Tags: Virgin Voyages MONTREAL — Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady will set sail April 1, 2020 with a Quebec-born captain but so far at least Quebec agents can’t book clients on to the ship.In a story covered by ProfessionVoyages.com, part of the Travelweek Group, all Quebec agent accounts on Virgin Voyages’ travel agent portal, FirstMates.com, had to be de-activated.Travel agent Larissa Lognay, with Passion Voyage in Montreal, received this message from Virgin Voyages:“Unfortunately, I am writing to advise that at this time, Virgin Voyages is unable to do business in Quebec – therefore, your First Mate and Agency Account will be made inactive.“As a French speaking province, there are certain commercial requirements for companies wishing to sell or market a product to meet if they wish to do business in Quebec. At this early stage of our business, we are not equipped to meet those requirements. Our website and all of our materials are in English only and as such, we are focused on selling and marketing proactively in the US, UK and other Canadian provinces for now. We don’t have any idea at this stage when or if this will change. Travel Advisors who work for agencies located outside of Quebec can register to do business with us at FirstMates.com.”More news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongVirgin Voyages hasn’t closed all the doors on possible business with Quebec in the future, saying that the deactivation of the accounts was a necessary step until a solution can be found.Last June, Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Virgin Voyages, had this to say: “At the moment, we are focusing on collaboration with partners. We just opened our doors in February, so of course we still have a lot of work to do to launch the activity in our main markets, which of course include Canada and Quebec. We obviously view Canada and Quebec as extremely important markets for us, but we currently have no opportunity to sell or market our products in languages other than English at this stage of our business. So, for the moment, we can be more efficient in trying to stimulate business in other Canadian provinces, but we are certainly looking for growth opportunities in Quebec in the future,” said Shaw.More news: Beep, beep! Transat hits the streets with Cubamania truckWhen the Scarlet Lady launches on April 1, 2020, Captain Wendy Williams, a Quebecker born in Sept-Îles, will be at the helm. Share Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal Tuesday, August 6, 2019 Posted by Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday announced he had become a father — and pledged to give away his fortune to make the world a “better place” for baby daughter Max and others.In a letter to Max posted on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg and his wife said they were going to give away 99 percent of their company shares — with an estimated value of $45 billion — in an effort to make a happy and healthy world for her and all children.“Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world,” the letter said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Facebook expands reach with $19 bn deal for WhatsApp Will we finally be able to dislike something on Facebook? Snapchat vanishing video viewing hits 6 billion daily Facebook topped $1.5 billion in quarterly profit at end of last year
Ami is one of the world’s newest and most advanced augmented reality customer service and sales tools that has helped Emirates Holidays improve customer experience and sales results.“Ami has been an incredible addition to our team,” said Niel Alobaidi, MD of Emirates Holidays for the UK and Ireland, which launched in Ireland last year. “She has online conversations with our customers using a natural, non-robotic tone and deals with all but the most complex of their enquiries. If there’s something she can’t answer, she knows who to go to in the company for support, such is her level of intelligence.”Ami was developed by UK online marketing company ActiveOMG, and Emirates Holidays, one of the world’s leading holiday companies, is Ami’s flagship client.She differs from other next-generation AI programmes as she acquires her knowledge by reading the Emirates Holidays website, rather than being programmed with keywords to monitor. She uses verbal reasoning to understand language and independently knows what to say and how to respond to customer queries. Because Ami understands structure, context and slang she doesn’t use stock answers to frequently asked questions and crucially, her GDPR is native.Niel Alobaidi explains; “Like any other team member, Ami is given her objectives and for us, these are to generate sales leads and provide customer support. She then taps into her intelligence to figure out how to optimise sales by asking the right questions at the right time of those browsing the Emirates Holidays website. On a daily basis, she answers questions ranging from the weather forecast in Dubai to the flight times for a trip to Thailand. She helps customers select hotels that best match their requirements and identifies resorts that she thinks will suit their holiday needs. She knows the best restaurants in Sri Lanka and the best value theme parks in Dubai.”Niel explains that Ami has not replaced the role of Emirates Holidays’ call centre staff but has instead unburdened them of the time previously spent providing information that might never result in a sales lead. “Ami frees up a lot of time for our staff, which allows them to focus on their targets of generating more sales, rather than answering questions about the weather. This has proven to be invaluable to our business and instead of fearing Ami as a possible threat, our staff have embraced her as our newest team member.”Emirates Holidays operates across almost 40 markets, but Ami has the ability to understand different vernaculars and content so does not have to be ‘retaught’ or ‘reprogrammed’ to deal with the nuances of language. This works by way of a neural network whereby algorithms are in place to control other algorithms.Ami reduces customer waiting time, is available 24/7 and her accumulated experience drives her success, which means she is constantly learning and improving.“We are really pleased with the contribution Ami has made to our business,” said Niel Alobaidi. “I don’t believe that Ami will take the place of our highly trained staff, but she complements their work and we are excited at the prospect of what’s to come from ActiveOMG, the team behind Ami’s development.”For more information visit www.emiratesholidays.ie
Service delivery protests have now spread to Mooi River, effectively forcing road closures on the N3.Earlier this month, police task teams had their hands full resolving conflicts with protesters who blocked roads with burning tyres and rocks in the Roosboom and Hobsland area.These protests resulted in the closure of the R103 for a full week, with police having to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the angry mob. While Roosboom and Driefontein burned, nothing was done. While the R103 was blocked by protesters, very little was done.However, in the case of Mooi River, police intervention has been swift and decisive after Bruntville residents blockaded the N3 and began stoning passing motorists.Several Ladysmith residents have had narrow escapes at the Mooi River Toll Plaza.Provincial intervention in the crisis: WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite KZN COGTA STEPS IN TO END BLOCKADE OF N3 AT MOOI RIVERThe KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has sent a high-level rapid response team to the Mooi Mpofana Local Municipality to end the protest action that is blocking traffic on the N3 highway near Mooi River.“We are in communication with the disaffected community whose objective appears to be the removal of the local mayor. While we recognise the right of the community to protest, we urge protesters to be considerate to motorists who use the N3 in the vicinity of their town,” said KZN MEC for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube.KZN Cogta has successfully tested its rapid response mechanism in similar crises in other parts of the province and it is confident that its intervention at Mooi Mpofana will resolve the issues behind the current crisis in this municipality.“We believe in dialogue. Unless we engage the disaffected community in talks, there can be no hope of an acceptable solution to the current crisis. Our pledge to the people of Mooi Mpofana is as follows: We are here to listen and to act in your best interest,” said Dube-Ncube.For more information, contact KZN Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso on 082-884-2403.(Featured photograph is that of the Roosboom protests earlier this month)
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Amenities aboard aircrafts that were once free may again become complimentary in the wake of particular carriers attitudes toward service. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is among a select group of airlines that are taking innovative steps toward providing their customers with next level service. According to analyst for airlinetrends.com Raymond Kallaou SAS have added a stretch bar on some aircraft to aid with in-flight exercise and have installed mirrors on seats so travellers “can check their appearance without having to go to the bathroom.” These items are relatively inexpensive to employ and maintain. All Nippon Airways (ANA) have created women-only and men-only lavatories, which have been an underlying success strategy for customer satisfaction. In addition to scented hand towels, the airline hands out small “Relax” and “Refresh” cards that emit a lavender or “ANA Original Aroma” scent when a small button is pressed, according to msNBC. South Korea-based Asiana Airlines take care of mothers, pre-moms, families and children by way of sponsorship from a Korean company that sells baby products. These individuals and groups are given special allowances and privileges to aid in a safer, more comfortable flying experience. Free alcohol, happy hour and complimentary Wi-Fi connections are among other amenities making a comeback within the airline industry.
Naomie Harris presents Belmond Cap Juluca, AnguillaNaomie Harris presents Belmond Cap Juluca, AnguillaBelmond reveals its newly designed flagship Caribbean resort, Belmond Cap Juluca, through the lens of British movie star Naomie Harris, in a short film portraying the serenity and magic of this iconic barefoot luxury escape in Anguilla. Located on one of the Caribbean’s best beaches; wrapped around the pristine white sands of a half crescent bay, Belmond Cap Juluca has been transformed to encapsulate the art of living well.The film is a soulful reflection on the power of being able to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with yourself. “For me, Belmond Cap Juluca embraces the soul of the Caribbean; the place where I feel most at home. It is magical to be able to just take a moment to breathe in and do nothing, and simply enjoy the joy of being surrounded by beauty and nature”, says Naomie.With an authentic connection to the Caribbean, clean-living values and a truly international lifestyle, Naomie’s experience of Belmond Cap Juluca speaks to the modern traveller who seeks sanctuary and the luxury of time to indulge in pure escapism.Arnaud Champenois, Senior VP Brand & Marketing, Belmond, comments, “We are delighted to work with the beautiful Naomie Harris on this film to capture the essence of ‘barefoot luxury’ that we have created at Belmond Cap Juluca, a true authentic escape. Naomie brings this genuine feeling to the narrative that inspires you to walk in her footsteps.With the opening of our new flagship property on Anguilla and sister hotel, Belmond La Samanna on Saint Martin, with its retro-chic pastel refresh celebrating contemporary nostalgia, we have redefined luxury Caribbean escapism.”SOULFUL DESIGNDesigned to create a sense of calm and total escapism from the moment of arrival; every detail of the resort, by US design firm Rottet Studio, complements the outstanding natural beauty of the view and signature Greco-Moorish architecture. The result is a world of timeless glamour and barefoot luxury that is as beguiling as the setting itself.As guests approach the Main House and heart of the resort, the high domed ceiling is deliberately designed to reveal and dramatically frame the mesmerising view. The resort invites exploration and discovery; with lush hanging botanicals, a shaded courtyard with a deep green tiled Moroccan pool and sensitively placed locally-crafted artefacts, sculptures and botanical prints sourced from V&A London. The aesthetic reflects the style of a private residence that over the decades has acquired beautiful keepsakes from across the globe. The handcrafted limestone floor tiles have been purposely selected to entice guests to walk barefoot, as though meandering through their own home.Offering new levels of beachfront service and seamlessly connecting the Main House with the cove of Maundays Bay, is the stunning palm-lined terraces with sea view infinity-edge pool. The show-stopping new space offers guests the best of both worlds – direct access to the beach and shaded corners to enjoy refreshing cocktails and healthy poolside tapas.Located along one of the most spectacular beaches on Anguilla, the 108 newly designed rooms and suites embrace laid back island life – with cosy nooks to read and write and space to dine alfresco. The outrageously large bathrooms open onto walled botanical courtyards, providing serene sanctuaries for relaxation. Flowing natural fabrics, injected with a mix of blues, greens and botanical prints, along with the clever use of handcrafted dark grey floor tiling create an instant sense of calm in a space flooded with natural light.The three and five-bedroom private villas offer generous space for families and groups of friends to embrace the exclusivity of dining, swimming and socialising in private but with front row access to the island’s best beach.THE ART OF DOING NOTHINGNew traditions and modern luxuries define the guest experience at Belmond Cap Juluca. Mornings begin with an invigorating ‘swim to breakfast’, where staff meet guests at the water’s edge of Cip’s by Cipriani with a fresh towel, robe and fruit juice in hand. Stylish pedal bikes and VW vans, painted in the resort’s signature colour turquoise, provide a novel way to potter about the property. A lesson with the resident yogi at the pavilion offers a tranquil setting for sunrise yoga and a coaching session with the tennis pro or game of basketball and croquet are a fun way to punctuate relaxing beach days. The elegant crescent of the cove and crystal clear waters provide the ideal backdrop for all things aqua – be it paddle boarding, kayaking or swimming the length of the bay.The Arawak Spa is a space to awaken the senses and experience the healing powers and holistic rituals of the ancient Arawaks, with signature treatments featuring locally-harvested Anguillan-salt and local rum. A haven to disconnect, the villa is nestled within landscaped gardens and boasts a private swimming pool, fitness centre, three all-suite treatment rooms and access to two private beach cabanas for pampering on the edge of the lulling Caribbean Sea.FEEDING THE SENSESWhether in the mood for rum punches around the pool or fresh seafood tapas at sunset, Belmond Cap Juluca feeds the senses with relaxed dining experiences unique to Anguilla. Freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies and light bites are on offer at the fashionable new Maundays Club and by night, service turns to sophisticated Peruvian tapas as reggae music fills the night air and cocktails flow.Casual all-day dining is on offer at Cip’s by Cipriani where breakfast is served overlooking the water’s edge and delicious Italian cuisine takes inspiration from the famous ‘Cip’s Club’ menu in Venice. For a more sophisticated ambiance, destination restaurant Pimms is an invitation to dine on modern Caribbean classics and Anguillan delicacies in elegant surroundings.The epitome of barefoot luxury is the resort’s authentic Caribbean beach bar ‘The Cap Shack’ – located on the most remote stretch of Maundays Bay – serving up creatively mixed rum punches, catch-of-the-day beach tapas and snacks. From sunrise to sunset this characterful sun kissed venue is a true seat in the sand.BOOK NOWDeluxe Beachfront King rooms at Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla start from US$725/ £568 per night based on two people sharing, including breakfast. For more information and bookings please visit www.belmond.com/capjuluca Source = Belmond Cap Juluca
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite Public Safety officers were seen carrying out routine vehicle checks in Illing Road this morning (Thursday). The officers checked motorists’ licences and if vehicles were roadworthy, as well as for any outstanding warrants of arrest.These roadblocks serve as a reminder that motorists should adhere to the rules of the road at all times and practice safe driving behaviour. It is important to note that motorists should be aware of the validity of their licences.
ServiceLink Names National Sales Executive, Default Services in Headlines, journal, News Galaise ServiceLink 2018-04-23 Staff Writer Share ServiceLink, the Pittsburgh-based national provider of transaction services for the mortgage and finance industries, has hired Sean Galaise as a national sales executive of default services. Galaise comes to ServiceLink with more than 15 years of experience managing sales and operations within the lending and loan servicing mortgage default industry. Galaise has worked with several companies such as EMC Mortgage, JP Morgan Chase, Caliber Home Loans and The Five Star Institute. Galaise brings ServiceLink particular strength in the field services sales area, as he has spent the last three years representing a nationwide asset management and field service provider. He will also focus on ServiceLink’s auction sales strategy leveraging his experience managing auction activity and high-risk assets for EMC/Bear Stearns, JP Morgan Chase, and Caliber Home Loans.ServiceLink’s Default Services division provides its investor, mortgage servicing, and specialized servicing customers with complete services, solutions, and technology that span the entire default lifecycle, offering them a complete start-to-finish default management solution from a single source. ServiceLink’s Full Suite of Default Loan Services includes: Default Title & Closing Services, Valuation Solutions, Field Services, Loss Mitigation, Posting & Publishing Services, and Process Solutions. April 23, 2018 630 Views
Go back to the enewsletterSix Senses Resorts Hotels Spas has confirmed the 1 December 2018 opening of Six Senses Maxwell in Singapore, a sister property to Six Senses Duxton which debuted in April this year. The 138-room Six Senses Maxwell, located within a colonial style 19th century heritage listed building, has recently received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award for it’s creativity and mix of East-meets-West eclecticism.General Manager Murray Aitken, who is responsible for bringing together both Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell stated: “Six Senses Maxwell allows us to fully introduce the brand into our first city location, and honour the owners’ commitment to complete the Six Senses experience in Singapore… where guests of both hotels will be able to utilise the facilities at either location and enjoy a host of crafted experiences with our trusted partners in the neighbourhood.”Six Senses Maxwell will bring a combination of tradition and modernity with signature European style designed by Jacques Garcia: a French architect, interior designer and garden designer who is best known for his contemporary interiors of Paris hotels and restaurants. Garcia’s deep attention to detail is showcased throughout seven unique room categories and the interior public spaces which all come together harmoniously, adding to the hotel’s charm.Maxwell is characterised by five food and beverage concepts ranging from Murray Terrace (a classic European-style brasserie) to Cook & Tras (a social library restaurant and bar influenced by heritage Straits cuisine). Four of the five food and beverage concepts are located on the ground floor among tropical foliage, allowing guests to enjoy the charming outdoor terrace and really soak up the surroundings.With community continuing to be a key commitment for the hotel in line with the company’s philosophy of local and global sensibility, experiences which take in the local neighbourhoods and surrounding communities will be introduced to the activity program. These include a Black & White Iconic Heritage Homes Tour, the MacRitchie Treetops Walk, Botanic Gardens Exploration Tour and a Civic District Discovery Walk – all of which will complement the current guest offerings at Duxton such as complimentary Traditional Chinese Medicine consultations, tea appreciation sessions, yoga and well-received local heritage tours.For more information, see www.sixsenses.com/hotels/maxwell/Go back to the enewsletter
Categories: Graves News,News By state Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine TownshipGov. Rick Snyder this week presented the Legislature with his annual State of the State address, recapping the successes of 2014 and looking forward to a brighter future in 2015. During the speech, he held Michigan and its successes in the past four years as an example for the nation on economic revival and vitality.I hope to have a key influence on our continued economic recovery as chair of the House Commerce and Trade Committee. Speaker Kevin Cotter honored me with the chairmanship earlier this month, and I am eager to work on putting Michigan on the track to continued economic growth.The Commerce and Trade Committee works on policy issues to brighten the state’s economy, from mom-and-pop stores on the corners of our smallest communities to Michigan’s largest corporations. The committee also seeks out business partners in other states and countries, making available throughout the nation and world the great Michigan-made products from Flint to Grand Rapids, from Detroit to Ontonagon, and everywhere in between.Our economic efforts in the past four years have yielded great results. Unemployment has been cut by more than half, dropping from 14.2 percent in 2009 to 6.3 percent in the most recent jobs report. That’s because we have created an environment in which more than 300,000 new jobs have been created since 2011. Personal income is at its highest level in six years, and our business tax climate went from 49th in the nation to the 14th best.We have gone from the state nobody wanted, with droves of people moving to jobs elsewhere, to a shining example of how a turnaround can be accomplished through good policy and hard work.Can we do better? You better believe we can. We must continue to work hard every day to make Michigan a better place in which to live, work, play and raise a family. We must push our economy to the point where we have clear sight of a brighter future, not only for our children, but for our grandchildren and beyond. We will not coast on our past merits. We must work together to make Michigan better and stronger.To that end, I will be diligent in helping to develop the best commerce and trade policy so we can continue our recovery. This isn’t a case of being better than we were four years ago, or even better than we were before the state’s economy was decimated during the lost decade. Our goal is to make Michigan stronger and more economically viable than it has ever been.### 22Jan Commerce, trade key elements to a recovering Michigan economy
State Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, has submitted legislation to help protect minors from opioid addiction.Bellino’s bill requires medical professionals to consult with parents or guardians when an opioid-based medication may be prescribed to a minor under the age of 18, including discussion of the risks and potential for addiction from using the medication.“We need to do more to protect children from the dangers of abusing prescription medication,” said Bellino, who successfully battled addiction more than 30 years ago. “This is a problem that continues to grow and rip young lives apart before they’re barely able to begin. Education and working with those adults responsible for the child will help add protection for all of our children.”Bellino joined multiple representatives today during a press conference with Gov. Rick Snyder to discuss what the State is doing to address the issue of prescription opioid addiction, based on updates from the Opioid Addiction Task Force.His legislation does allow exemptions, such as in the case of emergency care or use during a surgical procedure. Bellino said he’s more concerned about parents knowing the dangers.“It’s in the homes where prescription medication abuse most often occurs and sometimes the parents may not even know what’s in their medicine cabinet,” Bellino said. “This is obviously a serious issue and we should work together – as parents and doctors – to protect the kids.” Categories: Bellino News Tags: Bellino, Health Policy, Opioid 23Mar Rep. Bellino bill to require consent for opioid prescriptions
28Jun Rep. Brann announces July office hours State Rep. Tommy Brann of Wyoming invites the people of Byron Township and the City of Wyoming to attend his local office hours to share their thoughts and concerns regarding state government.Rep. Brann will host regular office hours in the City of Wyoming on the second Friday of each month, and in Byron Township on the third Monday of each month.“I work for the people,” Brann said. “It is important to hear their thoughts on issues facing our state and local communities so I can be an even more effective legislator.”Rep. Brann will meet with constituents at the following times and locations:Friday, July 1410 to 11:30 a.m. at Marge’s Donut Den, 1751 28th St. in Wyoming;4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Brann’s Steakhouse & Grill, 4157 Division Ave. in Wyoming; andMonday, July 2410 to 11:30 a.m. at Byron Family Restaurant, 2527 84th St. in Byron Center.No appointments are necessary. Those unable to attend may contact Rep. Brann’s office at (517) 373-2277 or by email at TommyBrann@house.mi.gov. Categories: Brann News
09Jan Rep. Wendzel takes ceremonial oath of office on House floor Categories: Wendzel News FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Joyce and Brad Wendzel (parents), Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Markman, Alton and Mildred Wendzel (grandparents), Rep. Pauline Wendzel and Nicholas Scalise.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Pauline Wendzel, of Watervliet, was joined by her family as she was sworn in today at the state Capitol for her first term as state Representative for the 79th House District. Administering the oath of office on the House Floor was Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman.###
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares Sam Dao / Shutterstock.comMay 27, 2014; Detroit NewsDetroit’s Blight Task Force, one of the public-private partnerships formed to revive the Motor City as it emerges from an unprecedented bankruptcy, says it will cost $850 million and take up to five years to remove the 84,641 blighted properties it identified, according to the Detroit News.That’s about 22 percent of the city’s 380,000 parcels, according to a report unveiled this week that goes on to offer a blueprint for fixing one of the city’s most difficult problems. The total cost of removing blight in Detroit could approach $2 billion, but neighborhoods with the “most pressing need” would be tackled first, according to one of three members of the task force.Detroit’s downtown may be coming back, but without eradicating neighborhood blight, “the positive momentum is bound to run out of steam,” task force member Dan Gilbert told the paper. The 300-page report comes after eight months of research, data collection and mapping. The News says that it’s the most comprehensive study of blight ever done within the 139-square-mile city.About half the blighted properties are structures, which includes homes that are fire damaged, public nuisances, or open to the elements. The vast majority are residential structures, while some 6,000 are vacant lots and 5,471 are businesses or churches. The group has identified $456 million in funding from federal grants and other sources, which leaves a $394 million shortfall. Detroit’s emergency manager has already allocated money for blight removal as part of a reinvestment plan in the city’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, previously reported here in Nonprofit Quarterly.Mayor Mike Duggan told the News that the city will demolish city-owned buildings it can’t use and occupy ones it can. Detroit Public School buildings are “one of the biggest sources of blight in the community” and will be a priority.The task force also included two nonprofit leaders: the president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and the executive director of a local community development nonprofit. The study was funded by the Skillman and Kresge Foundations, along with the parent company of Quicken Loans, which is headquartered in Detroit, and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.Since taking office in January, Mayor Duggan has vowed to make the city’s blight fight a top priority. He created the Department of Neighborhoods, beefed up the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and launched programs to revitalize and improve the city’s housing stock. Detroit’s City Council recently transferred 16,399 city-owned residential structures to the land bank. The mayor has also targeted abandoned or neglected properties for demolition or inclusion in the administration’s new and expanding home auction program.—Larry KaplanShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Telekom Austria is to use Eutelsat’s platform at 16° East to launch a white label DTH platform to deliver services to central and eastern Europe.Telekom Austria Group has teamed up with Eutelsat to launch a satellite TV platform The solution involves a new B2B DTH platform, uplinking TV signals via Telekom Austria’s earth station in Aflenz/Styria to the Eutelsat satellite at the 16° East position for broadcasting to Central and Eastern Europe as well as wider regions of Western Europe.Croatia’s Vipnet, backed by Telekom Austria, is the first customer for the platform. Adrian Jezina, member of the board at Vipnet, said his company expected strong growth in DTH following its acquisition of Digi in the Croatian market. Jezina said that satellite enabled Vipnet to fill in gaps in its fixed line coverage in the major cities as well as deliver services to rural areas.“We find that in our fixed networks about 70% of customers are taking bundles,” he said. Vipnet is planning to launch a full suite of services over LTE in the near future. “Vipnet is a a national company and it really has national brand and marketing but that is not utilised across the whole country,” said Jezina. He said that in additional to delivering coverage, the satellite platform would enable it deliver various synergies. The launch of the Telekom Austria paltform enabled Vipnet to manage DTH economically wihtout making too risky an investment on its own, said Jezina.Apostolos Triantafyllou, Senior VP of Sales, Centra and Eastern Europe, Caucasus & Central Asia at Eutelsat, said that the satellite allowed reception via small antennas. He said that Eutelsat had grown its pay TV business at this position, with 10 pay operators, giving Eutelsat over 50% of the CEE pay TV market.
BBC Worldwide has partnered with Microsoft Studios and game developer Mojang to bring Doctor Who-themed characters to the Xbox 360 edition of popular game Minecraft.From next month, Minecraft players will be able to buy an add-on pack for the game allowing them to change their avatar to resemble their favourite characters from the hit BBC show.The first pack will be priced at US$2.99/ £1.99/ €2.85 and will include a character inspired by the twelfth Doctor as well as five other Doctors, each of their on-screen companions, and some of the Doctor’s most well known adversaries, including the Daleks. More packs, with more characters, will then follow.The Minecraft deal follows a previous partnership between the BBC’s commercial arm and Microsoft, which saw Microsoft publish Forza racing games with Top Gear themed challenges and features.Minecraft is a game centred around about breaking and placing blocks.
Brazilian telco Oi has approved the sale of its shares in Portugal Telecom to France’s Altice for €7.4 billion.In a statement announcing the move, Oi said it will transfer to Altice all the shares issued by Portugal Telecom for an enterprise value of €7.4 billion, adjusting for cash and debt and including an earn-out of €500 million related to future Portugal Telecom revenues.The sale relates to Portugal Telecom’s operations in Portugal and Hungary, with Portugal Telecom’s investments in Africatel, Timor Telecom and Rio Forte Investments to be separated off.The confirmation of the sale, made in accordance with Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission rules, comes after Altice announced on November 30 that it had entered into exclusive talks with Oi about agreeing the purchase of the Portuguese assets of Portugal Telecom.
French set-top provider Aston has said it will take action against Canal+ after accusing the latter of breaching the terms of a Paris Court of Appeal ruling that prevents the pay TV operator from withdrawing support for retail devices bearing the ‘Canal Ready’ logo. The case relates to Canal+’s decision last year to drop its support for Canal Ready set-tops and return to wholly vertically integrated operation in supplying receivers.In January Aston, which had contested the decision, secured a court ruling on appeal, suspending an earlier unfavourable judgement by the Paris Commercial Court, putting Canal+’s plans on hold until the allegation that it was abusing its dominant position had been looked into by the country’s competition watchdog.Aston has now accused Canal+ of acting in bad faith by notifying its subscribers that they could use the Canal+ Le Cube box supplied by the operator to receive Canal+ Sport while failing to inform them that the channel could be received by other Canal Ready decoders, and by informing Canal Ready box owners that they would soon no longer be able to receive their channels on these decoders.Referring to what it said were Canal+’s “lies, misleading statements and deceptions”, Aston cited the examples of two digital-terrestrial Canal Ready users who had been contacted by Canal+ advising them to sign up to the Canal+ LeCube service.“Faced with these transgressions by Canal+, Aston intends to take action and invites consumers and distribution networks to do the same and to initiate all actions necessary to defend their interests,” the company said.“Aston will do its part to stop these schemes and has already brought the matter to the attention of the Competition Authority. Aston will also mobilize consumer groups and the Media, especially those focused on consumer rights.”
Liberty Global-owned Belgian cable operator Telenet saw its triple-play base grow by 8% in the year to June, following a stronger than usual second quarter.Telenet had 2.18 million customers at the end of June, a penetration rate of about 75%. The company provided 4,794,700 services, excluding mobile RGUs, up 2% compared to the prior year. Its RGU count at June 30 included 2,063,800 video subscribers, 1,543,400 broadband internet subscribers and 1,187,500 fixed-line telephony RGUs. Approximately 82% of video subscribers had upgraded to the company’s enhanced video platform at the quarter-end, with 5,800 net additions I the second quarter.Just over one in five customers used the Yelo Play TV everywhere app, while subscription VoD services Play and Play More had 220,900 customers, up 25% thanks in part of a series of temporary promotions.Telenet also served 953,700 mobile postpaid subscribers as of June 30, 2015, representing a 16% increase compared to Q2 last year.Revenue for the first half was €892.1 million, up 6%. Adjusted EBITDA was €481.4 million, up 5%.
Cord cutting in the world’s high-income pay TV markets will have a direct impact on the content spend, meaning channels and content producers will increasingly look to other routes to reach consumers, such as direct-to-consumer services.The findings were contained in the latest cord-cutting research from UK-based media research house Ampere. It said that while globally pay TV is experiencing strong growth, much of this is coming from lower value markets. China, with its huge population, also skews the global pay TV growth numbers.The US and several other established markets, meanwhile, are continuing to feel the impact of customers cutting the cord. “Globally, pay TV is still growing strongly, but there is a fundamental value shift away from high income Western markets.”Ampere said that in that environment operators will double down on costs, with a knock-on effect on channel providers and content owners. That will lead to content companies embracing direct-to-consumer alternatives in the markets where costs are being cut, likely as part of a range of services within their offering.“More and more traditional content players will look to replicate Netflix’s model on a global scale, supplementing their channel businesses with Direct-to-Consumer options in markets where pay TV operators push back on costs,” Ampere said.The likes of HBO and Discovery and Eurosport have opted for D2C alongside their traditional pay TV services.“The heyday of traditional pay TV has passed, not because there is no growth, but because there is an increasing value shift to lower-cost markets and platforms,” said Guy Bisson, research director at Ampere Analysis. “Channels and content owners must look to new business models to sustain growth. Direct-to-Consumer brands that can scale globally must now become a part of all channel groups’ portfolios.”