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Saving Central America

first_imgRelated posts:In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals Latin America’s anti-corruption crusade Why Guatemala’s Pérez Molina turns a deaf ear to widespread calls for his resignation Mexico’s Peña Nieto is not suited to building trust MEXICO CITY – Four Central American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua – are struggling, still burdened by the legacy of the last century’s wars. They are resilient yet incomplete democracies, challenged by poverty, violence, and corruption – and all but forgotten by the international community. But now there is reason to hope that these countries’ prospects could improve.Nicaragua, it should be noted, is not quite in the same category as Central America’s other three. Like them, it suffered through a brutal and protracted civil war; unlike them, however, successive governments have built institutions capable of supporting a reasonable level of territorial control and domestic security.By contrast Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras suffer levels of violence that are among the highest in the world, laying waste to cities and slums, bleeding younger generations, and driving away investment and tourism. The specifics vary across countries, but the results are the same.In Honduras, local gangs work with international organized crime groups. Since 2005, with the help of Venezuelan Chavistas and Mexican capos, the country has served as a pipeline for illegal drugs, especially cocaine, from Venezuela to Mexico and the United States.In Guatemala, the major criminal organizations have long been embedded in the state, making gangs more of a vehicle of social mobility than anything else. Since Mexico closed its air space to drug traffickers’ planes from Colombia and Venezuela, Guatemala’s coasts and highways have become crucial to the trade, with local, Mexican, and Colombian traffickers fighting for control.In El Salvador, drug traffickers have a smaller presence (the country is not exactly a route to the north), and the country’s armed gangs have a different origin: Los Angeles. During El Salvador’s civil war, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled to the United States, where some joined gangs for protection and a livelihood. About 15 years ago, many of these gang members were deported, bringing their criminal activities with them.A ceasefire with the gang leaders, reached under the previous government, dampened the violence for a while. But the current administration’s decision to cancel the deal (which was weakening anyway) triggered a fierce response from major gangs. With the government now fighting back, violence has reached unprecedented levels: 250 deaths just in the first week of August.Given their instability, it is perhaps not surprising that these countries’ diasporas play a central role in their economies. Nicaragua, whose emigrants typically head south to Costa Rica or to work in Panama’s construction industry, depends on remittances for 10 percent of its GDP. Guatemala receives as much as 10 percent of its national income from expatriates, usually in the U.S. Remittances account for 17 percent of Honduras’ GDP, and 17 percent of El Salvador’s.Despite U.S. efforts to deport Central Americans who reach its territory, and Mexico’s attempt to seal its southern border to help its northern neighbor, the flow of immigrants continues. As the former Salvadoran politician Joaquín Villalobos has warned, the region is at risk of becoming so dependent on external funds, whether remittances or aid, that its labor capabilities and capacity for innovation could all but disintegrate, condemning it to persistent poverty.US active again in Central AmericaCentral America’s struggling countries need help to escape their current predicament. Fortunately, after decades of mostly staying out of the region’s affairs, the U.S. appears ready to get involved again, this time in a positive way. This is appropriate, given the U.S.’ role – from the “war on drugs” launched in 1971 to the dirty wars of the 1980s – in creating and sustaining the region’s problems.So far, the U.S. has focused almost exclusively on limiting drug trafficking. But the variety and scale of the challenges facing the region is compelling President Barack Obama’s administration to act on other issues, from migration, which affects the U.S. directly, to violence and corruption.Most promisingly, the U.S. is taking an active role in revitalizing and transforming the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), created in 2006. Originally financed by the European Union and others involved in the 1996 peace agreements, which ended 36 years of civil war, CICIG aimed to aid in the investigation and prosecution “of the crimes committed by members of the illegal bodies of security.”More recently, CICIG has focused on government corruption, becoming a more significant body than ever. Since the start of this year, it has implicated several members of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina’s Cabinet, as well as the president himself, in major corruption scandals. Vice President Roxana Baldetti was forced to resign, after reports linked her to a group accused of taking bribes to avoid levying customs taxes, and was arrested in August. Then Molina himself stepped down and was arrested immediately.With a strong new Colombian commissioner and 200 security officers and 200 prosecutors, all of them foreigners, together with sufficient resources and the support of the U.S. embassy, CICIG has become a powerful instrument in the fight against one of Guatemala’s worst blights. As a high government official has put it: “It hurts to admit that we are unable to clean up our own house, but it is better that someone else does it than that nobody does.”The rest of Central America is taking note. In Honduras, citizens have taken to the streets, sometimes even approaching the U.S. Embassy directly, to demand the establishment of an equivalent to CICIG in their country. Even in El Salvador, where corruption poses a lesser challenge, demands for an analogous commission have arisen.Such institutions, together with the billion dollars that the U.S. promised to the three countries last year, could help put them on the path toward stability. Perhaps it could even enable them to revive the old dream of a customs union, possibly including Nicaragua and/or Costa Rica.This is the first ray of hope the region has seen in a while. One hopes that it signals a long-awaited new dawn.Jorge G. Castañeda, former Mexican secretary of foreign affairs, is Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.© 2015, Project Syndicate  www.project-syndicate.org Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Israelis pay tribute to Rabin in memorial rally

first_img Comments   Share   JERUSALEM (AP) – Thousands of Israelis are gathering at the Tel Aviv square where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated to mark the 17th anniversary of the former prime minister’s death and remember his call for peace.Rabin was gunned down on Nov. 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed his policy of trading land with the Palestinians for peace.Rabin’s government negotiated the first interim peace accord with the Palestinians in 1993. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generationcenter_img Patients with chronic pain give advice Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Sponsored Stories Saturday night’s rally at the square that bears Rabin’s name has become an annual pilgrimage for many Israelis to pay tribute to the slain leader. Participants held candles and waved Israeli flags. Others carried aloft banners calling for protecting democracy.Israel officially marks the anniversary Sunday, according to the Hebrew calendar.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

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Greece attracting highincome travellers says Tourism Minister

first_imgTourism Minister of Greece, Elena Kountoura has said that the tourism ministry is aiming to capitalise on Greece’s good performance in 2016, by opening up to new markets and extending the tourism season to include winter and autumn, and also attract higher income tourists.Kountoura said that the goal is to bring in tourists willing to spend. “Our goal is quality tourism. In 2016, we tripled the number of arrivals from the U.S. and Canada, a market we managed to reach out to with the help of the Diaspora Greeks,” added Kountoura.The minister noted that American travellers like those from the United Arab Emirates tend to spend more while on holiday, with Greece managing to attract both with the latter up by 55%.Additionally, Kountoura also stated that the ministry in collaboration with the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) had carried out qualitative research which identified an increasing number of high-income visitors in 2016. The findings were supported by a complementary study carried out by the University of Crete which also found that a large percentage of travellers to Greece last year belonged to the 60,000 euro-plus annual income bracket.last_img read more

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by John Rogers The Associated Press Posted Ma

first_img by John Rogers, The Associated Press Posted May 23, 2018 11:30 pm PDT Last Updated May 24, 2018 at 6:00 pm PDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Tommy Chong pose for a picture at his home Tuesday, May 15, 2018 in Los Angeles. About to turn 80, Chong says he never doubted he’d live to see the day when marijuana would be legal in one form or another in 30 states across the country. Now, with his own Chong’s Choice line of artisanal pot, Chong prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday this week with a gentle I-told-You-So. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) Tommy Chong reflects on pot’s evolution as he turns 80center_img LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he’d live to see the day marijuana legalization would be sweeping America.He knew when he and partner Cheech Marin pioneered stoner comedy 50 years ago, a time when taunting the establishment with constant reminders that they didn’t just play hippie potheads in the movies — they really were those guys — could have landed them in prison. He even knew in 2003 when Chong was imprisoned for nine months for conspiring to distribute handcrafted artisanal bongs the government declared drug paraphernalia.“Oh yeah, I saw it coming,” he says of cannabis being legal in some form in about two-thirds of his adopted country’s 50 states.“In fact, I kind of planned the whole thing out,” he jokes. “Well, maybe I was a little premature with that bong thing. But other than that, I was pretty much right on point.”So much so that when the High Priest of Stoner Comedy turns 80 on Thursday — that’s right, 80 — he expects his Chong’s Choice brand of marijuana, available in legal dispensaries in several states, will be consumed in abundance at the parties his family is planning.“Tommy likes to say he tests every single batch. Which obviously he does. And he really enjoys it,” his son Paris Chong says with a laugh.“For this one, make sure that whatever you have to eat around the house is healthy because you’ll find yourself munching away like crazy,” the elder Chong says as he holds up a jar containing a dozen or so choice green buds.“Oh, and we have chocolates too,” he says, reaching for a package of candies that vaguely resemble Tootsie Rolls.Not that he was ever a heavy pot user, Chong says, just a consistent connoisseur.“When I was 17, a jazz musician gave me a Lenny Bruce record and a joint at the same time, and it changed my life,” he recalls. “I quit school I think a week later and went on the road and became a blues musician and eventually a comedian, and the rest, as they say, is history.”His group Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers was signed to Motown, and Chong co-wrote the band’s only hit, “Does Your Mama Know About Me,” a smooth R&B tune that rose to No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968.When no other hits followed, Motown dropped the group, and the Canadian-born Chong returned to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he ran a pair of strip clubs with his brother. There he crossed paths with Richard Marin, a Mexican-American art student from Los Angeles eight years his junior, who asked to join the house band. The pair began warming up audiences with stoner jokes, and a comedy team was born.After some discussion of what to call themselves — Chong says “Richard and Tommy” and “Chong and Marin” were quickly rejected — they settled on Cheech, Marin’s nickname, and Chong. By then, Motown had helped Chong obtain a green card, and the two headed to fame and fortune in Los Angeles.On a recent early morning, Chong answers the door for a photo shoot at his longtime home in the hills overlooking L.A.’s wealthy Brentwood section, arriving in grey jeans, sandals and a black T-shirt advertising the name of a Colorado cannabis dispensary he recently visited. He offers to change into another shirt for the photos before deciding to stick with the original.“Don’t want to ruin my image,” he concludes with a smile.As a photographer sets up, Chong polishes off a breakfast of oatmeal topped with sliced banana. In recent years, he’s become a vegetarian, although he backslides.“Especially if you put a plate of dim sum in front of me. Of course, that’s my cultural heritage.”Chong, whose father emigrated from China before World War II, mostly identifies culturally as Chinese, although he’s equally proud of his Scotch, Irish and Native American ancestry from his mother’s side. Married for more than 40 years to his wife, Shelby, he’s a family man with six grown children, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.More than just a stoner comedian, he’s been a passionate marijuana advocate for decades. He used cannabis during a bout with prostate cancer 10 years ago and more recently during treatment and recovery from colorectal cancer.He finds it ironic that if the U.S. government hadn’t outlawed marijuana in the early 20th century, he and Marin might never have had a comedy career.Before the pair’s bitter 1980s breakup, Cheech and Chong dominated comedy for 15 years. They released five Grammy-nominated, bestselling albums between 1971 and 1976, winning the 1973 Grammy for “Los Cochinos.” Turning to films, they wrote and starred in a half-dozen, beginning with 1978’s “Up in Smoke.”After the breakup, they would try periodically to reunite. Those efforts generally ended in angry, insult-laden exchanges until 10 years ago when Paris Chong intervened.Finding an email on his father’s computer from Marin asking if he wanted to try again to put aside differences, the son didn’t bother to tell the father. He simply wrote yes and hit reply.“And then I told my dad, and they were really happy,” he recalls, chuckling. “Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your own way.”“There’s a bond now that will always be there no matter what happens,” says Chong, who in casual conversation sounds little like his stoner-dude alter-ego.And “yeah,” he says, answering the obvious question, “we still toke up.”last_img read more

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Tourism revenue up 31 per cent in January

first_imgRevenue from tourism reached €39.6m in January 2019 compared with €38.4m in the same month of the previous year, recording an increase of 3.1 per cent, the statistical service said on Thursday.According to Cystat, expenditure per person per visit fell on average to €483.26 in January compared with €506.49 in the same month last year, a decrease of 4.6 per cent.Expenditure per person/per day fell by 3.5 per cent from €56.28 to €54.30.A decrease of 1.1 per cent was also recorded in the average length of stay, from nine days in January 2018 to 8.9 days in January 2019.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoVikings: Free Online GamePlay this for 1 min and see why everyone is addicted!Vikings: Free Online GameUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img read more

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Exchange students visit Michigan Capitol

first_img19Apr Exchange students visit Michigan Capitol Categories: News State Rep. Greg MacMaster, R-Kewadin, recently welcomed Thore Pruesse of Germany, Ishtiak Zim of Bangladesh, Zhanar Tuleutayeva of Kazakhstan, and Olave W. Russell, ASSE International Student Exchange representative, to the state Capitol. The group from Traverse City toured the Capitol, watched House and Senate sessions and discussed Michigan’s legislative process with MacMaster.last_img

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Rep Reilly shares complete voting record

first_img State Rep. John Reilly of Oakland Township is offering a measurable track record of results by posting each of his votes on a single web page along with an explanation for each vote.This is a unique effort among state legislators. While all votes are public, few take the time to assemble all their votes in one place and provide a reason for every vote.“I stand by my voting record, and I strongly believe it’s important for constituents to see exactly how I represent them on the legislative questions put before me,” Rep. Reilly said. “I hope people find it informative as a snapshot of the work the House of Representatives is doing.”Residents can go to RepReilly.com and click the “Vote Explanations” button to see a list of bills, vote date, how Rep. Reilly voted (yes or no) and a detailed reason for the vote. The website will be updated monthly when the House of Representatives is in session. For additional questions, please contact the office directly at 517-373-1798.##### 06Jul Rep. Reilly shares complete voting record Categories: Reilly Newslast_img read more

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State of Pennsylvania Once Again Takes Out Forced Loans from Nonprofits

first_imgShare2TweetShareEmail2 SharesJuly 30, 2015; Fox 43The three-week-old budget impasse in Pennsylvania is forcing nonprofits all over the state to take out loans to cover the cost of services under state contracts while legislators figure out a resolution. State funding payments to service providers are to be delayed starting today, and the next budget vote is scheduled for the end of August. Meanwhile, as we have described previously, the nonprofit sector—and, specifically, safety net programs—are bracing for a big hit. And those that could get loans have prepared themselves to spend on debt.The Community Progress Council in York spends $300,000 per month on an array of programs in early childhood education, housing, and employment training. President of the Community Progress Council (CPC) Robin Rohrbaugh says they got prepared at the urging of their state association, but the delay will cost them. “Interest is not reimbursable with state and federal grants. So the money that we receive to provide services for clients, we cannot use government resources to pay back the loan,” said Rohrbaugh. “Fundraising for interest payments is not something that is value added to the community or the taxpayers. If we take some of our other revenue from other sources that we would normally direct towards client services, to pay back the interest on the loan, basically, it results in fewer people receiving help.”The local YWCA has also taken out a line of credit. “The organization’s CEO, Jean M. Treuthart, says, “YWCA York receives around 35 percent of our budget revenue from the state to fund learning centers, provide rape crisis services and operate our two domestic violence shelters in York and Hanover. Our mandated programs and services will continue no matter what. The YWCA is the primary provider of domestic violence services in York County, so our shelters and hotline will be staffed regardless of the impact of the budget impasse.”Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged last Friday that nonprofit social services providers would likely have to borrow to provide for service continuation. In the last such impasse, in  2009, a resolution was not reached until October, causing many social service agencies to lay off employees, borrow money, and, in some cases, shut down.—Ruth McCambridgeShare2TweetShareEmail2 Shareslast_img read more

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As DOJ Declares It Will Back Away from Private Prisons Whats Next

first_imgShare10TweetShare4Email14 SharesPrivate prisons should be illegal / kennethlippAugust 18, 2016; Washington PostYesterday, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates sent a memo to others in the Obama administration that declared the Justice Department would be phasing out its contracts with private prisons.Yates is asking officials to, when contracts come up for renewal, either reduce the scope of the contract or just decline to renew altogether. Thus, the DOJ intends to reduce and ultimately end the use of private prisons. There are 13 such facilities in the federal system, housing 12 percent of the federal prison population, and each of those contracts will come up for renewal in the next five years.“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote. She says the intent is to reduce the number of prisoners in private facilities from more than 22,000 to 14,200 by May 1, 2017.According to the OIG report, privately-run prisons had more safety and security incidents than those managed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), including higher rates of assaults and contraband.Yates wrote that the initial contracts were written in response to an exploding prison population, but by 2013 that population began to decline, due in part to a resetting of sentencing guidelines. This, she said, provided an opportunity to reevaluate the U.S. government’s relationship with private prisons, which in 2014 alone cost the Bureau $639 million. “With the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something.”Of course, these findings are not exactly a surprise. Recent articles in Mother Jones and The Nation documented glaring problems in private facilities, and three weeks ago, the BOP declined to renew a contract with the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. On the other hand, the private management companies disagree with the findings and the strategy, saying that their populations are very different than those housed in the BOP facilities. The private prisons are reputed to spend millions on lobbying each year, so they may be difficult to sever—and we are, after all, facing a change of administration, so will this resolution stick? Moreover, these 13 facilities are a fraction of the private prisons in the U.S.; the move will not have an effect on the size of the prison population.We should also keep in mind that large nonprofits still invest in these facilities. Maybe it is karma time for them, because stocks for the two largest groups plummeted yesterday; according to the Wall Street Journal, Corrections Corporation of America and GEO both lost 40 percent of their value.In the end, this move may be less about conditions in private prisons and more about who will take the loss of a capital investment.—Ruth McCambridgeShare10TweetShare4Email14 Shareslast_img read more

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Channel 4 has signed up the first brands to use it

first_imgChannel 4 has signed up the first brands to use its new interactive ad formats.Confectionary company Mikado will be the first brand to run online adverts using the new Ad Bloom format, which allows the advert to develop from an in-player ad pre roll to a microsite within the player. This can be populated with content videos, product features and photos, driving brand exposure and dwell time, according to Channel 4. The Mikado ad will include teaser video clips, Facebook links and editorial content on the different variants of the brand. All the information will be housed within a bespoke microsite within Channel 4’s online 4oD player.McCain has signed to run adverts using the Ad Social format, which lets viewers check in with, recommend, or follow a brand on various social networking sites from the 4oD player.last_img read more

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Polish pay TV operator Cyfra Plus has launched a C

first_imgPolish pay TV operator Cyfra Plus has launched a CI Plus module offer for customers that buy a TV from LG’s “S” series.The offer gives Cyfra Plus customers access to various channel packages, including premium HD bouquets, via a CAM inserted into the CI Plus slot on the LG TVs. The CAM usually costs PLN199 (€47) and gives access to Cyfra Plus channels without the need for a set-top box.last_img

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Reporting what it described as its bestever quart

first_imgReporting what it described as its best-ever quarterly subscriber growth, Liberty Global now says it will begin rolling out its long-awaited Horizon next-generation TV product in the Netherlands in the third quarter, to be followed by Switzerland.Liberty Global added 445,000 revenue-generating units through organic growth in the three months to March, contributing to what the company said was its strongest quarter to date for subscriber growth. Liberty added 279,000 digital cable subscribers, taking digital penetration to 47% of its base or 8.4 million customers, of which 52% took an HD and/or DVR service. The company lost 86,000 TV subs overall, about the same as for the comparable period last year, contributing to a quarter-on-quarter fall in its video base of 0.3%, but ended with a video base about 15% larger than for the same period last year thanks to the incorporation of Kabel BW.The results included Liberty Global’s new German business, Kabel BW, for the first time. The company also sold its Australian pay TV business, Austar, during the quarter.The company added 254,000 broadband internet and 277,000 telephony customers in the quarter, taking broadband penetration to 27% and telephony penetration to 21%.As of the end of March, the company had 33.4 million RGUs, including 18.4 million TV, 8.5 million broadband and 6.5 million telephony subscribers. Triple-play penetraton stood at 23.2%. ARPU from UPC customers stood at €23.30, up 2%, while overall Liberty Global ARPU stood at US$37.26 (€29), down 2.4%.President and CEO Mike Fries said: “We had the best quarter in the company’s history for broadband and telephony RGU additions, which drove a record result for LGI’s overall subscriber growth in the quarter as we continue leveraging our superior triple-play bundles. This robust volume growth fueled further acceleration of our revenue, representing our best revenue result in six quarters. Our rebased OCF growth in the quarter reflected, in part, higher year-over-year subscriber acquisition and marketing costs, although our adjusted quarterly FCF growth was consistent with our mid-teens guidance target for 2012. We feel optimistic about our outlook and are reconfirming all of our full-year guidance targets.”Consolidated revenue for the quarter grew by 12% to US$2.54 billion, driven in part by the addition of Kabel BW and Polish cable operator Aster, offset by the negative impact of foreign currency movements. Operating cash flow for the quarter was US$1.2 billion, up 13%.last_img read more

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Satellite operator Eutelsat is planning to invest

first_imgSatellite operator Eutelsat is planning to invest in significantly expanding its capacity over Africa, despite the current oversupply of capacity for data applications. On the TV side, Eutelsat is meanwhile looking to encrypt its free-to-air platform for sub-Saharan Africa in order to be able to provide accurte viewer statistics, enabling channels on the platform to sell advertising more effectively. Speaking at a customer and press event in Cape Town on Monday, deputy CEO Michel Azibert said Eutelsat planned to “bring a lot of international satellite capacity to Africa in the next few years”.Azibert said the potential for growth is significant, with 1,500 TV channels currently broadcasting, 720 of which are carried by Eutelsat, including 40 HD channels. “This is a strong trend that is only going to grow,” said Azibert.Azibert said that the data market is also growing strongly, citing the fact that the VSAT market was doubling every five years across all sectors. “It’s a very competitive game but we are trying to differentiate ourselves by supplying not only capacity but services,” he said.Rodney Benn, regional vice-president, Africa, meanwhile said that Eutelsat was planning to encrypt its free-to-air broadcast platform for French-speaking Africa, although plans are at a relatively early stage. “We want to be able to check how many boxes are out there. It’s our plan to encrypt the platform within the next two to three months,” he said. Benn said Eutelsat was still in the process of deciding how to convert the existing user base of the platform. “The challenge is how to deal with existing viewers but we need to do it,” he said.Benn said Eutelsat was also mulling the possiblity of launching a similar free-to-view platform for English-speaking regions, with interest emerging in a number of countries. This would enable small and medium sized broadcasters to get digital services on air and stimulate local content.“TV penetration iin Africa is still very low it’s about 35%, which is mostly analogue. Digital penetration is about 7-9% and there is a massive opportunity,” said Benn.On the pay TV side, he said that while no-one wanted to take on MultiChoice there are strong regional opportunities for pay broadcasters. Eutelsat recently signed up Tanzania-based Azam Media, which is planning to launch a regional pay TV platform for East Africa.On the question of oversupply of satellite capacity on the data side, Benn said that while a lot of capacity is in the pipeline, it is being taken up quickly. “I think the major demand generator will be getting moving pictures onto smart devices,” he said.Benn said there are broadly four key data markets: GSM backhaul, corporate VSAT, which is growing by 8-10% a year, VSAT for oil and gas and mining applications, which requires a thicker pipe into facilities, government applications such as e-learning and e-health, and fibre back-up or business continuity. Benn said fibre is notoriously unreliable, meaning that satellite can play a key role in delivering back-up capacity, and Eutelsat has a specific fibre back-up product.“Wholesale satellite pricing has pretty much bottomed out,” said Benn. “It’s not like we are having to drop our prices because there’s a price war – there is healthy competition between all of us, but we’re not just selling bandwidth but what you add at both ends. We put packaged deals together whcih includes hardware on the ground.”Between now and 2015, Eutelsat plans to deploy three new satellites that provide coverage over Africa – Eutelsat 3B at 3 deg. East, Eutelsat 8 West B at 7/8 deg. West and Eutelsat 36C at 36 deg. East. These come on top of recent launches Eutelsat 21B, Eutelsat 70B and Eutelsat 3D.Eutelsat has developed two hotspots for Africa: one at 16 deg. East for the French-speaking market, including a beam covering the Indian Ocean, and one beam covering western Africa; and another at 36 deg. East primarily for the English-speaking regions, which includes the DStv bouquet – which also offers services for the Portuguese speaking market – as well as providing capacity at a number of other positions. Zon Multimedia-backed Zap TV for Angola also broadcasts from the 36 deg. East position.last_img read more

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The pay TV market in the Middle East and North Afr

first_imgThe pay TV market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) grew rapidly in 2013, reaching 4.35 million subscribers at the end of the year, up more than 14% year-on-year, according to IHS.The research firm’s annual Middle East Media Market Monitor claims that 9.4% of households in the MENA region now subscribe to a pay TV service following on from strong growth in eight of the last 10 years.IHS attributed gains in 2013 to “an impressive rise in satellite operator OSN’s customers,” adding that high IPTV uptake “contributed equally to last year’s pay TV growth.“Last year was the third in a row and the eighth since 2004 where pay TV penetration rates grew. We expect those numbers to grow in the years ahead,” said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, senior analyst at IHS Technology.Between 2004 and 2013, IHS said that the number of primary pay TV subscribers almost quadrupled from 1.33 million in 2004 to 4.35 million in 2013, growing at an annual average rate of 14.64%.Last year alone, subscriber numbers grew by 14.13%, while the pay TV market in terms of market share grew by 11.2%.The Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain accounted for 66% of pay TV households, though the research noted that “there are huge disparities in the uptake of pay TV services across the region” – the penetration rate was 85% in the UAE and just 2.4% in Egypt.IHS said that, as a pay TV platform, satellite remained dominant in the MENA region and that “BeIN Sports Arabia and OSN are forming a virtual duopoly in MENA’s satellite pay TV market.”last_img read more

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UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid The UK governmen

first_imgUK Culture Secretary, Sajid JavidThe UK government is supporting a new scheme by the UK’s creative industries and internet service providers to promote legal entertainment online and warn against illegal file sharing.The joint scheme, called Creative Content UK, will aim to raise awareness of copyright by informing those whose internet connections have been used to illegally share copyright material and to help them find “compelling, legal alternatives.”The government will also support the initiative by contributing £3.5 million (€4.4 million) towards a three-year joint creative industry and government education campaign – aimed at reducing online copyright infringement, raising awareness of the benefits of copyright, and promoting the use of legal digital content.“Copyright is one of the foundations the UK economy is built on. Our creative industries contribute £8 million to the UK economy every hour and we must ensure these businesses can protect their investments,” said UK Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.“The alert programme shows industry working together to develop solutions to this threat to our creative industries. It will play a central role in raising awareness of copyright and pointing people toward legal ways to access content, and I welcome this effort.”Chris Marcich, president and managing director, EMEA, of the Motion Picture Association added: “It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative.”last_img read more

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The new Apple TV box VLC has launched its media pl

first_imgThe new Apple TV boxVLC has launched its media player on the latest generation of Apple TV, promising access to different files and video streams in their native formats, without conversions.The free, open source app allows navigation by chapters and multiple audio and subtitles tracks selection. It also supports custom playback speed and allows “normal playback of all file formats”.“Immediately after Apple announced ‘the future of television’, we’ve been working on the SDK to port VLC for iPads and iPhones to this new box. It needed quite a few adaptations, but it is now finally ready to be published,” said VLC.“We are extremely excited to share this initial version of VLC for Apple TV today and looking forward to deliver further features currently in development, notably native integration with Cloud Services, like Dropbox, OneDrive and Box.”The release comes after VLC started beta testing the Apple TV media player in mid-November.last_img read more

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Swedish cable operator Com Hem has teamed up with

first_imgSwedish cable operator Com Hem has teamed up with home security and smart energy technology provider TMPL to jointly offer digital services that include smart homes, energy monitoring, service provision and social interaction to Com Hem’s customers. TMPL provides a platform for the integration of various digital services to residents. The platform is offered to landlords and housing associations in Swede. The agreement with Com Hem will see the cable operator become TMPL’s exclusive partner for distribution to customers in the landlord segment.According to Com Hem, landlords using the service platform will be able to easily administer information, manage rent payments and offer various services for greater community interaction. Apart from being able to book laundry times and find information about their homes, residents will also be able to order groceries, book or share vehicles and order food from their local restaurant.Eric AnderbjörkThe pair have been collaborating since 2016 on a number of pilot projects, but Com Hem says the partnership is now entering the next phase as the service starts to be adapted to its customers. The launch will take place in the autumn of 2017.“We are noting strong interest from our landlord clients as to how they might benefit from digital services. Our focus is always on unleashing the power for our customers and we are convinced that, through this cooperation, we will be able to add additional value for residents and for landlords,” said Stefan Trampus, director of sales at Com Hem.“The property sector is facing a major adjustment, where the challenge is to use the potential of digitisation in the homes of the future. We are driven by the belief that the digital offering for residents will become equally as important as the physical offering. The cooperation with Com Hem will accelerate this process and means that more people will soon be offered better living standards,” said Eric Anderbjörk, CEO of TMPL.last_img read more

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The BBC has confirmed it is experimenting with di

first_imgThe BBC has confirmed it is experimenting with “different ways to reach audiences in different markets” after launching an SVOD offering via Amazon Prime Video Channels in Germany and Austria last week.BBC Player launched for the first time in Germany and Austria on November 15, with the €3.99 per-month subscription service available exclusively to Amazon Prime subscribers.A spokesperson the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Studios, said that BBC Player will offer archive content its distribution catalogue – including titles like as SS-GB, DCI Banks, David Beckham: Into the Unknown,Galapagos, and Meet the Trumps.BBC Player will also feature series one to four of Doctor Who and series 22 to 24 of Top Gear, with content available both dubbed into German and in its original English.“BBC Player, which is available in Singapore and Malaysia through Starhub and Hypp TV respectively, is a suite of on demand channels that are curated and managed by BBC Studios,” said the BBC Studios representative.“The BBC Player offering in Germany, however, is a branded SVOD package through our partner Amazon that features periodically refreshed archive content and complements our programming that German audiences can view on a number of local channels.”While the launch marks the first rollout of the BBC Player brand outside of Asia, the BBC said it was not indicative of a wider SVOD expansion strategy as such – it is just one of its experiments in reaching audiences in different markets.In Asia, BBC Player is an authenticated SVOD service that offers curated content from brands like BBC Earth, BBC First, BBC Lifestyle, CBeebies and BBC World News. It debuted in Singapore in 2016 and launched in Malaysia in 2017.The BBC’s commercial arm has previously tested a global version of its iPlayer catch-up service – though BBC Studios boss Tim Davie announced in 2013 that it would phase this out as part of his future vision for the business. The service was closed permanently in June 2015.The BBC launched its standalone Global iPlayer app as a subscription service in 2011. The iOS app reached a million downloads a year later and by 2013 was live in 16 markets in Western Europe, Canada and Australia.last_img read more

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The bulwark that payTV operators have is content

first_img“The bulwark that pay-TV operators have is content packaging and pricing expertise and a relationship with their customers. However, these are not impenetrable.”A collective fit of jealousy is permeating in the TV broadcasting business and where it is going to end is anybody’s guess.Free-to-air broadcasters are looking with envy at pay-TV operators’ revenue models; these are holding up better in the recession than their own advertising-challenged ones. Meanwhile, device makers, and specifically TV manufacturers, are coveting the recurring revenue models of broadcasters and pay-TV operators, whether from advertising or subscriptions, or both. These giants, led by Sony and LG, are trying to add value at a difficult time. The sale of flat-screen TVs has been good but wouldn’t it be nice to add an ongoing revenue stream to the one-time buy?As the recession bites, the biggest CE manufacturers are realising that the internet and the growing penetration of broadband is giving them an opportunity. By putting Ethernet (or wireless) connections directly into the TV, they can offer viewers over-the-top IP-based content. The move is a clear threat to the traditional way the industry has operated.The assault was on show at the recent IBC exhibition in Amsterdam where many manufacturers of screens and other devices were showing next-generation products with broadband connections. Sony was not exhibiting in Amsterdam, but its new Bravia TV sets and Blu-ray players have internet connectivity and the consumer electronics giant is already testing delivering content direct to its TVs and Blu-ray players. This past summer the Sony film Hancock was offered to the 500,000 or so new Bravia TV set owners in the US a few days after the cinema launch and before the DVD went on sale. The film was offered for US$9.99 (€6.77) for a 24-hour viewing period – and consumers were paying for the film in their own homes on their TV sets long before their pay-TV operator had it to sell.Clearly Sony and others are taking a leaf out of Apple’s playbook: sell a device (the iPod) and launch a service that keeps people coming back (iTunes). Something similar is happening in the games market. Just this month Nintendo ramped up its downloading business with a wide range of new games to download from its WiiWare site. And Nokia is trying a similar thing in the mobile phone industry with its Ovi content service: consumers can buy content direct from Ovi, effectively bypassing the walled gardens of content created by mobile phone operators.Many are worried. Neil Gaydon, CEO of set-top maker Pace, says he thinks what is happening  is ominous. He is concerned that people who are offering OTT services could potentially bypass the pay-TV business. However, others are more sceptical. Graham Kill, CEO of Irdeto, the encryption specialist, says that there is still a question mark over the customer experience with OTT. “Initially people will be disappointed by the services they get but over time they could evolve into an ecosystem like the iPhone that keeps people interested and that’s the aspiration of the likes of Sony,” says Kill. Pay-TV operators are not ignoring the potential threat. Sky in the UK is already offering the Sky Anytime VOD and catch-up TV product and plans to turn on the broadband connection to its set-top boxes next year to offer even more content and services. Sky argues that offering attractive content and services is an area where expertise counts and pay-TV operators won’t be easily displaced. Gerry O’Sullivan, director of strategic product development, points out that it is not clear what content the TV set manufacturers are offering. People, says O’Sullivan, are not going to pay for user-generated content: “The manufacturers have seen an opportunity to put in a piece of technology connected to [the internet] but I haven’t seen that thing that is really going to change a Sky customer’s home.” There is also cost: Abe Peled, CEO of NDS, the smartcard supplier, argues that delivering over-the-top IP is expensive. Delivering VOD has a clear incremental cost but no clear incremental revenue.And the head of Disney Online for EMEA, Myles MacBean, has an interesting take on OTT content direct to the TV sets. He questions what makes Sony better than any other aggregator of content. “I’m struggling to see the vertical integration value,” he says.So Disney – another rather vertically-integrated company – is “struggling” to see the rationale of leveraging different bits of the business to grow the whole? I am not convinced. The bulwark that pay-TV operators have is content packaging and pricing expertise and a relationship with their customers. However, these are not impenetrable and new offers from other big brand names based on price and flexibility could prove compelling to consumers. The likes of Sony has got it wrong in the past; remember the ill-fated launch of an online Sony music store, only stocked with Sony artists? But Sony has learned some lessons from that and it is already signing up the likes of NetFlix, Amazon and broadcasters including Five in the UK to offer content on its new Sony Bravia internet TV platform. Watch this space.Kate Bulkley is a broadcaster and writer specialising in media and telecommunications. tellkatenow@aol.com.last_img read more

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The uninsured VW Golf car seized by police in the

first_img The uninsured VW Golf car seized by police in the Rosemount area of DerryPOLICE in Derry have seized another uninsured car and a quantity of drugs.The seizure was made on Saturday night by police on patrol in the Rosemount area of the city.In a posting on its Facebook page, an officer from PSNI Foyle said: “Ballyarnett Neighbourhood Team strayed out of our patch and took a cruise through Rosemount. ShareTweet “We saw this yoke  up a side street surrounded by “questionable characters”.“In the time it took to back up the Police  the 4 occupants dived out of the car and ran off like the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse were after them “Well, that’s not normal  Unsurprisingly the car wasn’t insured and we found a couple of grinders and a bag of cannabis inside. “But what was more shocking was that the fellas left behind a stash of Lucozade, a multipack of Meanies Crisps, and (wait for it…) a bag of Milky Ways. ANOTHER UNINSURED CAR TAKEN OFF THE STREETS OF DERRYballyarnettcannabisrosemount I mean, as a chocoholic : you can have my car, my drugs, my grinders, by drink, my jackets, my crisps – but my Chocolate? NEVER!!!“Anyway, we obviously had to oblige and seize the car “Can’t wait for the excuses the owner is gonna have to come up with to get it back#LostYourCar4ABagOfGrass #SmartOldBlueHeTookTheMilkyWay#ShouldaGotTaytos #KeepingPeopleSafeANOTHER UNINSURED CAR TAKEN OFF THE STREETS OF DERRY was last modified: September 18th, 2017 by John2John2 Tags:last_img read more