According to Transparency International, Bosnia is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. Authorities have recently begun fighting corruption and tax evasion more vigorously.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Comments Share Four benefits of having a wireless security system New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Police in Bosnia have detained several high-ranking customs officials, accusing them of tax and customs evasion and money laundering worth millions of euros.The prosecutor’s office in Bosnia said Tuesday the operation is part of an ongoing fight against corruption and organized crime, focusing on state officials.Prosecutors said at least 10 people were detained. Some are customs officials who according to the statement were bribed to let trucks belonging to certain companies cross the border into Bosnia without paying customs for the goods brought in, mainly textiles. Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility
Categories: News 23Jan Franz welcomes national debt expert’s testimony at Michigan House committee hearing State Rep. Ray Franz today welcomed William Fruth, president of POLICOM Corporation, to provide testimony on the desperate need for Congress to balance the federal budget.Franz’ House Joint Resolution CC adds Michigan to the list of states calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring the federal government to operate with an annually balanced budget.“Congress has been overspending our nation’s budget for over three decades, and there’s no end in sight,” said Franz, R-Onekama. “It’s unrealistic and unfathomable for personal and business finances, as well as for local and state government levels, and it is unsustainable and unacceptable if our country is to have any kind of future for our children and grandchildren.”At about $17 trillion, the United States’ debt load puts it on a list of 12 out of 182 nations with debt greater than the size of their economy. The debt is primarily owed to private and public investors, foreign investing entities, as well as internal federal government trust funds, such as the Social Security Trust Fund, Civil Service Retirement, and Military Retirement & Medical Medicare.Fruth, economic development consultant with the Balance Budget Amendment Task Force in Virginia, likened America’s direction to “going over Niagara Falls.”“It hasn’t mattered what party is in Congress, they have continued to borrow money to run the nation, and it is breaking the back of our country,” Fruth said. “At every other level, we’re compelled to say ‘no, there just isn’t any money,’ but in Washington, D.C., it’s been too easy to say ‘yes.’“There are several choices we have: we can do nothing, and just hope our nation, our political system and our freedom don’t collapse under soaring inflation and increased taxation; we can elect people to office who will stop the borrowing and spending cycle, but we’ve seen how that’s worked the last 30 years; we can riot in the streets, as we’ve seen citizens do in other countries, but that’s not good; or we can make it unlawful through a Balanced Budget Amendment for Congress to borrow and spend money it has no ability to repay.”Along with testimony from Franz, Fruth and Sen. Mike Green, who sponsored a Senate version of the Balanced Budget Amendment joint resolution, the House panel heard comments in favor of the measure from Charlie Owens, Michigan director of the National Federation of Independent Business. The committee received ‘opposed’ messages from the Michigan League for Public Policy, AFL-CIO and UAW.The House Financial Liability Reform Committee is considering HJR CC and SJR V.From left: Bill Fruth of the Balance Budget Amendment Task Force, Charlie Owens, Michigan director of the National Federation of Independent Business, and state Rep. Ray Franz at the House Financial Liability Reform Committee meeting.
Categories: News 29Jun Connect with Rep. Poleski this July Residents are invited to meet with state Rep. Earl Poleski during his district coffee hours and office hours throughout the month of July.“I value these opportunities to meet with constituents, answer questions and hear ideas for our community and for the state as a whole,” said Rep. Poleski, R-Jackson.Residents can meet with Rep. Poleski for coffee from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the following dates and locations:Tuesday, July 12 – Marrs Ave. Grill: 1319 E. Michigan Ave. in Jackson;Tuesday, July 19 – Roxy Café: 606 N. W. Ave. in JacksonTuesday, July 26 – Spring Arbor Café: 7975 Spring Arbor Road in Spring ArborResidents can also meet with Rep. Poleski during office hours every Thursday this month, beginning July 14, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Jackson County Towers located at 120 W. Michigan Ave. in Jackson.No appointments are necessary. Residents who are unable to attend, but would still like to voice a question or idea, should contact Rep. Poleski’s office by phone at (517) 373-1795 or by email at EarlPoleski@house.mi.gov.###
02Oct Rep. Farrington bill improves protection of vulnerable adults Categories: Diana Farrington News,News State Rep. Diana Farrington has sponsored legislation to protect vulnerable adults from abuse or restraint by physical, verbal, mental or financial means.“The only thing more despicable than the abuse of an elder or vulnerable adult is that this kind of illegal behavior is growing rapidly in Michigan,” said Farrington, of Utica. “Ensuring our laws protect and provide justice for the victims of these kind of crimes is a priority that we should all share, regardless of it being fraud or physical abuse. The effects of this abuse is more significant to our senior citizens, so the penalties under the law should better reflect the severity.”Farrington’s legislation also updates the sentencing guidelines that range from one year imprisonment for assault on a person reasonably known to be an elder or vulnerable adult, to 25 years for abuse that results in death. Any restraint or intimidation can be punishable by up to four years imprisonment.“We have to better protect our veterans and seniors from this kind of behavior,” said Farrington. “Vulnerable adults rely on friends, families and caregivers to help make them comfortable, not to take advantage and destroy their quality of life. This legislation will send a clear message that anyone who violates that trust and expectation of care will be penalized.”Farrington’s legislation is part of a bipartisan six-bill package that also requires better licensing for nursing home administrators and assisted living facilities to clarify training and state standards in the care of vulnerable adults. The bill package also increases penalties up to a 20-year felony for embezzlement of more than $100,000 as well as 15-year felony for physical abuse that results in a serious impairment.Farrington’s legislation is House Bill 5028 and it has been assigned for the House Law and Justice Committee for its consideration.#####
18Dec Rep. Runestad announces grant opportunities for Oakland County Fair Categories: Runestad News Rep. Jim Runestad today announced two grant opportunities provided by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for the improvement of fairground facilities and financial support for livestock expositions at the Oakland County Fair next summer.“These grants are a great opportunity to preserve and enhance such a cherished local tradition like the Oakland County Fair” Runestad said. “Farmers, families and visitors to our communities next summer would benefit from the continued investment in our county’s annual fair.”MDARD’s capital improvement program aims to provide additional funds to county fair officials for needed structural improvements to fairground facilities. The shows and expositions grant provides financial support and awards for expositions livestock and other commodities. Eligible applicants must submit their proposals to MDARD by Feb. 1, 2018 at 5 p.m., where all grants will be reviewed and selected by an evaluation committee.
Categories: Barrett News,News 07Mar House OKs Barrett bill supporting veterans clubs, fraternal organizations The Michigan House today unanimously approved legislation introduced by state Rep. Tom Barrett allowing members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other groups to buy alcohol in any affiliated out-of-town club, not just their home club.Barrett, of Charlotte, said the bill is needed because of a recent interpretation of law by the Liquor Control Commission that forbade members of a national veterans club or other organization such as the Eagles or Elk to purchase alcohol at a clubhouse other than their own.“This made a time-honored tradition illegal,” Barrett said. “For decades, private clubs and fraternal organizations have allowed members to purchase alcoholic beverages while visiting a neighboring club. I heard from veterans and members of organizations who were enraged by the ruling, saying it would end decades of tradition and could threaten the liquor licenses of clubs across the state.”Barrett, an Iraq War veteran who still serves part time in the Army, said the bill is a common-sense solution to a problem that should have never occurred.“With all the sacrifices veterans have made and all the community service that fraternal organizations provide, the least we can do is guarantee they can enjoy a toast with their fellow club members across the state,” Barrett said.The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.#####The legislation is House Bill 5260.
Measure renames a portion of highway M-53 in Macomb County PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Peter Lucido (right) and state Rep. Jeff Yaroch (second from right) talk with Terri and Richard Freiwald, parents of U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Freiwald, before a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. Rep. Yaroch introduced legislation, supported by Representative Lucido, to honor Jason Freiwald, a highly decorated Navy SEAL, by renaming a portion of M-53 in Macomb County. The signage will be displayed between 31 Mile Road and 32 Mile Road. Categories: Lucido News,News 03Oct Rep. Lucido supports Rep. Yaroch’s plan honoring fallen U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Freiwald
State Rep. Sarah Lightner announced today her next round of district office hours to meet with local residents of the 65th District.“Accessibility is important to me as your voice in Lansing,” Rep. Lightner said. “I believe in leading by listening, and these are great opportunities to hear directly from you. I hope you will join me and share your thoughts on the issues you care about most.”Office hours are scheduled for the following times and locations:Monday, April 8 from 12 to 1 p.m. at Columbia Township Hall, 8500 Jefferson Road in Brooklyn;Friday, April 12 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at T&D Coney Grill, 209 S. Main St. in Eaton Rapids;Friday, April 19 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Shugar Creek Restaurants, 106 S. Main St. in Onsted;Friday, April 26 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Bob Evans, 1725 N. West Ave. in Jackson; andFriday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Waterloo Township Hall, 9773 Mt. Hope Road in Munith.No appointment is necessary. Residents unable to attend may contact Rep. Lightner’s office by calling (517) 373-1775 or by email at SarahLightner@house.mi.gov. 26Mar Rep. Lightner schedules local office hours Categories: Lightner News
ShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesJune 30, 2014;DevExInternational volunteering can be a great way to experience the world, build skills, and advance your career. And it is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, as a recent article described, the number of ways a person can volunteer abroad has increased over the years.The opportunities range in length from several days to several years. Some are fee-for-service, where volunteers pay for the experience. Others are free or offer volunteers a modest stipend to cover living expenses. For information about specific opportunities, check out this slide show by DevEx: 10 no-fee volunteer programs to kickstart your development career from DevexHowever, both potential volunteers and participating nonprofits must take into account the significant challenges inherent to international volunteering. In a widely circulated Huffington Post blog post, Pippa Biddle wrote about her experience with the problems of “voluntourism.” She recalls her first trip oversees during high school where, “$3,000 bought us a week in an orphanage, a half-built library, and a few pickup soccer games, followed by a weeklong safari.” She then goes on to describe how her group of “highly educated private boarding students” made such poor bricklayers that, each night, locals would take down their day’s work and rebuild it properly. She now believes it would “have been more cost-effective, stimulative of the local economy, and efficient for the orphanage to take our money and hire locals to do the work.”Naturally, there are also plenty of times when international volunteering bolsters the local economy. For example, Peace Corps Volunteers typically spend at least two years living in a community, building relationships and doing work requested by the community, such as building latrines, training local entrepreneurs, or teaching sustainable agriculture techniques. This, one would hope, would be an example of the volunteer giving as much as receiving.But, as with any situation where one person or group holds significantly more power than another, it is important to proceed with caution. In such circumstances, it is wise to understand both your personal motives and what you bring to the table. Unfortunately, such self-reflection is often easier done in hindsight. Jessica Alexander’s 2013 memoir Chasing Chaos is an intriguing, brave look at her understanding of her own changing motivations during the decade she spent in international humanitarian aid. It’s a worthy read for any would-be volunteer.Global Citizen recently posted a decision tree infographic to help would-be volunteers match their motives and skill sets with types of opportunities. They encourage people to ask key questions such as whether they have skills that are transferable and in demand in the host country, whether they already have strong connections to the community, and if they have local language skills and/or a desire to stay and learn the local language. This tree then leads the user to suggestions about whether it is more appropriate to do an immersion/study trip, an in-and-out trip, or a short- or long-term placement.There are many ways to ensure international volunteering benefits the volunteer, the nonprofit, and the host community or country. When thoughtfully performed, international volunteering can strengthen and even transform all parties involved. What extraordinary examples have you seen?—Jennifer Amanda JonesShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share38TweetShareEmail38 SharesAugust 20, 2015; Washington PostFiscal conservatives, who often include assisted housing among the benefits of an entitlement culture, were joined by mainstream journalists in outrage over the finding of a new report by the HUD Inspector General that 2.6 percent of households living in public housing were earning more than permitted by HUD rules. Even the Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary proclaimed, “No excuse for high-income families in subsidized low-income housing.” The story has echoes of the “welfare queens” of an earlier era and reinforces the notion that the U.S. has become a welfare state of entitlements. In the case of housing, nothing could be further from the truth.Here’s why Michelle and others are wrong. As the Washington Post’s editorial board reveals, the real scandal is that so many households that are eligible for housing assistance are not served by any Federal program. “Affordable housing programs need more money to revamp old units, build new ones for mixed-income use and provide vouchers generous enough to get people out of bad neighborhoods and into better ones. Otherwise, wait lists will not go down, and those on them will have no chance to make their way up.” The fact is that scarcity of assisted housing, not low rents, keeps families clinging to these units.A new study, highlighted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finds:While 61.8 percent of adults experience at least one year of poverty, 45 percent experience it for two or more years, 24.9 percent for five or more years, and 11.9 percent for ten or more years. These years, however, are not necessarily consecutive. People tend to fluctuate in and out of poverty. Only 5.6 percent of the population experience ten consecutive years in poverty.Given the cyclical nature of household poverty, is it irrational for a family to hang on to the safety net of assisted housing when so many households are on waiting lists for this same scarce resource? In my experience in Ohio, I know of at least two cases where elderly women struggled to resist pressure to move to smaller units. Their subsidized units were hedges against hard times. Their reality was that circumstances periodically brought their children’s families “back home” in times of economic distress like illness, unemployment, or domestic breakup.The reality of assisted housing is that less than 25 percent of households that are eligible for housing assistance are served by a federal program. That’s hardly an “entitlement,” especially if you have to win a lottery against other low-income households just to get on the waiting list! The problem grows worse, year by year. For instance, this year’s House and Senate appropriations bills will not provide enough funding to renew all of the HUD contracts with private owners of Federally assisted properties. The cuts can only be “fixed” if Congress and the White House agree to lift the sequestration caps which were enacted in 2011 during the last grand bargain on the budget.The fact that housing assistance is not an entitlement creates a Social Darwinian environment of scarce resources, in response to which low-income households have evolved survival strategies to hang on to their units. One would think that Ms. Singletary, an ardent advocate for household financial management, would get it. To her credit, she does acknowledge that the shortage of housing assistance creates this scarcity, but that concession is buried way below the “no excuse” headline. The average reader, like the suburban commuter who looks down from the freeway, sees at a sprawling “brick city” full of African Americans on welfare. Here are some facts about assisted housing residents that are often overlooked by critics of housing “entitlements.” Seventy-three percent non-elderly, non-disabled HUD-assisted households are working or subject to work requirements. What kind of entitlement is that?Each generation since 1935 has provided some form of rental assistance, ranging from government owned and managed public housing in the ’30s through the ’60s, to privately owned, federally assisted housing in the ’70s–’90s, to housing choice vouchers from the ’80s to the present. None of these programs ever goes away, but funding for older programs tends to erode over time. In 2013, NPQ contributor Rob Meiksins provided an overview of affordable housing experts in an article entitled “Debate: How to Increase the Stock of Affordable Housing.” Two items, mentioned in that overview, are now “hot topics” among policy makers:After long delays, the National Housing Trust Fund might go into action next year to provide capital grants and loans for the development of housing targeted to very low-income households. Might, that is, if Congress doesn’t block or divert the funds. Today’s new hot new strategy is a revival of the 1970s strategy of “linkage.”At the same time, local governments are requiring developers to create a certain number of affordable units, either as a part of their own developments (affordable and economically integrated) or in developments elsewhere in the jurisdiction. (See “Rich Door/Poor Door Affordable Housing Controversy in New York City.”)Still, the issue comes back to housing as an entitlement. Much of the complexity of managing subsidy programs among departments (HUD, IRS, USDA) and overlapping jurisdictions (federal, state, city, county, local “authorities”) could be eliminated by making safe and decent housing a real needs-tested entitlement, like food stamps or the earned income tax credit. Then, hanging on to a subsidized unit because of the uncertainty of the economy would be unnecessary.—Spencer WellsShare38TweetShareEmail38 Shares
Swisscom is planning to offer its IPTV service in neighbouring Germany on a wholesale basis.The Swiss telco will offer its platform to German municipal utilities that provide internet services and to local cable operators, according to IPTV product manager Klaus Pilz.Pilz told the Infosat website that Swisscom would target small ISPs that until now did not have a TV service as part of their portfolio.
Cloud based TV software company Kit Digital and content identification technology provider Civolution have jointly developed a solution that brings second-screen interactivity to consumers with non-connected TV sets.Kit Digital has integrated Civolution’s automatic content recognition technology, SyncNow, into its Cosmos video management software. Cosmos supports live and on-demand video delivery and second screen interactive experiences. Civolution’s digital watermarking and fingerprinting technologies enable real-time synchronisation of a broadcast video stream with an interactive application on a companion device, even in the absence of an internet connected TV, and whether the video content is being watched live or on-demand.“Second screen applications that actively synch with the content on the main screen deliver better targeted and more timely companion experiences, justifying higher channel advertising spend and consumer subscription fees,” said Laura Kaatz, managing director of global commercial operations at Kit Digital. “Our joint solution opens up a new market for media and entertainment companies, supporting higher ad and subscription revenues without the need for their viewers to invest in new infrastructure. Both Civolution and Kit Digital’s sales teams can sell the solution together, in a teaming model, as we do successfully with other partners in our Partner Ecosystem.”
Global pay TV revenues will reach US$200 billion (€163 billion) in 2017, an increase of US$23 billion on the 2011 figure, according to forecasts from Digital TV Research.The expected growth of 13.5% masks an expected fall in North America and growth of only 3.5% in western Europe. Growth will be driven primarily by Latin America, eastern Europe and the Asia Pacific region, according to the report.The Digital TV World Revenue Forecasts report predicts that DTH revenues will overtake cable in 2015 and will reach US$91 billion in 2017, driven by growth in Brazil and the continued strength of the US market. However, report author Simon Murray says that while Brazilian DTH will nearly double its revenues between now and 2017, some 17 countries will see declines in DTH revenues due to price competition.Murray predicts that cable TV revenues will slide from 2014, and will fall by US$3.2 billion between 2011 and 2017 to US$85 billion. Cable operators’ overall revenues will grow however, as they increasingly sell bundles of TV with internet access and telephony. Digital cable TV revenues will also grow by a predicted 32% to US$81 billion by 2017, according to the report, driven by China and Japan.
TF1 aims to retain a 49% stake in Eurosport and, thanks to its new partnership with Discovery, extend the reach of the sports channel to new territories, according to the French commercial broadcaster’s CEO, Nonce Paolini,In an interview with Le Figaro newspaper, Paolini said that Discovery’s expertise in tapping local advertising markets would enable the channel to grow its overall revenue by extending from its current pan-European advertising. It would also enable TF1 to expand the distribution of its channels internationally, he said. Discovery last month agreed to take a 20% stake in the sports channel, with the option to increase this to 51%, with TF1 retaining the option to sell the remaining 49%.Paolini also took the opportunity to reiterate his earlier criticism of the conditions under which Canal Plus was allowed to acquire Bolloré channels Direct 8 and Direct Star and said that the France’s regulatory regime was out of date.Paolini said that 2013 would be a year of consolidating its achievements of 2012 and of new developments to reinforce the position of TF1, TMC, NT1 and HD1.
The UK version of Disney’s preschool channel Disney Junior has launched in high definition.Disney has already rolled out HD versions of its core Disney Channel and boy-skewed Disney XD in high definition in the UK making Junior its third kid-focused HD channel.The new service will be carried exclusively on DTH platform BSkyB. Disney and Sky recently renewed a longstanding programming and channels deal, which included the launch of a new joint venture service Sky Movies Disney.Disney announced the new Junior launch alongside ratings for some of its new shows on the channel.It said that Henry Hugglemonster delivered over 620,000 viewers through launch weekend and Disney princess animated series Sofia the First was its most popular launch ever.Boel Ferguson, VP and general manager, Disney Channels and Disney Online, UK & Ireland, said: “Disney Junior is the entry point to all things Disney and with the company’s continuous focus on quality, our audiences first experience of the brand should be in HD, the ultimate standard for broadcasting.”
OTT is now a key area of focus for broadcast companies as the pace of changing consumer habits accelerates, according to a new report by Ooyala.According to the Telstra-owned video platform provider’s State of the Broadcast Industry 2016 report, OTT is now “centre stage”, with just 45% of adult viewers tuning into traditional scheduled TV. However the how viewers choose to watch depends to a significant extent on where they live, with SVoD growth dependent on a range of local factors, including the availability of broadband infrastructure, maturity of the market and piracy.According to Ooyala, 30% of North American smartphone owners now watch full-length TV shows on their smartphones, and 20% watch full-length movies, with growth driven by the availability of content and the growing size of screens.Other global regions are also on par with those figures. Mobile apps, with their stronger user experience, are now preferred over mobile browsers, according to the company.Millennials now account for the largest segment of US viewers, at 75 million, larger than the population of ‘baby boomers’.Millennials showed a 16% decrease in traditional TV viewing. Ooyala cites studies that have shown that Millennials increasingly prefer time-shifted TV on online platforms and that a quarter of childless millennials in the US do not have cable.Among the 16 million US homes without pay TV, 45% now also view old-fashioned over-the-air TV for a proportion of their viewing, reversing the long-term trend in the US away from this platform.TV Everywhere has failed to arrest cord-cutting in the US, where the first quarter sa a net loss in subscribers for the first time.In response to the shift, broadcasters and pay TV companies are addressing online initiatives more and more, according to Ooyala, citing research that indicates that 15-20 new niches services will emerge in by 2018 to eat into Netflix’s share of the premium market, which is expected to grow to US$8-10 billion by that date.Broadband growth continues to provide a bright spot for multiplay providers, with cable operators controlling 60% of the US broadband market.Other trends identified by Ooyala include growth in streaming to larger TV screens and changes in the way content is makde to target multiple platforms.The shift in viewing habits is also driving a shift in advertising, with US digital ad spend set to exceed TV spend this year, driven by the emergence of new measurement tools like Comscore’s Xmedia and Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement.
Content specifically tailored to mobile consumption is coming of age and there is a gap in the market for high-end drama specifically tailored to mobile consumption according to Vivendi SVP of business development Hala Baviere.Vivendi has been a leading exponent of creating content specifically for mobile distribution through its creation of Studio+, a dedicated unit set up to produce short-form series for mobile.Taking part in a panel session on mobile content at Cable Congress, Baviere said that the idea behind Studio+ came from the fact that “it fulfills the expectations of a generation on the move”. She said that research showed more and more Millennials are watching short-form video on their mobiles, but are also interested in the type of high-end drama currently only available on TV. “They are increasingly fans of high-value scripted drama, and there is none in short format so we decided to fill that gap.”Each season created by Studio+ comprises 10 episodes of 10 minutes in length. The shows are created with mobile viewing in mind, using narrow angles, high-intensity screenplays and cover multiple genres that are “compelling to this new generation”, she said.Baviere said the cost of high-quality drama was high. However, she said that the content appealed to all age segments, not just Millennials. “It is not just about digital natives versus the rest,” she said.Baviere said that Vivendi wanted to create “powerful unexpected stories with global relevance” that would appeal to Brazilian as much as US audiences. “We focused on drama, action, thrillers and romance and left out comedy because we believe comedy travels very poorly,” she said.Baviere said that producing high-value content meant that there is a need to seek multiple ways to make a return.“A direct to consumer proposition helps you monetise the content you are producing. If you partner with major telcos that see a host of benefits of including the content in their tariff plan – it all depends on the business model that you have,” she said.Baviere said a range of monetisation models were possible for short-form content – “whatever works best to get this content to a larger audience possible”.
Chilean telecom operator GTD has deployed UK set-top and TV software specialist Amino’s Enable virtual set-top box software platform, enabling it to upgrade its set-tops and provide a unified user interface across its customer base, while extending the lifespan of its legacy devices.Amino said that GTD, having moved to an all IP network, wanted to adapt both its middleware and set-top hardware platforms.However, with an extensive customer base still using legacy boxes, the operator wanted to extend the life of its existing hardware deployments, but also enhance its infrastructure by implementing a more stable middleware platform.Amino worked with GTD to deliver a new user experience to the telco’s legacy boxes while providing the means to bring in new Amino devices.In an interview with DTVE, Amino CEO Donald McGarva said that Enable solved a key problem faced by operators as they sought to upgrade their TV platforms while continuing to use existing legacy set-top boxes.“Broadband is where it is at [in terms of operator margins] but they cannot afford not to be in video. It is how to stay sticky. It is still a necessary part of the mix,” said McGarva.“They don’t however want to invest a lot of capital expenditure to deliver new stuff. The first challenge is how to upgrade the existing platform.”McGarva cited Amino’s deployments with operators including Cincinnati Bell and PCCW – where its software is deployed to Samsung boxes – to highlight how operators could deploy new services from the cloud while continuing to use legacy boxes as they upgraded their client hardware in a step-by-step way.McGarva said that the entire user experience could not be delivered from the cloud. He said that Enable, which involves a software upgrade of legacy boxes, could deliver a subset of advanced services but that operators would continue to require some sort of hardware devices in the home.“Things that require performance locally like the EPG and channel change we would want in the box,” he said.Amino’s Enable middleware is available as a virtual set-top platform as well as powering its View set-top boxes. The company also offers an OTT solution based on its acquisition of Finland’s Booxmedia.Amino also recently launched an Android version of its box, tying in with growing demand for Android TV from operators. According to McGarva’s Amino’s implementation of Android TV enables operators to retain a better degree of control than other implementations.“We allow them to take advantage of Google Play but still have their own content and aggregation features,” he said. “You have search across the whole network but you can also curate in a way that gives your stuff priority. [The platform] will also tell you what is available through YouTube.”McGarva said growing interest in Android TV fitted with a reluctance of operators to invest heavily in their own IPTV platforms. Operators, he said, were interested in offering skinny bundles and third-party services as a way to retain consumer loyalty while focusing most of their own efforts on broadband and mobile services.He said that operators were keen to move to an ‘opex’ model for TV while focusing most of their capex on broadband and 4G mobile services.
Ad verification technology specialist Meetrics and video ad serving platform SpotX have teamed up to provide ad inventory verification and audience behaviour data for video advertisers in Europe and other international markets.The integration makes Meetrics’ data available in SpotX’s platform for publishers to report back to advertisers, increasing the availability of viewability, verification and audience behaviour data. Meetrics, which operates primarily in the German-speaking region, specialises in ad attention measurement by tracking data like viewability, view-time and on-page behaviour, as well as other brand safety, audience and fraud measures.Meetrics will be available as a supplementary option to SpotX’s platform, alongside SpotX’s panel of brand safety providers and proprietary brand safety technology, for publishers to provide extensive insights to their advertising partners.Anant Joshi, commercial director UK and Ireland at Meetrics said: “Both SpotX and Meetrics are market leaders in fraud prevention and inventory verification. We’re pleased to partner with SpotX to provide the market with the newest, most advanced measures for minimising traffic of inferior quality and providing a consistent quality level for all customers.”Nick Frizzell, senior director of brand safety and inventory operations at SpotX said: “SpotX employs a variety of methods and technology to remove low-quality traffic and to ensure buyers are accessing high-quality, brand safe inventory. We provide our clients with an exhaustive, always-updating list of metrics and a controllable system for ensuring inventory quality and brand safety and eliminating fraud. The addition of Meetrics to our panel of brand safety vendors adds another reliable partner and new standards for maximising the data reporting and insights our publisher clients can provide to advertisers.”
Deutsche Telekom-backed Greek telco OTE has struck a deal to sell its entire stake in Telekom Albania to Bulgarian telco Vivacom’s major shareholder and an Albanian-Bulgarian investor partner.OTE will sell its Telekom Albania stake to Albania Telecom Invest AD €50 million. The Bulgarian investment vehicle is controlled by viva com controlling shareholder Spas Roussey and Albanian-Bugarian investor Elvin Guri.The transaction is expected to close in the first half of next year, subject to regulatory approval and financing.“The sale of Telekom Albania concludes the successful investment in Albania for OTE Group. It is a strategic decision, in the context of OTE Group’s redefined priorities and growth plans, in order to create value for all shareholders and support sustainable development,” said OTE’s chairman and CEO, Michael Tsamaz.“I would like to thank Telekom Albania’s management and employees for the company’s accomplishments to date, as well as for their sound cooperation with OTE Group. The acquisition of the company by a strong and entrepreneurial investment group ensures its growth and creates the conditions to further strengthen its market position”.Telekom Albania, originally known as Albanian Mobile Telecommunications, adopted the Telekom brand of its Deutsche Telekom-backed sister companies across Europe in 2015. The telco was originally created as a state-owned mobile operator in 1995. The company entered the fixed-line business in 2011, becoming the second fixed-line operator after Albtelecom.