The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Top Stories Iran is also facing increased pressure over its nuclear program, which the United States and its allies believe is intended to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge. The U.S. has hiked up sanctions, hitting Iran’s vital oil revenues and straining its economy. Israel has talked of military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.The Shiite militant group Hezbollah, meanwhile, still holds a dominant position in Lebanon. But even that is being challenged.Only a few years ago, Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah had emerged as a hero even among many Sunnis across the Middle East after his fighters battled Israel to a near stalemate in a destructive 2006 war in southern Lebanon. But his backing for Assad has tainted him among many across the region, and among opponents at home. Regional news channels like Al-Jazeera no longer carry his speeches live and in full as they once did.Nasrallah, perhaps in search of relevance, warned on Friday in an 80-minute speech of a harsh and punishing response by Iran if it were attacked by Israel. He warned that if Israel should attack Lebanon, his guerrilla group with its rocket arsenal could turn the lives of millions of Israel to “real hell.” Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressBEIRUT (AP) – Not long ago, Arabs everywhere listened when the leader of Hezbollah spoke. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah’s prominence, bolstered by his Lebanese guerrilla force’s battles against Israel, was a sign of the rising regional influence of Shiite Muslims and overwhelmingly Shiite Iran. Now, his speeches don’t necessarily make front pages even in Lebanon.The change is emblematic of how the bloody conflict in Syria, now in its 18th month, has brought a shift in the Middle East’s sectarian power balance. For much of the past few years, Shiites were surging in power across the region, based on the central alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, with close relations to Shiites who took power in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Comments Share The “Shiite bloc” has suffered a number of reversals amid the Syria conflict.The Palestinian militant group Hamas moved its political leadership out of the Syrian capital Damascus, costing Assad the leverage he had long enjoyed by hosting the group. Now Hamas, which had long received Iranian largesse, has shifted allegiances to energy-rich Qatar, which is also a backer of Syria’s opposition.Iraq, where the Shiite majority rose to power following Saddam’s 2003 ouster, is firmly in Iran’s sphere of influence, but the Shiite-led government there is isolated, facing serious challenges to its authority from the Sunnis and Kurds, who between them combine for some 40 percent of the population.Attacks blamed on Sunni militants there have further eroded the government’s authority. Sunni-led Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, continue to shun the Baghdad government because of its ties with Iran and its perceived marginalization of Iraq’s Sunnis.Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies last year also banded together to help crush an uprising by Bahrain’s Shiite majority demanding greater rights under the tiny Gulf island nation’s Sunni leadership. The uprising _ which threatened to turn into an Arab Spring-style revolt _ raised Saudi fears of greater Iranian influence on the doorstep of eastern Saudi Arabia, site of much of its oil resources and the center for its Shiite minority. But now the region’s Sunni-led powers are appearing more confident, encouraged by the prospect that the Sunni-led rebellion could bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, dominated by members of the Shiite offshoot sect of Alawites. Assad’s fall would cost Iran a priceless foothold in the heart of the Arab world. Hezbollah would lose a bastion of support and a conduit via Syria for vital Iranian weapon supplies.Already, Iran and Hezbollah have seen their reputations damaged by their support for Assad in the face of the uprising.“Iran’s influence in the Arab world has taken a big hit recently,” said Alireza Nader, a Middle East expert from the Rand Corporation. Iran’s and Hezbollah’s support of the Assad regime, he said, contradicts their support for Arab Spring revolts elsewhere. “This policy makes Iran, and Hezbollah, appear cynical if not hypocritical.”Further boosting the Sunnis, the wave of uprisings around the Middle East since early 2011 brought greater political influence to Sunni Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt and Tunisia.The announcement Saturday that Egypt’s new, Muslim Brotherhood-rooted president, Mohammed Morsi, will visit Iran on Aug. 30 _ the first such visit by an Egyptian leader since the mid-1970s _ likely reflects the growing confidence that Iran’s status is damaged and that Sunni Arab nations can steer the agenda. Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, says Hezbollah is no doubt making preparations for survival without Assad to support it.“Hezbollah has to face a really huge challenge if the Syrian regime falls, but I cannot imagine a group like Hezbollah waiting for this to happen and not actively preparing itself for that eventuality,” he said. “But it is clear that both Hezbollah and Nasrallah have lost some stature as a result of the Syrian conflict.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Egypt has long shunned Iran and in recent years, former President Hosni Mubarak had joined with Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia in touting Tehran’s growing influence as the main threat to the Middle East. Morsi, who was elected this year in the wake of Mubarak’s ouster, has called for Assad’s removal and last month pledged Egypt’s “protection” of what he called Saudi Arabia’s “guardianship” of Sunni Islam against outside threats, a thinly veiled reference to Iran.But at the same time, Morsi’s Brotherhood has suggested it is aiming for a new policy of engaging with Iran and influencing it. During a recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Morsi proposed the formation of a contact group of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to mediate a solution in Syria. The proposal may have been largely symbolic, but Brotherhood officials touted it as a return of Egypt’s regional impact “that it had lost under Mubarak.”“Sunni Arab countries are pushing back to make up for the losses they suffered after 2003,” said prominent Iraqi analyst Hadi Jalo. “With the civil war in Syria and the isolation of the government in Iraq, the Shiite tide is retreating.”
Top Stories Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Sponsored Stories Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk 0 Comments Share Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Men’s health affects baby’s health too Through the haze of marijuana smoke, top artists in Nigeria, including Asa and Tiwa Savage, performed on stage. Most raised their fists above their heads, mirroring the famous image of the singer who called for pan-Africanism and human rights in his country when many were cowed into silence by a string of military rulers.Fela created Afrobeat in the late 1960s, mixing the rhythm of jazz, the catchiness of pop music and traditions of African mysticism into 10-minute-long songs riffing on politics and sex in a nation only recently freed from colonialism. Many in Nigeria, at times a very religious and conservative nation, largely shied away from Fela over his heavily publicized sexual appetite and marijuana use. However, the singer has received more attention in recent years following a smash Broadway musical about his life.Fela died in 1997 of complications brought on by AIDS.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Associated PressLAGOS, Nigeria (AP) – Nigeria celebrated the memory of late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti this past week as his family put on a series of concerts featuring singers and artists channeling his funky style.Felabration, as the concert series is known, began with the opening of the Kalakuta Museum, which offers a glimpse of how Fela lived in his former home. Thousands came to the New Afrika Shrine, the performance hall where his son Femi Kuti performs each week. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona
16Jan Rep. Leutheuser takes oath of office, receives committee assignments Categories: Leutheuser News,Leutheuser Photos The 98th Legislature convened for the first time on Wednesday, Jan. 14, with all 110 Representatives, including the new state lawmaker from the 58th House District, Eric Leutheuser, taking the oath of office. Leutheuser was joined by members of his family.“I’m extremely honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Branch and Hillsdale counties,” said Leutheuser, R-Hillsdale. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on important issues so we can keep Michigan on the path to a brighter future.”Rep. Leutheuser has also received his committee assignments. Leutheuser will serve as the vice chair for both the House Elections Committee and the Financial Liability Reform Committee. Additionally, Leutheuser will serve on the House Committee for Commerce and Trade as well as the Communications and Technology Committee.“Now is the time to keep Michigan’s economy moving in the right direction,” Leutheuser said. “I’m excited to serve on these committees, and am eager to take a look at the tough issues facing our state and how we can make this a better place for everyone to live.”The 58th District includes Branch and Hillsdale counties. Residents can contact Rep. Leutheuser at (517) 373-1794, by email at EricLeutheuser@house.mi.gov or online at repericleutheuser.com.###
Categories: News Access to medical marijuana will be safe and simple for Michigan patients through a two-bill package that passed the House today to clarify and update the existing statutes.The legislation implements ideas developed at lengthy workgroup meetings that included patients, caregivers, law enforcement, health care providers and officials from cities, villages and townships.House Bill 4209, sponsored by Rep. Mike Callton, redefines what are known today as dispensaries as “provisioning centers” with guidelines to dispense marijuana in a clean, regulated environment.“People traditionally think of marijuana as a liberal issue, but this is a conservative bill that improves local control, said Rep. Callton, R-Nashville. “Furthermore, this isn’t a criminal matter, it’s a health care issue. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that states with access to medical marijuana have 24.8 percent lower opioid overdoses.“As a medical professional, I recognize that patients who suffer from some of the worst conditions—epilepsy, cancer, chronic pain—need safe treatment options that give them relief without fear of criminal prosecution.”Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons’ House Bill 4210 allows patients to use non-smokeable forms of marijuana, such as tinctures and other liquid forms more suitable for health treatment of children and the elderly.“This issue is not about whether you support medicinal marijuana or not; Michigan voters decided that on the 2008 ballot proposal,” said Rep. Lyons, R-Alto. “This is about ensuring safe access to medicinal marijuana and allowing patients to use alternative forms to smoking that are more healthy and effective for them, especially children and the elderly.”Since the 2008 legalization of medical marijuana for Michigan residents, there have been numerous court cases that have created inconsistent definitions of “useable marijuana,” which has resulted in uncertainty, unintended consequences and actual prosecution of patients with legal medical marijuana cards.“It is absurd that patients and parents face prosecution for using the treatment method that best meets their medical needs,” said Rep. Lyons. “The bottom line here is that we need to implement these common-sense measures to ensure patients have safe access to medicinal marijuana.”The bills now move to the Senate for further consideration. 07Oct House passes Callton, Lyons legislation improving patient access to medical marijuana
02Apr Rep. Calley plans local office hours in April Categories: Calley News State Rep. Julie Calley welcomes residents to office hours in three communities during April.Calley, of Portland, will present a legislative update and then meet with residents one on one regarding their concerns on the following dates:Monday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Village of Lake Odessa, Page Memorial Building, 839 Fourth Ave., Lake Odessa;Monday, April 16, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Barry County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Chambers, 220 W. State St., Hastings; andMonday, April 30, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Village of Middleville, 100 East Main St., Middleville.“Accountable representation requires consistent feedback,” Calley said. “Office hours present an opportunity for productive dialogue with those whom I serve.”No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend scheduled office hours may send their questions and ideas to Calley via email at JulieCalley@house.mi.gov or by calling her at 517-373-0842.
Categories: LaFave News 23May Rep. LaFave calls for additional school safety measures New plan allows teachers to carry pepper spray, TasersState Rep. Beau LaFave today introduced a plan giving teachers additional options to protect themselves and their students while on school property.LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said his legislation would allow teachers to carry pepper spray and electro-muscular disruption devices, commonly known as Tasers.“Every second matters during a school shooting, but the unfortunate reality is that the closest police offices are often minutes away,” LaFave said. “We must look at all options to prevent school shootings and make sure our students and teachers are not sitting ducks when one breaks out. This plan gives teachers more than bookmarks and staplers to defend themselves.”Under the plan laid out in House Bills 6066-67, all teachers would be allowed to carry self-defense sprays and foams in the school at which they are employed. Teachers would be required to obtain a concealed pistol license and undergo specialized Taser training if they want to possess a Taser.“A school employee who is armed with pepper spray or a Taser has the potential to save countless lives by quickly and efficiently incapacitating the gunman,” LaFave said. “This is a simple plan that offers non-lethal options many teachers will feel comfortable using.”LaFave said school districts will have the option to ban the items on school property, if administrators so choose.The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares Everett Collection / Shutterstock.comJanuary 28, 2015;Chicago TribuneTo be fair to Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and even Condoleezza Rice—the latter joining the official delegation to Riyadh to honor the passing of King Abdullah and acknowledge the accession of King Salman—Michelle Obama wasn’t the first recent woman dignitary to visit the rulers of Saudi Arabia without donning a headscarf. What was interesting was watching CNN’s repeated showings of video of Saudi dignitaries shaking President Obama’s hand while passing the First Lady by without a handshake, sometimes with nary a glance of acknowledgement. Her facial expression was priceless.One gets the sense that Michelle Obama doesn’t suffer indignities well, and good for her. Sometimes the greater latitude available to the person who doesn’t happen to be the POTUS means the First Lady comes off much better than the First Gentleman. That may explain why in administrations past, Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, and even Rosalynn Carter were frequently viewed much more positively than their husbands.Wearing a headscarf is not required for Western women visiting Saudi Arabia, though many do so out of respect for the customs and culture of the nation. There were suggestions both in Saudi Arabia and in the U.S. that the First Lady should have covered her head as a sentiment consistent with this administration’s (and its predecessor’s) call for respecting rather than denigrating Islamic culture. Unlike local women who forego the headscarf, Ms. Obama and other western women won’t be picked up by the mutaween, the police who enforce Saudi Arabia’s strict religious codes. But it got attention, to be sure, even with charges and Saudi denials that Saudi TV blurred the image of the First Lady.The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson declared Michelle Obama’s decision not to wear a headscarf “a bold political statement” and added comments from two of her predecessors:“In 1995, Hillary Rodham Clinton told an audience at the United Nation’s Women’s Conference in Beijing, ‘Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.’”“Ten years later, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan in 2005, Laura Bush also emphasized women’s rights before a group of Arab leaders. She said: ‘Freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression. It’s the right to speak and vote and worship freely. Human rights require the rights of women. And human rights are empty promises without human liberty.’”Henderson noted that Laura Bush recalled the Saudi delegation walking out of the WEF gathering before she got to those lines.Oddly, just before landing in Saudi Arabia, President Obama spoke in Delhi to an audience of college students and made it clear that he was willing to boldly challenge India, where incidents of abuse and rape have been recently well publicized, on issues of women’s equality:“‘We know from experience that nations are more successful when their women are successful,’ said Obama. ‘These are facts. So if nations really want to succeed in today’s global economy, they can’t simply ignore the talents of half of their people.’“‘Every daughter deserves the same chance as our sons,’ he added. ‘And every woman should be able to go about her day—to walk the street, or ride the bus—and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves.’”One can only hope that in addition to her powerful visual statement, the First Lady also got to tell someone in authority that they should cease the flogging and jail punishment of blogger Raif Badawi, whose crime, it appears, was openness to religious tolerance. Especially because in the same speech he made in India about gender equality, President Obama said this about religious tolerance:“The peace we seek in the world begins in human hearts; it finds its glorious expression when we look beyond any differences in religion or tribe and rejoice in the beauty of every soul,” the president said. At the conclusion of his speech, President Obama referenced Mohandas Gandhi: “He said, ‘for me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree’. Branches of the same majestic tree.”Let’s see if, in the heart of someone in the leadership of Saudi Arabia, there is the will to cease the punishment of the young blogger and set him free.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share585Tweet121ShareEmail706 SharesGraham Crumb/Imagicity.com [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 17, 2018; ColorlinesThe health disparities that exist for Black mothers in America are well documented. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than their White counterparts. Yet, aside from listing “being Black” as a risk factor for maternal death, little has been done to address this alarming statistic. The inaugural Black Maternal Health Week, held from April 11–17, 2018, sought to change this through offering a forum for continued conversation. Importantly, they shed light on an oft-overlooked but significant distinction: The huge disparities between Black and White maternal mortality are not due to race, but racism.Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, asserts, “Based on well-established data, risk factors are categorized as modifiable or non-modifiable, and health-care providers use them to counsel patients on how they can avoid or decrease their likelihood of death or disease. Knowing the risk factors allows patients to do things like get tested earlier for an illness or, for example, participate in a smoking cessation program. Risk factors can include attributes like fair skin for melanoma, which you can’t modify but you can cover or add sunscreen. But no one’s saying that whiteness is a risk factor for melanoma.”Dr. Crear-Perry’s definition of a risk factor brings a new perspective to the issue of racism and maternal death. Seeing race as a risk factor for maternal death would suggest that there is some genetic predisposition that has been passed to Black mothers, much like Tay-Sachs disease is common among individuals of Eastern European descent. This is not the case, however. A growing body of research indicates that, in fact, the stress caused by discrimination plays a noteworthy role in both maternal and infant mortality.NPQ’s own coverage reflects this. In Megan Aebi’s “Race and Health, and Doulas for Social Justice,” she says, “Research has demonstrated that such disparities—like the egregious race-based difference in maternal mortality and increased rates of preterm birth—reflect differences in quality of care, decreased access to care, discriminatory treatment, and other social determinants of health.” In NPQ’s “Racial Health Disparities are Well Documented,” we saw how even when Black mothers are well educated, wealthy, and have access to healthcare, they still face a higher maternal mortality rate.Taken together, all the research suggests that the reason Black women are dying at disproportionately high rates is actually due to racism. Whether it is from invisible bias leading to sub-par care, or a lifetime of discrimination leading to chronic stress, racism seems to be the culprit.Amani Nuru-Jeter, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, is researching how chronic stress from discrimination causes biological changes that lead to health disparities. She says, “Prolonged elevation and circulation of the stress hormones in our bodies can be very toxic and compromise our body’s ability to regulate key biological systems like our cardiovascular system, our inflammatory system, our neuroendocrine system. It just gets us really out of whack and leaves us susceptible to a bunch of poor health outcomes.”In other words, there is no inherent biological risk factor for maternal death associated with being Black. We need to stop thinking of race as a risk factor because it gives the impression that there is nothing we can do to change these health outcomes. Rather, we need to call it what it is. Racism is a risk factor for maternal death, and we can do something about that.—Sheela NimishakaviShare585Tweet121ShareEmail706 Shares
Share20Tweet9ShareEmail29 SharesMay 2, 2018; The RootThe president of the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) is determined to make the Sharswood Blumberg neighborhood of North Philly an example of revitalization without gentrification. Kelvin A. Jeremiah, president and CEO of the PHA, is attempting to bring better schools, commercial business, green space, and community ownership all at once, while committing to not displacing original residents.What are some best practices for community revitalization? Megan Hafner and Elizabeth Ramaccia declared this January that “the future of places big and small will not be determined by a singular leader or multinational corporation but rather by the people who live there.” They determined three elements of successful projects:Leadership development and capacity buildingBuilding a foundation of trustShared visionPHA’s plan is in the early stages, but it has the potential to succeed on all three counts.The Sharswood/Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan was launched in 2015, and is the largest single undertaking in PHA history, at $500 million. The plan acknowledges that the neighborhood was plagued by “highly concentrated poverty, drugs, truancy, illegal guns, and criminality” but engaged in a “planning process focused on assessing the underlying causes of the neighborhood’s distress, identifying community needs and strengths, articulating a vision for positive change and revitalization, and developing a realistic roadmap for moving forward to implement the community’s vision.” The plan involved dozens of community partners, including two resident councils from the public housing towers that were demolished, the YMCA, youth advocate programs, and the University of Pennsylvania.Revitalization depends upon several projects, including the major step of relocating the PHA offices from Center City to Blumberg. Jeremiah hopes that the new building, which includes mixed commercial space and offices for 400 PHA employees, will help bring in business. PHA also plans to develop a 10-block stretch of commercial real estate. Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer expressed skepticism about this part of the plan, saying it has a “suburban mentality,” but others are more optimistic.Another centerpiece of the plan is affordable housing. The PHA razed the Blumberg towers in 2016 and took ownership of 1,300 additional lots. Jeremiah has promised that the new housing built in these lots will be affordable to the original residents; Kia Gregory of The Root says that “the PHA has promised to restore new housing at Blumberg for all of the residents displaced who want to come back.” Jeremiah added, “The families who lived there when it wasn’t fashionable should be the beneficiaries of development, and we are not going anywhere.” (Debbie Thomas, a resident for decades, had a message for developers: “We plan on dying here.”)But it’s not just about making the housing affordable; it’s about raising incomes and living standards in the neighborhood so that people want to live there and can afford to do so as housing costs rise.One major way Jeremiah plans to enable this is through the newly reopened Roberts Vaux High School. It was closed along with 22 other schools, in 2013, in an effort to erase a $1.35 billion budget deficit. PHA bought the building from the district and gave it to Big Picture Learning, which had already opened a school in Philly in 2009. Vaux Big Picture is what’s known as an Innovation Network School. The model is a hybrid of a traditional public school and how many charter schools operate, an autonomous public school that’s part of the district and operated by a 501c3.Lots of hopes are pinned on Vaux. It operates with longer school days and school years, smaller classrooms, small group mentors that stick with students through graduation, internship programs, college counseling, and more. Jeremiah told The Root that “just as a school can destabilize a community and permeate a community that is trapped in poverty, a school can also help break that cycle.” Big Picture CEO David Bromley has said the school will largely employ district teachers. “We believe that kids do best in school when they’re engaged…when they’re excited about what they’re doing and where they’re going,” he said.There is not yet sufficient evidence to determine whether Blumberg really will live up to the hopes of PHA and community residents. Malcolm Burnley of Next City has said that “PHA will track residents’ feelings about the development over time, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania.” Rents in surrounding neighborhoods are already on the rise, and students at Vaux are expressing positive feelings about their new school. A revitalized neighborhood that doesn’t displace longtime residents shouldn’t feel like such an extravagant hope, but the reality remains to be seen.—Erin RubinShare20Tweet9ShareEmail29 Shares
Satellite uplink specialist SIS Live, is increasing the amount of permanent capacity it leases from satellites operated by Eutelsat.The companies have agreed a deal for “significant capacity” on the Atlantic Bird 1 satellite and on W3C, Eutelsat’s newest satellite.The leases guarantee access to 144 MHz of capacity on W3C and 36 MHz on Atlantic Bird 1, giving SIS Live increased capacity for events including the UK Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as Formula One, Wimbledon Championships, European Tour Golf and the 2012 European football championship in Poland and Ukraine. It will also support SIS Live’s business operations in France.David Meynell, managing director, SIS Live said: “Having worked closely with Eutelsat for many years, we are pleased to be able to extend our joint operations. This will enable SIS Live to offer our existing and new customers enhanced services and provide them with wider and even more robust access to the global satellite network.”
Belgacom added 39,000 TV subscriptions in the third quarter, taking its total TV customer base to 1.34 million.The Belgian telco sold subscriptions to 32,000 new households during the three months to September, and additionally sold 7,000 second-stream subscriptions to existing subscribers.Belgacom added 12,000 fixed internet lines in the quarter, taking its internet base to 1.626 million. It added 37,000 multi-play packs to its existing total, taking multi-play packs to 1.214 million.Success in TV and broadband helped mitigate what Belgacom described as “contained” fixed-line erosion and a decline in pre-paid mobile cards.Belgacom revised its full-year guidance upwards. It now expects full-year revenue to grow by 1%, with EBITDA decline limited to between 4% and 5%.Consumer revenues for the third quarter amounted to €587 million, up 2.8% year-on-year. Revenues directly attributed to TV amounted to €61 million, up 18.9%. TV ARPU was €18.10, up 1.5%.
The BBC has confirmed that it will broadcast the final stages of this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament in 3D.Separately, the BBC has highlighted a record digital audience for its online and Red Button coverage of the Glastonbury festival.The UK public broadcaster will air the Wimbledon women’s and men’s semi finals and finals in 3D free-to-air via the Red Button service as part of a “small number” of ongoing 3D experiments.Kim Shillinglaw, Head of BBC 3D, said: “We’re delighted to provide live 3D coverage from the biggest matches of this year’s Wimbledon. Major UK sporting events are a big part of our trials with 3D content and this allows us to build on our work from previous Wimbledon Championships and the London 2012 Olympics.”The BBC has previously aired 3D broadcasts on the BBC HD channel, until this channel was replaced with an HD simulcast of BBC 2 earlier this year.The 3D announcement follows the BBC’s move to increase its digital coverage of the tournament, increasing the number of live online streams available across PCs, mobiles, tablets and connected TVs up from a maximum of six last year to 10 this year.In addition, up to three streams will be available via the Red Button for the UK’s cable, satellite and digital-terrestrial platforms.The Wimbledon 3D announcement also follows news that the BBC recorded a record 1.5 million unique browsers accessing its digital coverage of last weekend’s Glastonbury festival, up 98% on the 2011 figure, including 700,000 live and catch-up TV and radio requests for The Rolling Stones’ headline performance.Of the unique browsers total, 47% accessed the event via PCs, 25% via mobiles, 17% via tablets and 11% via connected TVs. Forty-two per cent of total traffic over the weekend came from handheld devices, while a daily record of 228,000 people used the BBC iPlayer Radio app on Friday. About 109,000 people downloaded the radio app over the weekend, taking total downloads to 2.6 million.Over 6.2 million viewers accessed the BBC’s Red Button coverage of the event, up by 77% on the 2011 festival.The BBC provided live streams for Glastonbury’s six key music stages, covering over 120 live performances and delivering over 250 hours of live coverage across multiple screens.
Crime & Investigation Network is launching in Romania.The crime channel is operated by A+E and BSkyB joint venture A+E Networks UK, which has cut a carriage deal with UPC Romania.The channel launches in the country today as part of the cable operator’s Maxim HD package.Bogdan Bucurei, product director, UPC Romania said: “We are happy to be the first cable operator on the Romanian market to offer Crime & Investigation Network to our customers, who will now enjoy more informative, engaging and original programming.”The launch of CI in Romania comes soon after the channel’s debut in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Now TV Kids PassSky’s standalone over-the-top service, Now TV, has announced plans to launch a Kids Pass, offering children’s TV content for £2.99 per-month.The Now TV Kids Pass will let children watch six dedicated live TV channels, and thousands of episodes and box sets on-demand from Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, NickToons, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito, CBeebies, CBBC, and Milkshake.The new offering will be available alongside Now TV’s existing Entertainment, Movies and Sports passes and is due to launch on June 21.“We want to make sure that everyone in the family gets the best entertainment experience possible and that includes our younger viewers,” said Now TV director, Gidon Katz.“We’ve created a vibrant, engaging world just for kids, so finding an episode of Dora the Explorer will be almost as fun as watching it. By creating a separate enhanced Now TV Kids Pass our customers have even more choice when it comes to selecting the shows that are right for them, all with no contract.”In March, Sky launched the Sky Kids App for its Sky TV customers, letting younger viewers stream series from Cartoon Network, Disney, CBeebies, CiTV, Nickelodeon and Milkshake.At the same time the pay TV operator said it is moving into original children’s commissioning and it is working with production company Aardman on a new version of Morph – Sky’s first kids original. This will also now be available to watch via Now TV later this year, Sky confirmed.Speaking at the IHS Technology London Media Seminar last week, Sky’s business development and strategic partnerships director, Emma Lloyd said that the Sky Kids App is already proving popular with viewers and “kids is an area that we’ll be investing more in.”However, she said this investment is most likely to be through partnerships rather than acquisitions: “We’ll look to work with the best across the board, rather than looking to invest in any of those players.”The news comes less than a month after the BBC launched a kids-specific version of its iPlayer on-demand service.
Philippe DaumanThe bitter dispute between the Redstones and several directors of Viacom is rumbling on, with Shari Redstone, daughter of Sumner, stating she does not want to run the media giant.In the latest salvo in the battle for control of Viacom, Shari Redstone’s team issued a statement that said the mogul’s daughter ‘has made it abundantly clear that she has no desire to manage Viacom nor Chair its Board and is fully engaged in running and growing her firm, Advancit Capital’.The Shari camp added that although she does want to run the media giant, she does has an active interest in how it is run.“What she wants for Viacom is the best management in place, and strong, independent directors who will properly oversee that management,” the statement said.It added that the current Viacom directors should direct their energies into developing ‘a specific long-term plan to turn around the current state of Viacom’.Sumner Redstone’s family trust ultimately controls Viacom and the current dispute centres on his decision to remove Viacom boss Philippe Duaman, and another company director, Fred Salerno, from its board.The Dauman side allege that Sumner, 93, can no longer manage his own affairs, a claim Redstone’s daughter and legal team vehemently deny.The latest statement from Shari Redstone also said that Fred Salerno was wrong to suggest that Sumner Redstone did not want his daughter to run Viacom.“Salerno must have missed the widely reported fact that Sumner named Shari the non-executive Chair of both companies in the irrevocable Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust in 2002,” the statement said.“He must have also missed the portion of the February Viacom Board meeting where Shari was offered the Chair position and turned it down.”
Pay TV continued to pay dividends for Telekom Austria in the second quarter, with solid subscriber growth.Telekom Austria had 276,200 pay TV customers in Austria at the end of the second quarter, up 6.6% year-on-year. Fixed broadband customers grew 3.1% to 1,468,800. TV and broadband revenues partly offset declining voice revenues, boosted by the launch of new converged offerings.In Bulgaria, Telekom Austria had 470,900 pay TV customers following its acquisition of cable operator Blizoo, up from 466,600 for the quarter to March and up from 124,100 held a year previously by local subsidiary Mobiltel, prior to the acquisition. Bulgarian fixed broadband customers grew by 176.8% year-on-year to reach 422,600. Fixed line revenues helped slow down an overall decline in revenues due to macroeconomic problems.In Croatia, Telekom Austria subsidiary Vipnet’s pay TV base grew by 12.9% year-on-year to reach 196,900, boosted by the acquisition of cable operator CATV-047, while fixed broadband customers grew by 42.6% to reach 220,300.In Macedonia, Telekom Austria’s local subsidiary’s pay TV base grew by 58% to reach 124,600, while broadband customer grew by 61.4% to reach 99,900. In Slovenia, pay TV subscribers reached 48,200.
Spain’s Atresmedia is launching two of its channels on cable in the UK for the first time.The Spanish-language services will target ex-pat Spaniards and Spanish speakers and sit within the Viva package on the Virgin Media cable service.Atresmedia runs the commercial free-to-air Antena 3 channel in Spain and its international equivalent Antena 3 Internacional.“We are very happy that for the first time our channels will be accessible in the British market, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the birth of Antena 3 Internacional,” said Antena 3 International director Mar Martinez Raposo.The launches come in the wake of Atresmedia creating a new international unit and seeking to expand its international activity.The Hollywood Reporter first reported the Virgin news.
The BBC reported a 37% increase in summer iPlayer traffic this year thanks to major sporting events, and said it is bringing a raft of new updates to the online player.Live coverage of Glastonbury, Wimbledon, The Euros and The Olympics helped BBC iPlayer reach an average of 16 million unique browsers a week in June, July and August, up 37% compared to the same period a year earlier.In the week ending August 14, the BBC also said that live accounted for 46% of total iPlayer viewing time. The broadcaster started to stream non-televised events through the iPlayer earlier this year and during the Olympics offered 24 live simultaneous streams of sport.The news came as the BBC teased a number of technical updates that are coming to the iPlayer, including the rollout of ‘Live Restart’ on the iPlayer mobile and tablet app for Android and iOS.The feature, which lets viewers tap a button to start watching a live programme from the start, launched on connected TVs last summer and is due to come to mobile devices “shortly”.The BBC is also due to roll out ‘visual seeking’ to the iPlayer TV and mobile apps in the coming year.This feature means that when a user hover over the progress bar and they can see images from the programme as thumbnails, making it easier to navigate to a specific part of a show.Additionally, the BBC said it is now making HD (720p 50fps) the default for on-demand playback on computers and connected TVs that support adaptive bitrate streaming, which enables the video quality to be automatically adjusted in response to how much bandwidth is available.There are lots more enhancements to BBC iPlayer in the pipeline including the roll out of subtitles on our live channels (already available on computers as a ground-breaking trial), an archive category, enabling easier, cross-platform discovery of the 400+ archive programmes now available on BBC iPlayer (thanks to BBC Four Collections) and a raft of personalisation features to make it even easier for you to discover and enjoy great BBC TV,” said Dan Taylor-Watt, head of iPlayer, BBC Digital.“We’re also continuously working with manufacturers to improve the performance of iPlayer on their devices. For example, we’re currently working closely with Google on improving the Google Cast experience in iPlayer, before rolling out the feature to the BBC iPlayer Kids app, which launched in April and has already been downloaded over half a million times.”
TiVo is due to exit the Australian market after its licence there expires on October 31.In a statement on the TiVo Australia website, TiVo said “it’s been a delight serving Australia over the past nine years, but all good things must come to an end.”TiVo said it will cease to operate the TiVo Service, which delivers electronic programming guide data to viewers’ TiVo devices.“Without it, there will be no electronic programming guide and TiVo recording features such as Season Pass and WishList will stop working,” said the company.TiVo is now running ‘swap out’ for Australian customers, who can register online to get A$100 (€72) off a Fetch Mighty device to replace their TiVo box. This will mean customers can pay A$299 for the device, instead of the usual A$399.“The TiVo Swap Out offer expires on 31 October 2017 and is only open to TiVo devices which have connected to the TiVo service in the 6 months prior to 1 March 2017,” said TiVo.The Fetch Mighty is a four tuner DVR that also offers access to apps like Netflix and Stan. Viewers can also add more than 40 premium channels in the Ultimate Pack for A$20 per-month.
Altice now has 95.9% of SFR’s shares and is to file a buyout offer with the French markets regulator next month to acquire the remainder of the French service provider’s stock.Altice upped its stake in SFR after a series of exchanges of its stock for shares in the operator.Altice intends to file a buyout offer with markets regulator the AMF followed by a squeeze-out of remaining shares for €34.50 a share.Altice crossed the 90% threshold of ownership of SFR in May. The investment group has progressively upped its stake in its French subsidiary in private off-market transactions since the AMF rejected a plan to acquire the remainder of the shares it did not already own – at the time 22.5% – in the operator last October.Altice’s offer had been criticised by minority shareholders, some of whom argued that Altice’s motivation was to gain control of SFR’s dividend, and the regulator ruled that it had not provided sufficient information to them to receive a green light.At the time Altice CEO Michel Combes described the AMF’s ruling as “incomprehensible” and said that the watchdog had deprived shareholders of the right to make an independent choice.Altice has since said it plans to re-badge all its assets under a single, unified Altice brand.