State Rep. Shane Hernandez will host district office hours on Monday, March 26 to meet with local residents of Sanilac and St. Clair counties.“I look forward to the opportunity to hear your thoughts and questions about issues vital to our community,” Rep. Hernandez said. “As your voice in Lansing, I believe it is important to be accessible so I can best represent your interests.”The office hours are scheduled for the following times and locations:3:30-4:30 p.m. at Forester Inn, 2422 Lakeshore Road in Forester; and5-6 p.m. at Big George’s Coney Island, 7870 Lakeshore Road in Fort Gratiot.No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend may contact Rep. Hernandez’s office by calling (517) 373-0835 or by email at ShaneHernandez@house.mi.gov. 15Mar Rep. Hernandez to host local coffee hours Categories: Hernandez News
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Jack O’Malley, of Lake Ann, attends the Governor’s annual State of the State Address with his guest, Evan Warsecke. Warsecke is a Benzie County Commissioner and a Detective with the Traverse City Police Department.### 12Feb Rep. O’Malley attends annual State of the State address Categories: O’Malley News
Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield today released the following statement on the attorney general’s opinion on Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority:“Approving the new tunnel in northern Michigan is the right thing to do for our state, our waterways, and for our future. Hundreds of thousands of people rely on the line to heat their homes and survive, and we all rely on the Great Lakes for our economy and our way of life. It is well past time to put aside political talking points and campaign rhetoric and just do the right thing. This administration needs to protect the people of our state, secure our critical Mackinac Straits and approve the tunnel project immediately.” 28Mar Speaker Chatfield on the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority Categories: Chatfield News
Zodiak Media has reorganised its management structure following chief operating officer Jonny Slow’s departure to the US run Zodiak Americas.Laurent Boissel, chief financial officer at Zodiak Media, has been promoted to the expanded role of chief financial and operating officer (CFOO). The new role is effective immediately and Boissel will report to Zodiak CEO David Frank. Roisin Thomas and Jana Bakunina, both currently vice-presidents, corporate development, are appointed as chief of staff, reporting to David Frank and vice-president, corporate finance, reporting to Laurent Boissel, respectively. Zodiak said it will make further hires as part of the reorganisation of its head office.David Frank said: “With Jonny Slow’s move to Los Angeles I am delighted that Laurent has agreed to take on this key additional responsibility.” Laurent Boissel said: “Together with the whole HQ team I think I can help David deliver on the exciting creative vision we have for this group. Already we are seeing the signs of success from our creative strategy, but the best is yet to come.”
YouTube partner channel Machinima is planning to launch a subscription video service and is in talks with Hollywood studios about providing full-length content and possibly investing in the project, according to US reports.According to Reuters, citing unnamed sources, Machinima is looking to raise US$80 million (€60 million) to launch a subscription video-on-demand service targeted at its audience of 18-34 males interested in video gaming and comics.According to the report, Machinima is in talks with Warner Bros and Viacom-owned Paramount Studios, both of which already produce short-form content for the site.Machinima has not confirmed how much investment cash it is seeking. However CEO Allen DeBevoise told Reuters that the company wanted to raise capital to become an over-the-top version of HBO or AMC. He said he wanted to license TV-length shows over which Machinima would retain full control and would be able to market both in the US and abroad.
UK free-to-air digital-terrestrial TV platform YouView is launching a new advertising campaign this autumn that will focus on conveying the benefits of catch-up TV, on-demand and DVR.The new advert, due to run across all media including TV, print press, radio, digital and social media from Saturday 7 September, will feature pairs of feet in front of a TV screen and YouView set-top box.The campaign will demonstrate how easy it is for viewers to relax and catch up on their favourite TV programmes with YouView, using the line ‘Catch up with your feet up’.The TV advert will premiere on Saturday 7 September and after this date will be scheduled around a range of primetime TV shows. The print advertising will run full pages in key national newspapers on Saturday 7 September, as well as across newspaper supplements and TV listings.The advertising campaign will retain the ‘Extraordinary TV for Everyone’ strap-line used in the very first YouView advertising campaign last September.This advertising campaign, which has a media spend in excess of £10 million (€11.7 million), was created by Albion, who replaced the incumbent agency Adam & Eve in April.
Russian pay TV provider Tricolor TV has named Aleksandr Starobinets as director of marketing.Starobinets, who takes a post that has been filled by various temporary acting marketing directors since the departure last year of Natalya Bragileskaya, was previously executive director at Konus.
UK cable operator Virgin Media is using geo-location technology from Digital Element to manage the geographic rights to content available on its Virgin TV Anywhere service.Virgin Media is using Digital Element’s NetAcuity Edge IP geo-location technology to manage the geographic rights to content on the service.Under the terms of its TV Anywhere contracts, Virgin media is obliged to only allow access to web-delivered TV to viewers in the UK. The operator is using Digital Element’s technology to prevent viewing in other countries.NetAcuity Edge combines IP routing infrastructure analysis with anonymous location insight from a network of global commercial partners to provide detailed data around users’ location.“We need to be able to assure content rights owners that their content will only be distributed where we say it will be. By selecting Digital Element as our IP geo-location technology provider, we can confirm their content is in the safest possible hands,” said Scott Kewley, director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media.
French cable operator Numericable and its controlling shareholder Altice are together issuing high-yield bonds totaling an unprecedented €10 billion as part of their move to finance the acquisition of SFR.Numericable is to raise €6.04 billion from its bond offering, while Altice plans to raise €4.150 billion.JP Morgan is acting for Numericable, while Goldman Sachs is leading Altice’s operation.The money will be raised in the US as well as in Europe, with Numericable raising €2.5 billion in euros and US$3.5 billion in dollars. Altice’s operation will be split on a 50:50 basis between euros and dollars.Numericable is also raising €5.6 billion in bank debt syndicated by Deutsche Bank.Numericable and Altice’s move is seen as evidence of a renewed appetite in the market for high-yield debt.Numericable’s hand has been strengthened by its successful IPO and by the favourable ratings accorded to cable operators in the wake of Vodafone’s acquisition of Kabel Deutschland and ONO.Vivendi has agreed to a period of exclusivity until February 28 next year to allow consultation with interested parties to the acquisition, with a completion deadline of April 30. As part of the exclusivity agreement, Numericable must finalise a firm offer by July 31 this year or five days after the conclusion of consultation with employees’ representatives.
UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4 is due to launch two new high definition channels on the Freeview platform.Channel 4 +1 HD and 4seven HD will be available on channels 110 and 111 respectively of the Freeview EPG from July 1 and will join Channel 4 HD on the platform.Channel 4 is collaborating with Arqiva on the launches, with the channels to be available to more than 70% of the UK population on Arqiva’s newly launched ‘COM7’ Freeview HD multiplex.Arqiva already offers a host of HD channels on this multiplex, including BBC News HD and Al Jazeera English HD.“The continued roll-out of HD channels on to the Freeview platform provides audiences a richer and higher-quality viewing experience and will continue to provide a major incentive to the uptake of Freeview HD TVs. We’re excited that these Channel 4 channels are joining the HD community,” said Arqiva’s director of digital terrestrial television, Mike Finchen.
Google is reportedly preparing to launch a subscription YouTube music service, called YouTube Music Key, that will offer ad-free and offline access to music and music videos.According to tech site Android Police, the service will cost US$9.99 (€7.50) per month and will give access to official discographies, as well as concert footage, covers, and remixes.The news follows reports earlier in the summer claiming that YouTube was gearing up to launch the subscription music offering, despite failing to sign licensing terms with a number of independent record labels.Speaking to the Financial Times in June, YouTube’s head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl said that it had agreed terms with labels representing 95% of the music industry, but would start to block videos from those it hadn’t reached terms with “in a matter of days.”
Telekom Austria is to issue up to €1 billion worth of new shares to existing and new shareholders. The telco plans to offer up to 221.5 million shares at a price of €4.57 with the subscription period beginning on Monday and ending on November 24. Trading of the shares will begin on the Vienna stock exchange on November 27.The net proceeds will be used to strengthen capital structure, accelerate infrastructure investments with a focus on the Austrian market as well as mergers and acquisitions, according to the operator.“The excellent operational performance in the third quarter 2014 already showed a trend reversal for our Group. With the capital increase we will be able to further develop Telekom Austria Group,” said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Telekom Austria Group.“The proceeds of the capital increase we will be used to strengthen our balance sheet, boost infrastructure investments especially in Austria. Furthermore we will continue our expansion with focus on convergence as well as in-market consolidation and even consider expansion via new operations.”
Roku is due to add 4K Ultra HD streaming support for future models of Roku TVs, and has announced new manufacturing deals with TV makers Insignia and Haier America.Announcing the news at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the streaming media specialist said it has prepared a Roku TV reference design for 4K smart TVs that it will licence to electronics manufacturer partners.TCL, which first launched TV models powered by Roku’s platform last year, will be an initial 4K TV model partner, while Netflix will be among the first firms to provide 4K content on the Roku platform.“With the maturation of 4K, including the dramatic price reductions of 4K TVs, the growing amount of 4K content available for streaming and the increased consumer awareness of the benefits of 4K, the time is right for Roku to offer Roku TV 4K solutions to the global TV OEMs,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood.“We are very bullish on 4K as we believe that streaming will be instrumental in its adoption. Bringing 4K to the Roku platform will give consumers even more choice and control of their entertainment viewing, and deliver the best streaming experience available.”At the same time, Roku announced that from this spring US consumers will be able to buy Roku TV models made by Insignia, with these to be available exclusively from retailer Best Buy.Haier Roku TV models will be available from the third quarter of 2015 and will be available in sizes ranging from 32 inches to 65 inches.Roku sells web streaming set-top boxes and TV dongles in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland, and last year last year launched its first co-branded Roku TV models after licencing its reference design and operating system to TV manufacturers.
The emergence of the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video signals “the end of broadcast TV as we know it”, according to media analyst Juniper Research.A new study suggests the OTT market will be generating revenues of US$31.6 billion by 2019, up from the US$8 billion taken last year.This will encompass continued growth in Western European and North American markets and the emergence of OTT players in the Far East and Asia Pacific that result in a surge of subscribers worldwide.With lower cost services such as Dish Networks’ Sling TV aiding customers in bypassing traditional pay TV platforms, cord-cutting will continue apace, Juniper predicted.Furthermore, Juniper said 4K would drive demand, though it noted early uptake of such services via Netflix and YouTube has been “slow thus far”. With OTT services seemingly ahead of their linear rivals in adopting 4K offers and the growing proliferation of affordable 4K televisions, 4K content will become a factor in consumer choices, Juniper said.Indeed sales of 4K sets grew 699% year-on-year in 2014, according to Futuresource Consulting numbers from February. One-hundred million sets are expected to ship per annum by 2018.Other findings in the Mobile & Online TV & Video: OTT, IPTV & Connected Markets 2015-2019 report included that 84% of OTT subscriptions will be made via connected TVs by 2019, and that IPTV are set to double in the next four years as mobile network operators launch new triple- and quad-play services.
Khalid BalkhayourContent contribution, management and distribution provider and TV Connect exhibitor Globecast and Middle East satellite operator Arabsat have teamed up to launch Arabsat TV Everywhere, a new multi-platform OTT TV service with live streams of the best Arabic channels.The service is powered by Globecast’s OTT Live solution. Arabsat TV Everywhere is an expansion of the existing Global Arabic Bouquet (GAB), a grouping of premium Arabic channels from the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU). The new service, which is available to watch for free in most territories worldwide on PC as well as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, will enable more people to view the content the GAB has to offer, according to the pair.Globecast, which has been Arabsat and the ASBU’s partner for the worldwide distribution of the GAB since 2004, designed and developed the complete TV everywhere service. The platform includes content preparation, content management, application design and development, delivery and a player.Since the launch of their partnership, Globecast, Arabsat and ASBU have expanded the Global Arabic Bouquet’s potential viewership and footprint, offering a single global coverage to ASBU members. Arabic language channels are now able to join the bouquet and reach viewers on all five continents free to air.Giorgio Giacomini, managing director Globecast Middle East said: “This is a very exciting development in our relationship with Arabsat and the ASBU. Arabsat’s decision to make many channels of the GAB available on smartphones and tablets reflects the growing desire of audiences around the world to consume content when and where they want. Because of this we have carefully designed our solutions to provide both technical and business acumen allowing our customers to easily expand with innovative new OTT services while concentrating on what they do best: create and develop world-class content.”Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat president and CEO, said: “The world of OTT service delivery is one that’s growing rapidly. You only have to look at the growth in the sale of connected devices to see why. Globecast has always provided us with excellent distribution services and we are very pleased to announce the extension of our partnership.”
Georgia reportedly switched off its analogue TV feed in capital Tbilisi yesterday, with plans to roll out digital coverage across the country in the next eight to nine weeks.According to news site Agenda.ge, that the analogue signal was cut in a digital broadcasting zone that covers Tbilisi, Sagarejo region, Kojori, Rustavi and Marneuli, with the digital signal due to be extended to cover the whole country within roughly two months.According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) information published last month, Georgia was one of a number of countries where digital switchover is listed as still ‘ongoing’.A June 17, 2015, deadline for switching off analogue television broadcasting in the UHF band was set by member states of the ITU at the Regional Radiocommunication Conference in 2006.
Hélène BarnekowA move by the Swedish government to stop the sale of 700MHz spectrum on security ground has been met with sharp criticism from telecom operator Telia, which hoped to capture some of the released spectrum.The country’s telecom regulator, the PTS, pulled the planned sale of 700MHz spectrum – bandwidth currently used for digital-terrestrial broadcasting across Europe – after protests from the country’s Säkerhetspolisen, the part of the police force concerned with national security, and from the armed forces, who expressed concerns about the sale of the spectrum to foreign companies.Housing and digitisation minister Peter Eriksson said that the government needed to have a clear picture of long-term needs for defence and public safety before going ahead with the sale.The armed forces and security organisations had called for spectrum to be kept under public control.Under plans approved earlier in the year, the spectrum in question would be used for DTT broadcasting until April 1 next year, after which it would be allocated to commercial entities on the basis of an auction. The decision to pull the sale of the spectrum means that it will continue to be used for broadcasting until May 31 2018.Telia said that the decision would massively complicate and delay the expansion of mobile networks in rural areas. The telco’s EVP for Sweden, Hélène Barnekow, said that the use of the 700MHz spectrum would be crucial for Sweden to be able to take the next steps in digitisation, and regretted the decision.Barnekow said that while it was important for public services to have certainty about their ability to deliver communications, this was no reason to stop the auction. She said that mobile operators had already shown they could deliver a secure solution to address public safety concerns through their existing commercial mobile networks.
An attendee tries out a VR headset at CES 2017BT is looking into ways to integrate virtual reality sports with the main TV screen experience, and is looking to capture 360° coverage of sports events in much higher resolution as part of its deepening involvement in VR, according to Andrew Gower, head of the interactive media research group at BT.Speaking at Marketforce’s The Future of Broadcasting conference yesterday, Gower said that “how to integrate VR into the TV experience” is challenging, and that BT’s activity in this area remains at an experimental stage.BT has been looking at how to link 360° videos to live broadcast. “We think they will have to complement each other…and be more linked to the normal TV broadcast,” he said.While most people are unlikely to don a VR headset in the living room, they are likely to snack on 360° content on other devices while watching TV, he said. The action on the companion screen device could be shared on the main TV screen in the form of a picture-in-picture stream.“We are looking at picture-in-picture that could replicate what you have on a companion screen and sync those together,” said Gower. One challenge for applying this to sports content is that such an application would require the linear stream to be “ somewhat delayed” however. “This requires the user to buy in to the idea that they are watching 40 seconds behind [the live stream],” said Gower.Andrew GowerFor sports like MotoGP this could be less of an issue that it would be for highly time-sensitive football matches, he said.Gower said that creating a 360° video experience for football in general is “challenging”.BT is also starting to look at capturing content in higher than 4K resolution – meaning capturing it in 8, 12 or 16K to start with – in order to improve the quality of the VR experience. Gower said that “how to increase the quality of equirectangular video…delivered as a VR experience”, is a key objective for BT.One way to do this is to capture 180° rather than 360° streams. However, another solution is to stream only the part of the field of vision that viewers are focusing on at any one time. Gower said that, in VR, people are typically only looking at a part of the screen. BT has worked with Huawei and Tiledmedia to capture very high resolution video, initially in 8K, to extract out the specific viewpoint of an individual, which is delivered to the viewer instead of transmitting the whole 360° field. He said this approach required “very low latency networks”. However the benefits include delivering a higher quality VR experience, potentially without the need for very high bandwidth to deliver the video to end-users. Gower said that the technology can also work on lower less processor-capable mobile phones.“Because we’re not thrashing the processor, the battery live on these phones should be longer too, which has also been an issue,” he said.He said that 360° workflow would evolve as a result of the introduction of this ‘field of view’ approach. As content gets rendered the metadata about the field of view is passed back to the encoding system, which provides “hopefully less than a 20 millisecond delay”, he said.Gower said that BT had identified a number of other challenges as a result of its work in VR to date. He said that 360° video contribution remains challenging. Each stream from a 4K capture for football requires 135Mbps. As that is scaled up to include 8K or higher for field of view rendering, this means contribution streams of 540Mbps or more. “That is best effort. If we tried to make it secure you are talking about 5Gbps, which is a large number,” he said.Other issues to be resolved include whether the content is editorially-controlled or viewer-controlled, and whether the content is mono or stereoscopic, which has a further impact on the bandwidth required.BT has already completed a number of VR trials, including the 360° broadcast of Champions League football on YouTube for Google Cardboard.
Ian McDonoughCloud video software-as-a-service specialist Forbidden Technologies has named former Turner northern Europe chief and BBC Worldwide executive Ian McDonough as its new CEO.McDonough will be charged with driving AIM-quoted Forbidden’s commercial growth and the continued development of its cloud video platform and related applications.The company specialises in technology that brings video production in line with the requirements of digital distribution. The platform is used, among other things, to create video clips and highlights of live content, for viewing logging and shot selection, and for editing and captioning content remotely.McDonough left Turner, where he headed the broadcaster’s northern European operations, including the UK, in April. He joined Turner in 2014 from BBC worldwide, where he was in charge of the BBC’s commercial channels business in central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.McDonough says: “With the exponential growth in video use – rights holders, broadcast and OTT companies need more sophisticated capabilities to increase the use of their content across any device. I am extremely excited to be leading a business with this focus, and its huge potential for growth in this ever-evolving new media landscape.”Chairman of Forbidden Technologies David Main said: “We are delighted that Ian is joining the Board of Forbidden Technologies as the company’s CEO. Ian brings fantastic experience and understanding of our customers. In addition, he brings energy, a strong track record of commercial innovation and a clear ability to drive business performance.”
Vivendi has maintained that it will find a way out of its current impasse with Mediaset after police raided its Paris offices yesterday following a request from Italy.French police accompanied by representatives of Italy’s financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, searched Vivendi’s HQ in Paris for evidence pertaining to the Milan-based investigation into possible market manipulation by the French media giant surrounding its acquisition of 28.8% of Mediaset at the end of last year.Police also reportedly searched the Paris offices of Natixis, the broker through which Vivendi acquired Mediaset’s shares.Mediaset has alleged that Vivendi deliberately caused its share price to fall by reneging on the pair’s agreement whereby the French media giant would have taken control of the Italian broadcaster’s loss-making pay TV unit, Mediaset Premium, last year. The fall in Mediaset’s share price, it is alleged, subsequently enabled Vivendi to buy up Mediaset shares.Mediaset and its main shareholder Fininvest are separately suing Vivendi for financial damages incurred from the abandonment of the deal and damage to Mediaset’s image.Vivendi has maintained that it acted in good faith and has expressed continued confidence that it will ultimately strike some sort of deal with Mediaset.“Regarding the complaint filed against Vivendi by the Berlusconi Group, which has resulted in a search of Vivendi’s offices, Vivendi’s management reaffirms that it acquired its stake in Mediaset totally legally and transparently and remains absolutely confident in the conclusion of this disagreement,” the company said.Vivendi is facing a battle on two fronts in Italy – with Mediaset and Milanese prosecutors on one hand, and with the Italian government and regulators on the other over what the latter maintain is its ‘controlling’ interest in Telecom Italia (TIM).Regarding TIM, the Italian telco’s chairman – and Vivendi CEO – Arnaud de Puyfontaine told an EY Digital Summit in Capri yesterday that he was open to meet with government representatives and regulators to explain TIM’s strategy and argued that the telco’s plans were fully aligned with the government’s goal of building Italy’s broadband infrastructure, according to various reports.De Puyfontaine said that he was “pragmatic” about the future direction of the company, but indicated there were no plans to split the network infrastructure part of the business from the rest.