Costa Rican prosecutors investigate luxury condominium fraud in Central Valley

first_imgRelated posts:Michigan fugitive John Saatio to be extradited Saturday Costa Rican tourism cop locked up and robbed at police station UPDATE: ‘International con artist’ quickly released after arrest in Puerto Viejo on fraud charge Attempted robbery goes awry when burglar gets caught in window The Costa Rican Prosecutor’s Office has opened up an investigation into real estate developer Homes Grupo Inmobiliario after complaints of consumer fraud have surfaced.A press release from the Public Ministry confirmed that prosecutors began the investigation into the real estate company Friday after seeing media reports and receiving personal accusations from clients.The investigation “is based on recent communications and publications made on various national media outlets as well an individual report made by people directly in our offices,” said José Pablo Miranda, who is in charge of fraud cases at the Prosecutor’s Office.Specific complaints regard the following housing projects: Real Garita in Alajuela; Real Boungainvillea in Santo Domingo de Heredia; and Condado del Valle in San Sebastián.Daniel Quesada, a spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office, told The Tico Times in an email that Homes Grupo Inmobilario took deposits for the three development projects from clients looking to reserve a condo. However, after long delays and unfulfilled promises on the part of the company, clients would then make calls and send emails to numbers and addresses that didn’t exist or had been deactivated, the spokesman said.Quesada added that the company was offering clients a discount of up to 20 percent of the property’s value if buyers paid the cost of the property’s premium right away.Would-be homeowners lost as much as $50,000, according to Quesada.The statement from prosecutors urged anyone who has invested with Homes Grupo Inmobilario to fill out a formal complaint with the fraud section of the Prosecutor’s Office, or call the section at 2295-4810.A Feb. 14 article from Spanish-language daily Diario Extra claimed that the company was defrauding its investors by concealing banking info and including unrealistic project completion dates in contracts. The management of Homes Grupo Inmobiliario released a note to clients last week on its Facebook page to address the claims.“All of our projects – contrary to what was indicated today in a nationally circulated news article – do exist and are in process of completing requirements for the corresponding legal institutions,” the memo said. The company’s statement added that it had recently changed offices, and that’s why phone numbers and addresses given to clients appeared to be nonexistent.A YouTube page under the Homes Grupo Inmobiliario name has a handful of videos promoting condominium and model house projects, including the Real Garita and Condado del Valle developments mentioned in the Prosecutor’s Office press release.Luxury homes in Condado del Valle are advertised at a rates starting at $109,900, while Real Garita’s residences are offered at rates starting as $122,700. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Parties wary want answers after Lagarde comments

By Jean ChristouPOLITICAL parties have called on the government to clarify what additional measures IMF chief Christine Lagarde was referring to in an interview she gave to Phileleftheros, published on Sunday.AKEL specifically referred to a question put to Lagarde as to whether Cypriots should expect more taxes and reforms during the duration of the bailout programme over the next two years.Lagarde responded that Cyprus needed to build on the progress and success achieved during the past year. She said bank balance sheets would need to be further strengthened, and the reform of the debt restructuring framework was a key element in this respect.“As agreed in the programme from the start, additional fiscal measures will be needed in the medium-term to bring public spending in line with revenues. This will help to reduce debt and ensure that public finances remain sustainable,” she added.AKEL interpreted this to mean additional revenues through additional taxes. The party said Lagarde had rightly pointed out that unemployment remained a major problem but blamed it on the troika of international lenders, which includes the IMF, for the austerity imposed under the bailout programme, which was “preventing growth”.Socialist EDEK, commenting on the article said Lagarde had failed to acknowledge that the programme had led the economy into deep recession, fuelling unemployment. Party chief Yiannakis Omirou said she had also advised the further trimming of welfare, the acceleration of privatisations, and the facilitating of bankruptcies “essentially pushing us into a medieval society as we slavishly kowtow to the commands of the troika”.He said the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs) needed to be settled in order to give businesses a breather but the “troika recipes” only led to one result: “absolute poverty and absolute social misery”.In the interview Lagarde said that at over 160 per cent of GDP, or half of total bank loans, non-performing loans were a heavy burden on the economy. “As long as banks’ balance sheets are weighed down with these loans, banks cannot concentrate on providing new financing to the economy. And without financing, firms cannot operate, invest, and create new jobs. So dealing with this problem is absolutely essential not just for the banks, but also for firms and workers,” she said.Lagarde said there were a number of tools that could be used.“Ultimately, the resolution of non-performing loans comes down to all parties showing good faith. Borrowers are responsible for making good on their obligations. And lenders need to actively and constructively work with viable borrowers who are in real difficulty to find solutions that make repayment feasible,” she added.Reforms should provide feasible debt repayment solutions for viable borrowers, with the aim of preserving, where possible, the primary residence, said Lagarde. But they also needed to discourage those who can pay from choosing not to do so, “a behaviour that imposes a cost not just on the banks but on everyone”.In general Lagarde said Cyprus should be congratulated for an impressive programme performance. “Without a doubt, it has been a very difficult year, requiring deep sacrifices by society to adjust to new and challenging circumstances. But the determination of the Cypriot people to deal swiftly with the crisis and move forward contributed greatly to Cyprus being now in a much stronger position than a year ago,” the IMF chief said.“Yet, unemployment is too high and there are many hardships. The recession has been less severe than projected, but the recovery will only be gradual. The economy is still weighed down by high debt. There is still a lot of work left to do, and the full and timely implementation of reforms will be essential for the return of growth and jobs to Cyprus.”To ensure growth Cyprus needed to restore the health of the banking system, maintain the health of the public finances and to strengthen institutions to help the public sector meet the needs of the Cypriot people.There was room to improve the administration of social benefits, and the authorities also needed to redouble their efforts to fight tax evasion and ensure that the tax burden is equally shared while she said privatisations could help reduce public debt and attract much needed foreign investment.The IMF expects modest economic growth to resume next year, and then to pick up gradually to reach 2 per cent over the long run, based on stronger tourism and business services.Lagarde said Cyprus should be able to return to capital markets in a sustained manner toward the end of the programme period, provided that market conditions continue to normalise.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementCardiologist: This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Eat GlutenGundry MD PrebioThrive Probiotic SupplementUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola read more

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Rep Afendoulis joined by first responders for Sept 11 ceremony

first_imgPHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Chris Afendoulis, of Grand Rapids, hosted guests Plainfield Township Fire Chief Steve McKellar and Courtland Township Fire Chief Steve Mojzuk for the Michigan House’s annual Sept. 11 Memorial Service at the Capitol. The service remembers first responders and members of the military from Michigan who died in the line of duty in the past year. Categories: Afendoulis News,News 07Sep Rep. Afendoulis joined by first responders for Sept. 11 ceremonylast_img read more

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Rep Bellino votes to empower college students with loan debt

first_img Categories: Bellino News,News 01Dec Rep. Bellino votes to empower college students with loan debt State Rep. Joe Bellino voted this week to require state colleges and universities to provide annual federal student loan updates to help each student better manage their debt.“Student debt is becoming a national crisis, but we have the opportunity to be a standard to better manage and decrease debt,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “Working together will help the students, their families, the schools and the state of Michigan as a whole.”Estimated national student debt has reached $1.4 trillion with average loans at Michigan universities increasing by approximately $10,000 over the past 10 years.  Sixty-three percent of Michigan students graduate carrying debt.The House approved legislation which calls for students to receive:Estimates of monthly repayment amounts, based on current projections.Access to student loan counseling services available through each college.Information on employment opportunities available in a student’s chosen course of study.“This would be a simple process for our students and colleges,” Bellino said. “It’s an update that could be very beneficial in the long run for young professionals because Michigan wants its college graduates to stay here and succeed.”House Bill 5071 advances to the Senate for its consideration.#####last_img read more

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Rep Hank Vaupel Weekly Column May 14 2018

first_img Categories: Vaupel News 14May Rep. Hank Vaupel Weekly Column: May 14, 2018 School safety is of the utmost importance for the wellbeing of our children. This week I was proud to support a new plan to improve school safety across the state.The cornerstone of the plan — approved with overwhelming bipartisan support — establishes a statewide commission to help review and audit security procedures in school buildings. Grants to improve security would be distributed with priority going to schools with the greatest need. Schools would have local liaisons to work with the statewide commission.The plan also makes permanent the OK2SAY school safety program, which allows confidential reporting of tips on potentially harmful or criminal activity directed at students.More details of the plan:Schools would be required to submit incident reports to the statewide school safety commission.New school construction or major renovation projects must include safety features such as reinforced entryways and remote door locks.Consistent, standardized training related to school violence incidents would be required for law enforcement throughout Michigan.***I was happy to participate in an opiate epidemic forum in Howell hosted by Project Opiate and the Big Red Barrel. I spoke about legislation designed to combat the opioid epidemic and address mental health needs. It was a productive event with people and agencies from across the county. Thank you to Livingston County District Court Administrator Francine Zysk for coordinating the event and to all who attended.***I spoke to an advocacy group in Lansing on the importance of children’s mental health awareness. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical in helping children with mental health needs. We must be aware and support efforts to protect the most vulnerable in our community.***Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the Howell Farmer’s Market and see many fantastic local products. The market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday from May to October in downtown Howell, it’s a fun community event that benefits our local businesses. I hope you get a chance to stop by and experience a great local tradition.***In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, I want to recognize all the sacrifices and hard work mothers do throughout the year. Mothers give so much for the wellbeing of their children, and they are steadfast pillars in the community. Livingston County is a better place because of so many great moms. Happy Mother’s Day!***Please join me for my May office hours on Friday, May 18 at the following times and locations:2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Fowlerville Farms, 941 S. Grand Ave. in Fowlerville;4 to 5 p.m. at Biggby Coffee, 11325 W. Highland Road in Hartland; and5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at All Star Coney Island, 934 Michigan Ave. in Howell.I look forward to seeing you and hearing your thoughts!***If you have any ideas, comments or questions for my office, please do not hesitate to call us at 517-373-8835 or send an email to HankVaupel@house.mi.gov. We are happy to hear from you!last_img read more

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Rep Allor invites residents to November office hours

first_img13Nov Rep. Allor invites residents to November office hours Categories: Allor News Wednesday, Nov. 21Cheboygan: 10 to 11 a.m. at Walker Township Hall, 7021 Montgomery Road, in Afton. Tuesday, Nov. 20Alpena: 12 to 1 p.m. at Alpena Community College, Donald Newport Center Room 106, 665 Johnson St., in Alpena. Monday, Nov. 19Presque Isle: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Karsten’s Restaurant, 1072 W. 3rd St., in Rogers City. State Rep. Sue Allor, of Wolverine, today invited people to get their voices heard during office hours this month in Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Iosco and Presque Isle counties.“Office hours are the best way to connect with  people living in northeast Michigan,” Allor said. “I encourage people to attend, share their concerns and ask questions.”The legislator will be available at the following times and locations:Thursday, Nov. 15Alcona: 12 to 1 p.m. at Alcona County Courthouse, Commissioner’s Meeting Room, 106 5th St., in Harrisville; andIosco: 2 to 3 p.m. at Big Boy, 1222 S. U.S. 23, in East Tawas. No appointments are necessary to attend office hours. Those who are unable to attend, but would still like to talk with the representative, may contact her Lansing office at (517) 373-0833 or SueAllor@house.mi.gov.###last_img read more

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What Makes for a Successful Infographic

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares January 29, 2013; Social Media BirdbrainNonprofits are constantly looking for more effective ways to raise awareness about causes, and infographics are valuable online tools for consolidating data and spreading the word. But what really makes an infographic successful?Social Media Birdbrain has highlighted six infographics created by charities that relay information in a helpful and eye-catching manner. Many of these infographics are several years old and out of date, but the post shows the potential that creative infographic designs have in spreading an organization’s message much farther. Several of their examples were:  Movember – Movember is a yearly charity initiative in November that raises money for prostate cancer while celebrating how long and fancifully men can grow their moustaches. The organization has created a handful of very well designed infographics that inform participants about prostate cancer and men’s health while highlighting the campaign’s social media success and throwing in some fun facts about the history of the moustache, too. Although there is a lot of information conveyed here, that information is well organized and isn’t overwhelming.Amnesty International – For their fiftieth anniversary, Amnesty International designed five infographics illustrating the organization’s progress in maternal health, human rights, abolition, and activism through letter writing. Each graphic was designed by Jennifer Bradshaw and depicts the progress the organization has ignited for causes, while also highlighting shocking statistics on the work that still needs to be done—for an example, see the maternal healthcare crisis data.C.A.L.M. – A British charity, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, put together a short and concise graphic highlighting the enormity of suicide across the globe as well as suicide’s predominant impact on males. The infographic is very simple, using only two contrasting colors and large numbers to relay the information.Water Aid – Water Aid put together a very creative and eye-catching graphic to illuminate the global water accessibility problem. The infographic was created for a 2012 World Leaders meeting to bring light to how crucial water sanitation issues are internationally. Water Aid uses a visual pipeline to guide its user throughout the graphic with a flow emulating water, starting with shocking statistics on sanitation and water safety, particularly in Africa, and then ending the pipeline by articulating how small donations can make a big impact: “Access to safe water and sanitation could save up to 4,000 children’s lives every day.”There seems to be an infographic for everything these days, but these are noteworthy examples of how charities can engage their online audience through infographics. Another important step in creating infographics is making sure you are utilizing social media, specifically networks that thrive on images and graphics, such as Pinterest. NPQ would be interested to hear what the sector believes makes an infographic successful.—Aine CreedonShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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How the Lerner Fiasco Camouflages Important IRS Issues

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 13, 2014; PoliticoIt isn’t hard to be exasperated with the never-ending Lois Lerner story. Congressional Republicans like Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Dave Camp (R-MI) have been focused on what Lerner, the former director of tax-exempt organizations at the IRS, knew and didn’t know and how close that information that might creep toward the Obama White House. Congressional Democrats such as Elijah Cummings (D-MD) seem to be at wits’ end with the nearly day-to-day drip of investigations that seem to be focused on minutia rather than the systemic issues revealed by Lerner’s activities.Issa and Cummings frequently face off over these issues with increasing acrimony as the chair and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform, but that is where the problem and the solution ultimately lie: What kind of real governmental reform needs to be pursued to make sure that some remarkably bad procedures that to our minds must have preceded the Tea Party application timetable get rectified?The recent investigations have focused on what could be obtained from Lerner’s emails about what she might have been doing leading up to and during the IRS reviews of the Tea Party-related applications. Unless Politico misreported this situation, apparently Lerner and others had a certain storage capacity for emails on their office computers at the Service. When that storage capacity was reached, according to Politico, staff “had to make room by either deleting emails or archiving them on their personal computers.” Apparently, a critical swath of emails to and from Lerner were lost due to a hard drive crash on her personal computer.Take a look at that paragraph again. If your inbox at the IRS reached its limit, you might have been allowed to move work-related emails from the office computer to your personal laptop. Some of the emails might have been conversations about lunch dates at McCormick and Schmick’s on K Street or who had tickets that evening for a baseball game at Nationals Park, but among them might have been important information about taxpayers, individual or institutional. Who was assigned to sift through to determine whether those personal emails could or should be moved to an employee’s personal computer? How could a tax agency allow office emails to be essentially downloaded to one’s personal computer?Our sources tell us that the office inbox limit has never been clear. Politico says that the IRS told Congress that IRS computers had an email limit of around 1,800 prior to July 2011, but now can hold about 6,000. That’s irrelevant. To allow official tax conversations conducted on email to be transferred to personal computers is a very dubious policy. Again, our sources tell us that if that policy was allowed—and they didn’t know that it was—they would never have done it, because of the confidentiality of the information involved.We’ll guess that most of Lerner’s emails could be recovered through recipients’ sources or even from the crashed hard drive. [As this writer discovered in a complete, virus-induced hard drive crash, there are ways of recovering what might seem to be lost and destroyed emails]. But transferring tax-related emails to one’s personal computers is as questionable a policy as one can imagine, if one considers it a policy at all as opposed to simply an unexamined, surprisingly lax administrative practice. After all of the Lerner issues, perhaps Issa and Cummings might undertake the review of IRS procedures—revealed by the Lerner controversy, but raising fundamental questions of the management of the Service—to make sure that it operates as a tax agency should.We hear that people in the Service are tired of the Lerner investigation because it focuses on the search for political scandal as opposed to what should be done—correcting the way the IRS operates and funding it so that it has the resources, human and otherwise, to do the jobs it has been assigned to do.Remember further that both the Lerner issue and the recent proposed IRS regulations on political activities involve questions of the nation’s tax agency dealing with non-tax issues, questions of the definitions and limits of political behavior rather than the administration of tax law. Disliked by many because it is the agency of tax collectors, somehow the IRS is in the position of being the arbiter of political behavior, as in the 501(c)(4) reviews, and more recently now the implementer or arbiter of a number of provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the standards of Community Health Needs Assessments mandated for charitable hospitals. If Issa’s committee were functioning as something other than a political attack dog, it would be examining what has happened to the IRS over the years, including functions that may have ended in the Service’s lap for reasons of expediency or politics that simply distract the IRS from what it should be doing.It’s time for nonprofit leaders to demand something more important from Congress than a judgment on Lerner. It’s time for Congress—the House Committee led by Issa and its Senate counterpart, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, led by Senator Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)—to examine how the IRS functions vis-à-vis nonprofit organizations and other aspects of critical oversight, how it has apparently functioned for years, what should be on its plate and what shouldn’t be, and how to make the IRS—and for us, its roles in oversight of tax exempt organizations—function better, appropriately, and competently.—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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Remembering Ron Dellums Pioneering Civil Rights Activist and Congressman 19352018

first_imgShare34TweetShareEmail34 SharesBy vonguard from Oakland, Nmibia (Mayor Ron Dellums (Ronnie D)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia CommonsJuly 31, 2018; San Francisco ChronicleBack in 1970, 48 years before Bronx-based Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez successfully ran as a democratic socialist and defeated an entrenched Democratic congressman, another democratic socialist pulled off the same feat. His name was Ron Dellums.Dellums, an anti-war candidate, unseated six-term liberal incumbent Jeffery Cohelan in 1970 and went on to serve in Congress for 27 years. Dellums died of prostate cancer this week at the age of 82.As Rachel Swan recalls in the San Francisco Chronicle, during Dellums’ first run for Congress in 1970, Vice President Spiro Agnew called him “‘an out and out radical’ who needed to be ‘purged from the body politic.’”Dellums replied: “If it’s radical to oppose the insanity and cruelty of the Vietnam War, if it’s radical to oppose racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, if it’s radical to want to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, and other forms of human misery, then I’m proud to be called a radical.”Dellums was born in 1935 and, as Swan notes, was “raised in 1940s-era West Oakland, at that time a predominantly Black district that teemed with barbershops, nightclubs, restaurants and stores.” Representative Barbara Lee, who filled the seat Dellums vacated two decades ago, called him a strong supporter of the leading social movements of his day—notably, the Berkeley free-speech movement, the Black Panther Party, and the antiwar movement.Dellums served 13 consecutive terms in Congress. He chaired both “the House Committee on the District of Columbia—on which he successfully pushed for funding to combat infant mortality and develop affordable housing—and the Armed Services Committee, on which he led the fight to severely curtail production of B-2 bomber planes,” writes Swan. Dellums was also a cofounder of the Congressional Black Caucus; at the time, there were 13 Black representatives in Congress (compared to 48 today).Dellums had to struggle to get that Armed Services Committee assignment. Because of his anti-war views, he felt that being on a committee where he could advocate for demilitarization was vital to advancing his goals. As T. R. Goldman writes in the  Post, initially, the leadership opposed his committee seat because of those same views, saying he was “not the African American they had in mind.”Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio), who chaired the inaugural Congressional Black Caucus, was outraged: “I dropped my lunch right then and there and went over to where the committee was meeting. I reminded [then-Speaker] Carl Albert that white people don’t tell Black people who their leaders are.” Albert relented, and Dellums became the first person to serve on the committee. In 1993, Dellums also became the first Black to be committee chairperson, a position he held for two years, until the Democrats lost their House majority in the 1994 midterm elections.Perhaps greatest legislative accomplishment, though, was a 1986 bill that he shepherded through Congress, which imposed comprehensive economic sanctions on South Africa to protest its apartheid regime. Passage of the law, which required overriding President Ronald Reagan’s veto, proved to be an important step in the demise of the apartheid regime, which finally fell in the early 1990s.In 1976, in an interview with John Judis for the very first issue of the Chicago-based publication In These Times, Dellums laid out his political philosophy:People have asked, does that mean you are a socialist? Because I advocate society and the government dealing with the basic human services I guess my answer is yes. The government ought to be in the business of delivering health, education, housing and basic services to people without a lot of game playing. There ought to be comprehensive childcare, a comprehensive approach to housing, a sane, rational way to finance education. But I also strongly believe in the notion of fundamental individual freedom. The government should not do everything for everybody all the time, but it should provide basic services to everyone who needs them. Education ought not be contingent on income or where you live. Neither should health.After leaving Congress in 1998, Dellums faded from the national scene, but remained active in politics, including serving as mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011. In 2016, he helped establish a nonprofit, the Dellums Institute for Social Justice, to support leadership development for youth working on social justice issues. Two years ago, writing in Mic shortly after the founding of his eponymous institute, Dellums called on youth “to rise up and take on the responsibility of changing America with the love, compassion and great intelligence your generation has.”—Steve DubbShare34TweetShareEmail34 Shareslast_img read more

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LG Smart TV Some 63 of broadband households in th

first_imgLG Smart TVSome 63% of broadband households in the US have at least one TV set that is connected to the internet, according to new research by The Diffusion Group (TDG). The research firm claims that the January 2014 figure compares to a web-connected TV penetration rate of 53% at the beginning of 2013, and includes smart TVs and sets that are connected via devices such as games consoles or streaming dongles.“Though broadband diffusion may be slowing as the market matures, the expansion of broadband-connected TVs continues at rapid clip, up 19% in the last year,” said TDG president and director of research Michael Greeson.Among homes that do have a web-connected TV, some 42% said they have two or more sets configured this way, meaning a large portion of users own multiple net-connected TVs.“Whether net-to-TV video will somehow topple traditional pay-TV service models has been a red herring from the beginning. The real debate is the extent to which the growing availability and expanding use of ‘OTT TV’ services will have on the time viewers spend watching traditional pay-TV given the growing array of sources at their disposal,” said Greeson.“While not a simple a zero-sum game, we are nearing or at that breaking point where the growing use of broadband-based sources simply chips away at time once spent using traditional sources. This is hardly a radical argument, and made all the more inevitable given these new findings.”last_img read more

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Cologne city carrier NetCologne has launched a fre

first_imgCologne city carrier NetCologne has launched a free public WiFi network in the German city. The Hotspot.Koeln network is currently available in a number of locations in the central part of the city, with plans to extend to other areas.NetCologne has worked with the Cologne city authorities to develop the network, which is currently available in Willy-Brandt-Platz, the Alter Markt, Heinrich-Böll Platz, Roncalliplatz, Ottoplatz and four other locations.Users can register and receive one hour of free WiFi access, after which they can log in a again to continue to use the service.NetCologne plans to extend the network in an area stretching from the Domumgebung to the Heumarkt and from Altstadt Ufer to the Rheinauhafen and Rheinboulevard.last_img read more

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US cable and telecom operators have responded angr

first_imgUS cable and telecom operators have responded angrily to President Barack Obama’s call for the strongest form of net neutrality and the implementation of new regulations to ensure that all internet traffic should be given equal treatment. Obama has called for a reclassification of broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the country’s Telecommunications Act, giving the FCC greater power to regulate them.The decision on how to classify service providers is left to the FCC itself, but Obama’s call  for a tightening of net neutrality protections comes after intense public pressure for more regulation in this area.Comcast executive vice-president and chief diversity officer in open internet, David Cohen, said that “Comcast fully embraces the open internet principles that the President and the Chairman of the FCC have espoused – transparency, no blocking, non-discrimination rules, and no ‘fast lanes’, which is the way we operate our network today”.Cohen said that Comcast, other cable companies and telcos had “led the broadband revolution”, which in large part had “only happened because we were not subject to the intrusive regulatory regime designed for a different era”.“To attempt to impose a full-blown Title II regime now, when the classification of cable broadband has always been as an information service, would reverse nearly a decade of precedent, including findings by the Supreme Court that this classification was proper.  This would be a radical reversal that would harm investment and innovation, as today’s immediate stock market reaction demonstrates.  And such a radical reversal of consistent contrary precedent should be taken up by the Congress,” he said.Comcast’s sentiments were echoed by other service providers, including AT&T, whose senior executive vice-president, for external and legislative affairs, Jim Cicconi, said that the White House announcement, if acted upon by the FCC, “would be a mistake that will do tremendous harm to the Internet and to US national interests”.“It is a complete reversal of a bipartisan policy that has been in place since the Clinton Administration – namely, to treat Internet access as an information service subject to light-touch regulation,” said Cicconi.“This classification of Internet service has been upheld by the Supreme Court and has enjoyed strong Congressional support for nearly a generation.  Now, with one statement, the White House is telling the FCC to ignore this precedent and to instead impose on the entire Internet – from end to end – onerous government regulation designed in the 1930s for a Bell phone monopoly that no longer exists, not for a 21st century technology.  This will have a negative impact not only on investment and innovation, but also on our economy overall.”Cicconi said AT&T would “expect to participate in a legal challenge” if the president’s call is acted up by the FCC and, like Cohen, said that such a decision should be the responsibility of – now Republican-controlled – Congress rather than the regulator. Senate leader-in-waiting Mitch McConnell  has already said that the FCC should reject Obama’s recommendation.FCC chairman Tom Wheeler described Obama’s statement as “an important and welcome addition to the record” on open internet and agreed that “both oppose internet fast lanes”.Wheeler said that a compromise ‘hybrid’ solution, enabling operators to charge for access to ‘fast lanes’ for some services, raised “substantive legal questions” that would require substantial work if a legally watertight solution is to be found. A hybrid solution could theoretically combine a Title II reclassification with the use of Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which empowers the FCC to enact measures that encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure.Last month Wheeler called for OTT service providers to be reclassified as multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD), the current classification for cable and telco providers, making the term platform-neutral.If the FCC acts on Obama’s call, Congressional room for manoeuvre could be limited, as any action it takes could be vetoed by the president.Obama’s move is seen as aligning him with advocates of net neutrality including large internet companies like Google, and OTT providers, and against cable and telecom service providers.last_img read more

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Satellite continues to demonstrate its relevance a

first_imgSatellite continues to demonstrate its relevance as a channels distribution technology with robust growth both in DTH homes and those receiving signals indirectly through cable or IPTV, according to Eutelsat’s latest research.The Eutelsat TV Observatory has calculated that the overall satellite market in the countries it surveys across its footprint in the Europe, North Africa and the Middle East stands at 274 million homes, either receiving DTH signals or receiving satellite signals indirectly via cable or IPTV networks.This represents growth of 32% since Eutelsat’s last survey in 2010, which Eutelsat’s director of commercial development and marketing Markus Fritz said was faster than growth in the overall market. “Our market share has increased. The growth is mostly from organic DTH,” said Fritz on a call to discuss the findings of the survey.All eight neighbourhoods continue to experience audience growth. Eutelsat’s established Hot Bird neighbourhood at 13° East leads with 138 million DTH, cable and IP homes, up from 122 million in 2010. Eutelsat’s largest audience is still within the Hot Bird footprint, serving 49% of the overall audience.The fastest growth was recorded by the Eutelsat 9A satellite whose audience, principally concentrated in western Europe, has risen from five million to 14 million, attracting nine million new cable and DTH homes since 2010. Fritz said that growth at the 9° East position was driven by increased cable reach as well as DTH.The other key hot spot is the 7-8° West position Eutelsat shares with Nilesat that serves the Middle East and North Africa, where the audience across the countries measured increased from 27 million to 52 million between 2010-14 – in part due to the addition of five countries to the survey, but with like-for-like growth of between 28-30%, according to the company. There are currently about 1,000 channels broadcasting from the position.DTH accounts for 160 million homes, up 45% on the 2010 figure, with its market share growing from 53% to 58%.In western Europe, DTH accounts for 58 million homes, up 7% on 2010. This compares with 48 million primary DTT homes, up from 44 million, and 44 million cable homes, down from 50 million. IPTV has experienced the strongest growth of any distribution technology, growing from 10 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2014, including 15 million in France.In western Europe, satellite’s overall growth was 7.3% faster than growth of the overall market which grew by 1.7%. Fritz said that while cable has declined in some markets, satellite has benefited from IPTV’s growth as well as from increased DTH reception, as it feeds channels to IPTV networks. The DTH audience had also likely captured additional customers as a result of digital switchover, which had also benefited IPTV providers but had failed to prevent a decline in cable customers. Fritz said that “more choice and better quality” amongst satellite channels had benefited the platform, with satellite’s lead in HD playing in its favour.The profile of satellite households in western Europe has also moved slightly in favour of pay TV in the last four years, with pay now accounting for 51% of homes, against 48% in 2010.Eutelsat has strengthened its position in markets including Italy, Poland and the Middle East. “Our audience share has grown nicely,” said Fritz.“We are committed to further investments to fuel our leading hotspots,” said Fritz highlighting 7/8°. Nine degrees East will also be grown via dual LNB receivers that can receive channels from the Hot Bird position, he said.Eutelsat’s survey did not include its homes in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America.last_img read more

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Russian broadcaster CTC Media has launched a dedic

first_imgRussian broadcaster CTC Media has launched a dedicated second-screen app that uses audio synchronisation to provide additional services related to broadcast shows on tablets and smartphones.The company had previously experimented with second-screen technology by launching an app for its Molodezhka TV series in autumn 2014, which was downloaded over one million times in the course of the show’s run.According to CTC, the series increased its average viewing time among the public from 10 minutes to 30 minutes over the course of the season, and the app content had over 1.5 million shares on social networks. It also helped deliver a 40% lift in mobile views over the course of the season.CTC will now extend the experiment to cover its entire programme schedule, offering a chat capability to all viewers and the ability for app users to subscribe to schedule notifications.Viewers can also use the app to build long-term storyline forecasts and test during episodes of shows, as well as receive additional information about upcoming shows.“The launch of the first Second Screen app for Molodezhka was a success, and the app was very popular among our viewers, making our decision to cover the whole programming schedule of CTC Channel with Second Screen features a no-brainer. Second Screen offers an opportunity to create alternative storylines, shows what happens to the characters beyond the scenes, and does much more. We are expanding the television dimension over all app user,” said Alexey Pivovarov, director of CTC’s transmedia projects department.“We stay put on our strategy to transform CTC Media from a traditional broadcaster into a content holding distributing all our products across all media and platforms where we have our viewers. As a part of this process, we launched Russia’s first mobile satellite app to support the whole programming schedule of our flagship channel in the upcoming season. This launch was the final step to establish CTC Media as a clear technology leader of the market. I am confident that in 2015-2016, our channel-wide second screen will build on success of our pilot app launched last year and exceed its viewership and business achievements,” said Yuliana Slashcheva, CEO of CTC Media.last_img read more

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Television will fall away as the dominant advertis

first_imgTelevision will fall away as the dominant advertising medium in 2018 with the internet becoming the single largest category, according to media buying agency ZenithOptimedia.TV will account for 38% of all ad-spend in 2015, from a 2012 peak of 39.7%, but that will drop to 34.8% by 2018.TV will remain, however, a powerful medium for advertisers, ZenithOptimedia said: “One of the reasons for television’s loss of share is the rapid growth of paid search, which is essentially a direct response channel, while television is the pre -eminent brand awareness channel – and we expect it to remain so for many years to come.”It added: “Television offers unparalleled capacity to build reach, while online video offers pinpoint targeting and personalisation of marketing messages.”Across all categories, ZenithOptimedia noted stable growth is expected through to 2018. Next year will be strong because of the ‘quadrennial’ effect of a US election, summer Olympics and European football championships.Key growth markets are India, Indonesia and the Philippines.last_img read more

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Portugal Telecom has begun extending its fibre net

first_imgPortugal Telecom has begun extending its fibre network to Felgueiras, in the Porto region, with 9,000 homes to be connected.The Altice-owned operator said that the expansion of its network in Felgueiras is part of its plan to pass three million homes with fibre by 2020.The operator said the expansion would enable Felgueiras residents to have access to better TV picture quality, to connect an unlimited number of TVs without the need for additional set-top boxes and to access high-speed broadband services.Portugal Telecom plans to build out 30,000km of fibre over five years, connecting three million homes. The company is deploying the NGPON2 technology developed by Altice Labs in Portugal for its build-out.last_img read more

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French service provider SFR has begun offering a j

first_imgFrench service provider SFR has begun offering a joint sports package with BeIN Sports for €19.99 a month in place of the €24.99 it would cost to subscribe to the services individually. The joint offering gives viewers access to French Ligue 1, Champions League, Europea League English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga and other football tournaments as well as international rugby, tennis and other competitions.The offering combines SFR’s four sport channels with BeIN Sports three flagship sports services, as well as the latter’s seven event-based Sports Max services.The offering is accessible on TV via Chromecast and Airplay, on laptops, via iOS and Android devices, and on the web.Altice-owned SFR initially struck a partnership with BeIN Sports in august last yeaer, offering BeIN’s channels as part of its Box Power TV offering. The move, along with SFR’s launch of its own raft of sports services, established it as a serious competitor to Canal+ in the premium TV arena.Canal+ signed its own non-exclusive deal with BeIN Sports last summer following rejection by France’s competition watchdog of a plan for an exclusive deal between the pair.last_img read more

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The UK has become a nation of binge viewers but

first_imgThe UK has become “a nation of binge viewers” but there are stark differences between how older and younger people watch TV, according to Ofcom.The UK broadcast regulator’s annual Communications Market Report 2017 claims that 79% of UK adults, some 40 million people, now use catch-up services like the BBC iPlayer, or subscription services like Netflix, to watch multiple episodes of a series in one sitting.Bingeing was found to be most popular among young people, with some 53% of 12-15 year-olds viewing in this way on a weekly basis, compared to just 16% of people aged over 65.Ofcom said that time spent watching broadcast TV continued to decline in 2016, though to a lesser extent than in previous years. Viewers spent an average of 3 hours 32 minutes a day watching broadcast television on TV sets in 2016, down just four minutes compared to 2015.However, within this there is a “widening gap” between the viewing activities of the youngest and oldest audiences, with the steepest decline in broadcast TV viewing found among 4-15 year-olds and 16-24s.Young people aged 16-24 watched an average of 1 hour 54 minutes of broadcast TV a day in 2016, a 41-minute decline compared to 2006. However viewers aged over 64 watched an average of 5 hours 44 minutes a day in 2016, up 50 minutes over the same 10-year period.Overall, 76% of people aged 16-24 were found to use a subscription streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime, compared to 19% of people aged over 65.Among all UK adults, the BBC iPlayer was the most popular on-demand service with 63% saying they use it, followed by ITV Hub at 40%, YouTube at 38% and Netflix at 31%.“Technology has revolutionised the way we watch TV,” said Ofcom’s consumer group director, Lindsey Fussell. “The days of waiting a week for the next episode are largely gone, with people finding it hard to resist watching multiple episodes around the house or on the move.”“But live television still has a special draw, and the power to bring the whole family together in a common experience.”Ofcom said that the UK’s pay TV platform operators – Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk – generated 46% of total industry revenue last year at £6.4 billion – up 3% year-on-year in real terms.By contrast commercial public service broadcast channels’ revenue has declined at an average rate of 2% per year in real terms and came to £2.4 billion in 2016. Revenue for commercial multi-channels was £2.5bn in 2016, having grown at an average of 5% each year since 2011.On-demand and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV were found to be “mainly complementary” to traditional pay TV platforms with 74% of subscribers to these services also taking a pay TV subscription.Commenting on the research, Stephen van Rooyen, CEO, Sky UK and Ireland, said: “This year we have seen Sky customers binge-watch like never before, including 17m downloads of our record-breaking Sky Original Riviera. There have been almost 40m downloads and streams of Series 1-6 of Game of Thrones across Sky and Now TV in the past three months alone as viewers race through back-to-back box sets”.Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “The findings clearly demonstrate a preference by the British public that’s shifting away from traditional live television. More and more, people are choosing to fire up their favourite shows and watch them back to back rather than just sitting down and ‘seeing what’s on’.”Ofcom’s full Communications Market Report 2017 can be accessed here.last_img read more

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UKbased cable and telecom investor Zegona Communi

first_imgUK-based cable and telecom investor Zegona Communications has displaced Basque Country bank Kutxabank as regional cable operator Euskaltel’s biggest shareholder.Zegona notified the operator and regulator the the Comision Nacional del Mercado de Valores that the 20 per cent. threshold for disclosure of its increased ownership position in Euskaltel was crossed on April 3 and that it now has a 21% stake in the company.Zegona, which became a 15% shareholder in the northern Spanish operator following the sale of its Telecable operation in Asturias,  announced last year that it would acquire additional shares in Euskaltel, which runs networks in the Basque Country, Asturias and Galicia and is expanding into other regions in Spain using Orange’s network, on the open market.The move followed an aborted attempt to acquire an additional 14.9% in Euskaltel through a tender offer.Zegona has set out a plan to change Euskaltel’s management and adopt a more aggressive national expansion strategy than that of the current management team, using the Virgin brand to compete with existing players in the market.Earlier this month, Euskaltel’s management, led by chairman Alberto García Erauzkin and CEO Francisco Arteche, cited shareholders’ approval of the company’s accounts for 2018 and dividend as evidence of support for the existing team.last_img read more

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AE Networks UK has launched SVOD service CrimeIn

first_imgA+E Networks UK has launched SVOD service Crime+Investigation Play on Amazon Prime Video Channels.A+E is charging customers £3.99 (€4.50) for a monthly subscription to Crime+Investigation Play, with an initial 7-day free trial.The UK service carries true crime shows such as Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence (Season 1), Homicide Hunter (Season 3) and The Jail: 60 Days In (Season 4).Subscribers can access the service via Prime Video app on smart TVs, iOS and Android mobile devices, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablets and games consoles and through the web at amazon.co.uk/channels.The launch comes a month after the arrival of A+E’s History Play  on Prime Video Channel, which has series such as WW2 Treasure Hunters, The Curse of Oak Island and Hunting Hitler.Adrian Pilkington, SVP of commercial strategy for A+E Networks UK, said: “As the home of true crime, launching Crime+Investigation Play on Amazon Prime Video Channels means we can reach more fans of the true crime genre and share our world class content of ground breaking documentaries and global hit series with new audiences.”last_img read more

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