter schools.Because of these restrictions, the large charter management organizations that operate schools in several states around the country have chosen to stay away. The result is that there are relatively few charter schools in the state, with 47 schools educating about 84,000 students. Most of these are in Baltimore. The CMOs interviewed by the Abell Foundation for its recent report suggest that when looking at where to open a new school, or more than one, autonomy and flexibility are key. The CMOs prefer to operate in an environment with few restrictions on how they can operate, including the education system they provide and the teachers they hire. One regulation they dislike in particular is having to hire teachers that are certified.The Abell Foundation report supports the call to increase the number of charter schools in the state, and recommends doing so by loosening the regulations to attract high-performing CMOs. The premise is that in some ways, charter schools are better than public schools, although even in the report it is observed that public schools educate children as well as any of the charters. In Maryland, the charter operators tend to be independent, operating one or possibly two schools. They are locally owned and operated, not the “franchises” of a CMO. Based in Baltimore, the Abell Foundation is committed to investing in the city and its most needy. It has a focus on such issues as education, workforce development, and the arts. It spends considerable money on Baltimore’s central city. This report is part of the foundation’s desire to raise awareness about social issues in order to inform decision-making. Some leaders of Baltimore’s African-American community have decried the foundation as part of a system that is “fundamentally premised on a plantation paternalism to ‘save’ and ‘fix’ black Baltimoreans and all have a possessive investment not in racial justice, but rather the status quo which allows them to go on saving and fixing and getting paid.”Maryland has traditionally had one of the highest performing public education systems in the nation. Until just this year, the state was ranked first by Education Week; it has now slipped to third. The public schools have been doing well, as have the charter schools that are operating within that public education system. According to reports, it seems that Maryland has avoided the trap of many communities, such as Wisconsin, where there have been a number of schools that have closed for financial mismanagement—even fraud. We have to ask of this initiative to loosen the laws: It ain’t broke, so why fix it?—Rob Meiksins ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share5TweetShare1Email6 SharesJune 11, 2015; USA TodayWhen the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine introduced the world to Caitlin Jenner, posing in pinup style on its cover page, Google reported over 10 million searches within a few days. Despite the sensationalism surrounding the news, Jenner’s bold move to talk about the private struggles she has faced as a transgender person has elevated the national dialogue about transgender equality in a way that may represent a tipping point in transgender consciousness in this country, particularly as it relates to disparities in healthcare delivery.NPQ has been following developments in addressing that inequality. Many transgender individuals describe their reluctance to seek medical care because of their negative encounters with physicians who may be biased, lack sensitivity or knowledge, or who lack confidence in talking about their specific needs. The subsequent dangers of increased medical morbidity and mortality are real. Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine cites some examples. Trans men who still have a uterus, ovaries, or breasts are at risk for cancer in these organs. Trans women are at risk for prostate cancer, though this risk is low. Transgender persons have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to others and are often at higher risk for heart disease because of hormone use, smoking, and obesity.Medical colleges around the country are developing programs that train physicians to provide best practices in treating the transgender population. The Vanity Fair publication coincides with an event last Thursday at the University of Louisville School of Medicine bringing together physicians and other healthcare providers to talk about transgender issues, discuss best practices in healthcare, and network with transgender community leaders to identify gaps and steps to improve care.Beginning in August, the School of Medicine will be the site for a national pilot program and will implement the curriculum developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges to train future doctors on the unique concerns of people who are transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gender non-conforming, or born with differences of sex development.“We’re being looked at to see what works and what doesn’t and to be a model for the nation,” says Faye Jones, an assistant vice president in the university’s Office of Inclusion. “This is a topic that has been taboo for a long time. Physicians want to provide the best care for these patients, but they may not be aware of issues and how to address someone in a culturally responsive manner.”Training physicians is part of a larger strategy. “Ultimately, it is our goal to have an identified medical ‘home’ that provides all aspects of care for transgender patients in Louisville, as has been developed in other major clinical centers in the United States,” said Amy Holthouser, MD, associate dean for medical education at the U of L School of Medicine. “This will reinforce the core stance that a competent physician is skilled in the care of all patients within their community and can approach each patient with sensitivity, compassion and the knowledge necessary to promote health and wellness.”While the AAMC drives systemic change in the way physicians approach their transgender patients, other groups are addressing healthcare delivery disparities in a broader context. In May, New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced a new public-private partnership to improve healthcare services for transgender patients in hospitals throughout the state. A coalition including the New York Attorney General’s Office, Greater New York Hospital Association, Mt. Sinai Health Systems, and Lambda Legal will provide information and training to hospitals about both legal requirements and best practices for addressing the health needs of transgender people.What may be the most complex issue in the discussion is how the insurance industry responds to these shifts. The University of California’s Center for Excellence for Transgender Health, whose mission is to increase access to comprehensive healthcare services for trans and gender-variant communities, describes discriminatory practices by insurance companies.The center reports that, “Health insurance policies often overtly exclude treatments for transgender or transsexual people’s health care needs, even when these needs are not related to a gender transition.” It goes on to say that, “Physicians or their support staff members may need to interact with insurance claims processors on behalf of their transgender or transsexual patients to insist that medically necessary treatments are covered. In such interactions it will be necessary to support the patient’s preferred gender in relationship to the insurance company in the best interests of the patient’s health.”It seems that this may be a competency well worth including in any physician-training program.—G. Meredith BetzShare5TweetShare1Email6 Shares
Share9TweetShareEmail9 SharesBoy Scout Memorial 19261 / Ted EytanDecember 12, 2015; ABC News (Associated Press)While many nonprofit leaders believe advocacy to be a fundamental obligation of their organizations, if not the raison d’être, some want to stay as far away from it as possible.The Associated Press (via ABC News) reports that when the Boy Scouts of America revised its rules this week to emphasize a “duty to God” and ban political advocacy, it may have been a quite purposeful attempt to block new charters being based in LGBT organizations. New troops must also now be approved by a national body.Restore Our Humanity, which advocated for the legalization of gay marriage in Utah, filed an application in September for an LGBT troop, but the organization’s executive director, Mark Lawrence, expects a rejection.“I don’t think this is what they were expecting,” Lawrence said.“We’re being very careful on how we do this,” Great Salt Lake Council Scout executive Rick Barnes said. “We want to make sure that organizations are willing to follow our policy.”The largest sponsor of Boy Scout units in the U.S. is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, based in Utah. There are over 400,000 boys in Mormon church-sponsored troops, or about 18 percent of all Scouts.While church leaders were upset by the decision to allow gay troop leaders and had considered leaving the organization, they decided to stay after the Scouts assured them that they would allow church-sponsored units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.The revised rules also mandate a pledge that religious faith will be a guiding principle for the troops. Lawrence said the faith pledge was not a problem, but that he expects a denial based on the rule banning political advocacy or troops chartered by single-issue groups. Restore Our Humanity may consider legal action if its application is denied.—Larry KaplanShare9TweetShareEmail9 Shares
Share22Tweet10ShareEmail32 Shares“Planned Parenthood Rally,” Photo by Jessica NolteMarch 29, 2019; PoliticoThe state of Utah may come to represent the Title X family planning conundrum that’s now front and center in many of the Republican-leaning states that have vowed to pull all funding from Planned Parenthood. Since no federal dollars can be used to support abortion services, these rules changes would also ban the use of federal funds (particularly Title X) for clinics that provide abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood has made it clear that they will leave a state rather than abide by these rules and jeopardize the integrity of their work and that of their medical staff.For a state like Utah, this is particularly difficult, where there is $2 million in Title X monies at stake and few options if Planned Parenthood pulls up stakes.“We’re the only game in town,” said Planned Parenthood Association of Utah President and CEO Karrie Galloway. “We’re a unique and challenging state, and people don’t have a lot of options for comprehensive, non-judgmental reproductive health care.”The situation in Utah is particularly acute. Planned Parenthood has been the state’s only Title X grantee since the early 1980s, and currently serves about 37,000 low-income patients who depend on its clinics to get free and subsidized birth control, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and other reproductive care. Low-income women in Utah rely even more heavily on Title X because the state has not yet implemented the Medicaid expansion that voters approved in November and that state Republicans are working to curtail.Planned Parenthood’s Utah affiliate says it will keep clinics open even if it drops out of the program, but that the loss of Title X dollars would reduce the availability of free and subsidized health services in the state.Utah’s health department would have seemed to be a logical successor; state agencies in about three dozen states are in charge of distributing Title X funds to community health centers, school-based organizations, Planned Parenthood affiliates, and other providers.But Utah’s health department has long been ineligible for Title X money because of a state law requiring unmarried minors to get parental consent before obtaining any family planning services—a policy that clashes with the program’s federal mandate to provide confidential reproductive care to people of all ages.But Utah is not alone. Planned Parenthood serves an estimated 40 percent of the more than four million patients nationwide who receive care under Title X and that includes more than half of those in states like Utah, Ohio, and Wisconsin. A new round of Title X grants is set to be awarded in the coming week and the new rules are to go into effect on May 3rd, 2019. While lawsuits have been filed to stop what Planned Parenthood and others in the pro-choice community call a “gag rule” on patient referral by its providers, no one knows how quickly the courts will act or how they will rule.Missouri and Arizona have their own tales of woe. In Missouri, Title X is administered by the Missouri Family Health Council that currently distributes funds to Planned Parenthood clinics serving about 34 percent of the state’s Title X patients. If Planned Parenthood were to leave the state, the care for such patients would change dramatically—currently family planning clinics can have a wait list of four to six weeks for new patients, according to the council’s executive director.In Arizona, the nonprofit Arizona Family Health Partnership receives most of the state’s Title X money and distributes it to several different providers. Though Planned Parenthood only runs 17 percent of the Title X-funded clinics, it served 53 percent of the program’s patients in 2015, according to the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute.“They’re one of our more efficient and effective delegates in terms of the number of clients they are able to see and the cost per client,” Bré Thomas, the partnership’s CEO, said.Thomas said the group hasn’t begun looking for prospective replacements, but that it might be difficult to find ones that meet the new Trump rule’s requirements.And the experience with replacements for Planned Parenthood has not proven to be a piece of cake either. Texas is the prime red-state example for this. In 2011, Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood and the state gave contracts to The Heidi Group, an anti-abortion group that ran crisis pregnancy centers and offered limited forms of contraception. The Heidi Group lost its multimillion-dollar contract last year after charges that it had mismanaged state funds and served only five percent of the clients that it indicated it would in its state contract. Texas has reapplied for Title X funds and has indicated that, again, it will not fund Planned Parenthood. In its newest application, the state indicates that it intends to serve 53,000 residents, compared to the 200,000 served by the independent agency currently holding the Title X grant today—a 73 percent decrease.The conundrum here is complex. Title X funds family planning and related health care—much needed services for low-income families. In some areas and states, the most cost-effective and sometimes only provider of those services is Planned Parenthood. No federal funds can be used for abortion services. But for deeply red states, the tinge of abortion, or even abortion referrals make Planned Parenthood a pariah when it comes to receiving funding for what is the majority of their work. And, equally, for Planned Parenthood, they are clear in their position that they will not have their staff “gagged” in what medical information they can and cannot deliver to a patient. We have a standoff. The courts will eventually determine if these new rules for Title X will hold up. But in the meantime, in states like Utah, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, Ohio, hundreds of thousands of low-income women are at risk of being left without options for reproductive health.—Carole LevineShare22Tweet10ShareEmail32 Shares
Two of the candidates for the six new HD digital-terrestrial slots on offer in France have withdrawn their applications.Weather channel Météo and urban culture channel Urb TV have pulled out of the contest, according to local reports. Regulator the CSA will complete processing the remaining applications between now and March 14.
Barclays Bank has acquired a 14.2% stake in Dutch cable operator Ziggo after failing to find enough buyers for a block of shares for which it agreed to underwrite the sale.Private equity owners Cinven and Warburg Pincus moved last week to sell 40 million shares in the operator, the equivalent of a 20% stake, leaving them with a 17.1% holding in the company.The shares were made available via a private placement to investors outside the US on a Reg S basis, and to US qualified institutional buyers under an available exemption in a move described as an “accelerated bookbuild”.However, the share sale, which was completed on March 19, left Barclays as Ziggo’s biggest shareholder after it failed to find enough buyers. Barclays guaranteed the sale at €25.05 a share.Barclays disclosed the stake to the Dutch market regulator AFM on Friday under a rule that all shareholders must disclose stakes of above 5%. The bank had not previously been involved in sell-downs by the cable operator’s private equity owners or in Ziggo’s IPO.At the end of last week, Ziggo announced the successful pricing of its €750 million bond offering. The proceeds of the offering will be used to repay existing debt.
Modern Times Group (MTG) has extended its content licensing agreement with Disney for first-run and library move rights in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.The deal brings exclusive first-run rights to movies including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Disney’s Wreck-it-Ralph, Disney/Pixar’s Brave and Monsters University to MTG.The agreement also includes exclusive linear rights to a variety of back-catalogue titles including Cabaret, Evita and Runaway Bride.The movies will air on MTG’s six Viasat Film thematic premium pay-TV channels in the Nordic region, which are available on the Viasat satellite pay-TV platform, as well as third-party IPTV and cable networks.MTG has also secured subscription VoD rights to first-run and library titles for its Viaplay online service, which already includes a range of ABC Studios series.MTG also has a multi-year agreement in place to show Disney first-run movies and series, as well as classic Disney animation titles and library feature movies on the group’s free-TV channels in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.Under the terms of its latest deal, MTG has also extended its existing carriage agreement to include Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD on the Viasat platforms in the Nordic and Baltic regions.“Disney is one of the world’s leading entertainment brands and continues to release a number of the highest grossing box office titles every year,” said Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, president and CEO of MTG. “They also have a large back catalogue of some of the most loved movies from recent years. It is therefore fantastic that we have now extended our ability to bring these magical entertainment experiences to our Viasat and Viaplay subscribers and free-TV viewers across multiple countries. We have enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Disney and look forward to continuing this for years to come.”
European telco Tele2 is looking to transition to all-data mobile plans, as consumers make more use of internet services including mobile video.Giving a keynote talk at Mobile World Congress, Tele2 Group president and CEO Mats Granryd said that mobile pricing was moving away from pay-as-you-go to ‘bucketised’ plans and that it has already started charging solely for data in some of the 10 countries where the firm operates.“We are gearing the company up to be solely dependent on data, so typically we give all of the voice minutes away that you would like to use, we give all the text messages away, we’re only going to charge for data,” said Granryd.He said the trick was to realise how much data consumers use and to “move them up the bucket chain” so if they have run out of data in the middle of the month they have the option to top-up.“Today my customer base on post-paid, more than 50% are on bucketised price-plans, and this we believe is the way forward,” said Granryd.Stressing the importance of quality mobile connections, he added: “when you are streaming videos or TV, you cannot sit there and wait for buffering, so the qualitative aspect of the network in a data-driven world is more important now than in a voice-driven world.”Tele2 claims to have 99.8% population coverage for its 4G offering in Sweden, 70% population coverage in Kazakhstan and is building out 4G in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands.Though Tele2 offers combinations of fixed and mobile telephony, broadband and TV in some of its markets, Granryd said that roughly 80% of the firm’s €4 billion annual turnover is from mobile revenues.
The beta version of TDC’s Blockbuster service on iPadDanish telco TDC plans to launch a comprehensive transactional video-on-demand and electronic sell-through service using the Blockbuster brand it acquired at the start of this year ahead of Christmas, with a much deeper range of titles than originally envisaged.Ulf Lund, TDC’s senior vice-president and digital content director, told DTVE that the operator had originally intended to offer a mixed subscription and transactional on-demand service, based on the YouBio brand of cable subsidiary YouSee. However, having found that the combination of subscription and transactional elements in the same service was confusing to customers, it decided to separate the two and launch the transactional service using the Blockbuster brand.Since acquiring the brand at the start of the year, said Lund, TDC had become “more ambitious”, expanding its catalogue of titles from around 4,000 from its legacy on-demand offering to about 6,500, including both movies and TV series, and adding electronic sell-through to the mix. The service will be a multiplatform offering and will be marketed entirely separately to TDC and YouSee’s existing offerings. Ther service will be available on platforms including the web, iOS and Android devices, Chromecast HDMI dongles and PlayStation game consoles.TDC plans to launch the service before Christmas and Lund said that over 50,000 users had responded to an advance ‘first movie for free’ offering. Content will come from a variety of sources, and Lund said that TDC was still negotiating deals. In addition to the Hollywood majors, Nordisk Film is a key partner for locally-appealing content.The Blockbuster service will include an early premiere window for the most popular Danish movies, with crime drama Fasandræberne (The Pheasant Killers) set to premier on January 8 ahead of its DVD release.Lund said TDC wants the platform to be a “national” offering not tied to a TDC or YouSee subscription that will embrace electronic sell-through as well as rental. “Rental is at the heart of the offering but ownership or sell-through will be a new thing. You will be able to browse the [movie] covers and choose to watch the trailer and then have the option to buy or rent,” he said.Lund said pricing would be comparable with competitive services, with premiere movie rentals available for about DKK49 (€6.60) and purchases for about DKK149.TDC views the Blockbuster service as complementary, rather than competitive, with SVoD services including Netflix, which is already available in Denmark. The company is emphasising the comprehensiveness of the service and Lund says TDC has set a relatively modest three-figure million kroner revenue target.
British Muslim TV has contracted Globecast to provide a video-on-demand service as part of its TV everywhere offering. The service will extend Globecast’s existing relationship with British Muslim TV and will see the media services provider support the broadcaster with support for satellite capacity, VoD and content monetisation.Globecast has worked with British Muslim TV since June 2014, when it was chosen to help the channel launch on the Sky platform and deliver an OTT service. British Muslim TV used to operate on a donation-only basis, but now using Globecast tools is able to better monetise its content via VoD using a simple payment tool, according to Globecast. The broadcaster has created a monthly subscription VoD and OTT offering that can be accessed via multiple devices.“With the addition of our new VoD service, Globecast has helped us to monetise our existing content more effectively and allowed us to respond better to our viewers’ needs, thereby growing our subscriber base more efficiently. They provided an intuitive solution, that allows us to deliver greater visibility of our content for a longer period of time; not only are we offering our audience more ways to access content, but we can also gain additional revenue from existing assets that can then be used to deliver a more unique offering to our viewers,” said Wasim Akhtar, director of marketing communications at British MuslimTV.“Our work with British Muslim TV is a perfect illustration of how Globecast provides a complete end-to-end media services and OTT solutions offering for broadcasters. Content only has to be given to us once, and we can then deliver it to any platform, in any location and this can be done in a way that scales to suit the customer’s needs,” said Pete Elvidge, head of media management at Globecast.
Liberty Global-owned cable operator UPC Austria is expanding its network with the acquisition of Kabel-TV Stadl-Paura in the Wels-Land region.The network will be integrated into UPC Austria by next spring. Kabel-TV Stadl-Paura has been operating in the municipality of Stadl-Paura in Upper Austria, offering TV, broadband and telephone services.
Vodafone Portugal has expanded its range of à la carte on-demand TV channels with the addition of Playtime TV and Super 8 to its offering. Content from the two channels was previously only available via Vodafone’s VideoClub on-demand service.TV Playtime is a kids channel aimed at three-to-eight year-olds, providing a mix of education-focused programming. The channel is available to Vodafone subscribers for €3.99 a month.Super 8 is a classic movie channel with a catalogue of about 100 titles spanning westerns, horror movies, mantic movies and Asian cinema. The channel is available for €4.99 a month.Vodafone users can access content from the services by launching interactive applications that enables them to browse the pair’s respective catalogues.
Swisscom has said it will appeal a fine imposed on it by the Swiss competition regulator for allegedly prohibiting the fair marketing of sports content via pay TV in the country.The regulator, COMCO, has imposed a fine of CHF71.8 million on Swisscom and Cinetrade/Teleclub for failing to offer rights to national football and ice hockey competitions to rival TV platforms at non-discriminatory terms.Swisscom and Cinetrade say them comply with the law and that the high levels of investment they have made in sports, which they say were previously neglected in Switzerland, justify the creation of an expanded sports offering via the Swisscom TV platform to protect that investment.According to Swisscom, thanks to the investment made by the pair, there are now four to six times more Swiss football matches available to watch live on free TV than was previously the case.The operator said it would study the judgment and would appeal the fine with the Federal Administrative Court and, if necessary, the country’s Supreme Court.COMCO had previously sought to impose a sanction of CHF143 million on the operator.Cable association Swisscable and pubcaster SRG originally lost the rights to Swiss Super League football to pay TV outfit Telecable’s owner Cinetrade, in which Swisscom holds a 49% stake, in 2011. The competition regulator initially launched an investigation into potential abuse of Cinetrade’s dominant position in 2013.
Iranian mobile telco MTN-Irancell has launched a mobile-centric IPTV service.The service, Lenz, offers Iran’s national channels and includes seven-day catch-up functionality as well as a cloud-based DVR service. Content is available in 1080p HD. Lenz also offers access to a wide range of movies and TV shows on-demand.A mobile app for the service is currently available via the Google Play store, with iOS reportedly to follow.Iranian state broadcasting organization IRIB issue five licences to offer IPTV services last October, including one to MTN-Irancell, a local affiliate of South Africa’s MTN.However, the licences were subsequently withdrawn amidst disagreements between IRIB and the country’s ministiry of telecommunications over whether the broadcaster was authorised to issue them in the first place.New licences were granted in November to the same five companies to which they had initially been granted.
Amazon has started to ship its new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote built-in to customers in the UK for the first time.Amazon claims that the new device is 30% faster than the previous version of the Fire TV Stick, and has been redesigned with a quad-core processor and “the fastest Wi-Fi of any streaming media stick”.At the same time, Amazon said it will issue a free Fire TV software update that will bring Alexa to all Fire TV devices in the UK – including first generations of both Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, as well as the Fire TV with 4K UHD.“This is a big day for Fire TV customers. Not only are we shipping a new Fire TV Stick – a faster and more powerful successor to our fastest-selling UK device ever – we’re also rolling Alexa out to every single Fire TV device in the UK,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president, Amazon Devices International.“This will allow millions more customers to access Alexa, meaning they can get answers to questions, use Alexa skills, manage their smart home, or even find things to watch and control playback, just by asking.”The new Fire TV Stick is available in the UK priced £39.99. A German rollout of the device is due to follow later this month.
Practical Magic has collaborated with Warner Bros and Intel to create a VR experience for Christopher Nolan’s new film Dunkirk.The Dunkirk Virtual Reality Experience puts the viewer into each of the film’s three perspectives of land, sea and air, offering a virtual reimagining of the World War Two Battle of Dunkirk.VR production studio Practical Magic chose Intel-powered hardware and software to produce the VR experience, which is available now via Vive Video on Viveport and other VR platforms.