A Credit Shuffle Among Mortgage Lenders March 24, 2016 608 Views Credit Standards Fannie Mae Mortgage Lenders 2016-03-24 Staff Writer Fewer mortgage lenders are reporting that they are loosening credit standards, and many do not expect credit to become more accessible over the next few months.The share of mortgage lenders reporting easing credit standards over the prior three months fell for the second straight quarter, according to Fannie Mae’s first quarter 2016 Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey conducted in February.In addition, the survey also found that the share of lenders that expect credit standards to ease over the next three months decreased from last quarter for all mortgage types.Fannie Mae reported that 13 percent of lenders surveyed noted that credit standards eased over the last three months in the first quarter of 2016, down from 17 percent in the previous quarter. Over the next three months, 13 percent of lenders said credit standards will ease, down from 18 percent last quarter. Five percent of lenders said that credit tightened over the last three months, up from 4 percent last quarter. Only 7 percent of lenders said credit will tighten over the next three months, the same as last quarter.The survey also showed that more lenders reported that they expect to increase the percentage of their mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) sold to a third-party in the first quarter of 2016. More mid-sized institutions expect to increase their share of MSRs sold to a third-party compared to the first quarter of 2015.Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, explained, “Lender expectations for easing over the next three months have also moderated. Many lenders also indicate a likely increase in the sales of mortgage servicing rights, possibly to compensate for these countervailing pressures on profits and to take advantage of current favorable pricing in the market.”According to Fannie Mae, the net share of lenders reporting purchase mortgage demand for all loan types decreased significantly from a year ago but lenders expect an uptick in refinance demand.The net share of lenders reporting increased purchase mortgage demand for the prior three months declined significantly across all loan types from one year ago but similar to level reported last year.Over the past three months, 39 percent of lenders reported a decline in refinance demand, compared to 42 percent last quarter. A total of 26 percent of lenders said that refinance demand increased over the last few months, up from 19 percent last quarter.For the next three months, 11 percent of lenders indicated that they expect refinance demand to decrease, down from 62 percent last quarters. Meanwhile, 50 percent expect to see an uptick in refinancing compared to 6 percent the previous quarter.”This quarter’s Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey results reflect recent market volatility. Lenders anticipate a pickup in refinance demand in light of the decline in interest rates this year, but report a slowdown in purchase demand perhaps because of a seasonal component,” Duncan stated.Click here to view the full report. in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, News, Origination, Secondary Market Share
Gap Widens Between Most, Least Expensive Cities in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Market Studies Share harvard Home Price Appreciation Home Prices HOUSING Housing Prices joint center for housing studies mortgage 2017-06-16 Aly J. Yale Home price appreciation rates are pretty disparate across the nation, according to the State of the Nation’s Housing report issued by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard on Friday. In fact, while 16 percent of U.S. markets saw housing prices jump 40 percent since the year 2000, another 30 percent of cities actually saw prices decline over the same period.According to the Center, this is causing an ever-widening gap between the country’s priciest and most affordable cities.“Longer-term gains in real prices varied widely across the country, with some markets experiencing home price appreciation of more than 50 percent since 2000, while others posted only modest gains or even declines,” the Center reported. “These differences have added to the already substantial gap between home prices in the nation’s most and least expensive housing markets.”Nominally, prices rose in 97 out of the nation’s 100 biggest metro areas last year. The steep uptick is a result of both increasing demand and ever-tightening housing supply, according to Chris Herbert, Managing Director for the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Housing starts just haven’t been able to keep up.“While the recovery in home prices reflects a welcome pickup in demand, it is also being driven by very tight supply,” Herbert said. “Any excess housing that may have been built during the boom years has been absorbed, and a stronger supply response is going to be needed to keep pace with demand—particularly for moderately priced homes.”According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, the lack of supply is “one of the most pressing challenges in the housing market today.”“Since 2009, new housing supply has been falling short of new housing demand,” Fleming said. “Currently, I estimate that the amount of housing supply necessary to just keep pace with demand is probably around 1.5 million housing units a year.”The report found that housing starts hit just 1.17 million last year—a jump of 5.6 percent, but still well below Fleming’s 1.5 million goal.But despite short supply and ever-rising prices, many Americans are still venturing into homeownership. According to Daniel McCue, Senior Research Associate at the Center, the country’s long-declining homeownership rate appears to be leveling off.“Although the homeownership rate did edge down again in 2016, the decline was the smallest in years,” McCue said. “We may be finding the bottom.”Whether or not that happens will depend on affordability, which the Center’s report shows is on the downslope. According to the report, about 19 million U.S. households spent more than half of their annual incomes on housing in 2015. June 16, 2017 534 Views
House Bills 4212, 4215, 4496 and 4497—all of which were introduced by state Rep. Roger Victory—have passed the House.“I have worked extremely hard with my staff and all of the stakeholders for these pieces of legislation to ensure that all opinions were taken into account and that these bills were carefully considered by all,” said Rep. Victory, R-Hudsonville.HBs 4212 and 4215 remove a sunset provision from laws that were already in place, allowing county boards of commissioners to consolidate their road commissions under the umbrella of general county government. This type of consolidation is useful for smaller counties who wish to save money on their wage expenses, Rep. Victory said.“This legislative package will give county governments an option that isn’t currently available,” Rep. Victory said. “If these bills are signed into law, they will give counties more local control while simultaneously fostering better communication between the county government and the road commission.”HBs 4496 and 4497—which passed through the House in the May 21 session before Memorial Day Weekend—seek to give schools the opportunity to save money through refinancing without the need for a one-year waiver from the Department of Treasury.“Allowing local schools to save money by being able to refinance is just common-sense financing,” said Rep. Victory. “It’s impractical to rely on one-year waivers when making long-term financial decisions.”Dr. Dan Jonker, superintendent of Allendale Public Schools, voiced his gratitude for Rep. Victory’s work on the bills.“I’m extremely appreciative of the work Rep. Victory did on this legislation, and for recognizing the need to address the issue quickly and carefully,” said Dr. Jonker. “Hopefully, this will give taxpayers some relief by allowing schools to refinance without being penalized.”Rep. Victory made it clear that he appreciated all of the help and input from area residents.“I couldn’t have made such a significant impact in Lansing without the input of our fantastic community,” said Rep. Victory. “I’m humbled to have such an overwhelming support system that made this achievement possible.”HBs 4212, 4215, 4496 and 4497 move to the Senate for further consideration.### Categories: Victory News 27May Multiple bills authored by Rep. Victory pass House in the same week
Categories: Featured news,Graves News,Graves Photos,News,Photos Tags: guest, Rep. Graves, State of the State 19Jan Rep. Graves invites Linden guest to State of the State ##### Rep. Joseph Graves, second from right, attended the 2016 State of the State address with Dick Laing, right, a constituent of the 51st district from Linden.Following the address, Rep. Graves, R-Argentine Township, said he is ready for a busy new year.“There is a lot of work to do in 2016,” Rep. Graves said. “Michigan continues to succeed in spite of obstacles, but it takes commitment and drive. Our work doesn’t end.”For more information, Rep. Graves can be contacted by phone at (517) 373-1780 or by email to JosephGraves@house.mi.gov.
State Rep. Steve Johnson has introduced legislation to leave the start date for schools up to local school boards.Currently, Michigan has a mandated post-Labor Day start date for publicly funded schools. Rep. Johnson’s bill would repeal this requirement, which would allow parents and local school boards to have direct impact in choosing their start date rather than being required to wait until after Labor Day. For the 2016-17 school year, the Michigan Department of Education received 95 requests from districts to start prior to Labor Day.“The closer-to-home these decisions are made, the more efficiently the school calendar start date can be tailored to fit the needs of each respective district,” said Johnson, R-Wayland. “As a passionate advocate for local control, this legislation provides an option for those districts who would like to begin school earlier, but not mandating it for districts that would prefer a later start.”House Bill 4337 has been referred to the House Education Reform Committee for further consideration. Categories: News,Steven Johnson News 09Mar School start date decisions should be made at the local level
State Rep. Steve Johnson finished his first term in the state House of Representatives with a perfect voting record, taking part in all 1,554 record roll call votes during the 2017-2018 session.“The people of Allegan and Kent counties elected me to be their voice in Lansing,” Rep. Johnson said. “I take that responsibility very seriously and believe it is important to be present and transparent with every vote. Over the next two years, I will continue working hard to represent the interests of the 72nd District.”Rep. Johnson is currently serving his second term in the Michigan House of Representatives. Categories: Steven Johnson News 08Jan Rep. Johnson posts perfect voting record for first term
Share10TweetShare15Email25 SharesJuly 15, 2014; The TelegraphDrones conjure up scary images of unmanned aerial vehicles launching missiles at unsuspecting targets. We’ve been told the unmistakable sound of drones terrifies people, regardless of whether they might be targets or simply just in the vicinity. According to Kaveh Waddell of the National Journal, drones such as “Raptors,” “Predators,” and “Reapers” were once unique symbols of American military superiority, but have now been “democratized” as many military forces—the UK, Israel, Iran, and even Hamas and Hezbollah—have developed and deployed drones for attack, rather than surveillance.The latest evolution of drones in the world is in humanitarian relief. A British-Dutch company called Skycap recently demonstrated its technology of disaster relief drones. Skycap’s Steve Roest told the Telegraph that his company’s drones would allow aid groups to bring medical supplies and food to disaster zones that might otherwise be very difficult to reach.Thanks to the U.S. military’s naming its drone products after vicious hunting beasts, drones have a public image problem. On the left, drones have all the public acceptability of sweatshops, while on the right, ultra-conservative ideologues call for shooting down drones as though they were the latest iteration of black helicopters. There is, however, a significant effort underway to improve the image of drones—not just by eliminating the use of the word, which has almost unending bad connotations, but by promoting positive drone functions such as tracking endangered species, providing farmers with crop analysis, and, of course, delivering humanitarian aid.Skycap is not the first to enter the humanitarian drone space. In 2013, a U.S. start-up company called Matternet announced that it had tested humanitarian aid drone prototypes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This year, the United Nations announced it was using unarmed drones, operated by the Italian aerospace company Finmeccanica, to assist UN peacekeepers around Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the aim in part of helping peacekeepers identify where civilians might be in the line of fire. A wealthy couple from Malta is planning to finance drones to be used to support refugees crossing the Mediterranean looking for asylum in Italy.Like their attractiveness to military authorities, there is something about the unmanned aspect of drones that might elevate their use in the delivery of humanitarian aid, but still be problematic. For militaries like the American armed forces using drones in Pakistan and Yemen, drones avoid putting American soldiers and airmen at personal risk, but in doing so, they depersonalize and almost sanitize otherwise deadly warfare; the consequences of drone attacks are several arms-lengths distant from the personnel who monitor the videos and authorize the attacks. There may be something similar at work for humanitarian aid in disaster zones. While drones might be able to get aid to places where roads are impassable, they might also deliver aid to areas where conflict conditions make the involvement of NGO staff very dangerous. According to Interaction, the trade association of international aid NGOs, “Over the past 10–15 years, the operational environment of NGOs has become increasingly dangerous. Serious incidents—killings, kidnappings, or attacks that cause serious injuries—are on the rise as are politically-motivated attacks against humanitarian workers.”Reducing the vulnerability of NGO workers in danger areas like South Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Congo through the use of drones for humanitarian aid deliveries might be important, but will drones in humanitarian aid, much like their impact in other areas of human activity, shrink the realm of human interaction that is so necessary for deep, mutual understanding?—Rick CohenShare10TweetShare15Email25 Shares
Share35TweetShare6Email41 SharesJanuary 15, 2016; Cleveland Plain DealerThe news broke this past Friday that brothers Derek and Graig Brown were ordered to pay $4,050,000 to three former tenants who charged the pair with harassment and intimidation under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Among their illegal practices were “self-help evictions”—like turning off utilities, seizing tenants belongings, and padlocking the premises—as well as threats of physical injury. The Cleveland Plain Dealer story entitled “Judge orders notorious Cleveland landlords to pay $4 million to female tenants” portrays the suffering of three women who lived at a Brown brothers property at 2962 South Moreland, just south of Cleveland’s Shaker Square shopping district.The Brown brothers are notorious landlords in Cleveland, where they have been able to operate with impunity despite numerous civil judgments by shifting their assets from one corporation to another.Over the years, Cleveland building and housing inspectors have cited the brothers and their companies for mold and electrical issues there. City officials didn’t respond to a request to outline actions they’ve taken against the brothers. At least 10 other homes or buildings in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and Bedford are associated with same limited liability companies the federal judgment connects to the brothers. Graig and Derek Brown also have been charged in criminal cases since 2003, Graig five times and Derek seven times, for things such as shutting off or tampering with tenants’ utilities, entering apartments, threatening tenants and stealing or damaging property. In some cases, the charges were dropped or reduced after alleged victims didn’t come to court. In others, the brothers received fines or probation.According to the article, “The Brown brothers could not be located to be served with the lawsuit despite numerous attempts. […] Both have used personal aliases, as well as a host of company names and addresses in Ohio and Florida.” The tenants’ attorney, Diane Citrino, told the Plain Dealer that “numerous attempts were made to find them, including going to their properties when they usually collect rent and trying to catch one at an appointment with a probation officer—he didn’t show.” Judge Donald Nugent decided to proceed without the Browns’ response after a notice of the lawsuit was published multiple times in the Plain Dealer.The three tenants who brought this action against the Brown brothers were among 28 who filed complaints with Cleveland Legal Aid Society. The fact that a crusading private attorney and three tenants, who would not be bullied, could succeed where civil authorities could not says a lot about the state of affairs in Cleveland’s city government. The Plain Dealer’s Mark Naymik has chronicled efforts by local advocates to get the city to take action against other properties in the same community for many years. (Keep in mind that the Shaker Square area is one of the architectural and commercial “gems” on Cleveland’s east side. Imagine how much worse enforcement is in other neighborhoods.)One really disturbing feature of this case is that fact that a child of one of the defendants got lead poisoning from one of the Brown brothers’ properties. Cleveland’s enforcement of poisoned houses is an ongoing scandal, and owners like the Brown brothers perpetuate these poisoned environments.The fact that families with children were victims helps to support the tenants’ claims under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Ms. Citrino used the protected classes of gender and of familial status (families with children) as the basis for the Fair Housing claims. Many casual observers often think of “fair housing” as a denial of a rental unit, but the difference in treatment based on a complainant’s protected status is also a violation of the Fair Housing Act.Harassment claims have been in the news recently as a result of a big case in Baltimore and new regulations from HUD. While the focus of the Baltimore case is sexual harassment based on quid pro quo demands for sexual favors in exchange for repairs, the present case illustrates that physical harassment and intimidation are all a part of the package of harassment under scrutiny from HUD. A proposed $7.9 million settlement is being considered by the judge in the “sex for repairs” case involving Baltimore’s public housing authority. Seven years ago, a case against a single landlord in Cincinnati under the Federal Fair Housing Act brought a $1 million judgment.Thanks to Carrie Pleasants of the Housing Research and Advocacy Center and Mary Clark in Cincinnati for their help in preparing this story.—Spencer WellsShare35TweetShare6Email41 Shares
Share4TweetShareEmail4 SharesOctober 2, 2016; Washington PostState governments regulate the U.S. insurance industry. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the trade association created and governed by the states’ chief insurance regulators. Through the NAIC, these 50 state insurance regulators establish standards and coordinate regulatory oversight.Michael J. Mishak at the Center for Public Integrity just produced this investigative report: “Drinks, dinners, junkets and jobs: how the insurance industry courts state commissioners. Center probe reveals cozy relationships, revolving doors and shady financial ties.” The report resulted from a review of insurance industry lobbyist reports, regulator financial disclosures, campaign finance records and more than 3,700 pages of emails obtained through open-records laws.Mishak asserts that the insurance regulators have been largely “captured” by the insurance industry. Empowered to act in the public interest, Mishak makes the case that the majority of state insurance regulators prioritize the commercial interests of the industry they are charged to regulate leading to a presumed net loss for consumers. Why? The report shows that the insurance industry hired half of the 109 state insurance commissioners who left their posts in the past decade. Only two regulators went on to serve as consumer advocates.“It’s very difficult at times to take a stand for consumers and have your voice heard,” said Sally McCarty, a former Indiana commissioner and retired consumer advocate. “A lot of commissioners don’t bother doing that for that reason—and they don’t want to alienate the industry. […] Many people consider the job an audition for a better-paying job.”The insurance industry is monolithic and touches almost every U.S. citizen in some way. There are 5,926 insurance companies employing 2.5 million people. Net premiums written totaled $1.2 trillion in 2015. This industry, like any other, has a vital financial stake in any regulatory activity that can determine its fate, like rate increases and investigations. These companies are far more motivated and skilled to influence insurance regulators than individual consumers, if the average person even knows how insurance is regulated.State governors appoint most regulators, sometimes called commissioners. Eleven states elect their commissioners, and insurance companies are among their top donors.Turnover is high. The median tenure of a commissioner is less than four years. “Most commissioners operate outside of public view, sometimes exempted from disclosure requirements that cover other state officials and often ignored by the decimated statehouse press corps.”States are fine with the current scenario. They receive significant revenue from insurance taxes. Texas collects more in insurance taxes than it does from levies on natural gas production. The insurers contend that their effort to inform commissioners and other policymakers helps them regulate responsibly.Just as commissioners leave public service to work for the insurance industry, 24 of the 50 current state commissioners came from the insurance industry.“You get somebody with expertise, and you get someone who is qualified to do the job from Day One,” said Kathleen Sebelius, a former Kansas insurance commissioner who served as U.S. secretary of health and human services in the Obama administration. But, she added, there is a fine line between “appropriate expertise and overly cozy” relationships.Each state has ethics laws, but how aggressively they are enforced is a concern of consumer advocates. All business industries have an elemental incentive to control anything that has power over them, including the media, let alone regulatory agencies. The financial crisis was in large part a consequence of regulatory failure, or rather “regulatory capture.”Regulators don’t need additional power; they need to use their existing power appropriately. Laws and regulatory reforms will not matter unless there is disinterested enforcement. The Center for Public Integrity report is not necessarily saying that the insurance industry is not working in the consumer’s best interest. It is saying that that the industry itself has too much say about what is best for the consumer.—James SchafferShare4TweetShareEmail4 Shares
Share105Tweet36ShareEmail141 Shares“Jeff Sessions,” Gage SkidmoreJune 13, 2018; CNN Politics and the Washington PostCardinal Sean O’Malley of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston called the latest immigration policies out of the Trump administration misguided and immoral yesterday.Speaking on the practice of separating children from their parents if they enter the country illegally, even as asylum seekers, O’Malley says:The intent of this policy is clear: to discourage those seeking asylum by severing the most sacred human bond of parent and child. Children are now being used as a deterrent against immigrants who are appealing to us for asylum in order to protect themselves and their families. As disturbing as this fact is, the narrative of this development makes clear the misguided moral logic of the policy.While O’Malley said he supports political and legal authorities, he says that he “cannot be silent when our country’s immigration policy destroys families, traumatizes parents, and terrorizes children. The harmful and unjust policy of separating children from their parents must be ended.”Meanwhile, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, also spoke out about the new practices. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral,” he said in a statement distributed at a gathering of the Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But he also addressed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent decision to no longer extend asylum to victims of domestic violence, saying that the move “elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection.”Asylum, he wrote, is “an instrument to preserve the right to life. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives.”Michael Gerson of the Washington Post writes that “if there is one area where the teaching of the Christian faith is utterly clear, it is in the requirement to care for the vulnerable stranger.” But Speaker Paul Ryan, he says, addressed none of this at a recent Catholic Prayer Breakfast even while complaining “that politicians are too often in ‘survival mode’—trying to ‘get through the day,’ rather than reflecting on and applying Catholic social teaching.” But, writes Gerson, Ryan has cooperated with the President in transforming the GOP into an anti-immigrant party:According to the Hebrew scriptures: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.” In the New Testament, Jesus employs compassion for an abused, reviled foreigner (a Samaritan) as the test and definition of neighbor love.He talks of his own tradition of evangelical Protestantism, writing:According to a recent Pew Research poll, white evangelical Protestants are the least likely group in America to affirm an American responsibility to accept refugees. Evangelicals insist on the centrality and inerrancy of scripture and condemn society for refusing to follow biblical norms—and yet, when it comes to verse after verse requiring care for the stranger, they not only ignore this mandate; they oppose it.The research Gerson cites describes how views of immigration correlate with religious affiliation:Religiously unaffiliated Americans, those who belong to non-Christian religious traditions, and non-white Christians hold the most positive views of immigrants. At least seven in ten Unitarian Universalists (81 percent), Hindus (73 percent), Muslims (72 percent), and Hispanic Catholics (70 percent) say that newcomers coming to the US strengthen the country. Roughly two-thirds (65 percent) of Buddhists and about six in ten religiously unaffiliated Americans (61 percent) and Hispanic Protestants (60 percent) also affirm the positive contribution immigrants make to American society. White Christians express substantially more ambivalence about immigrants. Fewer than half of Mormons (45 percent), white Catholics (44 percent), and white mainline Protestants (41 percent) believe immigrants strengthen the country. Roughly four in ten Mormons (38 percent), white Catholics (41 percent), and white mainline Protestants (43 percent) say that immigrants present a threat to American culture. White evangelical Protestants stand out as the only religious community in which a majority (53 percent) believe that immigrants threaten traditional American customs and values. Only about one-third (32 percent) of white evangelical Protestants believe newcomers from other countries benefit the US.But there are ways to appeal to universal values when we are faced with the image of caged children separated from their parents. Writing for Forward, the Jewish news source, Harry Rimalower and Mel Levine remonstrate with the Jewish community that it must protest:Children are being taken away from their parents by design. Chief of Staff John Kelly has been quoted as saying that this policy was adopted as a deterrent to others crossing the border. The purpose is for directly affected families to bring the terror of their experiences home with them — to warn others that their children will be taken from them if they come here. This is not bureaucratic oversight. This is not something haphazard. This is not some unintended consequence that slipped through the cracks. This is a democratic government orchestrating a callous, calculated and intentional policy of separating families and terrorizing children.Because we are Jews, these stories have special resonance. The thought of being a parent and watching our children taken away to the unknown has a familiar and deeply disturbing place in our own history. Images of SS officers in concentration camps separating children from their parents come readily to mind when reading these stories. To be clear, we are not claiming that our country is committing a genocide, nor do we want to, in any way, trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust. However, for our country to be employing the same barbaric practice as Nazi concentration camps is simply unconscionable.The Jews who live today are the descendants of those who survived. The separation of families is our grim heritage. Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, all sorted away, separated into the unknown, never to be seen by each other again. The modern Jewish ethos is deeply rooted in this trauma, and from an early age we are taught to “never forget.” But never forgetting is meaningless if the memories do not instruct the present. We are presented, today, in our time, with our own government taking children away from their parents for no purpose other than abject terror.The public discourse about the outrageous behavior and vile language of our government in responding to families seeking refuge at our inn is all wrong. It is largely flowing from the criminalization of those fleeing violence, and it creates an image deeply anti-communal, irrational and fearful instead of fact- or morality-based. This should be the time when we call to another image in no uncertain terms.—Ruth McCambridgeShare105Tweet36ShareEmail141 Shares
Greek telco OTE has launched a mobile EPG app for its OTE TV service.The app allows users to view current and future channel details. They can also set reminders and rent movies via the OTE Cinema On Demand platform to view on the TV within 48 hours.The app can integrate with social media sites including Facebook, and Twitter and is available for free on smartphones running iOS and Android.
Lithuania plans to revamp its digital-terrestrial frequency plan this year following the completion of digital switchover in 2012.Frequencies will be changed in the western part of the country in February, followed by the western, north-eastern and south-western regions in March and the rest of the country in June.The changes are designed to allow more efficient use of the available frequencies following the shutdown of analogue broadcasting at the end of last year, and will affect both free DTT channels and the Gala pay TV service provided by telco Teo.
Danish cable operator YouSee has made the pay TV channels on its platform available on an à la carte basis.In addition to the basic package of 20 channels, which includes public broadcaster DR’s six channels, channels from commercial broadcasters TV2, TV3, Kanal 5 and dk4, and TV2’s regional channels, as well as public service channels from neighbouring countries, YouSee is offering over 100 pay channels à la carte.À la carte channels cost between DKK10-40 (€1.34-€5.36), ranging from TV5 and Rai Uno at one end of the scale to Demmark’s TV2 News, Canal 9 and 6’eren at the other.Viasat is not currently participating in the à la carte offering. YouSee parent TDC is negotiating with the Swedish broadcaster to include its TV3 channels in the offering.YouSee subscribers do not have to sign up to a minimum contract and can terminate their agreement to purchase a particular channel before the 20th of each month.Subscribers need a set-top box of CAM to access the channels. Additional cards are required to watch the channels on second TVs, costing DKK100 each.TDC Group TV chief Ulf Lund said the company’s ability to offer its channels à la carte had come after “a long and tough process over several years” to persuade broadcasters and channel providers to abandon the bundling model.
Maciej StecPolish pay TV operator Cyfrowy Polsat has appointed Maciej Stec, sales director at Telewizji Polsat and a member of the Polsat board, to its board. Polsat chairman Zygmunt Solorz-Żak said that Stec had knowledge of the media and advertising market and skills related to the creation and moentiisation of content and would provide an important contribution to the realisation of synergies between media and telecommunications.The latest board appointment follows the recent resignation of long-serving Cyfrowy Polsat president Dominik Libicki over differences in the implementation of group strategy.
Polish cable operator Multimedia Polska is to boost its HD offering and begin the process of ceasing to simulcast SD versions of channels available in the HD format. The operator is adding five new H channels to its line-up – TVN24 HD, TVN7 HD, Travel Channel HD, TVN Turbo HD and TVN Style HD – and is ceasing broadcasting most SD channels that are already available on the platform in HD.Multimedia Polska TV product manager Krzysztof Łanocha said the changes would not affect the range of programming in each of Multimedia Polska’s nine thematic channels.The operator will begin the changeover to an all-HD line-up of channels that are available in HD today, with the process to completed early next month.
Russian broadcast group UTH Russia has made a formal offer to buy 75% of CTC Media for US$200 million (€180 million), ahead of changes to Russian law that will limit foreign ownership of media companies.If approved, the deal will see CTC will fall in line with new legislation that will require media companies in Russia to be 80% Russian-owned from next year onwards.The UTH approach came as international entertainment group MTG, which currently owns 37.9% of CTC Media, said its shareholding in the business is now for sale and that it has decided to reclassify its holding in the company to a “discontinued operation.”CTC Media’s board of directors have appointed a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the UTH Russia offer. UTH has bid US$200 million in cash for a 75% interest in the CTC’s Russian and Kazakhstan business operations, on a cash and debt-free basis.CTC said that discussions with UTH are at “a relatively early stage”, but the special committee will seek to agree the definitive terms of the deal. If approved by the board, this will then be submitted to stockholders for approval and will be subject to customary closing conditions, including clearance from the Russian Federal Anti-monopoly Service.“We are disappointed that the change in Russian law regarding foreign ownership of television companies may require a sale transaction, but we are pleased that the efforts of the Board have resulted in an offer for a potential transaction that would, if successful, allow us to secure value for our public stockholders and our largest stockholder,” said CTC chairman of the special committee, Werner Klatten.“Although we cannot guarantee that we will be able to conclude this proposed transaction, or when it would be consummated, we believe this offer to be worth progressing further as a means of achieving compliance with the amended Russian Mass Media Law before year end.”MTG said in a statement that it has decided to change its interest in CTC Media from an ‘equity participation’ to a ‘discontinued operation’ due to the change in the Russian mass media law and CTC Media’s consideration of the UTH offer.“Following the recent sharp fall in the CTC Media share price, the market value of MTG’s holding in CTC Media was below the book value of the holding on MTG’s balance sheet as at the end of the second quarter on 30 June, and this will be reflected in the ‘discontinued operations’ line in the Group’s Q2 results,” said MTG.Russian president Vladimir Putin signed an amendment to the Russian law on mass media at the end of last year that will limit foreign ownership of media companies in Russia to 20%, down from the current limit of 50%. This will apply to both existing and future foreign ownership and comes into effect on January 1, 2016.As of March 31, 2015 the shareholder structure of CTC Media was: 39% owned by Modern Times Group; 25% held by Telcrest Investments – a Cyprus-based investment vehicle controlled by Rossiya Bank; with the remaining 36% free float following CTC’s IPO on the NASDAQ in 2006.
The BBC is rolling out new iPlayer personalisation features for connected TV viewers, in a bid to make it easier to move from device to device.A new ‘Pin and Pair’ sign-in option on connected TVs will let iPlayer viewers twin their computer, tablet or smartphone to their main TV, meaning they can start watching content on the move and pick up where they left off when they get home.The sign-in option will initially be available to viewers with YouView devices, but will roll out to other connected TV devices, including set-top boxes, streaming media devices and games consoles, in the coming weeks and months.“Enabling sign-in on connected TVs and the rollout of new personalised features builds on the BBC’s strategy to make BBC iPlayer more personal across screens – letting you discover and enjoy programmes that are more relevant to you on the devices you use, whenever and wherever you use them,” said head of BBC iPlayer, Dan Taylor-Watt.To sign-in viewers will be able to select a person icon on the top of the iPlayer screen on a connected TV. By going to the web address displayed on the TV from a different device and entering the code their device will be paired.The BBC said that it intends to launch further personalisation features, including personalised recommendations, in “the near future”.This comes after BBC director general, Tony Hall, said in January that the corporation must “reinvent public service broadcasting” in a bid to take on digital video giants like Amazon and Netflix.In a speech to BBC staff in Birmingham to mark the beginning of the BBC’s new 11-year charter period, Hall said that the BBC iPlayer must “make the leap from a catch-up service to a must-visit destination in its own right”.To do this, he highlighted personalisation as a “major priority” and said the BBC aims to grow the number of users who sign-in to the iPlayer from around three million today to 20 million “as quickly as possible”.Separately the BBC said on Friday that the iPlayer experienced a “record-breaking month” in January, with 304 million programme requests – its highest ever.The BBC’s January iPlayer traffic marked an 8% increase on December’s programme requests – the BBC’s previous biggest month. It was also up by more than 50 million requests compared to January 2016.
Mediaset has named former AC Milan chief Adriano Galliani as the new president of its struggling pay TV arm, Mediaset Premium.Galliani, who joins managing director Marco Leonardi at the head of the pay TV outfit, led AC Milan for over 30 years, leaving in April this year following the sale of the football club by Fininvest to a group of Chinese investors. He subsequently took charge of Fininvest’s real estate interests.Galliani’s appointment comes at a crucial juncture for the company, joining the pay TV operator on the eve of the allocation of Serie A football rights for the next three seasons.Mediaset said in a statement that Galliani’s presence as “a high-profile figure in the world of sports and TV rights” would benefit the company.CEO Pier Silvio Berlusconi hailed Galliani’s appointment as “an important reinforcement” of the company’s management ahead of the allocation of Serie A rights.Serie A rights are still up for grabs following a postponement in June after Mediaset refused to participate in a previous auction and filed a complaint with the country’s competition regulator over the terms of the tender.Mediaset said at the time that it ould attempt to ensure fans had access to Serie A football.Pay TV rival Sky subsequently secured exclusive rights to Champions League and Europa League football for the coming three seasons, depriving Mediaset of the competitions. However, the loss of Champions League rights could mean that the pay TV outfit is able to table a higher bid for Serie A.
Ofcom has announced new measures that will require internet service providers (ISPs) to be “more realistic” about broadband speeds and meet minimum speed guarantees within a month.The UK broadcast regulator said that from March 1, 2019, ISPs must provide more realistic peak-time speed information upfront, reflecting the fact that broadband is typically not as fast when more people are online.ISPs will also have 30 calendar days to improve internet speeds if they fall below a minimum guaranteed level before letting customers exit their contract without penalty.Currently broadband customers can exit their contract if speeds fall below the guaranteed level and their provider is unable fix them, but as it stands providers have an unlimited amount of time to resolve the problem before letting users leave.“Broadband customers must know what they’re signing up to,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director. “These protections will close the gap between the broadband speeds people are sold, and what they actually receive.“To give people extra confidence, we are making it easier to walk away – without penalty – if companies fail to deliver.”The new measures mark a strengthening of Ofcom’s codes of practise on better broadband speed information. ISPs will have a maximum of 12 months to make the changes before the new requirements come into force on for services purchased from March next year.
One in ten US broadband homes tunes into eSports, while 62% spend at least one hour per week playing video games, according to Parks Associates.According to the research firm’s ‘Digital Natives: The Rise of eSports’ report, YouTube and Twitch are the two most popular sites used to watch eSports and are watched by 61% and 45% of viewers respectively, with more than half of eSports viewers claiming to use more than one platform.Computers were the most popular device category used to watch eSports. Some 67% of viewers said they use computers to watch eSports, followed by 45% who use TVs and 34% who use smartphones.The research also found that 41% of eSports viewers would be likely or very likely to pay for a subscription to watch eSports events and content, while 39% of eSports viewers are likely or very likely to pay to watch eSports on a per-game or per-event basis.eSports viewers spend more than twice as much money per month on non-pay TV video entertainment content than non-viewers, with a monthly average spend of US$47.23 compared to US$22.97, according to the report.“eSports is a young, dynamic, and fast-growing industry. While viewership of many traditional sports is waning, eSports is well positioned to capture the attention of a generation that grew up playing video games,” said Parks Associates research analyst, Hunter Sappington.“eSports is currently a niche market, but it has the ability to engage often hard-to-reach demographics. For distributors, including pay TV providers, OTT services, and social media platforms, eSports represents an opportunity to complement existing content and grow the viewing audience.”