November 30, 2015 585 Views The total amount of debt outstanding among students has risen from $364 billion to $1.2 trillion over the last ten years, and the number of borrowers (ages 18 to 30) with a student loan has increased from 27 percent to 40 percent during the same time period.Following the Great Recession, consumer debt decreased, but student loan debt rose at an average quarterly rate of 3.2 percent, a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland released Monday showed.So how adversely does student debt affect consumers’ ability to get a mortgage loan?”The sharp rise in student loan debt has raised concerns that young people with a lot of student debt may be having trouble getting a mortgage or other types of loans,” the report said.According to the report, as the percentage of 18 to 30-year-olds with student loan debt rose over the last ten years, those with a mortgage declined. Prior to the recession, 11 percent of young consumers had a mortgage, but now this number stands at 7 percent.”While the total number of mortgages has declined for most age groups, part of the drop in young people’s mortgage borrowing may be due to an increase in the number of people with student loans, the report stated. The Cleveland Fed highlighted that the amount of debt a person has already can negatively affect the obtaining a mortgage loan. If a consumers’ debt burden occupies over 20 percent of their income, there is no way they can they afford a mortgage payment, which could comprise an additional 30-45 percent of their income.”While it’s unlikely that student loans are the sole factor for the decline in mortgage borrowing across the United States, it is hard to ignore how the recent surge in student loan debt is changing the debt portfolio of young borrowers,” the report noted.”With over 40 percent of young borrowers having a student loan, and debt payments comprising 20 percent of their income, it makes it more and more difficult for young people to take on a mortgage in the first few years after attending college. And as the number of student loans continues to rise, it is a trend that is likely to continue.”Click here to view the full report. Share Mortgage Borrowing Dampened by Student Loan Debt in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, Market Studies, News, Origination Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Mortgage Borrowing Student Loan Debt 2015-11-30 Staff Writer
State technical university (Tepak) has secured a place in the top 400 universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education world university rankings for 2017 – 2018 published on Tuesday.Tepak has been placed in the 351 – 400th rank, the highest out of Cypriot universities and has seen a jump from last year where it ranked between 401 – 500th.A statement by Tepak boasted the high ranks the university had secured, the highest of which was 88.6 out of 100 for citations, followed by 69.9 for international outlook.Broken down, the overall mark for Tepak was 42.3.It ranked 52nd out of Brics and Emerging economies 2017.Tepak’s rector, professor Andreas Anayiotos said the university’s ranking “amongst 400 of the 1,102 top international universities is an achievement for our 10 years of operation,” especially when bearing in mind that many of the universities on the list are well funded by the state and private sector.The state university has 3,072 students according to the rankings with an 18.7 student to staff ratio.The ratio of females to males is 57:43 with eight per cent are international students.The University of Cyprus was placed in the 401 – 500th rank.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoGundry MDHow To Make Your Dark Spots Fade (Effortless 2 Minute Routine)Gundry MDUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
03May Griffin: Obsolete laws should be removed to make government more efficient Categories: Griffin News State Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan today testified before the House Oversight Committee in support of her plan to repeal an unnecessary law from the books. House Bill 5763 would remove an outdated section of the Michigan Penal Code.House Bill 5763 removes a 1931 law which references the criminality sentencing guidelines for committing a false protest. Individuals who injure, deceive or defraud someone today would be charged with fraud rather than making a false protest, therefore making this law obsolete.“We are talking about almost a 90-year-old law that is simply no longer needed or used,” Griffin said. “Today, individuals would be charged with fraud and we have other laws in place for that. Removing this obsolete law from the books – as well as others – will make government more efficient.”House Bill 5763 remains in the House Oversight Committee for further consideration.Photo Information: State Rep. Beth Griffin (right), of Mattawan, today testifies before the House Oversight Committee in support of her plan to repeal an unnecessary law from the books. Joining Griffin is state Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe. Griffin’s bill is tie-barred to Bellino’s.
15Mar Rep. Griffin sets March in-district office hours State Rep. Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, will meet with area residents this month during scheduled office hours across her district.“With the first few months of the legislative session behind us, there is much to discuss,” Griffin said. “I encourage residents to attend and I look forward to hearing their input.”Rep. Griffin will be available Tuesday, March 26 at the following times and locations:9 to 10 a.m. at Lawton Village Hall, 125 S. Main St. in Lawton;10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Panel Room, 61116 Co Rd. 687 in Hartford;1 to 2 p.m. at the South Haven Library, 314 Broadway St. in South Haven; and3 to 4 p.m. at Cooper Township Hall, 1590 D Ave W. in Kalamazoo.No appointments are necessary. Those who are unable to attend at the scheduled times but would like an opportunity to talk with Rep. Griffin may call her office at (517) 373-0839 or email BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.### Categories: Griffin News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares April 8, 2014; Open Society FoundationsBecause they lived on the outskirts of society back then, no one really knows how many of Europe’s Roma—pejoratively called “gypsies”—were killed by the Nazis during World War II. Herded into concentration camps like the continent’s Jewish population, between 25 and 75 percent of Europe’s Roma population may have been victims of the Holocaust.The Roma are not often on the radar screen of Americans, but they should be. There may be 10 to 12 million Roma still living in Europe, most in southern and eastern Europe, with six million actually within the boundaries of the European Union. For many Roma, they still face rampant discrimination, the effects of which are seen in the statistics that 90 percent live below the EU’s poverty levels and at least one out of three adults is unemployed.While not much of an issue for most Americans, the challenges faced by the Roma have been repeatedly recognized by Amnesty International:“Hundreds of thousands of Roma have been forced to live in informal settlements and camps, often without heating, water or sanitation; tens of thousands are forcibly evicted from their homes every year. Thousands of Romani children are placed in segregated schools and receive a substandard education. Roma are often denied access to jobs and quality health care. They are victims of racially motivated violence and are often left unprotected by the police and without access to justice. This is not a coincidence. It is the result of widespread discrimination and racism that Roma face throughout Europe. Governments across the region are failing to protect their rights.”While there aren’t many U.S. grantmakers paying attention to the needs of the Roma, George Soros, through his Open Society Foundations, is. While he notes that the conditions of the Roma have improved over the years, in part due to the work of the Roma Educational Fund, which Soros created in partnership with the World Bank, and the EU’s Structural Funds, more has to be done to rectify the inequities faced by the people in what constitutes Europe’s largest minority group. He makes three suggestions for continuing the progress that has been achieved by the Roma:Get additional funding from the EU, since the Roma’s population “is expanding faster than the programs” funded by the EU.Ensure that the Roma who do get a good education “don’t forget where they came from” and “embrace their heritage and retain their identity.”Guarantee that money allocated for the Roma by participating European governments is spent wisely—or, in some cases, is spent at all, as Soros notes that “many countries with large Roma populations have used only a fraction of the funds provided them…[and] the rest of the money sits untouched.”In his opinion piece, Soros makes a very intriguing comment: “If these programs could be scaled up with the help of additional EU Structural Funds, the Roma could, within a generation or two, be as well integrated in Europe as African-Americans are in the U.S. today.” While many African-Americans have been able to enter the American middle class, African-Americans in general, as we have demonstrated in repeated writings, lag behind whites and even other minorities on socio-economic indicators across the board. Hopefully, progress for African-Americans here and the Roma in Europe will progress from discrimination past inequity to equality. The Roma have a long way to go, and in the U.S., so do many people of color.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share6TweetShare1Email7 Shares January 13, 2015; HyperallergenicTime and again, studies have shown the importance of integrating arts into the curriculums of grade schools. From helping to improve graduation rates to increasing literacy rates and helping the learning process, the arts serve multiple functions with a number of benefits when properly invested in our educational system.In an attempt to focus attention on the arts, next month, 100 elementary and middle schools will pilot a new national arts standards education project as an edit to the Common Core standards already in place. Eventually, the standards will be expanded to high schools by 2016.Launched back in October, the standards were created by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS), a group of art educators that compiled the thoughts of 6,000 parents, teachers, artists, and students, taking in current trends in public education like the Common Core to facilitate a smoother integration into schools’ current curriculums.These standards will serve as an update to the National Standards for Arts Education from 1994 and the Standards for Learning and Teaching Dance in the Arts from 2005. Among the disciplines included are classics like dance, music, theater and visual arts, but a new one, media arts, is in there as well.According to the concept framework:“Rather than offering simply a compilation of individual skills and knowledge, the National Core Arts Standards integrate the processes, skills and knowledge, sample assessments, and criteria for successful learning into a single organized system that spans PreK-12 and is aligned to the philosophical foundations and lifelong goals. Rooted in backward design, this outcomes-based approach to teaching and learning in the arts emanates from four artistic processes, eleven anchor standards, and PK-12 performance standards articulated by each of the five arts disciplines.”The updated arts core will have 11 “anchor standards,” clustered into four groups instructors can use to analyze students’ progress: Creating, Performing, Responding, and Connecting. Students will be assessed and categories into three different levels based on their performance—proficient, accomplished, and advanced.Like the previous standards, the update is meant to be a guide for school districts to adapt to fit within their budgets and capacities as they work “toward the full availability of the arts for all students.” As such, schools have some latitude in the implementation of the standards, as they have in the past, and arts education in schools varies widely. Only 25 states and the District of Columbia require arts course credits to graduate from high school. Two of these states, Arkansas and Kansas, are moving to adopt the standards, as is Nebraska, which does not have the graduation restriction. Another 10 states are considering adopting it as well, according to Narric Rome, the vice president of advocacy group Government and Arts Education at Americans for the Arts.An even more interesting chart compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics chronicles the differences between states in their investment in the arts. While the majority of states, over 40, require states to offer arts instruction at elementary, middle, and high school levels, only 17 require states to assess students for their learning of the arts.NPQ would love to hear from arts educators and activists about these standards.—Shafaq HasanShare6TweetShare1Email7 Shares
Share47Tweet2Share20Email69 SharesMarch 13, 2017; CNBCPresident Trump signed an executive order Monday “intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing the Director of the Office of Management and Budget…to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies (as defined in section 551(1) of title 5, United States Code), components of agencies, and agency programs.” The OMB will have six months to assess the entire federal government and report back to the president with a plan to “reorganize the executive branch” of the federal government.To say this executive order is ambitious is like saying a mountain range represents a change in altitude over a prairie. To perform the entire task within six months is at least as hasty as the task itself is unwieldy. And that’s not to mention how many politicians and special interests will be threatened by such a study and plan.There are periodic efforts to reorganize government and make it more efficient, effective, and responsive. Arguably, the last such successful effort was performed by the Hoover Commission in the late 1940s—70 years ago—during the Truman administration. Subsequent efforts, such as the Grace Commission in the mid-1980s and then-Vice President Al Gore’s “Reinventing Government” initiative in the mid-1990s, were either ignored by Congress or had marginal impact on federal spending, employment, and programs.Even with Republican control of the White House and the House of Representatives and a GOP majority in the Senate (Senate “control” almost always requires 60 votes), implementing significant changes in the federal executive branch will be daunting at the very least. The executive branch—in other words, bureaucracy itself—will advocate for its preservation and expansion as political appointees and career staff alike will see their professional lives weighed in the balance. Of course, there are so many political appointments in the Trump administration yet to be made that OMB Director Mulvaney and his staff may have problems assembling the information they need to prepare their report and recommendations. Meanwhile, executive branch officials in place will be alerting relevant Capitol Hill committee staffers to the study’s direction and progress with an eye to enlisting protective support.Besides sponsoring politicians, every line item in the federal budget comes with built-in advocacy groups and intended and actual beneficiaries who will all instinctively rebel against change. Every expenditure is considered a worthy “investment” by a group or set of groups ready to demonstrate the negative effects of any reduction in support.Paradoxically, the larger the federal government has become, the more things it does, and the more—and more varied—people and interests who depend on it, the less likely it is that services will be cut or even rearranged. So much of what the federal government does is cross-referenced and interdependent that only revolutionary microsurgery could unravel and decouple the inefficient and duplicative parts without all kinds of unintended consequences and collateral damage.Nonprofit strategic planning processes sometimes include the question, “If we weren’t already doing this, would we start now? If so, would we do it the way we’re doing it now?” This is a difficult question for nonprofit executives, staffs, and boards to ask, much less answer. Take that trepidation and multiply it exponentially, and, even then, you might not get to the level of anger, frustration, and fear that a federal government reorganization would engender across all industries, professions, and communities.As NPQ has reported recently, there are few federal activities for which the Trump administration plans to expand capacity or increase funding. This is especially true for programs and services typically aligned with the nonprofit sector. The study required by the executive order is but the latest reason nonprofits have to prepare to address the external threat of changes in governmental commitment to and support of nonprofit missions. Although history and politics do not favor major changes coming as a result of the current effort, it’s still a good idea to be prepared.—Michael WylandShare47Tweet2Share20Email69 Shares
Share22Tweet1ShareEmail23 SharesBy *Dan T.* (talk) – I created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0, LinkNovember 27, 2018; The AtlanticAs regular NPQ readers know, “social welfare” or 501c4 organizations have been on the rise for the past decade. Traditionally, they were largely associated with conservative causes. For example, in 2011, NPQ’s Rick Cohen noted that a 501c4 backed by Republican campaign strategist Karl Rove aimed to raise $120 million for the 2012 election cycle.But as David Pozen, a Columbia law professor, explains in the Atlantic, the 501c4 is increasingly used by both left and right. Pozen is hardly the first to notice this. Indeed, at NPQ, we wrote about this trend back in August 2017, calling attention to the presence of 501c4s at such organizations as American Association of Retired Persons, the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Community Change, and the Sierra Club. In October 2017, we covered the shift of the NAACP from being a 501c3 to 501c4 so that it could engage directly in electoral activity.These developments should not be surprising. Pozen observes that, “Nonprofit groups that used to focus their energies on litigation and education are increasingly structuring themselves to be political players.” The reason for this is obvious—anyone who seeks to achieve progressive social change through litigation or education today faces exceedingly slim odds.In Pozen’s view, the “501c3 form fit snugly into the postwar theory of legal liberalism, in which the federal courts were seen as the key agents of social reform and professionally managed nonprofits as their partners in that effort.” Now, Pozen observes, “with Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation, whatever remained of the left’s faith in the Supreme Court as an engine of justice has crumbled.”It is also the case that a political vacuum had opened because of the retreat of labor unions. Labor unions once were bulwarks of progressive politics. But with the percentage of private sector workers in unions having fallen from over 30 percent at mid-century to 6.5 percent today, labor can no longer reliably achieve electoral success.Into the breach have run an increasing number of left-leaning 501c4 organizations. In addition to the groups listed above, new 501c4s have emerged with names such as the Indivisible Project, Onward Together, the Bernie Sanders-backed Our Revolution, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Stand Up America, and Women’s March.As Pozen points out, like 501c3 nonprofits, 501c4 social-welfare organizations are also exempt from federal income tax, but of course donations to them are not deductible. But unlike 501c3s, they can lobby as much as they wish and may engage in partisan political campaigns “as long as that work is not their ‘primary’ purpose or activity.”Pozen notes that many organizations, such as the ACLU, have both 501c3 and 501c4 arms—but the 501c4 arms currently are growing much faster; at the ACLU, 501c3 assets grew by 17 percent in fiscal 2017, but its 501c4 assets grew 89 percent.Pozen speculates that the 2017 Republican tax bill may inadvertently encourage more 501c3 organizations to form 501c4 branches—or even switch tax status entirely like the NAACP. Why? The charitable tax deduction becomes less valuable when only a fraction of donors is likely to claim a tax deduction anyway, making “public-charity status…less relevant to fundraising.” Pozen adds that, “The 501c3 golden handcuffs have become a little less golden.”What does this all portend? On one hand, spending less time on litigation and increasing the resources directed to mobilization and grassroots organizing is surely a healthy development for anyone who cares about the overall health of US civil society. The reengagement in politics—as seen in the 2018 elections, the highest turnout midterm elections that the US has had since 1914—is surely a positive development.On the other hand, all of the problems that arise from accepting secret donations and the overall lack of transparency in the sector—those problems still apply, even if the scales of who is raising those secret dollars have now balanced out a bit. We’ve noted at NPQ before how politics these days often comes down to a battle of the billionaires—whether it is the Koch Brothers versus Tom Steyer or this fall’s bizarre San Francisco tête-à-tête between Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. In the long term, this can’t be healthy, no matter who “wins.”Pozen expects that with increasing use of 501c4 organizations on both the right and the left, pressure will rise for Congress to implement greater regulation (such as, perhaps, mandating similar disclosure rules to 501c3 nonprofits). Only time will tell, however, if he is right.—Steve DubbShare22Tweet1ShareEmail23 Shares
BT added 41,000 BT Vision customers between July and September, the highest quarterly rise for more than two years.The additions mean the telco ended September with a total of 639,000 BT Vision customers.The quarter also proved successful for BT ‘s high-speed broadband offering BT Infinity, with 88,000 new customers signing up. Total subscribers now stand at 300,000, more than double the figure six months ago.The increased penetration of broadband in BT’s customer base meant ARPU increased by £5 (€6) in the quarter to £335.
Media rights company MP & Silva, has chosen Rightster and Rightster Studios to help launch a range of new digital services using its betting and sports media rights, and provide enhanced digital solutions to its sports and broadcast clients.The partnership with Rightster will include the creation and management of MP & Silva YouTube channels, integrated betting rights services for bookmakers, online video distribution to newspaper sites, and support to MP & Silva broadcast clients with live and video-on-demand streaming solutions. Rightster also will provide bookmakers interested in the MP & Silva sports rights portfolio with an online solution that will enable the launch of services for mobile and tablet devices.MP & Silva currently provides over 10,000 hours of programming annually to over 500 broadcasters in over 200 countries. Rights it holds include Italian Serie A, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, The FA Cup, The Football League, Major League Soccer (MLS) and Brazilian national league (Brasileirão).
Russian service provider MTS’s director of fixed-line business and TV Dmitry Bagdasaryan has left the company, according to local reports.According to trade news service ComNews, Bagdasaryan left MTS over differences with the company’s management on strategy for the development of fixed broadband and TV services.MTS said that Bagdasaryan had been replaced by Natalia Bratchikova, who joined the company some months ago after serving as executive director of retail services at Rostelecom.
Romanian network operator iNES Group is to roll out 4K Ultra HD TV services to its customers next year following the completion of a successful trial of the technology.iNES will provide the 4K service via its GPON fibre network, work on which should be completed next year.Catalin Cuturela, iNES’ operations director, said the company planned to be the first in the country to offer 4K TV, having been the first in the country to launch an IPTV service in 2005. The original IPTV service was launched over the company’s BPON an EPON-based network using technology from Allied Telesyn and Cisco. iNES also claims to be the first operator in Romania to launch an HD service, in 2008.The company iNES offers services to businesses and consumers in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
Dish Network has joined a coalition that aims to stop Charter Communications’ big-money acquisition of Time Warner Cable.The Stop Mega Cable Coalition comprises 13 bodies, including AT&T-owned cable firm Dish, public interest groups, the Writers Guild of America (East and West) and a telecoms-broadband association.One effect of the deal would be to threaten emerging OTT services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video as two companies would affectively control most of the US broadband market.SMCC aims to “highlight both the stunning scale of the proposed merger” and the overwhelming cable and broadband duopoly that the new company would form alongside Comcast”.A predecessor group, the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, successfully helped to block Comcast’s deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, which would have created a huge market-leading cable and internet group in the US.Comcast rival Charter, which Liberty Global owner John Malone backs, then moved to buy TWC, in a merger agreement that was valued at US$78.7 billion (€72.9 billion) in May last year.The coalition wants the US’s Department of Justice and media regulator the FCC to block the Charter deal as this new “mega company” would “control more than a third of the markets for cable pay TV [35 percent] and cable broadband [36 percent]”, and thattwo-thirds of subscribers “would have no other option for high-speed broadband”.It also claimed the deal would create a market duopoly of Charter-TWC and Comcast, which between them would control “about 90 per cent of all high-speed broadband connections in the country”.This means Charter-TWC and Comcast could “control the fate” of bandwidth-sapping video platforms – primarily market leader Netflix – by changing their high-speed broadband connections and raising prices.The coalition said the likelihood was Comcast and Charter-TWC would treat their own OTT services and content “favourably”.Furthermore, the SMCC alleged the two firms could “coordinate their actions by simply responding to the others’ behaviour”, and could “take the form of parallel action or even express agreements”.Independent producers would also be negatively affected, the coalition claimed. This would be because the two cable firms could work together to offer “below-market terms” and restrict their ability to sell content to rival SVOD firms.Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has, however, previously given his blessing to the merger, and regulators in NewYork gave it approval earlier this month.“It feels like Groundhog Day with yet another mega cable merger threatening to consolidate too much of this country’s high-speed broadband connections, all to the detriment of competition and consumer choice,” said Jeffrey Blum, senior VP and deputy general counsel of Dish.“This merger severely threatens the innovative online streaming services that rely on a robust broadband connection. ‘Mega Cable’ simply does not serve the public interest, and Charter has failed to prove otherwise.”A Charter statement reported on several US sites read: “It should come as no surprise that Dish and other parties seeking to use the regulatory review process to extract concessions are also engaging in tired PR tactics to further their self interests. Their arguments against the pending transactions are baseless.”
Virtual reality (VR) still faces significant challenges before it becomes a mainstream entertainment offering, according to a panel of VR technology and content providers at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.Mihai Pohontu, VP emerging platforms, Samsung said that “monetisation opportunities are few” at the moment. “There are not many opportunities for developers to make money. This is the reason we created the ‘Made for Samsung’ programme,” he told attendees, referring to Samsung’s initiative to spur innovation that supports applications for its Galaxy devices.For Pohontu, the confusion around the VR experience created by a mix of high-end headsets and lower-end consumer equipment is unlikely to be a problem. He said that the likes of Gear VR and Google Cardboard were “perfect introductions” to VR that would not put people off. He said these could be gateways to lead consumers to higher resolution devices. “The diversity of options is healthy for the medium,” he said.Samsung is organising a developers conference featuring VR that will take place on April 27-28 in San Francisco.Edward Tang, chief strategy officer and co-founder of VR technology outfit Avegant said that the quality on headsets is “not quite there yet” to display content to its best advantage. Tang said the hardware suppliers faced challenges and that people are not making much money, even from high–end headsets.Arthur van Hoff, CTO and co-founder of VR content provider Jaunt said that playback on mobile devices still consumed too much power. Battery life and resolution need to be improved as well as there being a need for “lateral headtracking” capability in mobile devices, he saidVan Hoff admitted that content is also still in short supply. He said the “low hanging fruit is sponsored content. Once there is enough content and new content every week [things will begin to take off but]…one or two [titles] are not enough for subscription.” Van Hoff said that more content would enable companies in the space to begin to develop viable business models. “Then we will be able to do subscription as a model but that is going to take a couple of years,” he said.As part of that process of adding to the supply of content, Van Hoff said that Jaunt is creating a new six-part series with The Bourne Identity director Doug Lyman. “If you use real talent and great production expertise you can do something on a par with movies today,” he said, although VR content is typically shorter form. “They are not exactly like movies but they are extremely compelling. We are getting closer to that level of production,” said Van Hoff.Myles McGovern, CEO, Immersive Media, also speaking on the panel, said current projects were often funded by brands, but added that this was no different from how media evolved in the past. He said that VR would capture the imagination of a wider public as content becomes more widely available. “It is addictive. People put on the headsets and they have that immersive smile. You need to evolve this to tell good stories in that environment. It is what we call spherical storytelling,” he said.Other content forms that panellists felt could be appealing to a wider audience included – apart from games – home shopping, social applications and tele-medicine.
Liberty Global claims its €14.5 billion investment in super-fast networks over the past four years has generated total economic activity in the region of €23.5 billion and has provided a ‘net social benefit’ of €7.1 billion.This is according to an analysis commissioned by the cable giant from Oxera Consulting, which was presented at ANGA COM in Cologne this week.Oxera consultant Felipe Florez Duncan said that many of the services that would deliver growth in the future had yet to be developed. However, for the purposes of Oxera’s analysis, the company had focused on strictly measurable benefits of Liberty’s investment programme, which he said were “substantial”.Florez said that it was difficult to “pin down a number” for the impact of this type of investment. “From an analytical point of view, it presents a challenge,” he said.Rather than look at specific applications, Oxera looked at the investment made by Liberty between 2013-17 and assessed the measurable impact on its customers.Florez said Liberty had invested €14.5 billion over the four years in total, connecting 3.9 million additional homes and businesses. The economic footprint of the investment, including the impact on suppliers and the multiplier effect, produced €23.7 billion in “wider economic activity”, he said.The net effect and incremental benefits to consumers and businesses from accessing the network, ‘speed benefits’, amounted to €5 billion, said Florez. Greater speed and reliability allowed consumers to access a wider range of services and enabled multiple members of homes to access HD content simultaneously, he said, giving rise to economic benefits.‘Price benefits’ for new areas where Liberty has entered the broadband market, created by greater competition, amount to €0.5 billion in total, said Florez.‘Productivity benefits’, based on figures extrapolated from previous investments, amount to €1.5 billion, he said.Overall, therefore, Liberty’s investment has created a “total social benefit” excluding an impact on its own profits, of €7.1 billion, said Florez.The overall ‘social return’ on the investment is 49%, according to Oxera’s calculations.Severina Pascu, CEO, UPC CEE, also speaking at the presentation, said that in her region broadband is “a significant growth engine”. Romania had some of the fastest internet offerings in the world, she said.On top of upgrading the network, Liberty Global had sought to migrate its customers to higher speed services, she said. “There is a lot of appetite from customers to take our services.”Also speaking at the presentation, Lutz Schuler, the CEO of Liberty’s German unit Unitymedia, said that Liberty had invested significantly in its network over the past four years.Liberty’s chief corporate affairs officer Manuel Kohnstamm said that the Project Gigasphere network investment programme, which had grown out of the UK’s Project Lightning, represented a “big investment”. He said that the Oxera study had been commissioned to give this investment more visibility.
İbrahim ErenIbrahim Eren has been named as the new director-general of national broadcaster the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).Eren joined TRT as depute director in 2013, and was responsible for the launch of international news channel TRT World the following year.He previously worked a as a representative for Turkuvaz Media Group’s ATV in the UK before becoming director-general of ATV Europe and deputy director of ATV in 2010, where he oversaw the restructuring of the channel and streamlined in-house production.Eren is also the chairman of the executive board of Turkish audience research outfit TIAK, a director of International Emmy and a member of the board of directors at Turk Telekom.
Sports network Eleven Sports has secured a new live exclusive rights agreement with the English Football League for the next five years covering Belgium, Luxembourg and Poland.The deal will give Eleven rights to show coverage of Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League One, Sky Bet League Two and Carabao Cup competitions in the three countries. The agreement follows an initial two-season deal that was agreed before the start of the 2015-16 season.Eleven will show games delayed and on repeat in addition to a minimum of 55 Sky Bet Championship matches and up to 30 Carabao Cup matches exclusively live across linear and OTT channels.We cooperate closely with rights holders to help them connect and engage with fans in innovative ways. Our partnership with the EFL for five more years is a testament to the work we have done together to deliver thrilling football action with a fresh tone of voice for the fans. We’re very pleased to continue with EFL competitions in Belgium, Luxembourg and Poland – markets where football is extremely popular,” said Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, Eleven Sports.“We are very pleased to extend our agreement with Eleven Sports to show matches from across the Sky Bet EFL and Carabao Cup. The proliferation of the global game means having a regular and prominent presence internationally has never been as important and is very significant to our Clubs who are looking to further establish themselves in key overseas markets including those territories Eleven Sports have secured the rights in,” said EFL CEO Shaun Harvey.
Eurosport has launched an e-commerce platform that enables sports fans to purchase clothing, footwear, equipment and accessories from sports and outdoor brands.The Discovery-owned sports broadcaster has teamed up with online sports retailer SportPursuit to launch Eurosport Shop in France, Germany and the UK with dedicated local-language microsites. The shop is also integrated with existing Eurosport online platforms in those markets.The e-commerce site will provide users with the ability to purchase goods from brands including Endura, GoPro, Cube and Columbia.Last month Eurosport unveiled its first-ever branded clothing range for consumers as the Eurosport GC Collection, aimed at cyclists of all levels, launched in the UK. The brand is also now available in France and Germany via the Eurosport Shop.Ian Woods, VP sales, international consumer products, Discovery Global Enterprises, said: “The Eurosport Shop is a natural extension for the Eurosport brand, giving sports fans direct access to thousands of products that enrich their everyday lives. Our ambition is not only to serve our super fans but grow our fanbase by creating more consumer touchpoints. The Eurosport Shop underpins these aims by offering long-term cross-selling opportunities across our digital platforms, driving greater customer loyalty and engagement. Eurosport’s content creates authentic emotional connections with fans, which is the perfect platform to develop strong product advocates and grow the company’s content and brand footprint across Europe.”Sameer Pabari, SVP of content and business development at Eurosport Digital, said that the service would have “a strong focus on cycling and winter sports, further enhancing our position as the home of these sports across Europe.”
The European Parliament has approved controversial copyright reform proposals that will see web companies forced to pay for the work of artists and journalists that appears on their sites.The reform, which will give film and TV writers the opportunity to secure more income from internet companies, has been welcomed by groups representing artists and writers such as French copyright collection societies SACD, ARP and SRF, which in a joint statement said the Parliament’s vote was a “sign of a Europe that is moving forward and does not intend to become a digital colony incapable of implementing polices in favour of culture in the digital era”.The copyright societies said that the reform would secure the right in the EU to a “proportional remuneration” for writers and artists that “only exists today in some countries” and urged EC president Jean-Claude Juncker and digital commissioner Mariya Gabriel to support the parliament’s position.A final decision on copyright reform will come after negotiations between the parliament, the EC and national governments represented by the European Council – the ‘trilogue’ procedure that precedes the finalisation of EU legislation.The reform is expected to force web companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to start using filtering systems to block copyrighted content appearing on their sites without authorisation.The proposals adopted by the parliament have undergone some changes since the parliament rejected an initial version proposed by its own legal affairs committee in June. The two most controversial elements are article 13, which would require internet platforms such as Google and Facebook to prevent users from uploading copyrighted material, and for article 11, which would enable publishers to force internet platforms to pay them for showing news content.The two articles have been roundly condemned by internet advocates such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and world wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee, who urged a rethink, and by internet giants, which lobbied intensively for a watering down of the proposals.The parliament approved measures exempting “small and micro platforms” and accepting that hyperlinks “accompanied by ‘individual words’ can be shared freely”. Non-profit encyclopaedias including Wikipedia and open source software platforms such as GitHub are also exempted.“I am very glad that despite the very strong lobbying campaign by the internet giants, there is now a majority in the full house backing the need to protect the principle of fair pay for European creative,” said parliamentary rapporteur Axel Voss after the vote.“There has been much heated debate around this directive and I believe that Parliament has listened carefully to the concerns raised. Thus, we have addressed concerns raised about innovation by excluding small and micro platforms or aggregators from the scope.I am convinced that once the dust has settled, the internet will be as free as it is today, creators and journalists will be earning a fairer share of the revenues generated by their works, and we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.”EC vice-president Andrus Ansip and digital economy commissioner Gabriel welcomed the parliament’s vote in a joint statement as “a strong and positive signal and an essential step to achieving our common objective of modernising the copyright rules” and said that the EC was ready to work with the parliament and Council to secure approval of a new copyright directive, ideally before the end of the year.
Cable operators have long seen the advantages of delivering TV services via IP and merging their DOCSIS and video platforms to give maximum flexibility, but they are taking a pragmatic approach. Stuart Thomson reports.It has long been received wisdom that cable operators want to move to an all-IP architecture. There are numerous potential benefits of moving to IP: operators could reduce costs by combining their data and TV platforms; and IP is seen as a desirable platform for video services as it will enable them to deliver multiroom and multiscreen services much more economically.A full migration to IP would also enable operators to deliver a much more sophisticated user experience to their core TV subscribers than is often possible today. In an age when consumers are increasingly familiar with new ways of navigating and consuming video via iPads and the web, the kind of search and navigation functionality provided by legacy middlewares is increasingly seen as clunky, old-fashioned and difficult to update or personalise.Clearly, the advantages conferred by an all-IP network are considerable, but cable service providers have to decide what the best step-by-step approach is to achieving it, while supporting their existing investment in legacy set-tops and infrastructure.For the last three years the Comcast-driven Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) has been at the centre of the debate about next-generation headend architecture for cable. CCAP is essentially a headend device whose specifications were designed by US cable operators, led by Comcast. The specification was designed to support growth in the number of QAM channels used for narrowcast services such as video-on-demand as well as IP-based video services and network DVR. CCAP devices – which could sit either at a central headend or at a hub site – were intended to provide a higher order of density in terms of QAMs per RF port and ports per chassis than legacy CMTS and edgeQAM equipment, in order to accommodate the narrowcast explosion while saving on space and power. In addition, they were designed to combine edgeQAM and CMTS functions in a single device and to remove the silos into which IP DOCSIS and QAM video traffic were divided, enabling operators to mix and match QAM and IP traffic. The ability to dynamically allocate bandwidth between video to the DOCSIS data channels would give operators maximum flexibility in meeting changing patterns of demand. However, since the CCAP specification was designed, a number of things have happened that may have subtly shifted cable operators’ priorities, according to Todd Kessler, Arris’s vice-president of CMTS product management. Operators are interested in migrating to a converged infrastructure, but not necessarily immediately.“They are not implementing one converged piece of hardware that does both,” says Kessler. “Right now operators are investing in next-generation technology.”‘CCAP-ready’ equipment could provide benefits in terms of savings in power and space ahead of any integration of the DOCSIS and video platforms. Kessler points out that available DOCSIS downstream bandwidth has grown considerably since the CCAP initiative kicked off. “The number of downstream [channels] per node is increasing so much that even without convergence you can get benefits of lower power consumption and lower cost per downstream,” he says. The emphasis on additional data capacity led Arris to develop its E6000 converged edge router as a DOCSIS platform initially.In the longer term, says Kessler, the transition to a converged platform will still happen, but the timing is not yet clear. Operators are also looking ultimately to migrate their video platforms entirely to IP in the long term, he points out.At the same time, operators are looking to migrate video to IP for a host of reasons – not only to deliver a converged video service to multiple IP-enabled devices, but also to eliminate as far as possible the need to support legacy set-tops, often with inferior middleware and a relatively basic user experience. Increasingly they are looking to benefit from adaptive bit-rate technology to deliver a smoother experience. Other factors than market requirements can also act as a brake on the adoption of new technologies. For Nabil Kanaan, senior director of product marketing at RGB Networks, which originally developed a physical shelf CCAP product but decided to discontinue it, there is often a lag between decisions being taken by service providers at a strategic level and their implementation in practice. “There are well established procedures for the deployment of edgeQAMs and DOCSIS equipment, and changes need to percolate through,” he says. Existing edgeQAM and DOCSIS equipment vendors also had an interest in maintaining their established businesses and were able to boost interest in legacy products by reducing their prices, he suggests.The right architectureCurrently, says Kanaan, most operators are deploying straight DOCSIS gear to expand bandwidth in the network, rather than looking to converge the DOCSIS and QAM platforms. Nevertheless, he says, CCAP is “the right architecture for cable” because it will enable them to dynamically change the capacity allocated to IP. Currently, operators are working in silos, so they are more or less bound by a pre-decided frequency plan that is only changed when they implement a further node split. “The question really comes down to the particular operator’s situation. It comes down to the particular facility they own and how much data is being put to a particular serving area,” he says. If operators have to split nodes while using small, cramped facilities, the benefits of merging the two platforms may be incontestable.Operators are increasingly delivering IP video over the DOCSIS pipe to iPads and other devices in the home. As on-demand viewing migrates to IP-enabled devices, operators may find themselves with QAM-based video-on-demand services that no-one – or at least far fewer people – are actually using , while more and more demands are placed on the DOCSIS platform.“With CCAP you can give up some of that VOD bandwidth to IP. That’s one of the key benefits, but until operators deploy CCAP they are stuck with the siloed [approach]. They need to do more node splits to release capacity on the IP side – but that doesn’t do much for the video side,” says Kanaan.Kanaan believes the problems faced by operators are likely to get worse before they get better. Some operators have opted for alternative ways to claw back bandwidth, such as Comcast’s decision to deploy digital-to-analogue converters to all subscribers in order to take out the analogue tier completely. Legacy solutions to the bandwidth crunch such as switched digital video (SDV), which enables operators to deliver less popular channels as switched on-demand services over QAM channels, are still in play in the US.However, SDV has proved challenging to implement in terms of properly analysing user patterns and deciding which channels to put on the switched tier. “What we see is that those that have gone down the SDV path love it but the others want to stay clear. It’s growing incrementally with those that have chosen to get into it in the first place,” says Kanaan.While the road to CCAP has proved to be longer than perhaps was envisaged, some operators have moved towards full integration of DOCSIS and video platforms, according to John Chapman, chief technology officer, cable access business unit, Cisco Systems. “We have customers that are mixing DOCSIS and video on a single platform,” says Chapman, who adds that there is “a lot of work involved” in creating next-generation platforms. Rather than wait for devices that combine video and data in a single unit, operators are looking for solutions now to ease their bandwidth challenges. “DOCSIS is a high-growth industry. The overall feeling now is that the next generation of boxes will help with DOCSIS [first] and that’s where most of the money needs to be spent, with video added second, although it’s not a universal opinion across the industry,” he says. The industry is now producing very high-density edgeQAMs, with work ongoing on CMTSs. Operators, he says, all see a need to migrate to IP video but “they don’t feel a need to race to get there”. The MPEG Transport Stream is a tried and trusted technology. Video is being simulcasted to reach iPads and other devices, but the bandwidth demands are relatively manageable.In the longer term, the logic of managing the network efficiently will determine the convergence of video and IP. Chapman says that the increasing density of QAMs in a single piece of hardware means that there are now devices capable of delivering 150 6MHz channels or (in Europe) 120 8MHz channels. Ultimately, failing to merge the DOCSIS and video platforms will lead to “stranded resources” that lie idle as demand for DOCSIS channels accelerates. Meanwhile, Cisco’s investment in the Modular CMTS (M-CMTS) technology already enables operators to mix and match functionality in the CMTS and edgeQAM.Service provider prioritiesThe CCAP specification is now more or less set. However, given the differing priorities of service providers, there are differences in emphasis between different vendors’ implementations. “The spec is very broad and covers a wide range of functionality,” says Kessler. “Vendors will choose which areas to focus on and then evolve towards an all-encompassing functionality. There is no single step from zero to full compliance.”The widespread adoption of DOCSIS 3.0 has been central to the explosion in cable operators’ bandwidth capability. Operators are now also looking to the next stage with the implementation of DOCSIS 3.1, and this will be incorporated into CCAP in time.A slackening in pressure for full convergence notwithstanding, operators are investing in ‘CCAP-ready’ platforms, says Kessler. As operators add downstream channels per serving group of homes, they increasingly need denser platforms to support the expansion in capacity to avoid the need to invest in new facilities. “I think CCAP is up there in terms of priorities. Home and headend technologies are both important to operators. Most operators need more bandwidth and don’t have much space and that drives support for high-density next generation platforms at the headend,” he says.Operators are meanwhile delivering more and more of their own services, such as TV Everywhere, over IP. Adaptive bit-rate streaming has eased the path for IP video services, while additional upstream bandwidth demands have been ameliorated by innovations such as ‘just-in-time’ packaging from the likes of RGB Networks, which delivers a mezzanine video format that can be converted to the different adaptive bit-rate formats at the edge of the network.Kanaan suggests that the main challenges with adaptive bit-rate delivery for service providers is not last-mile bandwidth but the large number of players and consumer electronics devices to which the services are delivered. There are multiple challenges. Certification is required from Apple for players for iOS devices. Service providers will need to offer customer support for multiple players on multiple devices. Marketing departments will want support for the maximum number of devices in order to maximise reach. “It is problematic – it is new for cable, which has been able to control the service it provides quite well,” says Kanaan. With the likes of Apple and Google more focused on innovation in the consumer space than the needs of cable operators for predictable and coordinated software updates, this is a problem that is unlikely to go away any time soon.