Share19Tweet9ShareEmail28 SharesBy Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons (l) and NextGen Climate [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons (r).March 16, 2018; Boston GlobeCharles and David Koch are going to “extraordinary lengths,” according to an article this weekend in the Boston Globe, to spread the message to Latinxs in Florida about the “tax benefits” of the Republican tax plan, the key priority for the billionaire brothers. Their plan seeks to “woo swing-state” Latinx voters, who are among those who will ultimately suffer most from the plan.This is not the first time that NPQ has written about this courting of that voting bloc by the Koch Brothers in Florida. In January, NPQ’s Jim Schaffer profiled the Koch-funded Libre Initiative and its sister nonprofit, the Libre Institute. Schaffer noted that the two groups are “seeking to roll out social services to help migrants, with the hope that they can also ‘educate people about the principles that are close to our hearts,’” as David Velasquez, deputy state director for Florida for the Libre Institute puts it.In 2016, the two Libre groups had a combined budget of $13.5 million. (The Koch network seeks to increase funding tenfold.) Their task is to provide Latinx-friendly programming like résumé writing, English-language classes (the most popular), and immigration issues, where they highlight the differences between them and the president (e.g., support for DREAMers, arbitrary caps, and lack of support for an end to family reunification, or the more negative “chain migration”). They avoid many of the issues that Latinx organizations, like UnidosUS, highlight as important to Latinxs: e.g., the rise in the cost of health care and cuts to safety net programs, like food assistance.The organizations also provide what they call “seminars” but are really political education. The tax bill events focus on highlighting the comparably meager savings low-income families will receive from the recently passed federal tax cut bills. For example, a person making $35,000 a year will save $1,050 in taxes; after all, as Omar Santiago, a participant at one of the new Koch-funded town halls hosted by the Libre groups, says, “Who doesn’t want more money in their pockets?” Boston Globe reporter Annie Linskey elaborates, “They’re not just selling the tax cut, they’re providing a host of Spanish-language events infused with the free market, limited government philosophy the Kochs hope will appeal to [Latinxs]—and help them look past the many offensive comments made by the president.”Though the nonprofits stay clear of explicit partisan politics for this tax-exempt work, the states they chose for their efforts—in addition to Florida, there’s Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, and New Mexico—are “politically important states that have had close elections.” Libre doesn’t register people to vote. Instead, it requires all participants to its events to provide contact information, ostensibly to build deeper relationships. According to Linskey, while “the Kochs are swimming upstream in this effort,” anecdotally it seems they’re making some inroads; as another participant, Carlos Hernandez, says, “You build a network.”Puerto Ricans are particularly important because they can vote in the US and an estimated 300,000 have moved to the Sunshine State since Hurricane Maria. Trump won Florida by 120,000 votes in 2016, and his life-and-death inadequate response to Puerto Rico is well-documented by US media. Nevertheless, Linskey writes, “This effort is being eyed with some measure of concern among Democrats in the state.” While Latinxs are well aware of the president’s anti-immigrant zeal, Mayia Belloli, a participant from Colombia, may reflect shared sentiments when she says that Republicans “hold more family values.”Linskey concludes that the Kochs are “playing the long game” with “their tangle of nonprofits, super PACs, and politically oriented nonprofits.” And this rings true; another article last week in The Root, reveals that the Koch brothers are also behind the educational nonprofit Bill of Rights Institute, “a 501c3 nonprofit educational organization that works to engage, educate and empower individuals with a passion for the freedom and opportunity that exist in a free society.” The nonprofit provides social studies educational resources reporter Michael Harriot writes are “free of cost…right-wing brainwashing.”Harriot continues,What it really is, is an education arm of a network of right-wing charities funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers in conjunction with a number of other conservative philanthropic individuals and organizations. It takes millions of dollars in donations and claims to have taught the Bill of Rights to more than five million students and 50,000 teachers, including directly training 22,000 educators through its constitutional seminars.The lessons stress limited government, religious freedom, free-market economics and—worst of all—a revisionist version of the history of slavery that paints it as a necessary evil to further freedom and democracy.Harriot notes that while “according to the New York Times, the Kochs planned to spend close to a billion dollars on the 2016 election cycle, more than the entire Republican National Committee…it is the Koch brothers’ quiet philanthropic efforts that garner them the most bang for their buck. They use foundations and corporations to funnel their money to organizations under the cover of anonymity.”Like Linskey, Harriot notes that the Koch brothers are pushing their political agenda through nonprofits.On the other end of the spectrum, according to Orlando Weekly, billionaire Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund executive from San Francisco, is being called the antithesis of the Koch brothers for his $30 million investment in a youth-organizing program called NextGen America that’s targeting millennials for the 2018 midterm elections. Steyer notes that this segment of the electorate matches the Boomers in size but is disengaged because they don’t think the system serves them. The project will spend $3.5 million in Florida and focus on 40 college campuses, including four historically black colleges. It will also operate in Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Arizona—and it’ll target young voters online and via mail. The program seeks to “shift sporadic voters into reliable ones—and, presumably, Democrat-leaning ones” by focusing on the issues it thinks young voters care about, “like immigration, healthcare and criminal justice reform.”NPQ has long supported efforts to promote public financing for elections to mitigate the power of wealthy donors in our political system, as described in a 2015 New York Times article with the headline, “Poll Shows Americans Favor an Overhaul of Campaign Financing.”Americans of both parties fundamentally reject the regime of untrammeled money in elections made possible by the Supreme Court‘s Citizens United ruling and other court decisions and now favor a sweeping overhaul of how political campaigns are financed, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.The findings reveal deep support among Republicans and Democrats alike for new measures to restrict the influence of wealthy givers, including limiting the amount of money that can be spent by “super PACs” and forcing more public disclosure on organizations now permitted to intervene in elections without disclosing the names of their donors.According to a 2016 Washington Post article, many believe the public campaign finance system is broken—even those who support its aims. “Underdog candidates” like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders “have shown that it’s possible to raise large sums of money from small donors over the Internet.”Nevertheless, most money in politics comes from big donors. Back in 2012, after Obama’s reelection and the flow of money into Democratic super PACs, NPQ’s Rick Cohen wrote, quoting Politico, “It took Democrats a while to warm up to super PACs, but their glee over 2012 is—for now—eclipsing any moral qualms about big money eroding democracy.”Cohen’s article says Rob McKay, who at the time was chairperson at the Democracy Alliance, which self-identifies as the largest network of donors dedicated to building the progressive movement in the United States, “suggested campaign finance reform is still on the agenda of progressives.”Cohen concludes that “Beating Republicans at their own game can be intoxicating for Democrats.” However, if we care about democracy, we need to change the game of money in politics, not advocate for one side or another to win it.—Cyndi SuarezShare19Tweet9ShareEmail28 Shares
Share138TweetShareEmail138 SharesBy Lvklock [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia CommonsSeptember 10, 2018; Next CityIn 2012, Eltoreon Hawkins bought a house in the blighted Walnut Park neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, for $1000. He thought the empty lot next door was part of his property, and he took care of it. He discovered his mistake when he read the deed, but an alderman assured him that maintaining the property would pay off. Hawkins became the first individual to participate in the Mow to Own program. In 2014, the mayor himself handed Hawkins the title to the empty lot; for just $125, Hawkins earned the ownership of a plot of vacant land because he kept it mowed for the required two years.In the latest fiscal year, 80 homeowners were successful in getting land title, joining Hawkins in the Mow to Own club. The now 25-year-old manager of a meal delivery nonprofit is currently working towards turning over the neighborhood, one lot at a time. He has bought two more homes close by for $2,500 and $3,500; one, he rehabbed to rent, and one he gave to his mother.“My vision is to start on the block, in the neighborhood where I live,” he says. “I want to stabilize it. I see it as my chance to give back to my immediate community.”The St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) is the city’s land bank, which currently lists about 600 vacant lots in the same ward as Hawkins’s. They offer the homes for sale at an average price that ranges from $1000 to $3500.Cities like St. Louis, along with others like Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Detroit, face dwindling populations in some neighborhoods, with empty houses and lots strewn with garbage. The condition has been named hypervacancy by author Alan Mallach in a 2018 report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, “The Empty House Next Door.” The recession of 2008 compounded the problem, as homeowners walked away from mortgages that were “underwater.” For instance, in 2017 it was reported that 26 percent of Cleveland’s 160,000 residential parcels (with and without structures) were empty.“The earliest work that targeted vacant land was tied almost exclusively to addressing the nuisance and problems,” says Terry Schwarz, director of Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. “They centered on land stabilization and greening projects or reducing eyesore characteristics of vacant properties.” There’s been a change in thinking, however, says Schwarz. “Now, the new policies that have the most long-term impact are less about fixing nuisances or problems and instead seeing land for what it is: real estate. Cities now want to see what ways they have at their disposal to extract value out of their growing inventories of vacant properties.”St. Louis is making a concerted effort to address its vacancies. In 1971, it became the first city to establish a land bank. The LRA owns about 11,500 properties, with 8,100 of them vacant. Mow to Own and similar “sidelot” programs are a minor part of the plan to flip the vacancies to occupied spaces of different types. The city saves anywhere from $1000 to $2400 annually on each property enrolled in Mow to Own.Nonprofits in Philadelphia are partnering with local community groups in LandCare, a program started by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) a $24-million nonprofit founded in 1831. In 2003, they began their successful program to fence empty lots, mow the yards, and clean trash. A little more than a quarter of Philadelphia’s 40,000 vacant properties are now managed by LandCare, with $3 million from the city and $16 million from private funders. LandCare spends about $1,300 to fence, clean, and replant the lots. They’ve scaled up to surpass PHS’s ability to manage the program; LandCare has reached out to community groups, such as community development corporations and business improvement districts, as subcontractors, vetting and training them. The positive outcomes are measurable: LandCare’s immediate benefits are apparent, starting with a 20 percent jump in nearby home values. Mental and physical health have also felt the impact of the greened and cleaned lots. Their white rail fences have caught on, too.Detroit Future City is a nonprofit that is working with the city and community groups to green up properties in blighted neighborhoods of Detroit. They have produced a manual to revitalize and rehab lots. They target specific projects to raise funds for rehabbing and stewardship of the land, succeeding with about 60 lots so far, keeping it on a smaller scale in order to include educating of the community’s residents.At 70, eastern Detroit resident Jackie Grant has made it her mission to improve her neighborhood, where about 1,200 abandoned homes have been torn down in the last 10 years. With her son, she and her neighbors got a Future City grant, cleaned a vacant lot, put up a fence, and planted trees and flowers.One person at a time—from Hawkins in St. Louis, to Grant in Detroit—mowing the lawn and planting trees works for the good of all.—Marian ConwayShare138TweetShareEmail138 Shares
Share24TweetShareEmail24 SharesBy Vivisel [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia CommonsOctober 22, 2018; Intercept, October 17, 2018; InterceptA new study, “Running On Hate,” finds that anti-Muslim rhetoric in political campaigns is on the rise since 2016. It highlights 80 “blatantly anti-Muslim” races nationwide and finds that this rhetoric is a losing strategy.The Intercept’s Sarah Aziza highlights the report by the legal research and advocacy group Muslim Advocates, which finds that candidates use “Islamophobic rhetoric as a way to establish conservative credentials and galvanize voters.” A campaign was found to be Islamophobic if it:Distorted facts about Islam or MuslimsContained “slurs or hostility towards Muslims”Advocated for policies that deny basic constitutional rights for American Muslims, “particularly freedom of worship”The study found that this rhetoric is extended to communities “often confused with Muslims, ‘such as refugees, Sikhs, and people of Arab, South Asian, or North African descent.’” Further, it is “active in campaigns at all levels of government and in rural, suburban, and urban settings alike.”Islamophobic campaigns are based on a few shared tenets: that Muslims are “inherently dangerous,” that Islam is terrorism, and that Islamic extremism threatens “the American way of life.” This rhetoric leads to exclusionary policies. As Aziza notes, “by characterizing Islam as a dangerous political outlook rather than religion, detractors cast Muslims outside the constitutional protections afforded to religious communities by the First Amendment.”These ideas are not new. Moustafa Bayoumi, author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, says, “Islamophobic ideology has been weaponized against Muslims for many years now. Trump may have brought it out in the open, encouraging more people to utilize these ideas at all levels, but these ideas have a deep foundation in American politics.”Nevertheless, the study found that of the 80 campaigns, only 11 (or 14 percent) “have won or are safely predicted to win their races in November.” About 15 percent of voters endorse anti-Islamic rhetoric, but most, Republican and Democrats alike, reject it. And political participation of Muslims is on the rise, says Vetnah Monessar, the Florida executive director of Emgage, a national nonprofit driving Muslim civic engagement.Contrast these exclusionary practices with their deep roots in US democracy to the new, inclusive campaigns of many candidates of color. A great example is the race in Texas’s 22nd Congressional District, a Houston suburb, between Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni and incumbent Republican Rep. Pete Olson.According to the Intercept’s David Dayen, the 22nd district is “the largest congressional district in America by population.” The district is “incredibly diverse.” Kulkarni’s campaign estimates 100 languages are spoken there. Dayen writes, “Churches mix with temples and mosques, fast-food joints with biryani restaurants along the main boulevards.”It is “a rapidly changing district that national democrats had long ignored, but suddenly believe is flippable.” Much of that has to do with Kulkarni’s strong grassroots campaign targeting nonvoters, which phone banks in 13 languages, strategizes micro-target communities, and offers a politics of inclusion. Campaign volunteer Ali Hasanali says, “You can’t have token representation. That never gets you community-based knowledge that someone in the community does.”By learning the cultures of the people in the district, recruiting people from those communities, and speaking to communities in their language (including pronouncing their names correctly), the campaign has increased phone bank responses between twofold and fivefold. Kulkarni bested four challengers in the primary by increasing the vote among Asian Americans from six percent in 2014 (the last midterm election) to 28 percent in the 2018 primary. He does this by focusing on building direct relationships with voters through a dedicated and growing network of volunteers.Kulkarni himself is described as someone who “speaks six languages fluently,” “spent 14 years in the foreign service,” “can talk to anyone,” and inspires “many people to engage so deeply.” While some issues cut across groups, like healthcare and keeping children safe, others are constituent-specific, and Kulkarni understands that, emphasizing different aspects of his platform depending on the audience. Dayen writes,For Indian-Americans, he finds that everyone knows someone with an H1-B or H-4 work permit visa issue, so he highlights that. With Chinese-American groups, he discusses family reunification (what Trump calls “chain migration”). For [Latinx] groups, it’s family separation at the border.Kulkarni has outpaced Olson in the most recent fundraising quarter, raising $1 million “without taking corporate PAC money,” a growing trend among progressive candidates. (“Half of Olson’s cash comes from corporate PACs,” writes Dayen.) When endorsing him, the Houston Chronicle raved that Kulkarni “represents our politics at its best.”Campaign volunteer Renee Mathew says, “It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.” If Kulkarni wins, he will be the first Asian-American member of Congress from Texas. Some may say he’s already won. Dayen concludes,Even if Kulkarni doesn’t succeed, the campaign will leave an infrastructure in place for the future: from waves of new Democratic voters locally, to interns and organizers schooled in community engagement who can replicate it anywhere in America. When you activate communities, that switch rarely turns off.—Cyndi SuarezShare24TweetShareEmail24 Shares
Pavel Basov, the CEO of Russia’s leading pay TV operator Tricolor TV, is leaving the company.Basov joined Tricolor TV last April as commercial and strategy director, before being named as CEO in September, charged with developing a new strategic direction for the company. He was credited with leading the company’s recovery from the financial crisis, with 2.1 million new subscribers added in the course of 2011.Tricolor TV managing director Alexander Makarov will take over Basov’s role.
Amazon Studios, the nascent production arm of the online retail giant, is moving into kids and comedy following its launch 18 months ago. The company set up Amazon Studios in November 2010 to develop scripts and produce feature films and has 15 projects currently in development. It will now produce kids and comedy content for its online television service Amazon Instant Video.It will option one new project per month and the creator of each series, if commissioned, will receive US$55,000 (€42,000) and up to 5% of ancillary revenues.The company has hired former 20th Century Fox and Comedy Central executive Joe Lewis to develop comedy series and National Geographic Kids exec Tara Sorensen to develop kids programming.“Amazon Studios wants to discover great talent and produce programming that audiences will love,” said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. “In the course of developing movies, we’ve heard a lot of interest from content creators who want to develop original series in the comedy and children’s genres. We are excited to bring writers, animators and directors this new opportunity to develop original series.”
Technology provider Harmonic has partnered with Nagra to deliver a cloud-based OTT video service for broadcasters and pay TV service providers that is being jointly offered by Spanish infrastructure telecom operator Abertis Telecom and Nagra. The multiscreen hosting service is in use by Spanish broadcasters for HbbTV based services.Harmonic’s ProMedia suite and Nagra MediaLive Multiscreen solution provide the Abertis Telecom-Nagra cloud service with an integrated video infrastructure capable of delivering OTT applications, including live, VOD and time-shifting, to TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes and other IP-connected devices.Harmonic said the solution will be enhanced to become a commercial deployment of MPEG-DASH.“Nagra is committed to providing flexible solutions required to cost-effectively deploy multiscreen services that address future market needs. With this MPEG-DASH and HbbTV 1.5 deployment, Nagra and Harmonic continue to lead the industry in supporting innovative television services,” said Jean-Michel Puiatti, vice-president, multiscreen products for Nagra. “The multi-DRM support provided by Nagra MediaLive Multiscreen simplifies the encryption of video content to multiple devices and lowers capital and operating costs for service providers.”
Portuguese premier league football club Benfica is awarding all TV rights to its matches to the Benfica TV channel.Benfica’s president Luis Filipe Vieira made a pledge to move the broadcasting of all league matches to the club’s TV channel as part of his re-election campaign. Currently, all matches from the Portugal’s top league are aired on Olivedesportos’ Sport TV platform.“The proposals we got from operators for next season did not please us. So, TV rights will go to Benfica TV,” Vieira said.
News channel France 24 has signed an agreement with Yahoo! allowing the channel to share its content on the UK, Canadian, French and Arabic Yahoo!-Maktoob versions of the portal.These Yahoo! platforms now offer videos and articles from France 24’s three channels and websites in French, English and Arabic in their Yahoo News sections.Yahoo! is also aggregating articles from France 24 sister radio service RFI in French and English and Monte Carlo Doualiya in Arabic.
Digital TV delivered through the home aerial marks its 15-year birthday today, but new digital terrestrial developments are helping to “shape the platform,” according to UK broadcast regulator Ofcom. Digital terrestrial TV began broadcasting in the UK on 15 November 1998, and as of the end of 2012 there were 19.2 million homes – around 75% of TV households – that received this service.Though digital terrestrial TV started mainly as a subscription channel offering, the platform now offers around 70, mostly free, TV channels via Freeview – including a host of HD stations.“Terrestrial TV broadcasting became digital-only at the end of 2012 as the UK’s final analogue signals were switched off. But digital switchover is far from the end of digital terrestrial’s journey and new developments are helping to shape the platform for the future,” said Ofcom.Among the recent developments were the licensing of two new spectrum multiplexes on digital terrestrial TV earlier this year, with new HD channels will go live from late 2013 and 2014 – including Al Jazeera English HD and five HD BBC channels.Ofcom has also awarded 21 local TV licences and could license up to 26 further local stations across the UK.
Ukrainian cable operators have removed a number of Russian channels from their programming line-ups following a decision by the Kyiv District Administrative Court to suspend their licences.Leading cable operator Volia said it had removed Russian international channels NTV Mir, RTR Planeta and Perviy Kanal/Channel One from its line-up at midnight last night, following the decision.The country’s second largest cable network, Triolan, also said it had removed the channels.Volia said it was in talks with other channel providers, and that it would shortly add independent Russian news and information channel Dozhd TV to its Start and Optimal packages. The channel, struggling in its domestic Russian market after being suddenly dropped by the country’s largest service providers, was forced this week to resort to a Telethon to raise funds to try to ensure its survival.Volia said it also plans to add Ukrainian news channel Espreso TV and hunting and fishing channel Trophy to the two packages.
Internet media platform provider Blinkx has named Donald Hamilton as senior vice-president of Blinkx Media.Based in London, Hamilton will be charged with shaping blinkx’s growth and expansion strategy in the UK and Europe. He was previously managing partner and founder of Segmentation Consulting Ltd (Precidio).“We are delighted to have Donald bring his years of experience and deep knowledge of the European tech and online advertising markets to the Blinkx team,” said S Brian Mukherjee, CEO of Blinkx.“With an impressive career history boasting clear successes in scaling businesses and growing the scope of enterprise services, we expect Donald to make an immediate and significant contribution to the company across the board, from business strategy to thought leadership, as we grow and develop our business on a global level.”
Roughly half of Britons would support abolishing the BBC licence fee, even if it means introducing ads, according to a new ComRes poll commissioned by political communications specialists the Whitehouse Consultancy.According to the poll of 2,049 UK adults, 51% supported scrapping the licence fee and making the BBC pay for itself “even if that means adverts during programmes, reducing the number of original programmes they can produce or scrapping their public service broadcasting duty.” This compared to 34% who opposed, with the remaining 15% said they did not know.Despite this, there was a direct 40-40 split between those who support and oppose the current system of a compulsory licence fee for those who watch live TV – with 20% saying they don’t know.More people opposed than supported abolishing the licence fee and replacing it with increased taxes. Only 18% backed this idea, with 64% opposing and 18% unsure.Some 44% of respondents opposed abolishing the licence fee and introducing a subscription fee paid only by those who want to access the BBC, with 36% supporting this and 20% unsure.“There clearly isn’t solid support for the licence fee model and the public appears willing to consider alternatives means of funding the BBC, as long as abolishing the licence fee doesn’t mean higher taxes instead,” said Chris Whitehouse, chairman of the Whitehouse Consultancy.“While interesting that older respondents appear to be more supportive of the licence fee than younger Britons, these figures show the huge job of work still be done by the BBC if it is to have a strong hand in the future in renegotiating the licence fee and justifying why the public should continue to pay it.”
Liberty Global-owned Swiss cable operator UPC Cablecom is to extend its ‘Wi-Free’ free WiFi offering to the whole of Switzerland from October.Under the Wi-Free service, Cablecom internet customers enable each other to surf the net whenever they want free of charge, and can already use the Horizon Go TV everywhere app to watch TV online when they are out and about.The service makes use of the over 500,000 home WiFi clouds of its customers to enable other Cablecom subscribers to access the internet outside their homes. Wi-Free was piloted successfully in the city of St. Gallen from the end of January to the beginning of August.From mid-September to the beginning of October, Cablecom will extend Wi-Free to the whole of Switzerland. By means of a software update, Wi-Free will be added to Cablecom internet customers’ WLAN modems. Following registration via the My UPC customer portal and initial login using a mobile device, this device will then connect to Wi-Free automatically.
Liberty Global and Discovery Communications are to take stakes in Formula E Holdings, the company set up to manage the new motorsports format.Neither party has stated the size of their investment in Formula E. However, Bloomberg, citing a Liberty Global spokesman, has reported that the investment will give the pair combined the largest stake in Formula E ahead of Spanish property developer Enrique Bañuelos and Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag.US cable magnate John Malone holds a 27% stake in Liberty Global and a 29% in Discovery.Formula E was created three years ago as a showcase for electric car technology on the track. The sport has attracted backers including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson. Previous investors in Formula E include mobile technology giant Qualcomm.“It is a significant step forward for Formula E to receive the backing of two major global media companies when we are barely halfway through our first season,” commented the CEO of the company, Alejandro Agag. “The experience and knowhow they bring will provide a significant boost to Formula E. We look forward to creating new opportunities together to develop and promote premium content for a global audience.”Niall Curran, president of Liberty Global’s media investments group, said, “Like Formula E, our business is closely connected to sustainability, speed and entertainment, so this is a great match. We are delighted to be supporting Alejandro and his team in building this new global sports media property, while building our portfolio of strategic content investments.”“We are very pleased to join Formula E’s ownership group. With unmatched global distribution, our Velocity, Turbo and Eurosport brands, and 30 years of experience as a global media company, Discovery’s unique expertise will help develop this new and unique motor sport,” said Bruce Campbell, Discovery Communications chief development and digital officer and general counsel.
Lee BartlettDiscovery Studios boss Lee Bartlett is leaving the company.Bartlett has been at Discovery for five years and will exit the US-listed channel operator later this year.Broadcast broke the news and Discovery confirmed Bartlett’s imminent departure.The Discovery exec joined the company in 2010, soon after exiting his London-based role as boss of ITV Studios.He was upped from executive VP to president, Discovery Studios, last year as Marc Graboff joined the company. Bartlett, who will exit in September, reports to Graboff.His responsibilities at Discovery include overseeing Betty and Raw and he is also Discovery’s primary liaison for All3Media and chairman of its board.His exit will follow that of Eileen O’Neill, who having been upped to global group president of Discovery Studios, also left the role after a short tenure, albeit longer than Bartlett’s. She was also an All3Media board member.Discovery had no other comment aside from confirming Bartlett’s departure.
Roman SteuerSky in Germany has upped the head of its Sky Sport News HD channel, Roman Steuer, to executive vice-president and head of Sky Sport Germany.Steuer takes over from Carsten Schmidt, who took over the CEO role from Brian Sullivan earlier this summer after a handover period.Sky Germany said that a new head of Sky Sport News HD will be announced shortly. The channel launched in December 2011 and now claims an average of 460,000 viewers per day.
Telefónica has unveiled a new home gateway unit – an all-in-one box that combines the functions of fibre optical network unit, router and video-bridge.The device, which Telefónica claims as a “world first”, is the first fruit of the group’s creation of a new structure of ‘global centres’ focusing on technical transformation. The first part of a three-phase plan has seen the creation of the company’s Global Device Development Centre, Global Operational Support Processes and Systems Centre, and Global Energy and Rentals Centre.The three-in-one device will enable users to “use Telefónica’s full fibre capability”, according to the company, improving their connectivity and reducing power consumption.The HGU is now commercially available in Spain, currently in Madrid, Levante, Murcia and Andalusia, for new fibre connections of any speed (30 or 300Mbps) or upgrades from Movistar ADSL to fibre. By the first quarter of 2016, the new device will be available in all the cities and Telefónica facilities in Spain. It is due to arrive in Brazil and Chile in the first half of next year.For current Movistar customers in Spain, who already enjoy Movistar services with other devices and connectivities of 30 or 300Mbps for fibre, Telefónica will also make an offer available whereby they can swap their current device for the new HGU.The HGU delivers 802.11ac WiFi connectivity thanks to a partnership with chipset specialist Quantenna Communications. It includes six internal antennas – four for 5GHz Wi-Fi and 2 for the 2.4 GHz Wi-FiThe device also includes integrated VoIP, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a Broadcom chip for GPON to deliver connectivity of up to 1Gbps.Taiwan-based Askey and Mitrastar contributed to the hardware and software, and Spain-based Mormedi contributed to the design.
CTC Media has now received the received the final tranche of payment for its sale of a 75% stake in the company to Russia’s UTV Management.The deal saw CTC Media received US$150.5 million (€133.7 million) in cash after it closed on December 23. An additional US$50 million was held back and was subject to adjustment based on the performance of the business during the second half of 2015 and agreed obligations.In a statement issued on Friday, CTC said it has now received US$42.5 million of this additional consideration in cash.The US$7.5 million reduction was due to several factors, including: underinvestment and deferred payments by the group in the second half of 2015 compared with the agreed target budget; a reduction in working capital compared with the agreed target, reflecting the impairment of certain older programming content; and indemnification in connection with the settlement of a commercial litigation matter, according to the firm.The total consideration received in connection with the sale was US$193.1 million.“The management team achieved solid operating results in the second half of 2015 in a challenging and deteriorating market environment in Russia. Against this macroeconomic backdrop, this performance helped to limit the reduction in the purchase price,” said Werner Klatten, chairman of the special committee of the board of CTC Media.The takeover was agreed last year in order to bring CTC Media into compliance with the foreign ownership restrictions of the Russian Mass Media Law.Russian president Vladimir Putin signed an amendment to the Russian law on mass media at the end of last year that will limit foreign ownership of media companies in Russia to 20%, down from the current limit of 50%. This will apply to both existing and future foreign ownership and comes into effect on January 1, 2016.
SPI International/ Filmbox’s FightBox HD and FashionBox channels will gain wider distribution following a deal between the company and mobile TV and video services firm, MobiTV.SPI International/ Filmbox said that the deal will make the martial arts and fashion channels available on several IPTV networks in the US – including Boost, TMO and Sprint – with FashionBox also offered on US Cellular.“We are fascinated by Mobi TV’s comprehensive platform and ability to deliver TV channels across a variety of screens. The partnership with Mobi TV allows us to introduce our FashionBox and FightBox channels to new audiences across the US,” said Stacey Sobel, executive vice-president at SPI International.
French digital-terrestrial transmission services provider TDF has taken a minority stake in OTT TV operator Molotov as part of a wider strategic partnership between the pair to create a hybrid TV offering combining Molotov’s OTT delivery with DTT.TDF said it sees Molotov’s platform as a way to provide a more comprehensive TV experience to digital-terrestrial viewers, including on-demand catch-up TV and restart TV functionality as well as access to further pay TV offers via Molotov’s OTT platform. It also provides a way to deliver content to multiple screens and to enable TV viewers to discovery new content by integrating the DTT offering with the Molotov application.Molotov users with internet-connected TVs will for their part be able to view live HD DTT and – in the future – UHD TV services without suffering transmission issues.TDF’s investment in Molotov follows a €4 million investment by pay TV operator Sky in September as part of a wider €22 million funding round.Olivier Huart, TDF CEO, said: “By taking an equity stake in Molotov, we are teaming up with a French start-up and in so doing, will enhance TV viewing, especially for the 15 million French homes equipped with DTT. Combining Molotov with access to our top quality free DTT package will pave the way for the most attractive offers and the most comprehensive TV viewing experience for the general public throughout France.”Pierre Lescure, chairman of the board and co-founder of Molotov, said: “Molotov strives to revolutionise TV viewing by providing top quality and often inaccessible content via a modern interface that we are currently developing. Backed by our deal with TDF to develop a hybrid version of Molotov, we will harness the power and strength of the DTT Network to further enhance the customer experience.”Molotov’s service went live across France in July with a freemium offering, providing 33 channels, including 25 DTT services and 10-hours of free ‘bookmarked’ content.The paid-for option is available in two versions – a €3.99 option with 100 hours of additional bookmarks, letting users record shows and watch them back across devices, and a €9.99 per-month version that includes 70 HD channels, four simultaneous streams and 100 hours of bookmarks.The services is currently available on smartphone, tablet, Apple TV, connected TVs and on PC or Mac.Molotov is the brainchild of former Canal+ boss Lescure, AlloCiné founder Jean-David Blanc and former TF1 exec Jean-Marc Denoual.