Cirque’s LUZIA inspires travel to Mexico Posted by TORONTO – Cirque du Soleil unveiled LUZIA in Toronto last night, after opening in Montreal in April, taking guest on an imaginary journey to Mexico. The performance was supported by the Mexico Tourism Board, which hopes viewers will be inspired to travel to Mexico after watching the memorizing show depicting the country’s culture and landscape.Cirque de Soleil describes the LUZIA show as “taking you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul. Freely inspired by Mexico, LUZIA is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people. The tableaux of LUZIA weave an intricate, contemporary mosaic that awakens your senses and transports you to a place suspended between dreams and reality.”More news: Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next month“The LUZIA show is a great way to tour around Mexico because you will discover the monarch butterflies, Day of the Dead, Mexican cinema, local food, cenotes (sinkholes) and many more inspirational aspects of the country. The show goes all around Mexico, so agents can actually encourage their clients to book those kinds of experiences in destination very easily. It’s a fantastic way of connecting travel with an amazing Cirque du Soleil show,” says Rodrigo Esponda, Regional Director for North America, Mexico Tourism Board.“We are working with travel partners to create incentives that have a direct connection to the show, so if they book trips to Mexico, clients can be entered to win tickets to the show. In another consumer contest, consumers can actually win trips to Mexico to see the experiences they are seeing at the show,” he added.LUZIA will be playing in Toronto until Oct. 16. Share The Canadian Press Friday, July 29, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Posted by New! Fly Nonstop to Seoul Tags: Air Canada, New Routes, Seoul Share Travelweek Group Exploring South Korea just got easier with the introduction of Air Canada’s new nonstop flights linking Toronto and Seoul on Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.Air Canada started offering this fast service to help Canadian travellers reach one of Asia’s hottest cities and meet growing demand for service to Asia’s most desirable destinations. The new flights complement Air Canada’s nonstop service out of Vancouver.The new year-round nonstop flights operate between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. The city is innovative, creative and tech savvy, while still proudly displaying its traditions and customs. Now that round-the-clock Seoul is a powerful force in the global economy, travel to South Korea is expected to continue to grow.For the corporate market, the nonstop Boeing 787 Dreamliner service ensures a restful flight so that business travellers can hit the ground running when they arrive refreshed in Seoul. For leisure travellers, the nonstop flights are ideal with no connections, and no hassles. The smooth flight is the first step to a relaxing vacation.The introduction of nonstop flights between Toronto and Seoul is part of Air Canada’s ongoing expansion of international services.To learn more or book seats on Air Canada’s new nonstop service please visit aircanada.com/agents. Tuesday, November 1, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Related posts:Trump leads Republicans but Democrats thump him, new poll shows Macy’s is latest company to dump defiant Trump Donald Trump under fire yet again, this time for sexist and vulgar Clinton gibes Bernie Sanders’ CAFTA reversal pledge worries Costa Rica businesses WASHINGTON D.C. — After jihadists used his tough remarks about Muslims in a recruitment video, Donald Trump refused to back down, saying in remarks aired Sunday, “I have to say what I have to say.”The Republican presidential hopeful made the comments on CBS’s “Face the Nation” after a U.S. monitoring group said that his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. had been used in a video by Somalia’s extremist Shebab group.Trump’s call for a total, if temporary, ban had drawn criticism around the globe, including from Hillary Clinton, the frontrunning Democratic candidate, who said his remarks were used by radicals in recruitment videos — a suggestion Trump aides had sharply denied.In the new video, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Shebab uses an excerpt from Trump’s Dec. 7 speech — made after an attack by a radicalized couple in California killed 14 people — to encourage Western Muslims to wage jihad, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.After describing Trump’s call for a ban, the video goes on to say, “The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.”Asked about it on CBS, the Republican frontrunner seemed to shrug his shoulders.“What am I going to do?” Trump asked. “I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say? There’s a problem. We have to find out what is the problem. And we have to solve that problem.”He said his stance had drawn wide support, and he pointed to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and said, specifically citing the case of Brussels, that many nations were “shutting down cities that had never had a problem before.”“Maybe it’s not politically correct,” Trump said, but “there’s a big problem out there.”Trump’s inflammatory remarks last month sparked global outrage.During a Democratic debate last month, Clinton accused Trump of being “ISIS’s best recruiter,” referring to the self-described Islamic State group, and said radical jihadists were “showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”Trump accused her of lying, but Clinton’s spokeswoman insisted that his remarks were “being used in social media by ISIS as propaganda.”U.S. media outlets were unable to find any footage to back up Clinton’s initial claim.The Shebab, who were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011, are fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government, which is protected by 22,000 African Union troops. Facebook Comments
Go back to the e-newsletterSeabourn, the world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, has revealed renderings of its new signature fine-dining restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller, which will debut in May 2016 on board Seabourn Quest.With a menu and ambience inspired by the classic American chophouse, The Grill is a collaboration between three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller and designer Adam D. Tihany, exclusively for Seabourn.“We are delighted Chef Keller has partnered with us to produce such a standout dining experience for guests to enjoy as they travel the world with Seabourn,” Seabourn President Richard Meadows said.“Wrapped in a fresh design from Adam D. Tihany, The Grill by Thomas Keller will take our already award-winning cuisine to new heights.”The new signature restaurant will be on each Seabourn vessel, including Seabourn Encore which is scheduled to launch this December. The Grill by Thomas Keller will move into newly renovated spaces formerly occupied by Restaurant 2 on the current fleet, beginning with Seabourn Quest in April and followed by Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Odyssey during regularly scheduled dry dock periods. Seabourn Ovation will offer The Grill by Thomas Keller right from its launch in 2018.The interior designs by Adam D. Tihany enhance the dining experience with spaces that will be distinctive to the ships, yet defined by intimate settings with an elegant and warm masculine quality. On Odyssey-class ships, the space will feature curvilinear lines throughout, including lush leather banquettes and tan leather swivel chairs that line the dining room; ceilings of curved wood coffers that reference design details of a luxury yacht; and metal mesh panels topped with elegant emerald marble at the face of the bar.A culinary visionary and the innovator behind The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Per Se in New York City, Chef Thomas Keller’s partnership with Seabourn began in 2015 and highlights the luxury cruise line’s commitment to offering outstanding guest experiences. Guests of The Grill by Thomas Keller will be treated to a timeless menu featuring the freshest produce from artisan purveyors, such as table-side preparations of Caesar salad and ice-cream sundaes as well as a range of other steakhouse favourites like Lobster Thermidor and creamed spinach, presented à la carte.The Grill by Thomas Keller will be open for dinner daily on all Seabourn vessels, and guests will have the opportunity to secure reservations online in advance of their cruise beginning in April for May sailings on Seabourn Quest. In keeping with Seabourn’s all-inclusive rates, there is no additional charge to dine at The Grill.Go back to the e-newsletter
Categories: Hoitenga News 06Jun Committee advances bill to ban female genital mutilation The House Law and Justice Committee approved bipartisan legislation today to prevent female genital mutilation in Michigan, a week after hearing testimony from state representatives on the package that includes seven bills and one resolution.Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure performed on girls, starting at the age of 4, which is intended to remove or damage the external female genitalia.“This is comprehensive legislation to prevent this inhumane procedure,” said state Rep. Michele Hoitenga, of Manton. “It took a lot of work, but I’m proud of how we’ve come together to help protect young girls.”She was joined by fellow state Reps. Diana Farrington of Utica and Beth Griffin of Mattawan, in testifying as a unit before the committee on May 30.“This terrible act is indefensible, which is why we’ve included language that will not allow a customary belief or parental consent to be used to justify the mutilation,” Farrington said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking that young girls are subjected to this, especially when they are being misled into thinking that it is a routine operation. It’s not and there’s no excuse for it.”Griffin said: “We need to ensure that not only do we hold people criminally liable for doing this, but we also give victims a clear ability to pursue this in a civil action. The House package is really looking to take a wide-ranging and comprehensive approach to preventing this, punishing those who commit these heinous acts, and giving victims civil recourse as well.”The legislative package includes bills from Rep. Daire Rendon, of Lake City, which sets the sentencing guidelines. Rep. Klint Kesto, of Commerce Township, had his bill calling for the revocation of a state medical license for anyone convicted under the legislation also approved.“This act is a horrific ordeal for any victim and anyone who is involved should be prepared for incarceration,” Rendon said. “My hope is anyone who doesn’t understand this procedure is absolutely wrong understands that 15 years in prison is a long time.”Kesto said: “Doctors swear an oath to ‘do no harm’ and female genital mutilation inflicts nothing but harm. Any medical professional who harms a young girl this way should lose his or her privilege to practice medicine for not following that oath.”The committee also approved a bill from Rep. Bronna Kahle, of Adrian, which extends the criminal statute of limitations for FGM survivors until 10 years after the offense or the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.“The girls who suffer mutilation have faced a barbaric act few of us can comprehend,” said Kahle. “They should not be expected, at such a young age, to fully understand the lifelong impact of the damaging injuries they have endured.”The legislation follows a February incident where two young girls from Minnesota were subjected to the procedure at a southeast Michigan clinic. A Livonia couple was arrested on federal charges in April after allowing and performing the procedure after hours at their medical clinic, while a third individual has been fired from their emergency room doctor position for performing the procedure at the same Livonia clinic.The legislative package includes:House Bill 4636, sponsored Hoitenga, creates a felony offense for performing the procedure.HB 4637, sponsored by Farrington, makes it a felony offense to transport another for the purpose of performing the procedure.HB 4638, sponsored by Rendon, establishes that violation of HB 4636 or 4637 will result in imprisonment up to 15 years.HB 4639, sponsored Kesto, requires the permanent revocation of a state medical license for anyone convicted under the law established by HB 4636 and 4637.HB 4641, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Chang, extends the statute of limitations for FGM survivors to sue for civil damages after their 18thHB 4642, sponsored by Rep. Pam Faris, requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to develop an FGM educational program for the public, including new immigrants.HB 4661, sponsored by Griffin, allows FGM survivors to recover up to three times actual damages, including non-monetary damages costs and attorney fees, during a civil case.HB 4690, sponsored by Kahle, extends the criminal statute of limitations for FGM survivors until 10 years after the offense or the victim’s 21st birthday, whichever is later.House Resolution 105, submitted by Rep. Donna Lasinski, supports the United Nations’ ongoing efforts to end the procedure.The legislation advances to the House for its consideration.
State Rep. Curt VanderWall applauded the Michigan House of Representatives approval Wednesday of a bill to allow applicants to obtain an annual oversized vehicle transport permit.Rep. VanderWall added an amendment to help farmers by removing restrictions when they are driving agricultural equipment during the holiday weekends. Under current law, the transportation of agricultural equipment is prohibited from being on the road during certain holiday weekends over the summer.“Crops don’t stop growing because it is a holiday weekend. If not harvested on time, a farmer could lose some of their crop,” said Rep. VanderWall of Ludington. “An equipment transportation permit should not hold up the farmer from doing their job.”Overweight transport permits from the Department of Transportation currently are only issued for vehicles carrying individual loads, which cannot reasonably be reduced in size or transported by other means. There are single trip permits and extended permits. Single trip permits may be issued for a five-day period and are valid for one trip only.Under the new legislation, a permit may also be stored and presented by the holder using a mobile device. This will make a valid permit easier to access and less likely to get lost.House Bill 4644 now moves to the Senate for consideration.### Categories: VanderWall News 19Jul Rep. VanderWall amendment helps farmers move equipment on holidays
A bill introduced by state Rep. Rob VerHeulen to ban local governments from imposing a tax on all food and beverages was signed into law today by Gov. Rick Snyder.VerHeulen, of Walker, said House Bill 4999 – now Public Act 135 of 2017 – is a victory for families, job creators and farmers. The law extends the Michigan Constitution’s ban on a state food tax to include counties, cities and townships.“I am very pleased the governor agrees that a patchwork of local food taxes would be chaotic and have devastating effects on families, farmers and people who work in the grocery industry,” VerHeulen said. “Similar local taxes in Illinois and Pennsylvania had immediate negative impacts on the local economy as people began shopping in neighboring communities to avoid the extra cost a tax incurs.”VerHeulen said local food taxes would have a damaging effect on lower-income families.“Low-income earners allocate about one-third of their entire income to food purchases,” VerHeulen said. “Local taxes on food could be a budgetary tipping point for families, who might have to make a decision between paying the rent or buying groceries. I’m very happy Gov. Snyder agreed and signed the legislation.”##### Categories: News,VerHeulen News Prohibition good for families, businesses 26Oct Snyder signs Rep. VerHeulen’s bill banning local taxes on food
Categories: Howrylak News,News The Michigan House today approved Rep. Martin Howrylak’s measure ensuring compensation for wrongful imprisonment is not subject to the state’s income tax.Howrylak said the measure is a necessary and logical follow-up to Michigan’s 2016 law allowing people to bring legal action for compensation against the state if they have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in a state facility for a crime they did not commit.“A wrongful conviction changes a person’s life forever. This bill is a simple, common-sense step to make sure we don’t add insult to injury by trying to collect state income taxes on state-awarded compensation,” said Howrylak, of Troy. “Someone who spent time in prison for a crime they didn’t commit should not be further penalized with income taxes on compensation given as recourse for the state’s mistake.”The federal government already exempts this type of compensation from federal taxes. Howrylak’s proposal will ensure money received from Michigan’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act will not be included in taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for state income tax purposes.House Bill 4991 advances to the Senate for further consideration. 02May House approves Rep. Howrylak’s measure ensuring compensation for wrongful imprisonment isn’t taxed ####
30May Rep. Howell: Money-saving car insurance reforms signed into law State Rep. Gary Howell today announced that historic car insurance reforms have been signed into law by Governor Whitmer, guaranteeing lower rates for drivers in Lapeer County.The reforms – approved earlier by Howell and the Legislature – give drivers choices on personal injury protection coverage, combat fraudulent claims and take steps to rein in medical costs. Many Michigan families will save hundreds of dollars or more each year through the reforms.“I could not be more proud to be a part of this historic reform,” said Howell, of North Branch. “After decades of gridlock, we were able to work together and deliver a bipartisan solution that guarantees lower car insurance rates for families all across our state.”Michigan has had the most expensive car insurance in the nation mostly because we have been the only state mandating unlimited lifetime health care coverage through car insurance. The revised law will provide more affordable options while allowing those who currently use the unlimited coverage to keep it, and those who want it in the future to continue buying it.Starting in July 2020, many drivers will be able to opt out of personal injury protection altogether, including seniors with retiree health coverage such as Medicare and those with health insurance policies that cover car accident-related injuries. Others will be able to continue with unlimited coverage or choose limits of $250,000 or $500,000. A $50,000 option will be available for drivers on Medicaid.A fee schedule will be established for medical providers, reining in runaway costs that result from medical care providers charging far more to treat car accident victims than other patients.Non-driving factors such as zip codes, educational level, and credit score will no longer be used to determine rates. However, drivers living in areas within the state having lower claims (such as Lapeer County) can continue to benefit with lower premiums than higher claim areas.An anti-fraud unit will help crack down on those abusing the system, which should help lower car insurance rates even further.“The adoption of these much needed reforms shows that much can be accomplished when we work together in a bipartisan spirit,” Howell said. “When we put aside petty partisan differences, the people win.”### Categories: Howell News
Share6TweetShareEmail6 SharesSeptember 13, 2018; Washington PostKudos to a New York nonprofit, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, for playing a part in the heart-wrenching saga of a Jewish family being reunited with their Nazi-stolen artwork, specifically a spectacular Renoir painting called Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin.The museum livestreamed the restitution ceremony on September 12th on its Facebook page, as representatives of the local US Attorney’s Office and FBI presented Sylvie Sulitzer with the painting.Meagan Flynn, writing for the Washington Post, recounted the family’s riveting tale:Alfred and Marie Weinberger escaped Nazi-occupied Paris at the onset of World War II, but they couldn’t take their paintings with them.The Jewish couple fled to the French Alps and left their paintings—several by Pierre-Auguste Renoir—sequestered in a Paris bank vault. One was Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin (Two Women in a Garden), one of the last paintings Renoir made before he died in 1919, when his rheumatoid arthritis was so severe he had to tie the paintbrush to his hand to grip it.The Weinbergers would never see it again. On Dec. 4, 1941, the Nazis plundered Weinberger’s collection.Alfred Weinberger would spend much of his life trying to get his paintings back. And he would find some—but never Renoir’s Two Women in a Garden. It would instead travel around the world, changing hands and eluding the Weinberger family. Then, in 2010, Weinberger’s granddaughter, Sylvie Sulitzer, with German attorneys, set out to recover the missing 1919 Renoir.It’s become a very familiar story, popularized in movies like Woman in Gold and The Monuments Men, as descendants of Holocaust survivors increasingly seek to find and reclaim stolen artwork from museums here and abroad. However, the Weinbergers’ painting ended up in several private collections, according to the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s website.The Renoir resurfaced after the war at an art sale in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1975. It subsequently found its way to London, where it was sold again in 1977, and then appeared at a sale in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1999. Ultimately, the Renoir found its way to Christie’s Gallery in New York, where it was put up for auction by a private collector in 2013.It was then that Ms. Sulitzer learned of the pending sale and made a claim to the work as part of her grandfather’s collection. Christie’s alerted the FBI, and ultimately the purported owner of the work voluntarily agreed to relinquish its claim.Sulitzer lives in France and traveled to New York to receive the painting this week.Because the Nazi’s careful records of stolen artifacts, created by a division known as the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, have now been digitized by a collaborative effort called the ERR Project, it seems likely that claims from Jewish families like the Weinbergers will be increasingly common. The ERR Project database has a fascinating backstory of its own:With support from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has over the past decades brought together microform records of the Holocaust from archives all over the world.At the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets co-hosted in 1998 by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with the U.S. Department of State, attention turned to the importance of archival records in understanding the plunder of art and other cultural property by the Nazis and their allies.Subsequently at a seminar presentation at the Museum in February 2000, Patricia Kennedy Grimsted made an appeal for a virtual compendium of the widely dispersed records of one of the most important Nazi cultural looting agencies, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR).This idea was discussed with interest by delegates from many countries later that year at the Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust-Era Looted Cultural Assets in October, 2000, where Dr. Grimsted suggested that a model project would be to digitize the registration card files produced by the ERR of art taken from French Jewish collections and held by the National Archives of the United States and to bring them together with the ERR photographs of those same artworks held by the Federal Archives of Germany (Bundesarchiv).Years in the making, the online database now includes more than 30,000 art objects, mainly taken from Jewish families in German-occupied France, and is searchable by owner or object.The Museum of Jewish Heritage, which describes itself as a living memorial to the Holocaust, is rightly celebrating this success story with a special exhibition of the painting and free admission through Sunday while it’s on display. (This recent NPQ story examined the benefits and drawbacks of free museum admission, albeit within a different context.)In an era of rising hate speech and polarization, the story of a long road to what Sulitzer deemed “justice” seems like feel-good news we can all get behind. Sadly, Sulitzer told the Post that she may need to sell the painting for financial reasons. Perhaps her story will yet have another, Hollywood-style twist.—Anna BerryShare6TweetShareEmail6 Shares
BT has secured rights to Aviva Premiership Rugby and the JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens over a four-year period in a £152 million (€190) deal.BT will also have exclusive live broadcast rights to matches played by Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs in any future European competitions from 2014-15 for three years.The deal is the latest movie into premium sports rights by BT following its Premier League football deal. Live Aviva Premiership rugby matches are currently split between BSkyB and ESPN.Marc Watson, BT Vision CEO said: “BT is delighted to have secured this deal. Rugby Union is entering a thrilling phase with the World Cup being staged here in 2015 and rugby returning to the Olympics in 2016. We plan to bring the excitement of the very best matches to as wide an audience as possible. We will also be bringing all of the action together in one place and will look to distribute it on a variety of platforms. BT is serious about sport and this deal means we will be offering the very best rugby action alongside some of the most thrilling football matches from the Premier League. That is a winning combination and one that will appeal to fans of both sports.”The agreement covers live rights to up to 69 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches for four years, live broadcast rights to matches from the entire JP Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series for four years starting from the 2013-14 season and live broadcast rights to matches of Aviva Premiership teams in any future European competitions for three years starting from the 2014-15 season.
Ukrainian cable operator Volia has added Bollywood channel Zee TV and Russian TV movies and telenovelas channel Amedia to its line-up.Both channels will be available in Volia’s cinema package. Amedia has sold telenovelas and other shows to most of the leading Russian and Ukrainian general entertainment channels.
Russian service provider Akado has launched the two channels provided by production group Amedia on its platform as part of a new Amedia Premium package.Akado added Amedia 1 and Amedia Premium HD to its roster of channels yesterday.Amedia 1 offers a wide range of content including series from HBO and other US content providers, as well as a range of movies.Amedia Premium HD includes new series from HBO, Showtime, Starz, CBS, Fox and Warner, including Homeland, The Borgias and Game of Thrones. Amedia will add its own-produced shows to the channel in 2014.Amedia Premium will be available to Akado subscribers for RUB99 (€2.30) a month.
News network CNN has launched Watch CNNx, an iPad app that it says will give viewers “unprecedented control over their TV news experience.”Users can access 24-hours of CNN TV rundowns, see segments they’ve missed, and control and preview the content they want to watch.The app also gives viewers the option to delve into a topic or news story with related, automatically curated, digital content, as well as letting them watch CNN TV live or on-demand.“CNN has again redefined the way people consume news. As the Internet has come crashing into the television, we’ve future-proofed CNN. This product bolsters our relationships with TV partners, opens incredible new opportunities for advertisers and delivers consumers a truly innovative experience,” said senior vice president and general manager of CNN Digital, KC Estenson.Users can log-in to Watch CNNx with their TV provider username and password. It is available now to customers of select providers, with a wider rollout to follow. Watch CNNx will also debut on set-top boxes and on CNN.com by the end of 2014.
New research says that digital TV penetration in the Middle East and Africa region will cross the two-thirds mark by the end of this year, according to new research. Fuelled by the growth, pay TV revenues will hit US$8 billion this year compared with US$4.8 billion in 2010.Digital TV penetration only reached 50% in 2011 and the new forecasts underline the rate of growth in the region. Penetration will hit 73.8% in the Middle East and Africa and 57.1% in sub-Saharan Africa, according to UK-based research house Digital TV Research.Pay TV revenues from Middle East and North Africa will total US$4.4 billion this year, according to Digital TV Research, while pay revenues from sub-Saharan Africa will come in at US$3.6 billion.Middle East & Africa will have 89.3 million digital TV households by end-2014, up by 12.4 million during the year and up by 32.4 million since 2010. Free-to-air satellite TV will become the most popular platform in 2014; overtaking the declining analog terrestrial total.From the 32.4 million new digital TV homes, Nigeria will provide 7.2 million, Turkey 2.9 million, South Africa 2.5 million and Kenya 2.2 million.There will still, however, be a large number of homes in the region without a TV set. By end-2014 113 million homes will not have a set while there will be 132.4 million TV homes region-wide.
Over-the-top video service Pluto TV has raised US$30 million (€27 million) in a funding round led by ProSiebenSat.1 Group, which also included participation from Scripps Networks Interactive.In a statement, ProSiebenSat.1 said that it invested a “high seven-figure sum” in the Los Angeles-based business, making it the largest strategic shareholder in Pluto TV with an approximate 14% stake.As part of the deal, Pluto TV also acquired German OTT service Quazer from ProSiebenSat.1 – which described the Berlin-based service as “the German counterpart to Pluto TV”.“Our goal has always been to be the global focal point for free TV via OTT, and this partnership brings us a big step further,” said Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan in a statement.“ProSiebenSat.1 Media combines equal power with digital expertise, making it the ideal partner to accelerate our market entry in Germany. In addition, the Quazer team in Berlin will strengthen Pluto TV and drive product innovation and international expansion of both offers.”Scripps came onboard as a new investor in Pluto TV alongside return backers US Venture Partners and Sky Ventures and others.Pluto TV is an ad-funded online TV service that offers more than 100 linear live channels and has partnerships with content providers including Bloomberg Television, Reuters, CBS and Paramount.The company claims to reach more than 5 million active users per month and is led by co-founder and CEO Tom Ryan, co-founder and chief growth officer Ilya Pozin and executive chairman Kenneth Parks – who joined the company from Spotify last year.
Freeview has a key role to play in bringing the UK’s “digitally-excluded” into the connected world through the Freeview Play platform, according to Guy North, managing director, Freeview.Consumers have “never had it so good” in terms of TV services available and they way they can put those together themselves said North.Guy NorthSpeaking at the Marketforce Future of Broadcasting conference this morning, he said that there are still a large percentage of UK viewers – 13 million – who are “digitally excluded”, but who watch a lot of TV. He said Freeview could “help them get into the connected world”.Freeview Play could enable consumers put together their own bundles while acting as a connectivity gateway for the digitally excluded, said North. He said that Freeview was a brand that had resonance with a wide audience, including this digitally-excluded segment.North said that consumers can now supplement Freeview with services such as Netflix, he said. “The skinny bundle is with us…and here to stay,” he said. Freeview’s job is to target the ‘middle-ground’ audience that wants free TV and a “bit of pay”.Citing the launch of Freeview Explore, North said that anyone in the TV business that stands still “does so at their peril”.Kodak, Blockbuster and Comet are examples of brands that did not remain relevant for consumers, he said.
The World Trade Organisation has agreed to set up a panel to investigate Saudi Arabia’s alleged failure to provide protection of Qatar pay TV operator BeIN Media’s intellectual property rights amid disagreement over whether the WTO could launch a probe in a case that the Saudi government claims to be a matter of national security.Qatar this week submitted a second request for a panel to review its claims that Saudi Arabia has failed to protect IP rights in line with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) after an initial attempt was blocked by the Saudis on December 4.Qatar-based BeIN Media has been fighting to win support for its battle against BeoutQ, a pirate organisation allegedly based in Saudi Arabia and permitted to broadcast via Arabsat’s satellites, that has aired pirated streams of coverage of major sports competitions to which BeIN holds the regional rights.BeIN Media last month launched an international investment arbitration action against the Kingdom, claiming damages to the tune of US$1 billion, not only because of the impact of BeoutQ’s piracy but because of the Saudi authorities’ wider campaign against its commercial interests as part of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.In its WTO submission, Qatar said that its firms not only were denied access to remedies in Saudi Arabia to protect their IP rights, but that Saudi Arabia was actively abetting commercial-scale broadcasting piracy, including piracy of licensed content, and permitting the sale of set-top boxes that allow access to pirated content.Saudi Arabia, with the support of its regional ally the UAE, said that the dispute had “no legitimate connection” with the WTO because maintaining diplomatic relations between states was an exercise of state sovereignty. It said that it had broken off relations with Qatar to protect its security interests, thus rendering dispute settlement proceedings impossible.The Saudis’ position was endorsed by the US, which said that it is up to member states to decide what constitutes their national security interest in the case of national security exemptions to Article 73 of TRIPS.However, the EU said that views on the panel’s jurisdiction or authorisation can be brought before the panel to decide as the national security exemptions are TRIPS and General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs exceptions. China – engaged in its own WTO dispute with the US – said that national security provisions should only be implemented to safeguard genuine national interest, while Canada said that WTO members must accept that the authority of a WTO panel to adjudicate is not negated by the absence of diplomatic relations.
A German court has granted injunctions against distributors of Formuler set-top boxes in a case brought by Ukraine-based set-top maker Infomir.On January 16, the District Court in Bremen, Germany – the Landgericht Bremen – granted preliminary injunctions against two distributors selling Formuler set-top boxes in Germany.Infomir alleged that the Formuler devices, among other things, emulated the MAC addresses of Infomir’s own MAG set-top boxes. The Court prohibited the distributors from selling Formuler and other devices that emulated the MAG boxes.According to Infomir, the emulation allowed Formuler set-top boxes to exploit Infomir’s Stalker middleware and Ministra TV platform and posed a risk to the normal operation of MAG set-top boxes connected to the same network.Infomir said it would continue to seek redress through all remedies available to it to protect its rights.‘The Bremen District Court ruling confirms the importance of the respect for intellectual property and fair dealing in business. We welcome the willingness of the courts to deal with such subtle technological disputes that arise in the European Union,” said Viktor Artiushchenko, Infomir’s commercial director.
Saugato BanerjeeA+E Networks has promoted Saugato Banerjee to managing director for Asia.Banerjee previously was the company’s managing director for North Asia. The move will effectively consolidate operations across the entire Asia region under the control of a single executive. In this role, Banerjee will be responsible for Southeast Asia, North Asia (Korea, China, Japan), Taiwan, Hong Kong, and India, where he will chart the continued growth and expansion of A+E Networks throughout the region. Banerjee joined the company in 2011, and has developed strategic media and production partnerships, along with spearheading the successful launches of History and Lifetime in Korea, and played a key role in achieving record ratings for History Japan.Patrick Vien, group managing director, International at A+E Networks said: “Saugato is a skilled executive with well-established relationships and strategic vision for this growing region,“We applaud his launch of our brands in Korea across linear and digital, spearheading key production partnerships and successful stewardship of our Japanese business as we look forward to even greater success in his new, expanded role.”Banerjee added: “A+E Networks’ strong foothold in this corner of the world is testament to the innovation and demonstrated success of our globally recognized, locally adaptable brands and strong teams. I look forward to taking on this expanded role and partnering with our undoubtedly talented team across the region in attracting new audiences and growing our business.”