Report Says Buyers Can Break Even on a Home Purchase in Less

first_img The real estate market has shown that timing matters when purchasing a home. Zillow’s Breakeven Horizon analysis determined that homebuyers who made the biggest financial gains over the last decade entered the market at its lowest point. The analysis found that homeowners can still break even on a home purchase in less than two years, even while many buyers who bought 10 years ago have not broke even.The analysis reviewed how buyers can expect the market to perform and how buyers fared at different points in the housing crisis and recovery. Many buyers lost money in the housing market simply by buying before the market had bottomed out.”For example, millions of buyers took advantage of the federal homebuyer tax credit in 2009 and bought a home before the market had fully bottomed out,” the Zillow report said. “In most of the country’s 35 largest housing markets, those buyers would have been better off financially if they had rented and put their money anywhere else – stocks, bonds, or even in their bank account. On the other hand, buyers who bought in 2012 fared much better and made more in the housing market than they would have even if they had rented and invested their savings in the recently bullish stock market instead.”According to Zillow, the wide variety of outcomes is a result of the U.S. economy’s boom, bust, and recovery over the past decade. The first time homebuyer tax credit was part of a government effort to push economic recovery as the country exited the Great Recession, but it came before the market had fully hit bottom. Buyers looking to purchase in the country’s hardest hit housing markets found the greatest opportunities if they bought at the right moment.The breakeven horizon for the U.S. remained flat from the previous quarter in the first quarter of 2015, Zillow says. This was mostly due to rising rents, which made it advantageous to buy rather than rent. Currently, homebuyers can break even on a home purchase in two years or less in 23 of the top 35 housing markets and the national average is 1.9 years. Dallas-Fort Worth buyers can break even the fastest, in 1.1 years. Breaking even takes the longest in Washington D.C. at 4.5 years and Los Angeles at 4.3 years.”It’s very clear that when it comes to maximizing gains from an investment in real estate, timing really does matter a great deal,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist. “However, timing isn’t everything, and trying to time the market perfectly is incredibly difficult, even for professionals. There are any number of factors to consider when purchasing a home, only one of which is the potential for financial gain. Potential buyers should always place their personal needs and their family’s needs first, and make the decision to buy only when they are ready to make a significant investment of both their time and money. Just because the math might say to buy or rent in a given area, personal preferences and situations vary greatly, and there is no one answer that is right for everybody.”Click here to view Zillow’s Breakeven Horizon report.  Breakeven Horizon Homebuyers Two Years Zillow 2015-07-09 Staff Writer Share in Daily Dose, Featured, Newscenter_img July 9, 2015 475 Views Report Says Buyers Can Break Even on a Home Purchase in Less Than Two Yearslast_img read more

Rep Chatfield applauds pipeline report

first_img Lawmaker begins work on bills to address safety concernsState Rep. Lee Chatfield is leading an effort to increase transparency between Enbridge and the state of Michigan by drafting legislation to require state review and approval of future pipeline changes.The legislation follows today’s release of a Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force report that calls for a ban on heavy crude oil transportation through the 5B Pipeline in the Mackinac Straits, along with other recommendations for the 5B and other petroleum and gas pipelines across Michigan.“When it comes to our Great Lakes and inland waterways, we must remember that this is not just a part of who we are in Northern Michigan, it is the lifeblood that drives our tourism and economic development,” Rep. Chatfield said. “Preserving our water is critical for the future of Northern Michigan’s success, and it’s imperative that we take the simple, necessary steps laid out in this report to ensure its safety.”The task force report recommendations for the 5B Pipeline include mandatory full insurance coverage, examining future options, disclosure of Enbridge safety inspections and creation of a public advisory committee.“Enbridge has recently taken many important steps to ensure that the pipeline remains safe, fully operable and properly inspected,” Rep. Chatfield said. “However, increasing reporting requirements for this critical industry improves much-needed transparency with the public and the Legislature.“I share the concerns voiced by this report for preserving the quality of the Straits of Mackinac, and I am encouraging that action be taken immediately.” Categories: Chatfield News 14Jul Rep. Chatfield applauds pipeline reportlast_img read more

Rep Griffin praises House for vote on more transparency

first_img State Rep. Beth Griffin voted for the people of Michigan and making government more accountable on Thursday, supporting all 11 bills in a landmark transparency reform package.Griffin, of Mattawan, said the legislative package makes the executive branch, which includes the governor and lieutenant governor, subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It also creates the Legislative Open Record Act (LORA), which applies provisions of FOIA to the state legislators.“State government has a responsibility to be accountable to the public, and these bills move that effort another step forward,” Griffin said. “The hard-working taxpayers of Michigan deserve to see how we use the dollars they entrust to the state, and this legislation accomplishes that goal.”The legislation is similar to a package of bills introduced last session and passed overwhelmingly by the House. The bills never made it to the governor for signature.Griffin said Michigan is one of just a few states that do not subject their legislative and executive branches to open records acts. The House also recently put a salary database of all House employees on its website to provide more accountability to taxpayers.##### Categories: Griffin News 17Mar Rep. Griffin praises House for vote on more transparencylast_img read more

Rep Brann welcomes guests to House floor

first_img Rep. Tommy Brann welcomed two guests to the House floor this week. Teyei Joel Pam and Reouhidi Reuben Ndjerareou, both originally from Africa, wanted to visit the state Capitol to learn more about our system of government.Rep. Brann’s guests were able to sit with him on the floor and watch the House session proceedings. The transparency of state government and the ease of access to elected representatives was surprising to them.“It was such an honor and a privilege to have had the opportunity to participate in democracy. The visit to the Michigan State Capitol was a highlight in my life, because I know that in my home country of Chad such opportunities do not exist for the common citizen,” Ndjerareou said. “This experience is one that I will be sharing with my fellow Africans as well as encouraging them to experience it themselves if the opportunity should ever be presented.” 03May Rep. Brann welcomes guests to House floor Categories: Brann Newslast_img read more

Rep Meerman Michigan House approves plan promoting openness transparency in state government

first_img19Mar Rep. Meerman: Michigan House approves plan promoting openness, transparency in state government Categories: Meerman News,News State Rep. Luke Meerman today voted in favor of a plan subjecting the governor and the Legislature to open records laws, a key step in making state government more responsive to the people it represents.The Michigan House unanimously approved the multi-bill package with Meerman’s support, sending the plan to the Senate for further consideration.Michigan is one of just two states that still exempts its governor and the Legislature from open records laws. The bipartisan solution approved by the House would end these exemptions and increase transparency in state government – making state legislators and the governor subject to the same type of disclosure laws already followed by public schools and local governments.“There is no state government without the people and taxpayers of Michigan,” said Meerman, of Polkton Township. “They have every right to know how their taxes are spent and how decisions are made at the state Capitol. These reforms approved by the House will help shine a light on state government and make it more responsive to the people it represents.”The proposal will subject the governor and lieutenant governor to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and hold state representatives and senators to the same high standard by creating the Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).While LORA mirrors FOIA in many ways, there are exemptions to protect the privacy and personal information of residents who contact their state lawmakers for assistance on personal matters. Other types of communications – including those lawmakers have with state departments and lobbyists – would not be exempt from public disclosure.center_img ###The legislation approved today includes House Bills 4007-4013 and 4015-16.last_img read more

American Opera Rising

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 SharesJune 27, 2014; Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed wrote a compelling piece last week exploring the state of opera in American cities and, notably, the increase in new American works of opera as a means of keeping the artistic discipline relevant and appealing to 21st-century American audiences. “The art form is not standing still,” he writes. “It’s growing, uncontrollably, by leaps and messy bounds.”Despite the closure of opera companies in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Baltimore and San Antonio; despite the near-death experience of San Diego Opera in recent months; and despite the ongoing, bitter labor dispute at the Metropolitan Opera, Swed notes:Opera has never had a wider or more anarchic reach. You can’t escape it. Opera is broadcast in cinemas and at Times Square in New York. Opera pops up on the streets, in parks and at clubs. Museums mount operas, often with the intention of reinvention. There have been opera performances of late in grocery stores and banks as well as at a wax museum in New York and Union Station in Los Angeles. Symphony orchestras everywhere do it. Hipsters in Brooklyn do it.One of the trends he notes is an increase in new American works, citing Los Angeles Opera as an example. According to OPERA America, opera companies in North America have premiered 369 new works between 2000 and 2011; while not all of these were American, this does attest to the vitality of the art form.Writing about the San Diego Opera’s new life and new leadership, John Patrick Ford observes:Future seasons must attract a new and younger audience with a mix of traditional 19th- and 20th-century opera with musicals, rare chamber operas and new works that tell a story about political issues and famous personalities. Repertory seasons about kings and bygone lifestyles do not draw new ticket buyers. This is a bitter pill for the old guard subscribers who are fading in age and ability to buy expensive tickets.Ford, a past president of San Diego Opera, cites productions this summer by Santa Fe Opera of Dr. Sun Yat-sen by Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo and Opera Theatre of St. Louis of 27, about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, by American composer Ricky Ian Gordon and Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek. He suggests Verdi and Wagner ought to get used to sharing the season with American composers like John Adams, Philip Glass, and Jake Heggie. The San Diego Opera production of Heggie’s Moby Dick was often cited during the company’s recent turmoil as an example of a breakthrough experience that demonstrated the appeal to audiences of moving beyond the classics and into contemporary works. In addition to “fresh music and drama,” Ford believes “theatrical talent and avant-garde stage technology” will be essential to the future of opera.Evidence of the artistic and financial investments being made by American opera companies in new works—often collaboratively—is everywhere. In a review of 27, Denver Post critic Ray Mark Rinaldi notes, “If you want to understand where opera is going in America you have to travel right to its middle; to Missouri of all places, where Opera Theatre of St. Louis has premiered 24 works in its 39-year existence.” Opera Philadelphia has an American Repertoire Program that promises to deliver new American works in ten consecutive seasons, including a “popera” about Andy Warhol and a co-commission with Santa Fe Opera of Cold Mountain, based on the Charles Frazier novel. A new work by Heggie, Great Scott, being developed jointly by Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera is about what Dallas News describes as “a quintessentially American conflict, between opera and football.”Now, back to the aforementioned “messy leaps and bounds” as American opera grows. Swed addresses the labor conflict at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the controversy surrounding its upcoming production of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer. Regarding the labor dispute and the underlying business-model issues, he observes that the organization “operates like a bank too big to fail,” but may in fact be a company “that is too big to succeed.” Ouch.Klinghoffer, based on the 1985 Palestinian terrorist hijacking of the Achille Lauro, is an opera some have interpreted as being anti-Semitic, leading the company to cancel Live in HD broadcasts of the production in worldwide cinemas at the request of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb, who is Jewish, has stated publicly that he does not believe the opera to be anti-Semitic. ADL national director Abraham Foxman, who has not seen Klinghoffer, says he is not charging the opera with being anti-Semitic, but is representing “the concerns of the Jewish community and the relatives of Leon Klinghoffer.” Swed attributes this controversy to the “power of opera,” noting:The objections to Klinghoffer have mainly revolved around the sheer poetic eloquence of Alice Goodman’s libretto and Adams’ score, which allows the hijackers to seem momentarily sympathetic. We recognize the injustice they feel, and we might even share their hopes and dreams. Music is a medium in which they can express their romantic vision. If we listen carefully, we may even, for half a second, feel as they feel.The greatness of Klinghoffer—and of opera—is just how dangerous that half-second can be. Here is an explanation I have never found anywhere else of how human nature can be so subverted that someone becomes a suicide bomber. The effectiveness of Adams’ opera is to then reveal the ways a romantic vision can lead to epic tragedy, the killing on the Achille Lauro and the ever-present bloodshed in the Middle East that horrifies us every day.It’s hard to imagine experiencing this kind of an opera production and not talking about it, thinking about it, telling others about it long after the curtain comes down. Not necessarily because it’s controversial, but because it’s a familiar, contemporary story and it’s sung in English, so there’s no hiding behind a foreign language. This opera was first produced in 1991, so it’s not exactly a “new” work. And yet, it’s still very much a topic of live discussion. Which points back to the kind of audience engagement that opera companies everywhere acknowledge as essential to the future of the art. –Eileen CunniffeShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

DOJ Sues Ferguson for Reneging on Reform Agreement Constitutional Protections are Nonnegotiable

first_imgShare5TweetShareEmail5 SharesBlack Lives Matter Black Friday / The All-Nite ImagesFebruary 10, 2016; New York TimesU.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice lost no time in declaring that it would file suit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, after the city council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to reject the agreement negotiated between city officials and the DOJ to overhaul its police and courts to redress problems surfaced in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown.“Their decision leaves us no further choice,” said Lynch, adding that city residents “have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”The city council cited concerns about the cost of implementation of reforms, estimated to potentially run from $2.1 million to $3.7 million in the first year. The city budget has been in deficit over the last few years, and some believe that these costs may force it into bankruptcy. But the suit ensures that the city will pay the money, either for reforms or in legal fees, fighting the suit.The most onerous of the agreement’s requirements were in a salary increase for local police and in a provision that would have required the agreement to be followed even if the city were to outsource its policing. Lynch addressed this last issue, saying, “Our view is the city of Ferguson deserves constitutional policing, no matter who is in charge of the city’s police force.” By striking this provision, Ferguson would be able to “avoid and evade” any efforts at reform of its policing.The DOJ report on which the rejected agreement was based found, among other things, that African Americans were overwhelmingly the victims in excessive force incidents and that the courts and police cooperated in criminal justice practices that acted as a moneymaking venture for the city. From the DOJ report:Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs. This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community. Further, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities…The agreement would have required that police would refrain from making arrests without probable cause, shooting at moving cars, or using stun guns as punishment. It also required that the court and police disentangle, and that some laws used primarily against African Americans be repealed.Earlier this week Dan Webb, the city’s attorney, warned there was “no chance the DOJ will not file a lawsuit” if the deal were rejected, so the city councilors were well warned.Kriston Capps of the Atlantic’s CityLab writes:The answer may well be that Ferguson is not viable in the long term, no matter what decisions its leaders make. Bankruptcy is not a certain outcome, but it’s a plausible one. The scope of the problems facing the cities that make up St. Louis County—from Ferguson to Florissant to Bel-Ridge and dozens of other communities that all face the same dismal long-term outlook—are beyond the means of any one of them to solve on its own.Which is why municipal consolidation still looks like the only real answer for Ferguson (and Florissant, and Bel-Ridge, and so on). But neither the Justice Department nor the Ferguson City Council can bring that solution. For now, the future of Ferguson is headed, unhappily, to the courts.But Lynch’s position is that constitutional protections are non-negotiable, and  Ferguson now has to take on the expense of dismantling what Ta-Nehisi Coates vividly described in the Atlantic as a “system of plunder.”—Ruth McCambridgeShare5TweetShareEmail5 Shareslast_img read more

Geofencing and the Abortion Minded—Invasive Use of Technology by Activists

first_imgShare13TweetShareEmail13 SharesVon ECD Electronic Components GmbH Dresden, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15780965May 31, 2016; FortuneThese days, when you download an app, it is fairly commonplace to be asked to enable location services on your cell phone. At times, you may have wondered why, say, an app for your grocery store really needs to know where you are located, but chances are you went ahead and allowed it. Location data permits marketers to take advantage of a tool known as geofencing. Geofencing is a service that enables a company to define a virtual perimeter—the “fence” in geofence—around a real location. The software then uses GPS data to send an alert to contacts that have entered (or exited) the fence.Since its inception, some great, albeit borderline creepy, uses for geofencing have been discovered, many of which are centered on marketing. For instance, large companies can target local shoppers, and along the same lines, deals can be specialized by location. Some companies, such as Retail Me Not, use the service to send coupons to users once they have entered the geofence perimeter. The overall idea has been that once companies know how individuals shop, they can offer a more tailored experience. In terms of the nonprofit world, several uses have been identified. Two options that are popular include instant check-in at fundraising events upon entry in the geofence and keeping track of a nonprofit’s most expensive assets (i.e., alerts that indicate when computers, cars, etc. have left the geofence).Unfortunately, an issue arises when organizations use location data in a method that invades the privacy of its consumers in more intimate ways. This is the case with Copley Advertising, whose CEO, John Flynn, has decided to use location-based ad services to reach women who are deemed “abortion-minded.” Flynn’s campaigns can send targeted propaganda to women while they are in the clinic waiting to have an abortion or seeking more information. Since advertising this package, Flynn has been getting much attention from the anti-abortion world; he was hired by RealOptions and Bethany Christian Services to run ad campaigns and was later invited to speak at the Family Research Council’s ProLifeCon Digital Action Summit.Bethany Regional Marketing Manager Jennie VanHorn commented, “Marketing for pregnancy help centers has always been a needle in the haystack approach—cast a wide net and hope for the best. With geofencing, we can reach women who we know are looking for or in need of someone to talk to.”Not all pro-life groups support Flynn’s endeavors, however. One representative said, “I felt disgust, and I felt protective of these women who are going to seek sensitive medical services at a time when they’re vulnerable. They’re being spied on by this capitalist vulture who is literally trying to sell their fetuses. To do this to women without consent is predatory and it’s an invasion of her privacy, and unethical.”Therein lies the crux of the debate. Aside from the issue of reproductive rights, the question is how location data can be used ethically. How far is too far?Although the technology is receiving a lot of attention now, it has been around for decades. Unfortunately, even given this long history, there are only two laws that govern the use of location data—the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and the Communications Act of 1934—but several consumer rights bills are being drafted.In terms of medical information, in the case of anti-abortion groups, Chris Hoofnagle, a University of California, Berkeley School of Law professor, indicates that the law wouldn’t apply. He says, “Privacy law in the U.S. is technology and context dependent. As an example, the medical information you relay to your physician is very highly protected, but if you go to a medical website and search for ‘HIV’ or ‘abortion,’ that information is not protected at all.”The Federal Trade Commission can ensure that advertisers are not misleading consumers, but they don’t hold jurisdiction over nonprofit organizations, and as long as a privacy policy indicates that data may be released to third-party advertisers, all legal accountability has been met. Thus, when that prompt appears asking if users would like to enable location services, once they hit “I agree,” they potentially opt in to releasing this information to third party advertisers and open themselves up to being targeted for ad campaigns such as Flynn’s.While the debate goes on, what can consumers do to protect themselves from unwanted and invasive advertisements? For starters, read privacy policies carefully. If there truly is no need for an app to know your location, do not enable location services. Or, enable location services only when you need them. Another option would be to simply leave your smartphone at home when going to places such as an abortion clinic, as long as it is practical to do so.Cooper Quintin, a technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on protecting basic rights in the face of new technology, considers location-based services to be a major privacy threat. He says, “The way we need to fight back against this is by blocking those things that are tracking who we are and where we are and what thing we’re looking at.”—Sheela NimishakaviShare13TweetShareEmail13 Shareslast_img read more

A Place to Call Home Is Getting Harder to Find

first_imgShare11TweetShare12Email23 Shares“Housing Market Street Sign.” Credit: 401calculator.orgJune 8, 2017; WTTW (Chicago, IL)A new report offers a bleak look at the cost of housing in Illinois for those earning minimum wage. Not only is it bleak in Illinois, the picture for renters around the nation doesn’t look good, either.“In only 12 counties [out of more than 3,100] in the United States can a full-time worker earning the prevailing federal or state minimum wage afford a one-bedroom rental home,” according to “Out of Reach 2017: The High Cost of Housing,” a report just issued by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The report analyzes how much someone would need to earn in order to afford a modest apartment state by state.The federal minimum wage is $7.25, though some 29 states and the District of Columbia have higher floors. However, the report states that “a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom rental home in only 12 counties, not including Puerto Rico. These twelve counties are located in Arizona, Oregon, and Washington State, all of which have a minimum wage higher than the federal level.”For example, in Illinois, the fair market rate for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,085. A person earning minimum wage would have to work more than 101 hours a week to be able to afford the apartment and not fall into the category of “rent burdened.” A rule of thumb researchers use to determine the amount of income someone should be set aside for housing is about 30 percent of take-home pay (after taxes and other payroll deductions). However, there is evidence that wages are not increasing as fast as rental housing costs.Housing costs are not just a problem faced by low-income renters. The squeeze of affordability is much wider. Ronda Kaysen, writing in the New York Times, describes the search for “The Elusive $1,500 Rental.” College graduates, public service workers, service industry employees, and teachers all seek affordable places to call home and face growing difficulty finding it. Yes, it’s New York, but the stories Kaysen chronicles are repeated in many U.S. cities.Megan Arellana, writing in the Denverite, says the average Denver renter doesn’t earn enough to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the Denver metro area. “Lots of people pay more than that, but the federal government considers them cost-burdened,” writes Arellano. When renters are rent-burdened, it means they can’t meet other basic needs without sacrifices in food, medical care, transportation, and other services.While renters across income levels face difficulties, lower-income renters face even greater challenges. Research shows that the private market rarely produces new rental units for the lowest income households:Absent public subsidy, the private market rarely produces new rental housing affordable to the lowest income households. The rent these households can afford to pay often does not cover the costs of development and operating expenses. The majority of low-cost rental homes in the private market are older homes that have filtered down in quality and price relative to newer units. These low-cost homes, however, are being lost. Landlords in strong housing markets have an incentive to upgrade these low-cost homes to obtain higher rents.What can be done? Isn’t this just the way the market works? What’s this have to do with public policy?While low-income renters struggle to afford their homes, the largest share of federal housing expenditures benefit higher-income homeowners in the form of deductions from their taxable income. Homeowners are eligible to subtract the interest paid on their mortgage and real estate taxes from their federal taxable income if they itemize their deductions rather than claim the standard deduction. These two deductions combined cost the federal government nearly $100 billion annually, more than 83 percent of which benefits homeowners with incomes greater than $100,000 (Joint Committee on Taxation, 2017).There are strong links between housing and community well-being. Today, the role of federal and state governments is being redefined both by action as well as intentional inaction. It’s easy to get lost in the details of the many programs and what impact they may or may not have, but this report documenting the vast gap in housing availability is worth attention.—Kevin JohnsonShare11TweetShare12Email23 Shareslast_img read more

Pipeline Protest SLAPP Suit Slapped Aside by Judge

first_imgShare15TweetShareEmail15 SharesBy Carl Wycoff from Nevada, USA (Dakota Access Pipe Line) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia CommonsJuly 25, 2018; Bismarck TribuneUS District Judge Billy Roy Wilson has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Energy Transfer Partners against BankTrack, a Dutch nonprofit that had the gall to write to banks to ask that they cease providing financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline. That’s what BankTrack does—pressure banks to stop financing projects that do not lead to a just and sustainable world. ETP also sued Greenpeace and others last August, alleging they all were conspirators in an international criminal enterprise aimed at halting pipeline construction.According to Amy Dalrymple at the Bismarck Tribune, “Energy Transfer Partners alleged that the defendants incited, funded and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to fraudulently induce donations, interfere with pipeline construction and damage the pipeline developer’s business and financial relationships.Perhaps not surprisingly, the judge deemed that the plaintiff’s attempt to apply federal racketeering laws to BankTrack was “dangerously broad.” He wrote, “While the complaint vaguely attempts to connect BankTrack to acts of ‘radical eco-terrorism,’ an international drug distribution and money laundering enterprise, and violations of the Patriot Act, BankTrack’s actual conduct in this case was allegedly writing a few letters to financial institutions and posting links to the letters on its website.”BankTrack, who rightly called the legal action a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit, said the tactic was aimed at stifling free speech. “We hope the judge will now similarly dismiss the case against the other defendants,” said Johan Frijns, director of the group, “and that the ringing rejection of this case will discourage other corporations from launching these kinds of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.” A SLAPP suit, of course, aims to intimidate and silence critics by creating burdensome legal costs. NPQ has written before about the use of such suits by corporations and the attempts of governments and philanthropy to temper their use.—Ruth McCambridgeShare15TweetShareEmail15 Shareslast_img read more

Spanish cable operator ONO has begun marketing its

first_imgSpanish cable operator ONO has begun marketing its new TiVo service with the launch of an advertising campaign. The campaign, developed by ad agency China, featuring Hollywood actor Christian Slater, is designed to highlight the quality and benefits of the service, which ONO is currently offering in Madrid and Barcelona.ONO’s TiVo service allows users to record two channels simultaneously and store over 200 hours of content as well as providing advanced content search and recommendation. The operator plans to roll it out in other regions over the coming months.last_img read more

Orange is adding three additional M6owned themati

first_imgOrange is adding three additional M6-owned thematic channels to its satellite offering in France. The channels, which will be broadcast via Astra and Eutelsat’s Hot Bird and AB3 satellites, are already available on Orange’s IPTV service.Orange satellite TV customers will, from February 9, be able to view female-skewed lifestyle channel Téva, Paris Premère and M6 Music Hits.In May, Orange will also add the Paris Première and Téva Replay catch-up service on the platform, joining the existing M6 Replay and W9 Replay services.last_img read more

USbased advanced TV advertising specialist BlackA

first_imgUS-based advanced TV advertising specialist BlackArrow has launched a new solution designed to enable pay TV operators to deploy advanced advertising campaigns across multiple platforms against addressable audience segments.BlackArrow said its new Subscriber Information Service lets advertisers deliver the most relevant messages to each audience segment. Pay TV operators can also use the solution to ensure marketing and promotional campaigns are delivered to eligible subscribers. SIS can target based on such viewer, household or device-related data as geography, demographics, marketing segmentation, membership or service level.“The Subscriber Information Service is a necessary component of any pay TV operator’s strategy for enabling addressability and the capture of large amounts of audience-related reporting data,” said Joe Matarese, chief technology officer of BlackArrow. “Working with a large customer, we’re ensuring that the BlackArrow SIS can support large-scale production volumes while efficiently delivering addressable marketing and advertising campaigns across multiple platforms and devices.”last_img read more

Lithuanian service provider Teo is today taking pa

first_imgLithuanian service provider Teo is today taking part in a day-and-date video-on-demand release experiment initiated by European film-makers to promote new distribution models.The documentary film Viramundo will be released in Lithuanian cinemas and on the Gala TV VOD service simultaneously. Viramundo is a documentary about the journey of Gilberto Gil, a music legend and a political activist, who was Brazil’s first black Minister of Culture, through Brazil, Australia, South Africa.The trial is designed to determine whether day-and-date releases are beneficial for non-commercial and low-budget movie makers. 
Data on the number of views of the film Viramundo on VOD and in cinema theatres, the number of sessions, and the revenue from the film will be compared with the attendance of all films and, separately, with that of documentaries in Lithuanian cinema theatres.Poland, the UK, Portugal, France and Luxembourg are also participating.The European Union’s Media Programme announced in May it would provide €3.5 million for new initiatives to support the development of digital distribution, with various consortia of producers, sales agents, distributors and VOD platforms being invited to apply for funding to test the simultaneous or quasi-simultaneous release of European films in different EU Member States and on several distribution platforms. The TIDE project was one of the three beneficiaries, with Viramundo its first project. The documentary, directed by Pierre-Yves Bourgeaud, was aired on the Orange, iTunes and Vidéo en Poche platforms as well as in cinemas the Utopia cinema chain and the Cinéma des Cinéastes in Paris.The results of the trial will be presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014.last_img read more

ITV was named as Freesat Channel of the Year at th

first_imgITV was named as Freesat Channel of the Year at the Freesat Awards in London last night. The commercial channels also took the top programming award, with crime drama Broadchurch winning the Best British TV Programme category.BBC 2’s Twenty Twelve was named Best TV Sitcom. Other wins included BBC 1’s coverage of the London Olympics taking the Best Live TV Programme or Series award and Food Network UK being named as Best Specialist Channel.BBC 5 Live was named as Best News Channel of the Year.In two categories that were decided by popular vote, Ant and Dec were named as TV Personality of the Year and Coronation Street was named Best British Soap.The awards, hosted by comedian Sally Phillips, saw 52 nominees competing across 10 categories.“Tonight was a fantastic celebration of everything that is truly great about British TV. We paid homage to the world beating creative talent behind the unique channels and groundbreaking programming that I’m proud to say make up the Freesat service. Congratulations to all the worthy winners which we are incredibly proud to be able to recognise year on year,” said Freesat managing director Emma Scott.last_img read more

US mobile TV guide app iTV has reportedly acquire

first_imgUS mobile TV guide app i.TV has reportedly acquired second screen service GetGlue.According to a TechCrunch report, the agreement is for an all-stock deal at an unknown valuation and is due to be announced soon.GetGlue was previously linked to Viggle, another player in the companion TV app space, but plans by the two companies to merge collapsed earlier this year.Viggle had previously offered US$25 million (€18.5 million) and 48.3 million shares to combine with GetGlue – a social TV app that offers content recommendations, a personalised programme guide and chat options.i.TV claims to be the most popular mobile TV guide app, used by millions of people every month. The firm also powers social TV and second screen experiences for the likes of Huffington Post TV and AOL TV.last_img read more

There are almost 300 news channels currently avail

first_imgThere are almost 300 news channels currently available in Europe, with 214 based in the continent and a further 80 broadcast there from elsewhere, according to new research by the European Audiovisual Observatory. The study says that of the 214 Europe-based channels, approximately 110 are national news channels and around 60 have a pan-European, global or international remit.More than 80% of news channels belong to private companies, while the number of news channels available over free DTT has risen to 43, compared to 16 four years ago, said the report.The channels with the widest distribution were CNN International with a reach of 38 countries, followed by BBC World News in 37 countries, Russia Today in 35 and AL Jazeera and Euronews – both in English – each available in 33 countries.last_img read more

Netflixs Dutch service has acquired dramas such a

first_imgNetflix’s Dutch service has acquired dramas such as Suits, Downton Abbey and Bates Motel as part of a package deal with NBCUniversal International.The streaming service has today made two seasons of legal drama Suits and three of period title Downton Abbey available to its local Dutch subscribers.Following later this year will be crime fantasy Grimm and all seasons of sci-fi drama Battlestar Galactica and in next year, Bates Motel will join the line-up.NBCUI-distributed movies including Knocked Up, The Big Lebowski and The 40 Year-Old Virgin are also part of the deal along with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Back to the Future I and II; The Chronicles of Riddick and Happy Gilmore.“We’re constantly working to fill our service with the best titles and we are sure that our Dutch subscribers will appreciate these latest additions,” said Netflix’s VP, content acquisition Kelly Merryman.Dutch consumers can access Netflix for €7.99 per month.last_img read more

Numericables LaBox Fibre French cable operator Nu

first_imgNumericable’s LaBox FibreFrench cable operator Numericable is issuing €4.7 billion in preferential shares to help finance its acquisition of SFR, conditional approval for which was secured this week from the country’s competition authority.The shares will be priced at €17.82, with 15 new shares being issued for each seven existing shares in the company. Each shareholder will receive a preferential right to subscribe to the new shares. The price implies a discount of 62.96% on the closing price of Numericable’s shares on October 27 and a 35.1% discount on the theoretical ex-rights price.The acquisition of SFR will be put to an extraordinary meeting of Numericable’s shareholders on November 27.Numericable is acquiring SFR for €13.5 billion. Post-completion, Vivendi will hold a 20% stake in the combined entity. Altice France, which holds a 74.59% stake, has committed to subscribe to 75.51% of the new share issue.last_img read more

David Zaslav Factual channel giant Discovery has p

first_imgDavid ZaslavFactual channel giant Discovery has posted first quarter revenues of US$1.54 billion (€1.37 billion), up US$126 million, or 9%, year-on-year. International revenues of US$735 million, up 10%, drove this figure, with US networks sales also growing 6%.Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortisation in the international segment fell 2%, but 10% growth in domestic US profit meant OIBDA was up 8% at US$568 million.Overall Q1 net income was US$250 million, up 9% from the same period to March 31 a year ago.Meanwhile, Discovery co-owned production group All3Media posted financial results for the 16 months to the end of December, posting revenues of £598.3 million (€811 million). This was due to a switch to calendar year reporting after Discovery and Liberty Global acquired the UK-based business.Underlying profits were £69.1 million, while operating profit was £10.2 million, down from £26.1 million in the previous 12-month period.The president and CEO of Discovery Communications has meanwhile described plans to push Discovery Channel more heavily into scripted programming as a cost-effective move.Questioned during an investors’ call on whether the move into drama would effect programming costs, David Zaslav said would not constitute “significant increase in investment”.New Discovery Channelpresident Rich Ross earlier this year hired John Goldwyn to oversee a scripted slate, potentially raising costs at the traditionally factual-focused broadcaster.However, Zaslav said this would not be a financial burden. “What we see is a hyper-focus on blue chip and the quality content,” he said.“We will be doing some stuff with John Goldwyn, who is great, but we think we could do scripted in a much more efficient way. we’re going to do it in more long form as opposed to one-offs and we’ll do it with content that could work around the world so we could share it across 230 countries.”Discovery’s new international content chief, Phil Craig, told delegates at last month’s MIPTV market that he was looking at scripted programming separate to Ross’s US network that would be financed through the international arm.last_img read more