Ministers warned to begin reserving land now. Image: ABC State and territory ministers have been advised to begin reserving land for the possibility of a high-speed railway line in Australia.Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese has released a final report into high-speed rail, which proposes a 1,748-kilometre link between Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne, ABC News reported.“Unless the route is protected now, the growth of cities and towns along the preferred corridor will make the project harder and more expensive in the future,” Mr Albanese said.Accessing Sydney’s CBD would pose the greatest challenge, requiring 67 kilometres of tunnelling. If fully operational by 2065, estimated patronage is 83.6 million passengers per year.The estimated cost of the project is AU$114 billion, with a completion date of 2053 at the earliest.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T.
March 4, 2018 557 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, News The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its monthly employment data for February 2018 on Friday, March 9 at 8:30 a.m. EST. The report looks at nonfarm payroll employment as well as unemployment numbers, which include employment figures for the construction sector. The last report released in February highlighted consumer trends in January 2018. According to the report, employment increased by 200,000 during the month while unemployment remained stable at 4.1 percent. The biggest gains were seen in the construction sector where employment continued to trend upwards, with 36,000 jobs being added to construction with most of the increase seen among specialty contractors. The report noted that residential construction added 5,000 jobs.Here’s what else is in store for The Week Ahead:MBA Mortgage Apps, Wednesday, 7 a.m. ETADP Employment Report, Wednesday, 8:15 a.m. ETFed Beige Book, Wednesday, 2 p.m. ETJobless Claims, Thursday, 8:30 a.m. ETFreddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Thursday, 9 a.m. ETFed Balance Sheet, Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET applications Bureau of Labor Statistics Construction Employment mortgage rates Residential 2018-03-04 Radhika Ojha The Week Ahead: Focus on Construction Jobs Share
A downpour on Friday afternoon took Nicosia residents by surprise as they didn’t expect such heavy rainfall, despite met office warnings that the day was expected to be rainy.The areas of Pallouriotissa and Engomi in the city were the worst hit, as well as areas of the Nicosia district neighbouring with Larnaca.The deluge that began at around 5pm forced many motorists near K-Cineplex in Engomi to pull over as visibility was almost zero.“The water on the tarmac was at least half a metre high,” a motorist told the Cyprus Mail.She added that she felt very scared and pulled over for while hoping that the heavy rainfall would subside.The fire service said it had received 12 calls in the afternoon – mainly from the Makedonitissa area – concerning the towing of cars and flooded establishments. Police said that no incidents were reported that were caused by the rainfall.According to the met office, storms are also expected on Saturday inland, in mountainous areas, and in eastern coastal areas in the afternoon.Temperatures are expected to be around 30 degrees celsius on Saturday inland and in the east and south coastal areas, 27C in the west and north coast and 20C in mountainous areas.Sunday is expected to be mostly sunny and slightly warmer as temperatures are expected to rise by one to two degrees celsius and remain higher until Tuesday.Rainfall is expected however, on Sunday and Monday afternoon in the mountainous areas.You May LikePopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementAdd This One Thing To Your Dog’s Food To Help Them Be HealthierUltimate Pet Nutrition Nutra Thrive SupplementUndoGundry MDHow To Make Your Dark Spots Fade (Effortless 2 Minute Routine)Gundry MDUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoOur View: Argaka mukhtar should not act as if he owns the beachUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Rendon News 16Jan Rendon gets gavel for House tourism committee State Rep. Bruce Rendon will chair the House Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee, as well as be vice chair for the Natural Resources Committee, in the 2015-16 Michigan Legislature.“Northern Michigan’s unbeatable natural resources are the heart of our state’s recreation and tourism opportunities and pushing the Pure Michigan experience at home and abroad will make the Great Lakes State even greater,” said Rendon, R-Lake City. “I thank Speaker Cotter and my colleagues for entrusting me with this awesome responsibility and I look forward to working on these issues that are so important to our area and the entire state of Michigan.”Rendon’s other assignments include the House Agriculture Committee and the committee for Commerce and Trade.House committees review all legislation that affects their issue area and make recommendations as to whether the full House should take up the bills. Committee chairs decide when bills are heard, run the committee meetings and organize informational hearings to help lawmakers and the public understand important issues.
26Jan Rep. Howrylak named to five House committees Categories: Howrylak News State Rep. Martin Howrylak has been named by Speaker Kevin Cotter to serve on five House committees for the 98th Legislature, including an appointment as Vice-Chair of the Oversight and Ethics Committee.Howrylak, R-Troy, also will serve on the Judiciary, Criminal Justice, Tax Policy, and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) committees. JCAR is a bipartisan, statutorily created committee comprised of five House and five Senate members. The committee is responsible for legislative oversight of administrative rules that are proposed by state agencies.“These committee assignments align well with my interests and background,” Howrylak said. “I look forward to creating solid public policy that will help improve the quality of life and enhance the economic vitality of our state.”Howrylak, a certified public accountant (CPA), received his Master of Accounting degree and Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Geological Sciences from the University of Michigan.“Well-crafted tax policy can help to ensure that we continue to move Michigan forward,” Howrylak said. “I also look forward to working with my colleagues to reform our state’s criminal justice system. In order for the criminal justice system to best serve Michigan, we must modernize our approach to sentencing and ensure that there is an empirical basis for sentencing and parole.”House committees review all legislation that affects their issue area and make recommendations as to whether the full House should take up the bills.###
Categories: Glenn News 06Mar House committee considers bipartisan pension tax relief for surviving spouses Rep. Glenn cosponsors Democratic lawmaker’s billLansing — Surviving spouses will not be subject to a pension tax increase as a result of the loss of their loved one under bipartisan legislation considered Wednesday in the House Tax Policy Committee.State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, an original co-sponsor of Rep. Jim Townsend’s House Bill 4124, said the bipartisan effort to update Michigan’s pension tax exemption so widowed spouses remain eligible demonstrated the issue’s importance.“Surely this is something everyone can agree on, that a grieving spouse shouldn’t be further burdened with a tax increase triggered by the death of their loved one,” Rep. Glenn said. “I did not support the new pension tax to begin with, but until we can repeal it in full, this is at least a step back in the right direction.”Under current law, the age of the oldest spouse determines the tax category that applies to the pension and retirement benefits of both spouses. If the older spouse passes away first, the surviving spouse could experience a tax increase on retirement income.The legislation ensures that surviving spouses continue to receive the same tax rate, limitations and restrictions so long as they have filed a joint tax return in the past with their spouse and have not remarried during the tax year in which they file.During his presentation, Townsend, D-Royal Oak, thanked Rep. Glenn for cosponsoring the legislation and said he is proud to have Glenn’s support.The bill is expected to be approved by the committee next week and go to the full House for consideration.
07Sep Rep. Hughes memorializes fallen police officer during ceremony State Rep. Holly Hughes today during a Sept. 11 ceremony in the Capitol honored a fallen Norton Shores police officer who died in the line of duty.Hughes, of Montague, read the name of Norton Shores Police Officer Jonathan Ginka, who died May 10 in a vehicle accident.“Officer Ginka served his community well, first as a member of the North Muskegon Fire Department and then as a law enforcement officer. He was the epitome of a selfless public servant,” Hughes said. “I hope honoring him in our annual ceremony will bring comfort to his family.”Hughes said the House began its Sept. 11 ceremony in 2011 to honor Michigan’s first responders and members of the military who died in the line of duty.“We honor these men and women who are heroes to us all for the selfless dedication they have to their communities and their nation,” Hughes said. “Just like the first responders and military members who rushed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on that horrific day in 2011, these local heroes rush to the aid of people in their communities or defense of their nation.”PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Holly Hughes, of Montague, today was joined by Norton Shores Police Chief John Gale and Lt. Michael Kasher as her guests for the Michigan House’s annual Sept. 11 Memorial Service at the Capitol. The ceremony remembers first responders and members of the military from Michigan who died in the line of duty in the past year. Categories: Hughes News,News
16Nov House approves Rep. VanderWall bill updating ice shanty rules State Rep. Curt VanderWall’s bill offering more flexibility in the rules regulating ice shanties placed on Michigan waterways was overwhelmingly approved last week by the Michigan House of Representatives.VanderWall’s legislation gives the Michigan Department of Natural Resources the ability to adjust ice shanty removal dates each year based on weather conditions. Current law sets precise dates by which ice shanties must be removed from specific waters.“The weather is different every year. It’s silly to have precise dates written in law by which ice shanties must be removed from the ice,” said VanderWall, of Ludington. “It makes more sense to allow the DNR to adjust the removal dates each year based on weather conditions.”The legislation also offers increased privacy protections for the owners of ice shanties, who are currently required to put their names and addresses on the structure.“Some people don’t like the idea of everyone who walks by their ice shanty knowing their address,” VanderWall said. “Giving people the option to choose between displaying their name and address, driver’s license number or DNR Sportcard number will offer more privacy while still giving law enforcement officers the ability to identify owners when needed.”VanderWall noted the additional identification options are consistent with other types of sporting equipment, such as tree stands and animal traps.House Bill 4787 now moves to the Senate for consideration.### Categories: VanderWall News
Categories: VanderWall News 27Feb Rep. VanderWall invites residents to his March coffee hours No appointment is necessary to attend coffee hours. Anyone unable to attend during the scheduled times may contact Rep. VanderWall at his office at (517) 373-0825 or CurtVanderWall@house.mi.gov. State Rep. Curt VanderWall of Ludington announced his upcoming coffee hours for the month of March.“Hearing from residents on a regular basis helps me best serve the people of Mason, Manistee, Benzie, and Leelanau counties,” VanderWall said. “I invite everyone to attend my coffee hours and to share their ideas for improving our community.”Rep. VanderWall will be available at the following times and locations:Friday, March 168 to 9 a.m. at Scottville City Hall, 105 Main St. in Scottville;10 to 11 a.m. in the Manistee County Board of Commissioners Room, 415 Third St. in Manistee;1 to 2 p.m. in the Benzie County Board of Commissioners Room, 448 Court Place in Beulah; and3 to 4 p.m. in the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners Room, 8527 E. Government Center Drive in Suttons Bay.
21Jun Rep. Maturen: New state budget saves taxpayers money while improving roads, public safety Categories: News Governor signs one of two main budget billsState Rep. David Maturen joins Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative colleagues for a bill-signing ceremony today.State Rep. David Maturen today said the newly signed state budget plan reins in government spending while investing in top priorities such as road repairs, public safety and health care.“I’m pleased we were able to come up with a spending plan that respects Michigan’s hardworking taxpayers,” Maturen said after attending a bill-signing ceremony with Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative colleagues. “The new budget increases investments in the programs that matter most while making our state government more efficient, effective and accountable and spending less money than the previously enacted budget.”The governor today signed Senate Bill 848, a budget bill covering multiple state departments and agencies. A separate bill that provides funding for K-12 schools and higher education remains under consideration.Highlights of the legislation signed today include:Savings for taxpayers and smart financial planning. Spending from a fund that covers multiple state departments and agencies – called the general fund – is projected to be less next budget year than during the current year. A prison will be closed and budgets for several state departments will decline as state government becomes more efficient and eliminates waste. Maturen noted the new budget pays down debt and puts more money into the state’s main savings account, key steps that will continue to reduce the burden on Michigan’s hard-working taxpayers in the future.Road repairs. The state continues to accelerate its timeline for reconstructing roads and bridges with a record-high $4 billion investment. State-level funding will be $1 billion higher than just a few years ago, with more measures to make sure projects are done on time and on budget with strengthened warranties.Public safety. The bill signed today includes grants to make school buildings safer across the state and also expands Michigan’s OK2SAY confidential tip reporting program. The plan funds training for 155 new Michigan State Police troopers.Health care. More resources will fight the opioid abuse crisis and boost community mental health services.Maturen, of Vicksburg, played a key role in retaining funding for the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program after its previous funding source was eliminated. The program supports volunteers who monitor water quality in local lakes and document changes in lake quality. A number of local lakes, including Gull Lake, Indian Lake, Little Long Lake, Barton Lake, West Lake and Duck Lake, participate in the program.“The Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program plays a vital role in training and assisting volunteers to ensure that reliable water quality data is available,” Maturen said. “The information they provide helps shape management plans that protect our lakes and ensure our kids and grandkids will be able to enjoy Michigan’s natural resources long into the future.”###
State Rep. Jason Sheppard today was appointed by Speaker Lee Chatfield to serve as chair of the House Government Operations Committee.Sheppard said the Government Operations Committee, which guides House discussions on a wide range of policy proposals, will be one of just four main committees with the authority to advance legislation to the House floor during the 2019-20 legislative session.“I’m honored to lead such a vital committee,” said Sheppard, of Temperance. “This position will allow me to play a key role as we craft and refine policies that better the lives of residents in Monroe County and the State of Michigan.”Additionally, Sheppard has been appointed to serve as vice-chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, which is responsible for considering all legislation pertaining to elections and campaign finance law.“Elections play a critically important role in our system of government,” Sheppard said. “We must continually look for ways to improve the security and efficiency of our elections.”Sheppard will also serve on the Transportation and Financial Services committees and as majority caucus whip, a job of critical importance in communicating key information among legislators.Residents may contact Sheppard’s office by calling (517) 373-2617 or emailing JasonSheppard@house.mi.gov.### Categories: Sheppard News 16Jan Rep. Sheppard to lead House Government Operations Committee
Share31Tweet9ShareEmail40 SharesPixabay. Creative Commons 0.September 21, 2017; NBC NewsTwo years ago, an op-ed co-authored by Jay Ruderman, the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, and Jo Ann Simons, president and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Massachusetts, called national attention to the enormous incidence of police killings of people with disabilities. On the Ruderman Foundation’s website, a white paper points out just how frequently this occurs: “Disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers. Disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated. The media is ignoring the disability component of these stories, or, worse, is telling them in ways that intensify stigma and ableism.”They also say you may see the highest rates of the problem in those places where disability intersects with other factors that place people at higher risk of police violence.Disability intersects with other factors such as race, class, gender, and sexuality, to magnify degrees of marginalization and increase the risk of violence. When the media ignores or mishandles a major factor, as we contend they generally do with disability, it becomes harder to effect change.However, at least awareness is increasing. When Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was shot and killed on a porch Tuesday night after police saw him holding a metal pipe, the systemic issues behind the incident were quickly brought into public focus by advocacy groups.The scene was excruciatingly familiar: As Oklahoma City police Capt. Bo Mathews told the public, Sanchez was shot after being ordered to put the pipe in his hand down. Sanchez, as we now know, was deaf and could not speak; his neighbors even cried out, “He can’t hear you!”The nonprofit advocacy group HEARD, which tracks incidents of police brutality against deaf people, says Sanchez’s killing emphasizes the need for better training of police in recognizing disability.“It’s tragic, but not surprising,” says HEARD Director Talila Lewis. “We can’t presume that everyone can comply with orders on demand.”Howard Rosenblum, the National Association of the Deaf’s CEO and director of legal services, said, “This is not the first time that there have been a failure of communication between law enforcement officers and deaf persons resulting in the deaf person’s death, and this absolutely needs to stop. All law enforcement officers must be trained to identify when a person they are dealing with may be deaf, hard of hearing, or have disabilities of some kind.”Lewis says that training alone cannot be the whole answer. “We need demilitarization. We need to look at alternative ways of keeping our community safe that don’t involve law enforcement.”NPQ recalls this same media complicity was once an active factor in the way the public understood domestic violence and violence against women more generally. Advocacy groups made a big point of tracking media reports and retraining the media on their frames for reporting the problem. It worked; it refocused attention to the problem as systemic and not addressed appropriately by multiple institutions, including the police and courts.—Ruth McCambridgeShare31Tweet9ShareEmail40 Shares
Share9Tweet22Share21Email52 SharesBy Frank Vincentz (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 1, 2018; InverseThere’s a growing debate in Europe about how workers can take advantage of technological advances that increase productivity rates to redefine “the future of work.” Its proponents argue that companies have hoarded these advantages for too long; facing a future that is likely to require fewer workers (what with increased automation and artificial intelligence), now is a good time to balance the scales.A series of warning strikes rippled across Germany last month, and by January 27th, “nearly a million workers from more than 4,500 companies had walked out…for a few hours at a time,” according to Inverse’s Eileen Guo. Then, on January 31st, Germany released its latest unemployment numbers: 5.4 percent, the lowest since reunification in 1990. That same day, a series of 24-hour strikes launched.Guo writes, “Citing Germany’s strong economic growth, as well as increasing social responsibilities of workers outside of their jobs, IG Metall was asking for a six percent increase in wages and the right to temporarily reduce weekly hours from 35 to 28, with the right to return to full-time work after two years.”The powerful IG Metall labor union represents 3.9 million German metal and electrical engineering workers. Sophie Jaenicke, of IG Metall’s Collective Bargaining Department, tells Inverse, “The real working time of employees is much longer than the collectively agreed working time. The employers have many possibilities to prolong working hours, but employees do not have possibilities to reduce their working time in the same way.”So far, employers have offered a two-percent wage increase and a one-time payment of €200 ($239), but not a shorter work week. IG Metall chief Joerg Hofmann vows to increase the pressure.This is not confined to Germany’s private sector. The public service workers union DBB will ask “for a ‘significant’ salary hike and a decrease in working hours from 41 to 39.” Meanwhile, its largest service sector union, Verdi, is calling for a six-percent salary increase and the option to trade salary for additional time off.As in the US, the German government “has indicated that providing better protections for workers…is on its agenda.” However, Rutgers University-based US economist Jennifer Hunt says, “The whole tenor of the debate in the US is completely different” due to comparably weaker unions. In the US, the focus is on more flexibility to advance work-life balance. Organizations like the Freelancers’ Union and 1 Million for Work Flexibility are fighting for their members to have more choice in determining things like working schedules and remote work.Some see this as the purview of “well-to-do folks,” like the Silicon Valley workers whose employers offer “work arrangements that range from the standard 40-hour weeks condensed into longer but fewer days, office-wide working retreats, unlimited vacations, remote working opportunities, and even paid sabbaticals accrued just like time off.”In the US, we’re selling workers’ demands for flexibility as not only beneficial personally to workers, but as profitable for companies. Emma Plumb, the director of 1 Million for Work Flexibility, says, “Our message is that for organizations and employees to be more productive and successful, it’s crucial to look beyond the traditional in-office, 9-to-5 workplace norm.”However, experiments indicate that this is not the best frame for worker demands. Guo writes, “When Utah implemented its four-day work-week in 2008 for state employees, it abruptly ended the program three years later, saying that the move’s projected savings never materialized. A recent experiment in Sweden was also canceled because the cost outweighed the benefits.” For whom, one could ask?Guo concludes, “The technological advances are speeding up, but the unified efforts of labor have disappeared for most American workers. Perhaps this explains, at least in part, why the work week has not changed for nearly 75 years.”While the work of nonprofits seems to always be on the rise, perhaps it’s time for us to stop and think about the nature of work itself and how it overlaps with the societal values we seek. If we can’t create the world we want for ourselves, how can we create it for anyone else? What do you think? How can nonprofits help to redefine the future of work?—Cyndi SuarezShare9Tweet22Share21Email52 Shares
Share52Tweet9ShareEmail61 Shares“Calgary Amazon HQ2 campaign,” SounderBruceFebruary 12, 2018; News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)Nearly 100 academics, urbanists, and policy experts have written a letter that calls on cities and states to reject the “level of incentives and the looming competition between cities over incentives for Amazon’s new headquarters,” reports Abbie Bennett in the Raleigh News & Observer. More than 13,000 have since signed a petition to indicate their support of the letter’s position, Bennett adds.At NPQ, we have regularly covered the ongoing competition among the 238 communities (now winnowed down to 20 second-round candidates) that are seeking to house the global giant’s second headquarters.The unseemly nature of cities throwing dollars at Amazon, a firm with a market capitalization nearing $700 billion, is obvious. As NPQ’s Spencer Wells noted last October, a central question seems to have been, “How much do mayors, civic leaders, and city councils need to abase themselves to win a prize from the oligarch?” But at least it is nice to see economists and urban planners go on record to maybe coax some restraint from local and state governments, many of whom have offered Amazon billions of dollars in tax breaks to locate in their communities.The petition drive has been organized by Richard Florida, who directs the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. Signers include a remarkable “who’s who” of the field, including Harvard’s Dani Rodrik (soon to head the International Economics Association); Bruce Katz, Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings; three former chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors (Laura Tyson, Alan Krueger, and Jason Furman); Columbia’s Saskia Sassen, author of The Global City; Andrés Duany, founder of the Congress for a New Urbanism; Ben Hecht, CEO of Living Cities; Eugenie Birch, co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research; Jeffrey Sachs, former director (2002-2016) of the Earth Institute; and Jennifer Bradley, founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Center for Urban Innovation.Many nonprofit advocacy group leaders have also signed on to the initial list. Among the more prominent names are Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance; Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First; Thea Lee, president of the Economic Policy Institute; and Dean Baker, senior economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.The letter notes that,Tax giveaways and business location incentives offered by local governments are often wasteful and counterproductive, according to a broad body of research. Such incentives do not alter business location decisions as much as is often claimed, and are less important than more fundamental location factors. Worse, they divert funds that could be put to better use underwriting public services such as schools, housing programs, job training, and transportation, which are more effective ways to spur economic development.The letter adds that the “use of Amazon’s market power to extract incentives from local and state governments is rent-seeking and anticompetitive. It is in the public interest to resist such behavior and not play into or enable it.”To that end, the letter asks elected officials to “sign a mutual non-aggression pact that rejects such egregious tax giveaways and direct monetary incentives for the Amazon headquarters” and encourages states, cities, and regions to “compete on the underlying strength of their communities—not on public handouts to private business.”—Steve DubbShare52Tweet9ShareEmail61 Shares
Thomson Video Networks has announced a strategic partnership with Jünger Audio that will bring Jünger’s audio loudness technology to Thomson’s ViBE encoding platform.Jünger Audio’s audio leveling technology delivers broadcast audio that complies with current loudness regulations. The company’s Level Magic algorithm provides a series of level controls that address issues broadcasters face, particularly with audio coming from a wide variety of sources.“We have chosen Jünger from the key players in this arena because the Level Magic algorithm is very highly regarded by broadcast sound engineers for the outstanding results it delivers,” said Claude Perron, chief technology officer of Thomson Video Networks. “Audio quality is a key criterion for our customers and an important part of the viewer experience, and with this collaboration we can combine the leading loudness solution with the leading encoding technology.”Thomson Video Networks and Jünger will work jointly to integrate Level Magic into the ViBE platform, and the technology will be incorporated into new ViBE products from Q3 2012.
Freesat, the UK’s free-to-air DTH platform, has launched a next-generation connected TV proposition that blends broadcast and OTT video services.Free time from Free sat offers a backwards EPG linking to broadcaster catch-up platforms and a ‘showcase’ section offering editorialised recommendations. The service will launch on a Humax box offering 500Gb of storage for £279 (€352) at the end of the month. The announcement comes just over a month since the launch of YouView, a similar proposition that offers a mix of subscription-free, DTT-delivered Freeview channels and online services from public broadcasters and pay TV platforms, including BSkyB’s Now TV service.Free time will offer seven-day catch-up services from the BBC and ITV at launch, with Channel 4’s 4oD and Five’s Demand 5 platforms to follow before the end of the year. Ahead of this morning’s launch, James Strickland, Freesat’s director of product and technology development, told Digital TV Europe that the platform was in talks with TV, movie and music providers about launching services on Free time but denied reports that it had already struck a deal with Netflix.Should deals with the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm follow, it would be a blow to incumbent operator Sky, which has already lost customers to Freesat and, according to reports, is concerned that it can’t compete with Netflix on price. Strickland said Freesat would continue to target Sky’s customers with its Free time offering as well as existing Freesat customers that were looking for an upgrade path. To-date, Freesat has sold 2.6 million devices.Freesat has developed Free time using widely adopted European open standards, including HTML5, OIPF and HbbTV, which Strickland said would make it easy for third parties to launch on the platform. “HTML5 gives us an edge. It’s a low barrier to entry for broadcast and broadband partners, and offers a gateway to people developing those kinds of services.”The service will offer a common UI across all devices, giving a specific Free time feel to the services, unlike the existing Freesat platform that sees UIs designed by the set-top manufacturers.A 1TB version of the Humax Freesat Plus box is on the horizon, along with devices from Sagemcom, Philips and Manhattan. Strickland said the range of Free time devices would eventually cover the spectrum from zapper boxes to Smart TVs and added that it had held “concrete discussions” with exiting TV partners Panasonic and Samsung.
Netflix is imposing a blanket price increase for its basic service in the 41 territories it currently operates from today, at the sametime as introducing new subscription tiers.The subscription streaming service will up the price of its standard HD-quality service in the UK from £5.99 to £6.99. However, existing subscribers will be exempt from the price increase for a two-year period.At the same time a Netflix spokesperson confirmed that it is introducing a new £5.99 (€7.30) plan that will allow viewers to access SD-quality content, as well as an £8.99 offering that will give subscribers access across four screens – dubbed its ‘super HD option.’The new three-price structure will be replicated in Ireland, where the standard option, previously priced at €7.99, will go up to €8.99. The SD and multiscreen options here will be introduced at prices of €7.99 and€11.99.Across the rest of Europe and its international markets Netflix will impose price changes along the same lines, with the standard service going up in each market by the same approximate margin.“Prices in US are not yet announced. But expect them to be inline with other price rises,” a Netflix spokesperson said. An official blog post announcing this is expected out of the US later today.Netflix first said last month that it will increase its base monthly rate for new subscribers later this quarter by “a dollar or two”.In its letter to shareholders announcing record revenue for Q1 2014, Netflix said a price increase trial in Ireland from €6.99 to €7.99 a month had resulted in “little impact” to subscriber numbers, and therefore an increase was now forthcoming for subs in all territories, with the amount varying in each country it operates in.“As always, members can change plans at any time without penalty or commitments. New members get a free trial of whichever plan they prefer,” said Netflix.
Russian pay TV leader Tricolor TV has begun regular 4K TV broadcasts, with a pilot channel made available to subscribers at no extra charge. Tricolor TV has teamed up with satellite operator Eutelsat to launch the channel, which is broadcast in 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution with a frame rate of 60fps, encoded in the HEVC/H.265 format.The 4K service is available via the Eutelsat 36A and Eutelsat 36B satellites. Content includes coverage of opera performances, motorsports and nature documentaries.Alexey Karpov, Tricolor TV’s head of sales and customer service, said that the launch was “another revolutionary step” for the operator. He said he expected full commercialisation of the channel to kick off next year.Tricolor TV’s launch follows the launch of 4K test broadcasts by rival pay TV operator NTV+ to provide coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics earlier this year.
Subscription video-on-demand services popularised by the likes of Netflix and Amazon will account for just 3% of the global pay TV market this year, according to Deloitte. Predicting the top media trends for 2015, the professional services firm said that it expects SVoD to generate roughly £5 billion (€6.4 billion) globally this year, compared to total pay TV market proceeds of £168 billion.“SVoD should not be considered solely as a competitor to pay TV but more as a complementary service and replacement for DVD box sets,” said Deloitte.“In addition, SVoD players will struggle to match TV broadcasters’ investment in brand new high-end content.”Reinforcing traditional viewing habits, Deloitte also said it does not expect short form video to overtake traditional, long form television viewing.Though it predicted that short clips will generate 10 billion hours of viewing per month and revenues of £3 billion, this compares to an estimated 360 billion hours of traditional TV viewing per month in 2015 and subscription revenues worth more than £260 billion.“The most successful video bloggers will generate billions of views. However, the total time spent watching short online video clips, will represent under three per cent of all video (long- and short- form) watched on screens globally,” said Neil Allcock, lead media partner at Deloitte.
Marriott hotel guests in the US will be able to access Netflix on connected TVs, thanks to a partnership that the hotel chain said will “revolutionise the guest room entertainment experience.”Selected Marriott hotels will let guests subscribe to the SVoD service, or sign into their existing accounts, by using the Netflix app provided on in-room televisions, in a move designed to respond to changing viewer habits.Marriott claims it is the first hotel brand to be authorised to offer guests direct access to their Netflix accounts as part of its guest room entertainment offering.Netflix is currently available at six Marriott, with six more launching this summer. The hotel company said it plans to expand Netflix to 100 properties by the end of 2015 and to “nearly all” of its 300-plus properties in the US by the end of 2016.“Our collaboration with Netflix responds to changing consumer preferences in the way our guests access and watch content, while recognising the leading role Netflix is playing in driving this transformation,“ said Matthew Carroll, vice-president brand management, Marriott Hotels.“Because consumers are choosing to take their streaming content with them when they travel, Marriott Hotels is making the industry’s first rollout of Netflix a priority.”Netflix’s global head of business development, Bill Holmes, said: “Our members tell us they want to watch Netflix anytime, in any place where they have an Internet connection. Through our partnership with Marriott, they’ll get to watch their favourite movies, TV shows and Netflix originals on big screens just like they do at home.”