Categories: Featured news,News,Runestad News House Speaker Tom Leonard today announced state Rep. Jim Runestad of White Lake will lead the House Judiciary Committee for the 2017-18 legislative session.As an Oakland County commissioner, Runestad served as chair of both the Public Services Committee and Planning and Building Committee for three terms and worked with various county commissions to improve Friend of the Court services. Rep. Runestad also served on the Judiciary Committee during his first term as state representative.“I am honored to be chosen as judiciary chair and look forward to handling a variety of legislative issues in the next two years,” said Rep. Runestad. “I am once again so thankful for the opportunity that House Speaker Tom Leonard has given me and I can only hope to serve the Michigan residents with as much pose and prominence as Speaker Leonard has and will continue to do.”The second-term lawmaker also will serve on the House committees on Insurance, Communications and Technology, and Local Government. Tags: #SB 26Jan Rep. Runestad named chair of Judiciary Committee
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State Rep. Chris Afendoulis of Grand Rapids Township today welcomed Bob Feighner to the Capitol, presenting him with a legislative tribute. Feighner is a World War II veteran who served as a torpedoman in the United States Navy at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base. He will be 92 years old this week. Bob and his wife, Ruth, have lived in the same house (which they built) in Plainfield Township since 1955, and are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary this year. “We are forever grateful for the service of brave and selfless men and women like Bob Feighner,” Afendoulis said. “The world is a different place because they didn’t hesitate when duty called, making extreme sacrifices in the fight for our country and freedoms.” Categories: Afendoulis News 20Apr Rep. Afendoulis welcomes honored guest to the Capitol
31May Rep. Bellino resolution seeks to help college students with costs Categories: Bellino News,News A resolution by state Rep. Joe Bellino, which would expand tax-free expenses for college students to include transportation costs, was approved by the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee on Tuesday.A Section 529 Qualified Tuition Program account allows students to be exempt from federal taxes when account funds are used towards tuition, textbooks, and certain room and board costs. Current 529 plans do not extend transportations costs as a tax-exempt expense.“I appreciate the option that 529 plans give to our students, giving them a savings on college fees and books,” said Bellino, of Monroe. “With so many Michigan students commuting, whether it’s vocational education, a two-year community college or the largest university in the state, that’s an added cost which is directly related to education.According to Bellino’s resolution, over 400,000 students attend community colleges statewide with only seven such schools having on-campus housing available, while between 60 to 90 percent of four-year program students are not living on campus statewide.“My hope is the U.S. Congress will consider another look at the 529 plan,” said Bellino, who wore a Monroe County Community College t-shirt while speaking to the committee. “Costs for vocational ed and colleges are not going down. We need to help these college students and their families, who are doing the responsible thing by saving for their education, with the added costs that come with getting an education.”House Concurrent Resolution 8 advances to the House for its consideration.State Rep. Joe Bellino, of Monroe, speaks before the House Workforce and Talent Committee today in support of resolution to add transportation costs as tax-exempt for college students with federal 529 Plans. Bellino wore a Monroe County Community College t-shirt while speaking to the committee.
A plan to cut unnecessary regulations standing in the way of volunteer efforts to restore precious wetlands, spearheaded by Rep. Gary Howell and Rep. Joe Bellino, was signed into law by former Governor Rick Snyder as one of the last statutes he approved before leaving office.“Previously, the laws on the books treated volunteer organizations who wanted to restore our wetlands the same as big developers with plans to disrupt natural features,” Howell, of North Branch, said. “This plan removes the obstacles to good stewardship of our wetlands and encourages conservation volunteerism.”“Many of the regulations faced by volunteer groups simply don’t fit, and it made no sense to create needless complications and delays because the laws treated volunteers as though they were big development corporations,” Bellino, of Monroe, said. “I am pleased to see this plan to help restore our wetlands signed into law.”The plan laid out in House Bills 5854 and 5855, now Public Acts 561 and 562 of 2018 establishes a voluntary wetland restoration permit process that allows the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to better consider the effects of a proposed project as it relates to the health of the entire ecosystem.“This is a smart solution that will help restore more wetlands and benefit all of our fish and wildlife population,” Bellino said.“Public policy should reward and incentivize good stewardship of our natural resources, not serve as an obstacle, and that is exactly what this bill achieves,” Howell said. Categories: Howell News,News 03Jan Reps. Howell and Bellino: New law clears the way for wetlands restoration
State Rep. Julie Alexander’s plan to ensure victims and witnesses of sexual assault are not silenced was approved today by the Michigan House with overwhelming support.Alexander, of Hanover, said the measure is part of a comprehensive bipartisan plan to solve problems brought to light by the House’s inquiry into the handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault investigation.“The Nassar case made it clear that very serious cases of sexual assault can go unreported,” Alexander said. “We must take steps to fix the problems brought to light and prevent sexual predators from preying on our children.”Alexander said current Michigan law only covers the use of physical force in preventing the reporting of sexual assault to authorities. House Bill 4374 would make it crime for an individual to intentionally use their professional position of authority to prevent such a report.“We must never allow someone to use their position of authority to convince a subordinate not to report a crime,” Alexander said. “People who try to silence survivors of sexual abuse must be held accountable.”The plan now advances to the Senate for consideration.### Categories: Alexander News 19Jun House approves Rep. Alexander’s plan to protect survivors of sexual assault
Technology company Arris has unveiled a raft of new products at the SCTE Cable-Tech Expo in Atlanta.Arris has launched AdManager, standards-based platform enabling cable providers to offer new advertising services. AdManager allows providers to extend advertising campaigns across addressable, IP-capable devices including tablets, connected TVs, game stations, laptops and smartphones. The AdManager Suite is comprised of four modular components: 360, Core, Delivery and Enterprise. 360 represents a set of campaign management applications intended to drive VOD and dynamic linear placements, including the capability to manage linear schedules and verifications for interconnect operations. Core comprises ad content workflow and routing of ad placement decisions between any campaign management application and any delivery infrastructure. Delivery abstracts the various delivery infrastructure elements (DPI ad servers, VOD servers and Content Delivery Networks) by providing a uniform SCTE 130 ADM interface and a comprehensive Playlist Manager. Enterprise provides global monitoring and advertising operations control at regional and national levels.Arris has also launched its new VIPr 6000 transcoder. According to Arris, this delivers a three-fold improvement in channel processing capacity for operators that use the current VIPr platform to transcode channels from MPEG-2 to H.264, from H.264 to MPEG-2 and to compress four high definition MPEG-2 video channels onto one QAM channel. The VIPr 6000 platform offers integrated transcoding, multiplexing, ad-splicing operations and is capable of processing up to 24 QAMs of video per rack unit in high density configuration. Other 6000 platform enhancements include a redundant power supply, and added ASI options.Finally, the company has launched its EventAssure Outage Management software, which is integrated with ServAssure Advanced through a common polling infrastructure to support automatic identification of plant and service failures. This infrastructure enhancement means that cable operators can now benefit from Arris’s performance and outage management solutions, using the same polling architecture to collect data from all DOCSIS devices, according to the company.
Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF), the umbrella organisation for France24, RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya, has signed a deal with the Qatar Media Corporation (QMC) covering exchanges of content for radio, TV and the web as well as tri-media training programmes.The latest agreement follows one in January between RFI and QMC at the launch of French-language radio station Oryx FM in Qatar.“This collaboration aims to strengthen the cultural dialogue between France and the Arab world, fostering the exchange of experience and know-how of the media domain between Qatar and France,” said Mubarak Jaham Al Kuwari, executive chairman of QMC.“I would like to thank the Qatar Media Corporation for this agreement which will allow us to develop strongly in a truly dynamic country in areas that are the essential purpose of the AEF merger: television, radio and multimedia,” said Alain de Pouzilhac, CEO of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France.
BT is accelerating rollout of its fibre broadband network and expects it to pass two thirds of UK premises by spring 2014, more than 18 months ahead of schedule.The announcement came during the telco’s second quarter results that showed it had over 950,000 fibre subscribers, of which 875,000 were retail customers. BT said it added 160,000 retail fibre customers during the quarter which meant 14% of its retail broadband base took the high speed service.Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said, “Fibre is at the heart of our broadband plans for both town and country. We plan to step up our efforts yet again to complete our commercial fibre rollout early as this will allow us to focus even further on the next exciting stage of our fibre broadband strategy. This will see BT working hand in hand with the public sector to extend fibre broadband to UK homes and businesses in the ‘final third’ of the country that are harder to reach.”BT’s hybrid TV service BT Vision added 21,000 customers during the quarter, taking its total base to over 750,000.
Digital media testing company Digital TV Labs has launched a service to test UK Freeview receivers for susceptibility to interference from 4G LTE mobile services. New 4G services broadcasting in the 800 MHz band can interfere with both Freeview DVB-T and Freeview DVB-T2 terrestrial reception in some areas, though a special filter between the antennae and receiver of the affected households can prevent this, said Digital TV Labs.The firm said it is now able to provide manufacturers with a comprehensive 4G LTE test service to ensure a basic level of immunity on DVB terrestrial receivers.“The introduction of 4G means faster, more reliable mobile internet services for consumers but it can also disrupt some Freeview services. By validating Freeview receivers’ immunity, manufacturers can avoid potential disruption to end user TV experience,” said Keith Potter, CEO of Digital TV Labs.Digital TV Labs claims to be the world’s largest independent and specialist digital TV testing company, with lab facilities in the UK and Hong Kong.
Greek service provider Cyta Hellas, an offshoot of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta), is using technology from ADB and Alcatel-Lucent to deliver triple-play services.Cyta Hellas, whose Cytavision triple-play service was launched last December is delivering an IPTV service based on Alcatel-Lucent’s middleware wit ADB hybrid HD set-top boxes. The operator is also using ADB’s Epicentro-PMP remote management applications to remotely manage home networks and fix problems at customers’ premises.ADB already provides technology for Cyta’s service offerings in Cyprus.“Τhe flexibility and affordability of ADB’s feature-packed solutions, is a major component of our comprehensive and differentiated 3play solution with voice, internet and TV packages starting from just €19 a month. Judging by the high level of interest to date, we have hit upon a winning formula,” said Christos Kolitsidas, head of products and services, Cyta Hellas.“We have delivered digital TV solutions to Cyta in Cyprus for many years so we believe it is a mark of our success that Cyta has extended the partnership to encompass its new triple play operations on mainland Greece. With a strong surge in subscribers, it seems that Cyta Hellas has found a sweet spot in the Greek market for a cost-effective triple-play service,” said Peter Balchin, CEO at ADB.
Graham McWilliamSky’s group director, corporate affairs, Graham McWilliam, has taken to Twitter to defend Sky’s record expenditure on Premier League rights, following its £5.14 billion (€6.9 billion) deal.“Sky went in hard to get the result. Yes, paid big. That’s what it takes. We can and will absorb it #premierleague,” McWilliam tweeted.McWilliam also used Twitter to argue that only Sky had achieved its objectives and that a comparison of prices paid ignored the value gap between the operator and its rivals. He said the addition of Friday night games to Sunday and Monday night football had been a huge prize for the broadcaster. McWilliam said the deal had given Sky Sports better match selections than before, including three quarters of first and second picks.He also argued that Sky was right not to chase Champions League rights held by BT as a £300 million spend would only guarantee rights to 26 matches with British teams and that the Premier League mattered more to football fans.Officials from other European football leagues have meanwhile expressed disquiet about the potential impact of the deal internationally.Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s La Liga, has warned that Real Madrid and Barcelona’s top players could move to English clubs as a result of the deal.Tebas said the Sky deal represented a “serious problem” for the Spanish league and called for a switch from individual clubs negotiating their own rights packages to a system of collective bargaining.Waldemar Kita, the president of FC Nantes, meanwhile told French sports paper L’Équipe that it would be necessary for French teams to renegotiate their TV rights with Canal+ and BeIN Sports,w hich he said had an objective interest in making Ligue 1 an attractive proposition. He said the gap between the English Premier League and other European leagues was likely to grow inexorably.Philippe Diallo, head of French clubs union the UCPF said that average Premier League clubs would be in a position to take the best French players and that there the economic power of English Premier League clubs was “unstoppable” in a totally free market.German Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert has said his league may have to look at fresh options to compete, such as changing kick-off times and running matches on Monday evenings. A substantial proportion of German matches are currently concentrated on Saturday afternoons.
Netflix has confirmed upcoming launches in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.The US-listed streaming service will hit the Asian territories in early 2016 as part of its wider global roll out.The four new Netflix service will follow the roll out in Japan, the first in the region and which launched earlier this month.News of the South Korea launch leaked over the weekend, with the streaming service reportedly looking to partner with local telcos, and Netflix confirmed it yesterday.The company said that it will launch in the new territories on smart TVs and connected devices, but did not specify any partnerships. It has also not released pricing information and there was no mention of a China launch, which has also been widely rumoured.“The combination of increasing Internet speeds and ubiquity of connected devices provides consumers with the anytime, anywhere ability to enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies on the Netflix service,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO. “These four markets well represent those trends.”In January, Netflix said it plans to complete its global expansion within two years.
Yahoo and Mediaset have struck an exclusive three-year deal for the sale of display, native and video advertising and content marketing on Yahoo’s Italian site.Mediaset said the deal would place its online advertising arm Mediamond immediately behind Google and Facebook in local measurement group Audiweb’s rankings, with a monthly reach of 21.2 million people and a daily reach of 5.3 million.Yahoo’s proprietary native platform Gemini wlll be available to Mediamond, while Mediamond and general ad sales arm Publitalia will be able to use social network Tumblr for cross-media projects, according to Mediaset.Mediaset CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi said that Yahoo was a brand with “extraordinary recognition and authority in the digital world”, which was playing an ever more important role in media strategy.
Ukrainian mobile and fixed-line service provider Kyivstar is using Vidmind to supply the platform for its recently-launched OTT TV service.Vidmind will highlight the platform at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.Vidmind and Modern Times Group-owned Viasat Ukraine together won the tender to supply the service, which went live in November, to Kyivstar.The Ukrainian operator has now rolled out its OTT offering across Ukraine, following initial availability in Krivoy Rog and ZhytomyrVidmind was chosen because of its advanced and robust technology,” said Hagai Azor, VP Operations at Vidmind. “Together with ViaSat we were able to offer a risk-free model and fast deployment capability combined with premium content.”
NASA has launched an app for the fourth generation of Apple TV, letting users live-stream NASA TV and access videos and images on-demand.The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration will offer more than 15,000 images, display 2D and 3D satellite tracking maps and deliver the latest NASA mission information.“The NASA app has been a fantastic way for the public to experience the excitement of space exploration from their mobile devices. Now, users with the latest Apple TV can explore and enjoy our remarkable images, videos, mission information, NASA Television and more on the big screen with the whole family,” said David Weaver, NASA associate administrator for Communications.The NASA app is already available as an app for iPhone and iPad, and for Android and Fire OS devices.
Middle East pay TV provider OSN has revamped its offering with new packs and new price points in the wake of an extensive customer research project across 40,000 homes in the region.The new services will be made commercially available from tomorrow.The company is offering customers a choice of new sports, movies and entertainment packs that it claims will let customers create their own mix based on what they want to watch and their available spending power.Prices for the new packs start from AED/SAR79 (€20) for 32 channels.OSN is offering five new packs – Entertainment Get Started, the basic offering, Ultimate Entertainment, Movies, Ultimate Movies and Ultimate SportsOSN said that the revamp had been the initiative of new CEO Martin Stewart, the former CEO of Spanish cable operator Ono, now owned by Vodafone, and CFO of Sky, who took over at the UAE-based operator in August last year.Faisal Hamad Al Ayyar, Chairman of OSN, said: “OSN has consistently set benchmarks in the region’s entertainment landscape through its exclusive content partnerships and an unbeatable viewing experience. We are pushing the boundaries and making this value proposition available for one and all, marking a new era for the entertainment industry. This is the organic evolution of OSN, a response to what our customers want.”The launch follows OSN’s deal with Disney, announced last week , that will see it launch four additional Disney branded services as part of its OSN Play on-demand offering.OSN’s latest moves follow the extension last year of rival pay TV player BeIN Media’s offering from its core sports service to encompass more entertainment content as well as more intensive competition from IPTV players.IHS Markit last year estimated that OSN was on track to lose about 50,000 subscribers in the course of 2016, with increasing churn, which it attributed primarily to competition from IPTV services Ooredoo in Qatar and STC in Saudi Arabia as well as BeIN Media.While beIN Media has moved aggressively into the entertainment genre and added a range of kids content from the likes of Turner, Discovery, the BBC and DreamWorks animation, OSN remains the leader in offering Arabic-language entertainment content, with a strong offering of Arabic channels.
The EBU has released a raft of new enhancements to its live subtitling toolkit.The latest release of the EBU-TT Live Interoperability Toolkit (LIT) includes new or enhanced features to allow broadcasters to quickly and easily set up a complete live subtitling test chain, according to the EBU.The toolkit consists of a repository of open source software modules and tests that can be used by broadcasters, service providers, developers, and others to develop specification-conformant products and to validate the EBU-TT Live Subtitling specification (EBU Tech 3370) which aims to improve the interoperability of live subtitling solutions for broadcasters and content providers.Release 2 provides a set of components for generating, validating and distributing live subtitles. Using one of the provided sample configuration files, an EBU-TT live subtitling environment can be created with a single command, according to the EBU.A range of BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) tests to verify the implementation against the specification are part of the repository. Also included are a very basic test web-based authoring tool, an automated producer of test live subtitles, a distributor, two kinds of delay nodes, a basic validating consumer node, a “resequencer” and an EBU-TT-D encoder, and a carriage mechanism (Websockets).EBU-TT Part 3 is currently undergoing the final stages of review and this release of the LIT implements most of the specification. The next release will include all the remaining components described in the specification as well as any final changes and will constitute a complete reference implementation, according to the organisation.
Balan NairLiberty Global’s chief technology and innovation officer, Balan Nair, is set to become president and CEO of Liberty’s Latin American and Caribbean arm once it is spun off.Liberty Global said Nair will remain in his current role until its LatAm operation is split-off into a separate public company, which is expected to take place around the end of the year.Nair joined Liberty Global 10 years ago, during which time he has managed the group’s fixed and mobile network operations, broadband and video product development and strategic planning. The search for his successor is already underway.“Balan is an exceptional technologist and operating executive who has delivered tremendous value to our company as CTO,” said Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries.“He has led us into the future with next-generation broadband, video and mobile products, and has transformed our entire technology operating model.“I am excited that Balan has agreed to lead this new company into the future, and I look forward to continuing our close working relationship as part of the broader Liberty family.”Nair said: “It’s been a privilege to work with and learn from Mike Fries and John Malone, and I am proud and humbled to have the opportunity to continue collaborating with them in my new role as President and CEO of Liberty’s Latin American and Caribbean operation.”Alongside Nair and Fries, who will be executive chairman, the board of the new LatAm company is expected to include Liberty Global chairman John Malone, Liberty CFO Charles Bracken and Liberty directors Paul Gould and Miranda Curtis.Three additional directors have been identified for their “regional expertise and strategic value”: former chairman of Charter Communications, Eric Zinterhofer; the co-CEO of Grupo Televisa, Alfonso de Angoitia; and founder and former CEO of Columbus Communications, Brendan Paddick.Nair brings nearly 25 years of experience in the telecoms, internet, cable and media industries to his new role. Prior to Liberty Global he was AOL’s chief technology officer and before that spent 12 years at Qwest Communications International.
A company backed by private-equity outfit Permira is to acquire Cisco’s service provider video software solutions business, with former NDS chairman and CEO Abe Peled to return as chairman of the new venture.Abe Peled receiving a Digital TV Europe Euro50 Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013When the deal closes, the Permira Funds will create a rebranded company focused on technology for the pay TV industry. Its product lines will encompass Cisco’s Infinite Video Platform, cloud digital video recording, video processing, video security, video middleware, and services groups.Peled has been acting as advisor to the funds.The sale of the video business has been approved by Cisco’s board. The company will retain video and media technology assets that are related to its core business in networking , multi-cloud, security, data and collaboration.The deal is expected to close in Cisco’s financial first quarter for the 2019 financial year, meaning the third calendar quarter of this year.Reports that Cisco was planning to sell the former NDS Group emerged in November, when Bloomberg reported that it was soliciting offers for the unit, which it acquired for US$5 billion five years previously.Cisco had earlier sold its set-top box and consumer hardware division, based on its earlier acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta, to Technicolor for €560 million, having acquired that unit for US$6.9 billion in 2005.Terms of the former NDS Group sale have not been disclosed, but are also likely to involve a massive discount on the purchase price.In a blog posting, Yvette Kanouff, SVP and general manager of Cisco’s service provider business, said that it was “the right time” for the service provider video group to become a standalone company. “I believe it will be very successful, and it will be focused solely on growth in this marketplace,” she said.Kanouff also said that Peled would “a great steward to the board and to the business”.She said Cisco remained “dedicated to the service provider business and to our service providers customers”.In his prepared statement, Peled said that the new company would “have the scale, technology innovation, and world-class team to deliver outstanding go-to-market execution, customer engagement, and new end-user experiences”.He said that Cisco had built “a profitable business” in the video space with innovations focused on IP distribution and cloud video.“I am thrilled to be working again in this area with Permira who is committed to innovation and support for our Pay-TV customers, and look forward to the ongoing working relationship with Cisco in support of our mutual customers,” said Peled.Cisco chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said that the new company under Peled would be “well-positioned to drive this work forward and continue to deliver the solutions that meet the current and future needs of service provider video customers”.Paolo Pescatore, VP, multiplay and media, CCS Insight, commenting on the deal, said: “Cisco follows Ericsson in selling its video business to a private equity firm. It is a reflection of the challenging landscape. There are too many solution providers chasing too few dollars. Bottom line, many of these solutions providers have diversified and now need to focus on core areas. Despite this, the media and telecoms industries are closer than ever. There will be more casualties due to further disruption. This represents an opportunity for other providers who still focus on connectivity and delivery of video over the Internet.”
OTT content distribution platform Airbeem has named former Ericsson executive Thorsten Sauer as executive chairman.Thorsten SauerSauer previously served as president of Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services, now known as Red Bee Media. His time at the helm saw the acquisition of Technicolor’s Broadcast Services division in 2012, Red Bee Media in 2014 and FYI Television in 2016. In February, OTT TV technology provider Xstream has named Sauer to its board.Airbeem works with media companies, sports brands, broadcasters and content owners to create their own online video channels. The company provides off-the-shelf solutions to enable media owners to create their own OTT channel.Airbeem recently secured a Series A funding round led by Edge Investment to enable it to scale its product R&D sales and marketing and customer success teams worldwide.Steve Hardman, Airbeem CEO, said: “The appointment of Thorsten to our board comes at a time when we are investing heavily in sales and marketing to significantly grow the business. We believe we have a disruptive technology approach to video experience and OTT distribution for the direct to consumer market, providing premier content owners innovative monetisation tools to grow their channels and deliver their content to audiences with a tailored, enhanced user experience and a significant different commercial approach. Thorsten’s appointment brings valuable industry experience and vision to help us shape the vision of our OTT platform for the middle market.”Sauer said: “Consumers habits prove the future of TV is over the top. I look forward to bringing my industry knowledge to further help Airbeem enable content owners to launch direct to consumer OTT channels around the world and help drive global growth of the company.”