ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map The trend: Sand dune immersionWhat is it?In short being buried up to your neck in hot sand before having your head swaddled in damp fabric against the sun.The benefits:It’s said to ease rheumatism, cure impotence and boost fertility, though evidence is scant. Topical treatment with heat is, however, known to decrease muscle pain.What it feels like:Depends on your disposition. To some like being cuddled by a sandy cocoon; to others as relaxing as – eeek! – being buried alive.Where can you try it?At Dunes by Al Nahda in Oman they do it in style: immersing you in sanitised sand and dressing your head in fresh fruit. Try not to nibble the melons.Where to stay:Book Dunes by Al NahdaGet there:Book flights to MuscatGet around:Hire a car from Muscat International Airport The trend: Beer bathingWhat is it?A Czech fad that involves lolling about up to your neck in specially brewed ‘bathing beer’.The benefits:Chodovar family brewery claim their bathing brew ‘stimulates the skin and internal organs’. Science says: the panthothenic acid and vitamin B complex in beer are good for skin.What it feels like:One part stag-night jape to two parts Cleopatra. The drip-tray aromas linger.Where can you try it?Chodovar Brewery’s ‘beer wellness land’ offers visitors a 20-minute soak in bathing beer followed by a mug of the brewery’s foaming rock lager for £29. For a few quid more you get a top-notch deep-tissue massage.Where to stay:Bed down in the brewery’s adjacent hotel U SladkaGet there:Fly to PragueGet around:Hire a car from Prague International Airport The trend: Laughter yogaWhat is it?Stimulating belly laughs via an array of techniques perfected by the Indian laughter guru Osho (in the 1960s) and physician Madan Kataria, who conceived ‘laughter yoga’ in the 1990s.The benefits:Laughter helps the brain regulate the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine and links have been found between laughter and the production of antibodies and endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers).What it feels like:At first, frankly, a bit daft. But go with the flow and your fellow chortlers’ laughter proves infectious.Where can you try it?Find your inner mirth beneath a canopy of banyan trees at Karnataka’s SwaSwara ayurvedic resort, where yogi Raj puts you through a series of deep breathing and laughter-provoking exercises aimed at lowering your blood pressure and boosting your mood.Where to stay:Book a room in nearby Sanskruti resortGet there:Book flights to GoaGet around:Hire a car from Goa International Airport. The trend: Korean kiln saunasWhat is it?A practice that dates back to the 15th century, hanjeungmak involves sitting in a room heated by burning pine wood wrapped in a thick jute garment to protect your body from the heat.The benefits:Touted locally as an (unproven) treatment for shoulder and back pain and to improve skin health. However a recent Harvard study found sauna use to be linked to longer life and better heart health.What it feels like:Intensely hot and dry (often topping 100 degrees C), this isn’t one for the sauna uninitiated.Where can you try it?Seeing a resurgence, hanjeungmaks litter South Korean capital Seoul. Kiln saunas cost around £10 a session at the reputable Insadong SpaWhere to stay:Book a room in Seoul’s Jongno districtGet there:Fly to SeoulGet around:Seoul has an extensive, safe and efficient public transportation networkDiscover more to do in Tokyo with our guide . The trend: Forest bathingWhat is it?In essence, having a bit of a walkabout or sit down among some trees, although forest-bathing advocates say there’s more to it that. The practice, called shinrin-yoku, has a official seal of approval in Japan, where therapeutic parks have been built to give city-dwellers access to the healing properties of trees.The benefits:Phytoncides, compounds released by plants and trees, have been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and activate the immune system.What it feels like:It depends how you do it. Walk or relax in the woods and it’s a pleasant pastime. Camp out overnight, as diehard forest-bathers do, and you’ll need some good thermals (and to lay off the ghost stories).Where can you try it?Meiji Jingu Shrine is the last word in shinrin-yoku for Tokyoites, its forest of 100,000 therapeutic trees donated from across Japan.Where to stay:Book a hotel in nearby Shinjuku wardGet there:Book flights to TokyoGet around:Tokyo has an excellent and safe public transportation network Related5 cool things to experience in JapanBlogger and budget traveller Kash Bhattacharya shares his top things to see and do in Japan.Hiking in Japan: 15 awe-inspiring trailsFrom epic climbs up active volcanoes to temple odysseys through the mists of time, Japan is full of fantastic walking trails and some of the world’s most impressive mountains. Here are our top 15 routes, plus a few tips, for the ultimate hiking holiday in Japan. But first the essentials…15 of the weirdest hotels in JapanChecked in by a robot, sleeping in a capsule and a wake-up call from Godzilla? It can only be and stay in Japan.
Once you’ve explored the markets of Marrakech, make sure you read up on where to hike in the Atlas Mountains and 5 other trips of a lifetime. 1. Dubai 2. Italy Search flights to Vienna Search hotels in Dubai Japan might not scream bargain basement, but the dazzling capital Tokyo caters just as well for the thrifty as it does for the spendthrift. As you might expect from the land of bullet trains and Pepper the robotic assistant, standards are high when it comes to customer service and quality. So whether you’re browsing high-end boutiques or bargain hunting in the abundant ¥100 shops – Japan’s answer to the pound store – shopping here is a joy. Those willing to part with some serious wonga will be in seventh heaven at Isetan’s Shinjuku flagship department store, which is sprawled across two blocks in eight separate buildings. Still looking for inspiration? Bargain hunters with a taste for the finer things in life should make a beeline to Milan. Outlets are just an hour outside the couture capital and stock threads by brands such as Missoni and La Perla no more than one season old – and since Milan is months ahead of the trends, that’s practically new at home. Make a road trip of it and you can enjoy the stunning scenery of northern Italy in between retail therapy fixes. An hour’s drive towards the coast in the Piedmont region is Serravalle Designer Outlet, the biggest of its kind in Europe with 225 stores offering up to 70% off Fendi, Gucci and the like. Barberino Designer Outlet is another gem handily located between the Renaissance cities of Florence and Bologna. Search hotels in Marrakech Search flights to Marrakech ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Search flights to Tokyo 4. Austria Hipster culture has diluted the meaning of the term ‘artisan’, but in Morocco you’ll discover the true meaning of the word. This brilliantly accessible north African country is full of highly skilled local craftspeople – actual artisans – using centuries-old techniques to create handmade wares ready to be haggled over. The Austrian capital of Vienna is famous for its fairytale Christmas markets, which are undoubtedly worth a gander. But venture beyond the twinkly squares and you’ll find there’s more to shopping here than glass baubles and glühwein. A good rummage in the city’s charming antique boutiques is not only a dreamy way for any self-respecting shopaholic to spend the day, but also an opportunity to find a unique piece at a great price. The epicentre of all things fashion, Italy is a shopaholic’s dream – not to mention a not-too-shabby place to spend a pre-Christmas break. But, while there are plenty of bank balance-busting boutiques, you don’t need Nancy Dell’Olio’s budget to fill your suitcase with fashion finds. Italy is overflowing with factory outlets, where you can pick up Prada, D&G or Versace at incredible prices. 3. Morocco Centre your search in Marrakech and hunt for treasure in the souks that snake north from the main artery Souk Semmarine. You’ll find everything from pottery and jewellery to spices and textiles – just remember never to accept the first price you’re offered. If you’ve room in your suitcase for a traditional Moroccan carpet, you can find intricately designed Berber rugs hand-woven in the Atlas Mountains for a fraction of the price back home. Just make sure they’re 100% wool and do some research before you commit. Two safe bets are Vintage Moroccan Carpets and Les Nomades de Marrakech behind the Ben Youssef Mosque. If you only brought carry-on, bargain over bold chunky Berber bracelets and necklaces in silver. And head to the upscale shops in Gueliz for great value leather bags, wallets and coats. While there, don’t miss famous footwear emporium Atika for butter-soft leather loafers in an eye-popping array of candy colours. They’re a pretty good lookalike of designer versions by Tod’s and Hermès, but at around £65 a pair, you won’t need to take out a loan to afford them. Savvy shoppers head to the destinations where you can find luxury items that won’t bust your holiday budget, and get an instagrammable escape while you’re at it. From great value gold in Dubai to cut-price Chanel in Japan, we’ve found five high-end hotspots where you can combine a pre-Christmas break with the best shopping opportunities on the planet. 5. Japan Search flights to Dubai Search hotels in Milan Home to the world’s largest mall, Dubai does shopping with a capital $. With theme parks, a waterfall, dancing fountains, Olympic-sized ice rink, aquarium, indoor souk and malls within the mall, you could spend your entire holiday in the monumental Dubai Mall. And with temperatures outside best described as sweltering most of the year, you’d be forgiven for taking refuge in this air-conditioned temple of commerce. Located beneath the 828m-tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper, you can tick off two whopping great birds with one stone with a visit here, while bagging great deals on top-end watch brands, electronics and jewellery. Gold especially is of a higher grade and much cheaper than back home but, depending on your haggling skills, you’ll get a better price in the gold souk in Deira or the Gold & Diamond Park near Mall of the Emirates, plus you’ll get a flavour of the real Dubai. Take a traditional wooden abra (boat) across the creek between the souks at Deira and Bur Dubai for a really fun way to shop. Search hotels in Vienna Search hotels in Tokyo Search flights to Milan The 300-year-old auction house Dorotheum, one of the largest in the world, is a treasure trove of jewellery, silverware, porcelain, glass, ceramics, drawings and paintings, with antiques up for grabs for under €100. Another Vienna institution, Carla Wien is a charity that clears out old apartments and re-sells the furniture and other items at reasonable prices. With constantly changing stock, you can find some real gems. There are also countless flea markets ripe for a forage. The most famous, Naschmarkt (open on Saturdays), has around 400 stalls of covetable rarities as well as umpteen enticing food stands. On a Sunday, head to Riesenflohmarkt Wienerberg on the outskirts of town, where a little digging can be rewarded with antique gems at rock-bottom prices. But aside from the big brands with even bigger price tags, the shop stocks an amazing array of affordable Japanese gifts, too. Cash-strapped label lovers are in luck as Tokyo boasts more than its fair share of vintage shops crammed with top-quality, pre-loved designer goodies, many centred around Shibuya and Shimokitazawa – think Chanel and Fendi at 50-80% the original price. Venture a little out of the city to the charming streets of Isezakichō and you’ll find block after block of bargains, such as kimonos for less than £15, while Akihabara is the place to bag cut-price electronics and gadgets. Related2-4-1 Dubai: How to save money on Dubai’s top attractionsGlamorous UAE super-city Dubai is not known as a budget travel destination, but with a few handy pointers and the 241Passport travel app, there are lots of ways to save rather than overspend on a holiday to Dubai this summer.The best hotels in Dubai for every budgetWhether you’re looking for a five star resort with access to the world’s biggest shopping centre or just a good deal on a beach hotel, Dubai has a room for every occasion and budget. We’ve lined up the best hotels in Dubai so you can take your pick….Dubai for FamiliesDubai is known to be a glamourous city break destination with record breaking skyscrapers, the world’s biggest shopping malls and seven star hotels, but it can be just as enchanting for children with ski slopes, water parks, family friendly hotels and restaurants.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond, was joined by his wife Sara for the State of the State address tonight at the Capitol in Lansing. Sara Yaroch is an attorney based in the city of Richmond. Categories: News,Photos,Yaroch News,Yaroch Photos 17Jan State Rep. Yaroch hosts his wife Sara for State of the State speech
State Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake invites residents to join him for local coffee hours in White Lake, Highland and Milford on Friday, Dec. 8.“I always value the opportunity to meet residents and discuss matters of state government,” Rep. Runestad said. “As a legislator, my primary focus is being accessible and accountable to the people in my district.”Coffee hours will take place at the following times and locations:• 8 to 9 a.m. at Leo’s Coney Island, 6845 Highland Road in White Lake;• 10 to 11 a.m. at Colasanti’s Market, 468 S. Milford Road in Highland; and• Noon to 1 p.m. at Bakers of Milford, 2025 S. Milford Road in Milford.No appointment is necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Runestad at 517-373-2616 or via email at JimRunestad@house.mi.gov. 27Nov Local residents can meet with Rep. Runestad on Dec. 8 Categories: Runestad News
Categories: Wentworth News Law promotes and protects honoring those killed in the line of duty A new law from state Rep. Jason Wentworth ensures businesses are not prohibited from displaying signs or flags commemorating military heroes, police officers, firefighters and first responders who were killed in the line of duty.House Bill 6063, which became Public Act 506 of 2018, addresses recent incidents where job providers have been forced to remove signage or flags due to local ordinances, or pay fines for refusing to cooperate.“Government should not stand in the way of businesses honoring or remembering individuals who have bravely made the ultimate sacrifice – those who put their life on the line to protect their neighbors and country,” said Wentworth, of Clare. “These people are heroes to Michigan communities and we should allow them to be recognized as heroes.”Wentworth, who chaired the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee during the 2017-18 legislative term, addressed the legislation during a “Let the Flags Fly” rally at the Capitol in December. He was joined by a group of legislators, military veterans, first responders and families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.“The outpouring of support was incredible,” Wentworth said. “It was great to see so many people who deeply understand the cost of the freedoms we hold dear in this state and this country. As a representative of the people, it was important to hear their voices and assure them that their fervent patriotism and support of our military and first responders will be respected, not regulated.”The proposal previously received overwhelming support in the Michigan House and was advanced unanimously by the Senate. 07Jan Rep. Wentworth plan protecting commemorative signage signed into law
State Rep. Jack O’Malley this week joined Republican members of the Michigan House to unveil their Action Plan for the 2019-20 legislative term.The plan titled “Leading the Way for an Even Better Michigan” highlights key areas to focus on for the current legislative term.“We must continue our efforts to outline priorities that will lead Michigan to a better future over the next two years,” said O’Malley, of Lake Ann. “Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason counties will benefit from this action plan and I look forward to focusing on key issues that will help our communities.”Rep. O’Malley will focus on continuing to fix Michigan roads and bringing more opportunities to people pursuing the skilled trades.“Michigan roads have to be fixed and with this plan we are taking action to speed up the process,” O’Malley said. “With skilled trades, there is so much opportunity for growth. I want to give students the opportunity to succeed and explore new educational paths.”The 2019-2020 House Republican Action Plan may be viewed at http://gophouse.org/leading-the-way/### Categories: News,O’Malley News 20Feb Rep. O’Malley: Michigan House Republican Action Plan will lead state to a better future
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares August 6, 2014; The Lens The Louisiana Department of Corrections needed a certain drug to carry out the execution of Christopher Sepulvado, which was scheduled for early February, so it asked Lake Charles Memorial Hospital if they could buy 20 vials of hydromorphone.Such requests are not uncommon. “We assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was,” said Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, who is not only a board member for the hospital, but also a chief judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal. “Had we known of the real use, we never would have done it.”Thibodeaux said that the practice of helping other pharmacies with drugs has been somewhat routine until now. “We never inquire into the purpose for it. We assume it’s for legitimate and noble purposes,” he said. “We have assurances from our CEO, who is a very forthright guy, that this will not happen again.”In the end, Sepulvado wasn’t executed in February because an execution in Oklahoma using the same drugs was botched.States that still use the death penalty have been having difficulty finding the drugs they need for lethal injections after their sources abroad started refusing to sell to prisons. Sources here in the states did not want to sell to them either because it implicated them in the process. Some states tried to employ a veil of secrecy, but that is still being tested by advocates.In Louisiana, for instance, a mere five days before the execution, the Department of Corrections declared publicly that it had obtained both drugs it needed to execute Sepulvado but would not reveal the source. A judge ordered it to be revealed to Sepulvado’s lawyers only. In the end, Thibodeaux and another source have revealed that the hydromorphone came from Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and the drugs were sent to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center’s Medical Unit, described as a “medical facility for seriously or chronically ill offenders.”Deborah Denno, a professor at the Fordham University School of Law, said that if suppliers like Lake Charles don’t want to be involved in executions, they could require a contract that prohibits its use for the purpose, which drug manufacturers like Hospira and Lundbeck have done.—Ruth McCambridge ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Susie Buckridge, YouViewUK connected TV platform YouView is now seeing 2.7 VoD requests a week, with free-to-air households watching close to five VoD programmes a week, according to Susie Buckridge, product director at YouView. “This is incremental to linear viewing,” said Buckridge, speaking at the OTTtv World Summit in London.About 54.1% of customers view VoD programmes every week, averaging 3.5 hours a week.However, Buckridge cautioned that viewing behaviour is not changing as fast as people sometimes think, with most people still watching live TV broadcasts.Buckridge told attendees at the conference that the UK market is characterised by three ongoing battles. The first is between platforms for the connected consumer in the home, and especially for the billing relationship with the consumer, said Buckridge. The next is between devices and which device the user should connect to, she said, with content providers now obliged to get onto every device. Finally, there is a battle between aggregators, said Buckridge, with players including Sky, Netflix and Lovefilm are all competing to deliver the gateway to the home.“This is very much a power struggle…over access to content,” she said. However, there is considerable consumer confusion as a result of the various battles being fought, said Buckridge.“We decided not to engage directly in these battles but to enhance the customer experience,” she said.Buckridge said YouView is “absolutely an open platform, and everyone is allowed to come on board”. The platform can support multiple business models and YouView has not set out to establish a billing relationship with consumers. She said YouView will continue to deliver a “free” service, which includes the bundled offerings provided by BT and TalkTalk, which now provides YouView in half of its homes, although pay offerings can be added.Buckridge said YouView will look to add more internet channels to its offering and focus on improved search and recommendation to enable viewers to find content, she said.
Following yesterday’s deal between Netflix and Comcast, telecom operator Verizon has confirmed that it is in talks with the subscription VoD company about striking a similar peering deal, while AT&T is reportedly also in advanced discussions with the company.Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said that his company has been in talks with Netflix for about a year.Analysts remain divided on whether the deal with Comcast and other service providers will benefit or harm Netflix.The streaming VoD company’s shares rose on the Comcast deal as analysts argued that the effect on Netflix’s bottom line could be neutral or positive, enabling it to cease payments to peering intermediary Cogent Communications and to benefit from service level agreements with access network providers.Others have argued that companies such as Comcast are effectively local monopolies that could put their prices up over time, even if the terms offered to Netflix now are more favourable than those previously on the table.
Comedians Frankie Boyle and Matt Berry are creating more originals for UK on-demand service BBC iPlayer.Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy follows on from last year’s successful Scottish Referendum Autopsy, and will see the acerbic comic (Tramadol Nights) attempting to make sense of the UK General Election in front of a live audience that decide if he is right or wrong in his assertions.Endemol Shine UK-owned Zeppotron is producing, with Ruth Phillips and Peter Holmes executive producing. The show debuts on May 17.Berry’s Lone Wolf and Wild Love comedy shorts will be followed by a topical comedy series Matt Berry Does… in which the Toast of London creator takes an anthropological look at events such as the Oxford/Cambridge boat race.Bob Mortimer is the writer, with Pett Television attached to produce. The show will be made available on April 5.Other new iPlayer originals include BBC Arts Production Grayson Perry at Turner Contemporary: Jo Brand’s Private View, and another Private View looking at abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. Another BBC Arts Production strand, Women Who Spit, will see young female poets given between three and five minutes to tackle a range of topics.Elsewhere, Baby Cow Productions is working on Fast Cuts (WT), a series of comedy shorts written and performed by a wide range of established and emerging Muslim comedians to celebrate their culture. Henry Normal and Mob Dar executive produce.Another Muslim-themed original is lightly comic love story My Jihad, which looks at a young, modern Muslim couple trying to stay together despite their families and their own prejudices. BBC Drama Production produces with Hilary Salmon as senior executive producer.Finally, Fear Itself is a horror documentary that both looks at the history of horror cinema and uses the conventions of the genre to make the programme itself feel scary too. BBC Arts Production is handling production.
John McVayThe European Commission’s objections and probe into country-specific TV rights deals could undermine the funding model for content in the region and ultimately threaten jobs in the TV and film industries, according to Pact.The UK trade association for independent producers was reacting to the European Commission’s investigation, announced last month, into rights deals between European pay TV platform Sky and the Hollywood studios.The Commission sent a statement of objections to the parties alleging that they have put in place restrictions preventing Sky UK from allowing EU consumers not resident in the UK or Ireland from viewing its pay TV services. If the Commission’s preliminary findings are confirmed, each of the companies would have breached EU competition rules.Pact said it is concerned that without territory-specific deals the funding model for original content would be threatened, there will be less cash for new programming and jobs will be at risk.“Without the ability to fully finance shows through pre-sales by individual territory, some projects simply wouldn’t be able to secure the full funding to go ahead. Another scenario is, without these exclusive deals, broadcasters will pay less and producers will have less money to invest in quality content for the consumer,” said John McVay, Pact chief executive.He added: “The reality is that this will harm diversity and excellence of content for the consumer and it will impact on SMEs and small producers who will have less ability to adapt than larger companies. Jobs will be at risk too, and any impact on the TV and film sector, which has been at the heart of successful creative industries across the EU, will reverberate across the industry”.The EU investigation follows an 18-month investigation by the Commission. Sky and the studios have yet to formally respond and there is no deadline for the conclusion of the Commission probe.
Sony Pictures Television has bought into preschool SVOD service Hopster.That means Sony Pictures Television Networks takes a minority stake and a seat on the board in exchange for an undisclosed amount.The investment came as part of an investment round, which SPTN led in association with Hopster’s largest existing shareholder, Sandbox Partners. The money will help the company with new ventures in content and marketing.For SPT, buying into Hopster its latest step in kids TV after buying the Pop, Tiny Pop and Kix channels in June 2014.Former channel controller Nick Walters launched Hopster IN December 2013 as an SVOD service for pre-schoolers. Having debuted in the UK, it recently expanded into more than 100 territories.“Hopster is a fantastic investment, supporting our growing SPT Networks kids’ offering which has seen Sony grow to become one of the top kids broadcasters in the UK,” said SPT’s executive VP, western Europe, international networks, Kate Marsh.“This investment offers us an early mover advantage in the fast-growing subscription kids’ space, and is a real opportunity to increase our on-demand services, working with the Hopster team to grow digital scale alongside our linear channels.”Walters said having Sony on board meant his company could reach “the next level”.“Our vision is to build an end-to-end kids player and Sony’s global reach, existing kids portfolio, and technology presence makes them the perfect partner.“We hope that together we can build on the success of our revolutionary new Apple TV app and recent US launch and establish Hopster as the world’s leading non-linear preschool kids player.”
Ukrainian OTT TV service Divan.TV has added CNN and Cartoon Network to its channel line-up.The networks are available now in the Ukraine to Divan.TV’s Optimal, Prestige, VIP, and Children package subscribers.Divan.TV general director, Arkadiy Kanyuka, described the additions as a “huge step forward” and said: “We are constantly striving to add new channels streaming, thereby expanding the audience of Divan.TV.”
Eutelsat has completed the sale of its 33.69% stake in Spanish satellite operator, Hispasat, to Abertis for €302 million.Hispasat’s control centreEutelsat said that the divestment of its Hispasat stake is in line with its strategy of rationalising its portfolio of assets in order to maximise cash generation.The deal was completed following its recent approval by the Spanish Council of Ministers.Eutelsat and Abertis originally agreeing terms in May 2017 and at the time expected the deal to close in the second half of 2017.The sale process was first initiated in July 2016 when Eutelsat exercised the put option granted in 2008 by Abertis, Hispasat’s majority shareholder.
MTG has upped its stake in Zoomin.TV from 51% to 100% after agreeing to buy out the digital video network’s founders Jan Riemens and Bram Bloemberg.MTG acquired the remaining 49% of Zoomin.TV from Adversa Media Groep, which is controlled by Riemens and Bloemberg, paying a cash consideration of €6.2 million and settling Adversa’s €11.3 million of shareholder loans to Zoomin.TV.Riemens and Bram Bloemberg has been serving, respectively, as chief executive and chief financial officers of Zoomin.TV, but with the deal have stepped down to pursue new opportunities.MTG today announced that Roger Lodewick, a former executive at TEAM Marketing who was responsible for the sale of UEFA Champions League and Europa League Media rights, will take over as CEO.Andreas Walker, who has previously held a number of senior roles for MTG, RTL and MTG subsidiary ESL, has been appointed as Zoomin.TV’s new CFO.“After all these years and the many successes, the farewell does evoke emotions, but it is good to transfer the management to a new team that will lead Zoomin.TV into a new phase”, said RiemensAmsterdam-headquartered Zoomin.TV, which was first founded in 2002, publishes online video content targeted at ‘generation Z’ viewers and claims to generate around 3.2 billion video views per month.The company has 16 offices on four continents and has a global network of some 3,500 freelance video journalists. Zoomin.TV was a launch content provider for the Facebook Watch platform last year and also has a partnership in place with Tencent in China.MTG initially acquired 51% of Zoomin.TV in July 2015 for roughly €44.9 million. It bought the stake based on an enterprise value of €88 million, with the deal part of the firm’s strategy to invest in “relevant, complementary and scalable digital brands, content and communities.”MTG bought the original stake from Adversa and Evalue and said that the takeover of the remaining shares is in accordance with the previous agreements with Adversa.“Every day, Zoomin.TV delivers hundreds of videos from around the world that inspire Generation Z,” said MTG president and CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann. “These unique stories have made the company one of the world’s largest online video publishers, and now we will work more closely with Zoomin.TV to reach even more of the world’s most passionate audiences.”The news comes a week after MTG completed the sale of its 75% holding in youth broadcaster Trace for a total cash consideration of €30 million (approximately SEK 313 million).MTG agreed to sell its majority stake in Trace in January and since then has announced the sale of its 95% shareholding in Bulgaria’s Nova Broadcasting Group to investment company PPF Group.The moves mark MTG’s ongoing strategic transformation from a traditional national broadcaster to a global digital entertainer. Last year it also sold its Czech TV assets for €116 million and its Baltic broadcasting business for €100 million.Separately, MTG held its annual general meeting (AGM) in Stockholm yesterday where it voted to support all the resolutions that the board and nomination committee proposed to the meeting – including the payment of an annual ordinary dividend of SEK 12.50 per share to shareholders on May 29.At the AGM board members Joakim Andersson, David Chance, Simon Duffy, Donata Hopfen, John Lagerling and Natalie Tydeman were re-elected, as was chairman of the board David Chance. New board member Gerhard Florin was also elected.
Discovery’s profit was down year-on-year in Q2 as improved operating results were impacted by higher restructuring costs and charges associated with the integration of Scripps.David ZaslavAnnouncing its second quarter results, Discovery reported net income of US$216 million, compared to US$374 million for the same period last year. However, revenues were up 63% year-on-year on a reported basis to US$2.85 billion.The company said that excluding the Scripps Networks, Motor Trend Group and Oprah Winfrey Network transactions, and the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, revenues remained consistent with a 5% increase in International Networks offset by a 1% decrease in US Networks and the sale of the majority stake in its education business in April.Speaking on the company’s earnings call, Discovery president and CEO, David Zaslav described the results as “solid” and said the company is making “great progress with our integration of Scripps Networks Interactive and our pivot to digital, mobile and direct to consumer products and services.”“It is still very early day as the new Discovery, but we feel great about where we are and what we’ve accomplished so far, and even better about the opportunities ahead of us.”The news comes as Discovery this week appointed the vice president for Amazon Marketplace, Peter Faricy, as its first CEO of global direct-to-consumer – overseeing Discovery’s GO TV Everywhere products, Motor Trend, Eurosport Player, Discovery Kids, Dplay and its forthcoming PGA Tour-branded OTT golf service.Discovery completed its US$14.6 billion takeover of US cable rival Scripps Networks Interactive in March of this year, with the company looking to use its new scale to tap into over-the-top opportunities.In December last year it also increased its ownership stake in its OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network joint venture to more than 70%, paying US$70 million to acquire an additional 24.5% stake from Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc.Meanwhile, in April 2018, Discovery rebranded its auto-related consolidated joint venture, previously called The Enthusiast Network, to Motor Trend Group.
Spanish regional cable operator Euskaltel put a positive spin on year-to-date and Q3 results that saw significant increases in revenue and profit over the year-to-date, with the top and bottom line masking the impact of intense competition in the Spanish service provider market.Euskaltel posted group revenues of €521.1 million for the first nine months, up 17.4% , with EBITDA up 15.3% to €252.9 millionHowever, on a proforma basis, Euskaltel saw fixed subscribers decline by 1,700 to 573,600, with ARPU falling by 0.9% to €60.10. Total revenue-generating units increased by 39,000 to 2.363 million.The decline occurred during the third quarter. After adding 3,100 customers in the first half, Euskaltel dropped by a net 2,100 in July and 3,900 in August, before recovering slightly in September.The operator said that the third quarter had been characterized by an unprecedented level of competition, intensified by the battle for football rights, in which it decided not to participate to avoid a surcharge for customers.Euskaltel nevertheless claimed that all its products achieved record penetration rates of its own base, with broadband penetration of its base standing at 85.9%, up 15 points, mobile penetration standing at 80.2% and pay TV penetration standing at 70.9%, up 36 points.Q3 revenues were up 4.3% to €164.7 million. However, those figures masked slight like-for-like declines if the comparative figures for Asturias region operator Telecable, acquired in 2017, are taken from the start of the year.Euskaltel said it was making “satisfactory” progress with plans to expand into neighbouring regions to its core markets of the Basque Country, Asturias and Galicia, starting with Navarre, where it is providing services over Orange’s network. Here, Eutelsat said it had signed up 2,000 customers so far, with a target of surpassing 4,000 by the end of the year. Euskaltel has said it hopes to gain an additional 90,000 customers in contiguous markets by 2022. The company also hopes to pass an additional 100,000 subscribers with its network in its core markets.Former Telecable owner Zegona Communications is currently bidding to double its stake in Euskaltel by making a tender offer for up to 14.9% of the company. Zegona has been critical of Euskaltel’s performance since acquiring a stake in the company following the merger with Telecable. The UK-based investment outfit has been in talks to hire former Jazztel CEO José Miguel García and to bring the Virgin brand to help Euskaltel target opportunities in neighbouring market.
German commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1must “deliver on its ambitions to accelerate growth in its non-traditional linear advertising business” to convince investors, according to analysts at Berenberg.According to the analysts, the company’s stock price already reflects the risk of further downgrades after a difficult year. However, Berenberg sees a likelihood of “robust demand for targeted TV advertising”, even though “it will take time to see the effect of this new business line in the financials”.In a generally positive assessment of the commercial broadcaster’s prospects, Berenberg’s analysts said that a softening in advertising sales in Q4 was unsurprising, given the downward direction of the German economy, but noted that ProSiebenSat.1 had nevertheless delivered adjusted EBITDA ahead of guidance, margins on the company’s entertainment business had increased thanks to tight cost control, it said.Giving the broadcaster’s stock a buy recommendation, Berenberg also noted that fears of its indebtedness were overstated, given that no debt is scheduled to mature until 2021.ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze recently admitted that 2018 was “not a year we can be satisfied with” after the company posted a full-year revenue decline of 2% to €4.009 billion and a dip in EBITDA of 4% to €1.013 billion.
“I don’t think it’s a big stretch to suggest that part of Facebook’s strategy will involve adding more video to the site. YouTube after all seems to think that adding professional content, aka TV channels, really works,” says Kate Bulkley.Who said that the linear TV channel was on its deathbed? This has been the lament in recent years as wave after wave of digital, over-the-top and social media have grabbed headlines, but against all odds it seems that the days of traditional television viewing – that is tuning into a particular show on a particular channel – are far from over.It’s odd that Traditional Television Viewing (or TTV as I’ll call it) has swung back into fashion when you think of the strength of the threat: OTT services like Netflix; consumer electronics manufacturers putting together their own app-lists on connected TVs; video on Facebook; YouTube and mobile video. TTV’s demise seemed just around the next video app corner and the OTT folks, much like the IPTV guys before them, seemed to be on an unstoppable run.But despite this, TTV is fighting back: Sky Deutschland uses HD to make its offer stand out and recently added Sky Atlantic; Al Jazeera is launching sports channels in the US and France; in Switzerland, UPC Cablecom plans to add 26 new channels in June, including six in HD; and Scripps Interactive (which bought 50% of the UKTV channels in the UK) just bought the international Travel Channel and says it has an appetite (well, it does do the Food Network) for more channels. If you look just at the number of new HD channels on the Astra satellites alone, you’ll see that the total has gone from 190 in 2010 to 267 last year, an increase of 41%. And even the much-maligned 3D channel universe is increasing, albeit at a less rapid pace.There’s also a growing belief that social media like Twitter actually helps TTV. After all, what would anyone Tweet about if it wasn’t for live TV shows like The Voice or Britain’s Got Talent? If you’ve got a tweet-worthy show these days, it’s good news. US networks now have social media units figuring out how to engage their audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Broadcasters are also adapting their channels to better fit the digital future. The BBC is a good example with its decision to move iconic shows like Blue Peter and, in fact, all its kids TV programming off the main BBC One channel and onto the kid-specific, digital channels, CBBC and CBeebies. Indeed the channel debate in the near future is not about when TTV and linear channels might die, but instead how the TV channel is emerging and changing in the digital universe.Clearly the majority of channels are becoming more niche and more focused, leaving the big free-to-air channels like BBC One and ITV1 to look anxiously for live, appointment to view programmes that will keep audiences as big as possible, for as long as possible. Meanwhile, every broadcaster, niche or otherwise, is rolling out second screen applications alongside technologies like audio-recognition tool Shazam and social TV app Zeebox (part-owned by BSkyB), all part of an effort to leverage the fact that audiences watch TV with at least one other device on hand. The idea is that if the TV content can be “contextualised” by the apps then advertising and other sales opportunities can follow.This is important as people increasingly use their DVRs to defer viewing and skip adverts. US operator DISH has provoked outrage from the advertising industry with a new “auto-hop” ad-skipping set top boxes that don’t even require fast-forwarding. In light of developments like these, broadcasters are keen to enhance live viewing as well as delivering additional content to second devices.But more challenges are coming from Facebook and YouTube. In May YouTube not only held its first “upfront” in New York to attract advertisers to its new, professionally-made channels (it has pledged US$100 million [e80 million] to content creators to kick-start YouTube dedicated channels and another US$200 million to promote them) but Google also announced its first investment in content, a US$35 million investment in Machinima, an online video production company that does extremely well on YouTube, attracting over 1.6 billion views in April, up from 1.5 billion in March. The move into content is a big shift for Google that puts paid to the online search giants’ past exhortations that it was “not in the content creation business”. It also throws down the gauntlet to TTV and media companies to think different.The thing is that these big online guys need to tap into the big advertising and subscription money that has traditionally been the preserve of TTV. Facebook’s IPO has not gone off as well as the company hoped, and the falling stock price underlines this fact. General Motors, which spent a reported US$10 million on Facebook advertising in 2011, pulled out of advertising on the platform this year, and I think it is a pretty safe bet that Facebook will be pulling out all the stops to attract or retain big advertisers. I don’t think it’s a big stretch to suggest that part of that strategy will involve adding more video to the site. YouTube after all seems to think that adding professional content, aka TV channels, really works. Go figure.Kate Bulkley is a broadcaster and writer specialising in media and telecommunications. email@example.com.
AirTV, the cord-cutting brand owned by Dish, has launched a new Android TV streaming stick.AirTV Mini is 4K HDR compatible and retails for US$79.99 (€70.94) from AirTV.net.This is the first product launch from the brand since the original AirTV was released in 2017.The company says that the new palm-sized AirTV Mini is designed to “seamlessly” integrate Sling TV, Netflix and OTA channels into a single user experience.Similar sized to Amazon’s Fire TV stick, AirTV Mini also offers an OTA streaming feature when paired with the AirTV Wi-Fi-enabled network tuner. The tuner, launched in 2018, allows users to access OTA channels on all their devices through an app, and is part of Dish’s efforts to local TV.“The AirTV brand is committed to making local TV relevant and easily accessible to streamers,” said Mitch Weinraub, director of product development for AirTV. “The AirTV Mini is a powerhouse streaming stick with more memory and a faster processor than anything else in the category. When combined with the AirTV network tuner and the Sling TV app, the Mini delivers a superior streaming experience, especially for Slingers who want premium features in a small package at an affordable price.” AirTV Mini also supports Google Assistant, and has access to thousands of apps from the Google Play store.