Showing another face of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has launched its latest campaign – Hong Kong’s Great Outdoors – aimed at encouraging Aussies to don their active gear and set out to explore a more organic side of the city, one that is far removed from its buzzing urban centre.HKTB regional director Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Andrew Clark said Aussies have always held a strong affection for Hong Kong but they often get caught up in the buzz and don’t explore beyond the central areas. “We really wanted to show how much more there is on offer in Hong Kong and also how easy it is to reach. Just a taxi or MTR ride away, the green rolling hills, quaint beaches and scenic villages quickly replace the bustling urban areas. It’s a great day out for couples, friends or families.”To show visitors just what they are missing out on, the HKTB has recruited a handful of local photographers, including: Landscape photographer and a Hong Kong National Geographic 2013 photography winner, Will ChoVeteran outdoor sports photographer, Elvis MoNature Conservancy 2017 photography winner, Jessica LiRenowned photographer, Romain Jacquet Lagreze, best-known for his “Vertical Horizon” photo series, showcasing the geometric lines of Hong Kong… to capture Hong Kong’s off-the-radar landscapes through the lens. The results are featured in HKTB’s newly published guidebook “Your Guide to Hiking & Cycling in Hong Kong”. The guidebook is available from visitor centres around the city, or as an e-version, and is divided into three different themes: Hiking in Heritage; Picture-Perfect Vistas; and Geological Wonders, with each section detailing suggested trails, along with the estimated time required and difficulty levels. Visitors are free to escape the hustle and bustle of the city at their own leisure and discover the surrounding beauty whether it be spectacular cityscapes; remote beaches; rustic villages; serene islands; or historical and cultural landmarks. The guidebook also features cycling trails for those who are keen to explore at a slightly faster speed. cyclinghikingHong Kongoutdoorphotography
Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away Top Stories Comments Share The Arizona Cardinals continued their youth movement by signing linebacker Daryl Washington to a six-year deal Thursday. Washington still had two years remaining on his existing contract but the Cardinals felt it was important to keep the young star around. “It’s great when you have a young guy that’s made the strides the way Daryl has. We thought highly of him before we ever even drafted him and he certainly hasn’t let us down,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “So to know that he’s going to be here a number of years, it’s a great thing.” Washington has recorded 185 tackles, three interceptions and six sacks in his two-year career. Whisenhunt knows what makes him such a special player. “For the fit and what we’re trying to get done defensively, he has all the things that you like to see. He’s smart, fast and he thumps a lot more than what you think he would based on his size. All those things to play to that linebacker position, make him very valuable.”Washington was no slouch in 2011. He set a new career high with 111 total tackles, two interceptions and five sacks. A lot has been made about the physical attributes that make him such a stud but there’s more to Washington, according to Whisenhunt. “His work ethic, you know that’s one of the things that you look for in some of these young players. If they’re going to be a leader, if they’re going to be one of the guys that you count on defensively. They gotta be the right kind of guy and Daryl is that.” Washington has appeared in 31 games for the Cardinals, including 25 starts, during his first two seasons. He’ll be on the field Sunday against the Seahawks for his 26th start and Arizona is counting on him to make an impact. Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo The Arizona Cardinals may not have as vast a collection of great games as some other NFL teams.However, when they have played in a great game, it has been really great.In the spirit of March Madness, NFL.com created its own bracket in an effort to find the greatest game of all time.There are four regions in the tournament: Dynasty Makers, Individual Heroics, Crazy Endings and Great from the Get-Go. And wouldn’t you know it, two Cardinals efforts are in the dance, with both being in the “Individual Heroics” category. 0 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact In that group, you have fourth-seeded Super Bowl XLIII, which pitted the Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and seventh-seeded 2009 NFC Wild Card game, which saw Arizona face off against Green Bay.For the Super Bowl, NFL.com writes:Wide receiver Santonio Holmes made one of the greatest Super Bowl winning catches of all time to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.Yeah, Cardinals fans remember.The other game, though, was a lot more enjoyable for Arizona fans as the Cards won 51-45 in overtime.The 2009 NFC Wild Card Game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals had no shortage of offensive firepower, but it was a defensive touchdown in overtime that ultimately decided the instant classic.Notable in that game was how Cardinals QB Kurt Warner threw five touchdown passes — and only four incompletions. Steve Breaston led the team with 125 yards on seven receptions, though Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet each scored a pair of touchdowns.Both games are certainly memorable for Cardinals fans, albeit for different reasons. Top Stories Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling
By Poly Pantelides A NATIONAL health system (NHS) could save the cash-strapped state an estimated €292 million over a 10-year period, the body responsible for its implementation said yesterday.The ministers of health and finance, along with representatives of the health insurance organisation (HIO), which is responsible for overseeing and implementing the NHS, met at the headquarters of ruling DISY.HIO representatives informed those present that an updated actuarial study by financial services consultants Mercer, placed health expenditure savings by implementing an NHS to €292 million for the period 2016-2025.Cyprus’ troika of lenders expects authorities to implement an NHS by the end of 2015, in order to contain rising health expenses. But they first asked the government to update their figures before taking any steps to set up the necessary IT-infrastructure, an integral part of rationalising expenses, increasing transparency and reducing bureaucracy.Head of the HIO, Thomas Antoniou, told reporters they would now elicit the help of consultants to get things moving in terms of the IT-system.Mercer’s also told the HIO they would need to “marginally increase” the proposed contributions by taxpayers who will be funding the system. The NHS’ annual budget will be based on contributions on the total earnings of the government, employees and employers.The original figures date back to 2001, when parliament eventually passed the relevant law after years of discussion with stakeholders.The state’s proposed contributions remain stable at 4.55 per cent, so that the government is not called to make additional expenses, the HIO said. To make the budget work, Mercer’s has proposed a 2.23 per cent contribution by waged employees; 3.97 per cent by the self-employed; 2.23 per cent by pensioners; and 2.55 per cent by employers. The proposed increases from the 2001 contributions range from 0.42 per cent for the self-employed, to 0.30 per cent for employers, and to 0.23 per cent for pensioners and waged employees.As of this year, civil servants have started paying in 1.5 per cent of their gross salaries, and five-member families may voluntarily contribute the same amount to also ensure health coverage.There are also updated sliding income criteria in place. All of this has been part of Cyprus’ obligations to its lenders, and includes raising hospital fees for non-beneficiaries by 30 per cent to reflect costs and introducing disincentives for abusing the system and using emergency services for non-urgent situations.Fees have been introduced for using accident and emergency services, seeing state doctors and requesting medicines and lab tests. So far, feedback from hospitals suggests the changes are alleviating the strained state health care system.Cyprus is the only European Union member state without a universal coverage system for its health sector. The private sector remains effectively unregulated by the ministry of health, despite the fact that both state and private health sectors are roughly the same size – a consequence of the lack of an NHS. “We now have a chance to implement the NHS,” said health minister Petros Petrides referring to the troika agreement to reform health service in Cyprus.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndoAngels And EntrepreneursRobert Herjavec Announce Venture Could Make You RichAngels And EntrepreneursUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoIsraeli rape suspects freed, woman who alleged assault arrested (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Pagel News State Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Oronoko, applauded the recent announcement of a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project totaling $840,000 to improve a roadway for the families and visitors of Cass County.“Our roads have been neglected for too long, and allowing them to return to gravel is intolerable,” Pagel said. “Dangerous roads should never be an issue for Michiganders, and I will continue supporting efforts to bring about a stable, long-term solution to Michigan’s huge infrastructure problem. I’m grateful for this grant to mend M-60, and hope it’s only one of many repair projects in our region.”The MDOT grant money is part of the second and final distribution of the 2014 Roads and Risks Reserve Fund, to which the Legislature allocated a total of $230 million last year. Since fiscal year 2012, the state has allocated nearly $870 million to improving Michigan’s roads and bridges, but spent zero general fund dollars on transportation infrastructure during fiscal years 2003-2011.Keeping Michiganders safe on the road is a primary concern for House lawmakers, and Pagel said this $840,000 M-60 road project will mill and fill the route to improve its drivability.For more information on all the statewide road projects announced, please visit michigan.gov/mdot.### 07Jul Pagel applauds M-60 road repair project in Cass County
Categories: Howell News,News ##### State Rep. Gary Howell today joined his House colleagues in rolling out the 2017-18 House Republican Action Plan, which he says will be a blueprint for the future.Howell, of North Branch, said the Action Plan’s focus on skilled-trades training is something he has prioritized for years. As president of the Lapeer County Intermediate Board of Education, he has long emphasized the need to train young people for vocational careers.“Job creators in Lapeer County are hiring well-trained workers for skilled-trades positions, and we must do all we can do on the state level to prepare people for those well-paying jobs,” Howell said. “At the Intermediate School District I had a role in operating the vocational-technical center, and know how important it is to train people to work in the trades.”Howell also said he is supportive of the tax relief that is emphasized in the Action Plan.“Some families in Lapeer County are still living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we in state government need to tighten our belts as well,” Howell said. “Reducing the income tax will help give those families peace of mind.”The House Action Plan can be seen here: http://gophouse.org/best-way-forward/. 16Feb Rep. Howell lauds Action Plan’s focus on skilled-trades education
State Representative Jeff Yaroch of Richmond today voted in favor of a bill package protecting retirement benefits for police, firefighters and other local government employees.“Our first responders work hard protecting their communities and we need to protect the benefits they were promised,” said Yaroch, a former firefighter/paramedic of over 25 years. “We need to be diligent in setting a path that properly funds the benefits that were promised, while being accountable and transparent to the taxpayer. All the stakeholders must come together to understand the scope of the problems and find a way forward for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”The new proposal will act as an initial detection method, stressing transparency and proper reporting from local governments each year to identify those who are financially troubled. Municipalities failing to meet recommended criteria to alleviate their debts will be flagged as underfunded and tasked with solving the problem. The reporting system follows specific recommendations of a bipartisan task force assembled by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year.Communities will be required to make a minimum level of payments related to retirement systems for new hires.“This is not just about what local government has done,” said Yaroch. “State government needs to be a better partner with local government by fulfilling its broken promises of funding, stopping the unfunded mandates and addressing archaic requirements that make local government inefficient. We need to keep the promises that we have made to police officers, firefighters and other public employees for the work that they do. That’s the right thing to do.”House Bill 5298 and its components advanced to the Senate for further consideration. Categories: News,Yaroch News 07Dec Rep. Yaroch votes to safeguard retirement benefit plans for first responders
The Michigan House today approved a resolution introduced by state Rep. Mary Whiteford ensuring effective use of state funds provided to address an emerging water contaminant.In December, the Legislature agreed to allocate $23.2 million to provide testing, monitoring and technical assistance at more than a dozen sites across Michigan where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been found in recent years.Whiteford, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Environmental Quality, said her resolution will provide the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team formed by Gov. Rick Snyder with a scientific framework that ensures public tax dollars are used in an impactful way.“It’s my responsibility as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to ensure that state resources are used in an effective and efficient manner,” said Whiteford, of Casco Township.Whiteford’s resolution calls on the PFAS Action Response Team to:Create a scientific advisory committee made up of scientific experts with various backgrounds.Evaluate the Environmental Protection Agency’s current drinking water health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.Review the information available on PFAS and conduct a non-biased scientific risk assessment to determine the extent of contamination and who is responsible for its presence.Use the risk assessment to recommend a logical action plan to guide agencies’ efforts going forward.“Moving forward, we expect to learn a lot of new information about PFAS contamination in Michigan,” Whiteford said. “This team of experts will focus on the scientific aspects of the issue and offer non-biased recommendations to help guide our response.”### 06Feb House approves Rep. Whiteford resolution outlining priorities for PFAS cleanup funds Categories: Whiteford News
11Apr LaFave outraged by proposed registration fees for kayaks, canoes Categories: LaFave News Legislator opposes increased taxation for Michigan outdoor enthusiastsState Rep. Beau LaFave today expressed his objection to a recent proposal by the Michigan State Waterways Commission that would require all kayaks, canoes and paddle boards to be registered with the state.LaFave said people should not be penalized for supporting Michigan’s tourism industry and enjoying the state’s natural resources, especially considering participation in paddle sports increases at a rate of 7 percent each year in Michigan.“This is one of the silliest things I’ve heard in my time as representative,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “What’s next? Will we have to register our water skis, our boogie boards, our wetsuits?”Though the commission claims the cost would be about $10 annually per watercraft, LaFave still has concerns.“They’re not thinking about those who have many paddle watercrafts,” he said, “the burden could add up to hundreds of dollars annually for moms and dads who have kayaks or paddle boards for each member of their family, not to mention the absurd costs for summer camps and rental companies.”Thus far, the commission’s proposal hasn’t gained any momentum, as no legislators have pursued the matter with legislation, but LaFave said he’s certain he won’t support it if put in a position to vote on it.###
Categories: Brann News 09May Rep. Brann votes to lower car insurance rates for Michigan drivers State Rep. Tommy Brann today voted to approve a landmark plan to fix Michigan’s broken car insurance system and reduce rates for drivers all across the state.Brann said the plan offers drivers personal injury coverage options, reins in medical costs and fights fraud – reforms designed to end Michigan’s long-standing tenure as the state with the highest car insurance rates in the nation.Michigan is the only state to mandate unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The plan approved today allows people currently using the coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it – while providing more affordable options.“This is one of the issues I hear about most from people in our community,” Brann, of Wyoming, said after the vote. “I’m glad we were able to deliver a solution that lowers rates. I fought hard to keep the option to continue purchasing coverage that provides unlimited lifetime health care if they are injured in a car crash. This was not in the Senate bill and is important to me. This is the option my wife and I will be selecting – and I hope others will seriously consider it as well – but people deserve to weigh their options.”The plan:Guarantees lower personal injury protection rates for all Michigan drivers;Gives drivers a choice on car insurance policies;Stops potential price gouging on medical services for car accident victims;Combats fraudulent claims to help lower costs.The sweeping legislation now advances to the Senate for consideration.###
Share20TweetShareEmail20 SharesAlaska in June / Ian D. KeatingJuly 27, 2016; WBAA-FM (National Public Radio)Several months ago, NPQ reported on how a southern Louisiana community on the very edge of the state became the U.S.’s first climate refugees, with the majority of their town under water. We continue our exploration of communities experiencing the firsthand effects of climate change in Alaska, where the remote inhabitants now struggle to survive on the subsistence foods that had sustained them for hundreds of years.Warmer conditions and earlier springs have meant that the whales and Pacific walrus the Inuit and other residents in Savoonga, Alaska, located on a small island 160 miles off the state’s west coast, had lived on are much harder—even impossible—to hunt. In Buckland, a remote community 130 miles east of Nome in western Alaska, changing conditions mean declining caribou herds, a primary source of food for the small town. With a population of 420, Buckland is slightly above the median size of Alaska’s 337 towns and cities.“Right now, a lot of people are out of caribou meat,” says Buckland resident Percy Ballot Sr. “Caribou used to migrate and winter in our area. Now some of the herd stays where they are, some move to the west and east. We’ve been trying to go out and look for some and haven’t seen any.”In other cases, with limited sea ice another side effect of warmer temperatures, residents are having to travel to other places to hunt food that used to be accessible in their towns, burdening them with transportation costs. Thinning ice also introduces safety hazards. “There’s a huge safety issue with thinning ice, which people need to travel on and hunt on. And snow coverage isn’t just for transportation, but for insulation of vegetation in the winter. People’s hunting camps are lost because of erosion,” said Carolina Behe, Indigenous Knowledge & Science Advisor for the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska. “You have to have the right conditions to prepare the food.”As researchers and officials have noted previously, climate change will likely affect the most vulnerable in our communities. As such, in Alaska, because the indigenous populations—among them the Inuit, who are also indigenous to Canada—have relied for centuries primarily on hunting for their food, the effects of climate change are more noticeable than in other parts of the country. Dwindling food sources have led to increased reliance on government aid and nonprofit resources like food banks. Last year, the U.S. government shipped frozen fish to Alaskan communities when their walrus hunts were not fruitful. While food shortages for Alaska communities are not new, skyrocketing prices of store-bought goods further exacerbate the problem. According to Feeding America, 14.4 percent of Alaska’s population is food insecure, slightly above the national average of 14 percent.“In places like Savoonga, suddenly you’ve got an 80 percent reduction in the amount of food you’re used to having. There aren’t a lot of jobs on these islands, and to say to people they now have to go to the grocery store—it’s just out of reach for a lot of these people. And there are hundreds of communities like this,” said Cara Durr, the director of public engagement for Food Bank of Alaska. “You can’t just snap your fingers and send more food. It’s incredibly expensive to ship food out there.”However, simply shipping food to several of these communities is also unlikely to solve the problem of food insecurity or offer a long-term solution. Their lifestyles were cemented after centuries and are now slowly melting away. After years of hunting stable, or at least relatively available food, these are not just changes in their diet; it will affect their culture and livelihood. A report by the Inuit Circumpolar Council and its Food Security Advisory Committee from last December includes measures that would specifically tackle the issue of food insecurity while considering the Inuit culture. “[Food security] means understanding that food is a lifeline and a connection between the past and today’s self and cultural identity,” says the report. Among the report’s recommendations for tackling food insecurity among the Inuit, and possibly other indigenous populations, is honoring the Inuit culture. For example, the report recommends supporting the Inuit’s food-sharing system, as it can be an important in addressing food insecurity for the wider community.Inuit sharing systems are one of the strongest drivers for food security and are a part of our survival. Food collected and prepared is shared readily with neighboring villages, hub communities, other regions and with relatives who have relocated to urban areas. […] Sharing traditional foods keeps people grounded within their cultural identity and provides access to healthy foods.Addressing food insecurity means bringing rural and remote populations into the conversation and, through meaningful engagement, figuring out the best way to help them.—Shafaq HasanShare20TweetShareEmail20 Shares
Share10TweetShareEmail10 Shares“3D Emergency Fund,” Chris Potter. Credit: ccPixs.comDecember 13, 2018; Daily SentinelIn Colorado, which has experienced several mass tragedies in the past, government officials and business leaders are considering establishing a standing nonprofit structure to hold public donations ahead of any new crisis.Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, among others, are the initiators of the effort, which is to be called the Colorado Healing Fund.“It’s impossible to predict when a tragedy will happen,” says Coffman, whose office seeded the effort with $1 million. “It’s not something we want to think about. But because Colorado has been the center of mass violence before, we must be prepared to take care of victims.”The group’s founding board of directors includes the former principal of Columbine High School in Littleton, Frank DeAngelis.Coffman, along with other attorneys general, are often placed in the position of warning the public about scam fundraisers in the wake of disasters. (This, when we hear it repeated over and over again by officials, cannot do other than erode confidence in nonprofits.)“I’ve seen money from good-hearted people land in the hands of scammers who take advantage of tragic circumstances rather than help those who desperately need it,” Coffman says. “That’s why my office seeded the fund with $1 million. The [fund] will provide a safe way for Coloradans to donate confidently now and in the event of a mass tragedy crime, and ensure that their money goes to help victims, survivors and families.” This is a statement about confidence in this sector that fundraisers and the rest of us should take very seriously.So, the establishment of such a fund may be a good thing, but why does it also strike me as heartbreaking on more than one level?—Ruth McCambridgeShare10TweetShareEmail10 Shares
Discovery has continued on its recent acquisition spree, buying Italian kids and general entertainment broadcaster Switchover Media.Discovery will acquire all of the Italian firm, which operates four free-to-air and pay TV channels in Italy.The US company said that, combined with its existing assets in the Italian market, the Switchover deal will make it the third largest broadcaster in the country by audience shareSwitchover runs free-to-air channels Giallo, a female-skewed investigation-themed service and Focus, a male-targeted factual entertainment channel. It also operates two free-to-air childrens channels, K2 and Frisbee, as well as GXT, a male-targeted pay TV channel.“Italy is a leading market for Discovery and key to our growth here over the last two years has been the development of a successful free-to-air TV business strategy as this platform has grown,” said Dee Forbes, president and managing director of Discovery Networks Western Europe.Forbes, previously at Turner, which runs several kids channels said: “The acquisition of Switchover Media adds further breadth and scale to that free-to-air strategy, as well as diversifying our portfolio to include scripted crime and children’s programming that have proven popular with audiences and advertisers.”With the acquisition of Switchover, Discovery now manages six free-to-air brands and six pay TV brands in Italy. The combined business will be overseen by Marinella Soldi, managing director Discovery Italy and general manager Southern Europe, who is based in Milan.Francesco Nespega, founder and managing partner of Switchover Media, will serve as a consultant and advisor to Discovery.
Sky’s catch-up service is now the “most comprehensive in the UK” according to digital media consultancy Decipher. In its quarterly audit of VOD on the major UK DTV platforms and OTT services, Decipher named Sky as leader in the catch-up space both in the number of channels it has and in its unique assets.However, Netflix was named as the UK video-on-demand frontrunner, with more content than its closest on-demand rivals Virgin Media, Tesco-owned video store Blinkbox and Amazon-owned VOD rival Lovefilm.“One of the key changes in the landscape of UK VOD in the last 6 months has been the introduction, and then the rapid growth, of catch up content on Sky,” said the March Decipher report, claiming this was “historically an area that Sky was weak in.”“It [Sky’s catch-up offering] has grown from a small amount of ITV content, to including catch up from all of the UK’s free-to-air broadcasters, as well as content from Sky’s own channels and others such as History and the Crime & Investigation Network.”In terms of VOD, Netflix was found to have more than 14,000 content assets, having steadily increased its content library each quarter. “Whilst you may not be able to find the latest blockbusters on there, and whilst the content in general may not be as up-to-date as that on Sky, Virgin or Blinkbox, the sheer quantity of movies and especially TV shows puts the US-based service out in front,” said Decipher.
Telecom Italia has reportedly initiated talks with Vivendi, in a bid to counter Telefónica’s bid for the latter’s Brazilian asset GVT, that could see Vivendi take a stake in either Telecom Italia or Telecom Italia Media.The report has stirred speculation about the possibility of some sort of future tie-up between Italian broadcaster Mediaset and Telecom Italia. Vivendi is known to have had talks with Mediaset about the possibility of taking a stake in the latter’s pay TV arm Mediaset Premium.Bloomberg reported that Telecom Italia CEO Marco Patuano and Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré have had talks, citing unmanned sources with knowledge of the matter. According to Bloomberg, Telefónica’s offer for GVT, which included the option for Vivendi to take over part of the Spanish telco’s stake in Telecom Italia after the Brazilian deal closed, came after Telefónica executives found out about earlier talks between Telecom Italia and Vivendi.Bloomberg reported that Telecom Italia has proposed a wider alliance with Vivendi, covering not only GVT but the possibility of the Italian telco taking content from Vivendi’s Canal+. Vivendi’s Bolloré is believed to be keen to establish relationships, including the acquisition of minority stakes, with companies that could distribute Vivendi’s content.According to a separate report byReuters, Telecom Italia executives are working on a possible deal with Citigroup, Banco Bradesco and Mediobanco.Bolloré is himself a shareholder in Mediobanco, which is also a shareholder in Telecom Italia via the Telco investment vehicle, through which Telefónica also holds its interest in the Italian telco.According to unnamed sources cited by Reuters, Mediaset Premium could ultimately be folded into Telecom Italia if Vivendi acquires an interest in both entities, even though this is complicated somewhat by the fact that Telefónica’s deal with Mediaset last month to acquire its 22% stake in Spanish pay TV operator Digital+/Canal+ will see it take an 11% stake of its own in Mediaset Premium.Vivendi’s board will consider the Telefónica bid at its next meeting at the end of this month.
Romanian cable operator RCS&RDS has moved forwards with its plans to rebrand its consumer offerings under the Digi label by opening a new Digi-branded store in the Transylvanian city of Timisoara. The operator has already opened a number of Digi-branded stores across the country in the cities of Bucharest, Oradea, Constanta, Galati and Cluj. It ultimately polans to modernise or create 300 points of retail presence across the country.
Cable technology provider Teleste has posted net sales of €68.4 million for the fourth quarter, up 27% year-on-year, while operating profit fell by 7.1% to €3.3 million.Operating profit for the full year was up 28.4% to €14.3 million on sales of €247.8 million, up 25.7%.Teleste said its 4Q profits were hit by weakness in the services business and higher fixed costs. The group saw strong growth in orders for video and broadband products.“Orders received and net sales from the fourth quarter were the best in Teleste’s history. Also, the order backlog surpassed the previous year, particularly in access network products, whereas the operating profit fell from the comparative period. Operating profit was impacted negatively by the weaker-than-expected profitability of the services business and the fact that the main part of deliveries in access network products fell on lower-margin products subject to competition. Moreover, fixed costs were exceptionally at a higher level than those of the previous quarters. Management of working capital called for special attention as the business continued to grow rapidly,” said CEO Jukka Rinnevaara.Rinnevaara said that for access network products, the most significant increase in the orders and deliveries took place in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Quickplay has struck a global strategic partnership with Harmonic to offer an end-to-end video architecture.The firms say this will deliver greater optimisation, carrier grade scale and performance, with high video quality for Next Generation TV.The partnership will combine Quickplay’s multi-tenant video platform with Harmonic’s video delivery infrastructure solutions.“Increasingly, infrastructure is being virtualised. For our customers, competing and succeeding in the world of premium OTT video means constantly innovating, while operating at scale with superior efficiency, agility and video quality,” said Harmonic senior director of strategic alliances, Ovadia Cohen.“Our partnership with Quickplay will bring customers new options for expanding traditional broadcast and pay TV services.”
For the first time global smart TV shipments exceeded 100 million units in 2015, according to new stats by IHS.The research firm said that in the fourth quarter alone 34.2 million smart TVs were shipped, accounting for 48.5% of all TVs sent out.IHS predicts that smart TV shipments will continue to grow at a “more gradual rate” in the coming years, reaching 109 million units in 2016 and 134 million units in 2020.“Consumers increasingly regard smart functions as essential. The market dynamic has shifted from seeding the market to self-sustaining demand for built-in internet streaming functions,” said IHS Technology principal analyst, Paul Gray.Last year more than 75% of televisions in China were shipped with smart functionality, while the popularity of the feature in North America surged from 36% to 48%, according to IHS.