The value of residential mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) rose in July due to an increase in rates and lower expectations with respect to prepays, according to MountainView Financial Solutions. During a recent webinar giving the monthly snapshot of MSR performance in July, Mike Riley, Managing Director, Analytics at Mountainview said that an increase of 9-10 basis points in rates had led to an impact on mortgages especially in terms of value change attribution.The webinar gave insights on managing, valuing, acquiring and selling residential MSRs and discussed the interest rate environment, MSR risk management, MSR pricing levels and MSR market activity in July. Speaking on the pricing of MSRs, Mark Garland, Managing Director, Analytics, MountainView Financial Solutions said that the company was seeing a strong impact by state on new product pricing in relation to escrows. “We are seeing different levels of interest on escrows, different incidents of loans escrowed versus those waived, and a difference in escrow cushions across states,” Garland said.Depending upon projected balances by mortgage bankers who account for escrow custodial float, float rates, and interest on escrow rates, the impact on MSR values relative to escrows was between seven and 17 basis points in July.Speaking on the correlation between prepayment speeds and low FICO products Garland said that MountainView found that the prepayment times for low-FICO conventional and low-FICO government products were similar. “We took a wide array of products to see what a conventional product prepayment looks like across different FICO bands and compared that with low-FICO government products in similar bands,” Garland said. “We saw that there was really no significant difference in prepayment speeds.” When looking at the conventional mortgage products with primary rates between 4.25 percent and 4.49 percent, the study found that in July, prepayments for FICO scores ranging between 660-679, 680-710, and more than 720 were about the same at a little over 10 percent. When the rates rose slightly to 4.5 percent and 4.74 percent, the prepayment speed for FICO scores in the range of 660 and 679 rose to around 14 percent. However, the prepayment speeds for mortgages with FICO scores ranging between 680 and 710, and more than 720 remained at a little over 12 percent.The study found a similar correlation between FICO scores and prepayment of government mortgage loans.At a mortgage rate of 4 percent and 4.24 percent, it revealed that prepayment speeds of borrowers with FICO scores ranging between 620 and 639, and 640 and 659 were a little over 14 percent. For borrowers with scores of 660-679 and 680-710, the prepayment speed was a little over 12 percent.However, when mortgage rates increased to between 4.25 percent and 4.49 percent, the prepayment speed for borrowers with scores of 620-639, 640-659, and 660-679 were uniform at a little over 16 percent. However, the prepayment speed for those with scores in the range of 680-710 remained at 14 percent. in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing Share Conventional Credit Scores FICO Government loans mortgage Mortgage Rates Mountain View Financial Solutions MSRs Prepayment 2018-08-09 Radhika Ojha August 9, 2018 1,046 Views MSR Values Rise With Increasing Rates
Go back to the e-newsletterThe “best available rate” just got better at over 50 of Design Hotels’ member properties. Guests can benefit from either 10, 15 or 20 per cent off when they stay in New York, London, Hong Kong, or a host of other desirable destinations. And if the reduced rate isn’t enough to tempt travellers onto the next flight, then perhaps the smell of the complimentary breakfast is.Need to know:Valid for bookings until 11 September 2016Available discounts: 10, 15 or 20 per cent offMinimum stay of two nightsOffer subject to availabilitySpecific conditions may apply per hotelGo back to the e-newsletter
Bills establishing, reinforcing protections to legal residents needed Categories: News,Reilly News 12Jul Rep. Reilly, colleagues’ legislation ensures tax-funded educational aid supports law-abiding Michiganders State Rep. John Reilly and colleagues today introduced an 11-bill legislative package to ensure that various taxpayer-funded scholarships and housing subsidies are available only to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.Reilly, of Oakland Township, said that this protection is not only needed for programs that lack citizenship requirements, but because of recent movements to make services available to people illegally residing in America, legislation is needed to reinforce existing requirements as well.“There is a disturbing trend nationwide involving public officials openly encouraging or condoning acceptance of illegal residents, and we must ensure Michigan taxpayer money is not supporting that tendency,” Reilly said. “We have seen a movement to establish sanctuary cities and open tax-supported programs to people living illegally in the United States, and I believe it is time to crack down on this serious misuse of taxpayer dollars.”The 11-bill package will require the U.S. citizen or permanent resident status for funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, as well as scholarships for state merit award, nursing and work-study programs, including part-time students, and competitive, and educational opportunity grants.State Reps. Shane Hernandez of Port Huron, Jeff Noble of Plymouth, Eric Leutheuser of Hillsdale, Jim Runestad of White Lake, Tom Barrett of Potterville, Gary Glenn of Larkin Township, and Klint Kesto of Commerce Township each sponsored a bill in the package.Reilly said the 11-bill package establishes in law that people must be citizens or be legally living in the United States to qualify for a variety of housing benefits, scholarships, education grants and work-study programs.Reilly noted that similar legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the House and Senate in 2006, but was vetoed by then-Gov. Granholm.“This is common-sense reform to make sure that money entrusted to us by taxpayers is used to benefit people legally living in Michigan,” Reilly said. “I believe the misguided efforts of some to excuse illegal activity must be stopped, and this important legislation will be a huge step to stem that tide in Michigan.”Reilly serves as vice chair of the House Financial Liability Reform Committee. He also serves on the Education Reform, Energy Policy and Regulatory Reform committees.The bills were referred to the House Appropriations Committee.#####
Share11TweetShareEmail11 SharesDecember 30, 2015; Denver Business JournalWhile President Barack Obama is hearing calls to regulate gun violence nationally through an executive order, some institutions may soon see themselves caught in the middle of the ensuring gun control battle. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science had a long-standing policy restricting concealed weapons at the institution. The policy, in effect since 2003, aimed to “restrict the presence of weapons within [the] facility or controlled parking areas” to everyone except those that specifically authorized to carry guns. Last month, the museum dispensed with that policy, a decision museum board members and officials say is in accord with state law.Of course, the officials are right. Colorado requires individuals to demonstrate a basic competence in handling a handgun, but once a resident receives a permit, he or she is able to carry a concealed weapon where allowed. Without any security checkpoints or weapon screenings, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is one of those permitted areas now.“People ask me what’s the new policy, and I say we’re just following the law. The law is the new policy,” said Ed Scholz, the vice president of finance and operations. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science follows the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Zoo, which have both adopted a similar policy to coincide with state law.According to Scholz, the change in policy came after several recent shootings that prompted concern for museum patrons. “Paris and San Bernardino got people thinking, ‘Are we doing best practices?’ This is a change we decided to make,” Scholz said. “The safety of our guests and staff is the number one priority of the museum…it always has been, and we believe we’re doing everything we can to keep people safe.”However, encouraging carrying concealed weapons seems to be the very attitude that many gun control advocates, including President Obama, are attempting to change. Following the recent shootings, President Obama has had the opposite reaction—to try and make gun laws more restrictive. With the mindset that reducing gun violence may potentially define his last year in office, President Obama is planning on issuing an executive order that places greater restrictions on who can obtain permits and guns from sellers. Frustrated by the evident stalemate over gun control in Congress, President Obama is taking the administrative authority to go over legislators’ heads, a mud fight we’re already seeing in the media.Historically, executive orders rarely go over well. “To use executive powers he doesn’t have is a pattern that is quite dangerous,” said Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. But how will cultural institutions fare amid these changing national policies? And will partisan politics further inform the culture of these cultural institutions? Similar to the issue of concealed weapons being allowed on college campuses, which welcome students and staff nationally, cultural institutions may have to contend with alienating some visitors. In such a case, these institutions may consider whether these policies challenge the missions of their organizations.—Shafaq HasanShare11TweetShareEmail11 Shares
Share11TweetShare5Email16 SharesApril 30, 2017; New York TimesAs the president and the Republican-led Congress struggle to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, most of our attention has been drawn to the debate over coverage for preexisting conditions and to how many people will lose their health insurance. While legislative action has stalled, the Trump administration has shown how it intends to replace medical coverage for the millions of Americans who benefitted from expanded Medicaid eligibility—a benefit he wishes to end—in a recent agreement with the state of Florida.Under the ACA, Medicaid coverage was expanded, states were required to participate, and the federal government took responsibility for most of the costs. By doing this, millions of previously uninsured people who would not be able to afford the subsidized health policies made available in the ACA marketplaces would be covered. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that while the ACA itself was constitutional, the federal government could not force states to expand their Medicaid programs, leaving millions again without access to covered medical care.Without Medicaid to pay their bills, hospitals and their emergency rooms were forced to provide services with little hope of payment. For many hospitals, this presented a real threat to their survival. As a stopgap measure, the Obama administration allowed states to apply for special funding under a Medicaid provision called a Section 1115 waiver, designed to support experimental innovations that might improve the quality of care and the cost-effectiveness of Medicaid services.As NPQ reported at the time, these waivers were significant. In just two states, “the health of more than 1.5 million Texans and over 800,000 Floridians [hung] in the balance, along with the fiscal health of hundreds of hospitals.” As was reported in the Texas Tribune, “In fiscal year 2013, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 300 Texas healthcare providers received a combined $3.9 billion for uncompensated care by way of the 1115 waiver.”In 2015, the Obama administration informed those states that had received waivers and special funding that they would not be renewed permanently and that, over a number of years, the amount of funding would be decreased. States were again urged to expand their Medicaid programs. While these funds had protected hospitals in the short term, they were not intended to be an ongoing alternative healthcare system. In their notice to Florida, Obama administration officials said Medicaid coverage was “the best way to secure affordable access to health care for low-income individuals. Uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would be paid for in a Medicaid expansion.”The Trump administration feels otherwise and, in an agreement reached with the state of Florida, has gone back to using Section 1115 waivers to reinvigorate that state’s uncompensated care fund with $1.5 billion. For Florida Governor Rick Scott, this is a states’ rights issue more than it is about health. He told the New York Times, “Florida was on the front line of fighting against federal overreach under President Obama and it is refreshing to now have a federal government that treats us fairly and does not attempt to coerce us into expanding Medicaid.”Andrew Slavitt, who had been acting administrator for Medicare and Medicaid Services through January 2017, told the Times, “Florida is just being paid by taxpayers not to expand Medicaid. The low-income pool is essentially a slush fund and it’s a really inefficient way to pay for medical care.”The Trump administration’s approach to healthcare calls for totally eliminating expanded Medicaid nationwide because it is too expensive.The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House repeal bill would reduce Medicaid spending by $839 billion in the coming decade, compared with the amount that would be spent under current law. Fourteen million fewer people would be covered by Medicaid, the office says.How much of these funds will have to be spent anyway to save hospitals from the serious harm they will face? Emergency departments will once again be the place for care for millions with no other option. Preventable illnesses will become serious and their treatment expensive because preventative care will be less available. The higher-than-expected costs seen as formerly uninsured people took advantage of their new Medicaid benefits tell us much more about how necessary this program is than it does about any flaws in the program. But for the president, Governor Scott, and their supporters, cost savings are worth more than human health.—Martin LevineShare11TweetShare5Email16 Shares
Share15Tweet14Share2Email31 SharesImage courtesy of Michael JastremskiJanuary 23, 2018; Financial TimesIn the United States, it is still somewhat rare to see a nonprofit return a donation; when they do, the decision is basically up to the board. That is not the case in Great Britain, where an undercover reporter at the Financial Times revealed last week that a fundraising dinner given by a large and venerable charity, the Presidents Club, was deliberately set up as an opportunity for powerful men to prey on young women. In the days since, the many charities that benefited from Presidents Club fundraising have had to deal with the backlash that comes with this kind of controversy.The Times reporter, Madison Marriage, explained,[The dinner] is for men only. A black tie evening, Thursday’s event was attended by 360 figures from British business, politics and finance and the entertainment included 130 specially hired hostesses.All of the women were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. At an after-party many hostesses—some of them students earning extra cash—were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.The event has been a mainstay of London’s social calendar for 33 years, yet the activities have remained largely unreported—unusual, perhaps, for a fundraiser of its scale.Within 24 hours of the story’s publication, the Presidents Club announced it would close. A statement clarified that “remaining funds will be distributed to an efficient manner to children’s charities, and then it will be closed.” The government announced that David Meller, a non-executive director at the Department for Education who helped organize the event, had resigned.The charities that received money from the Presidents Club and the intended recipients of their remaining funds are now in a bit of a sticky situation. British law does not allow charities to simply return or refuse money to make a statement about their values, as many US charities have done.The BBC explained,When it comes to refusing donations, the rules are quite strict—they have to demonstrate that refusing money is in the commercial interests of the charity, so for example, you could point out that major donors had contacted the charity to say they would not support the charity in the future if it didn’t reject the money.If there isn’t a clear financial imperative, the refusal would have to be cleared with the regulator, the Charity Commission, or the Attorney General.The Charity Commission, however, has been vague about what the recipients of Presidents Club money should do. Rather than offering blanket approval for organizations wishing to reject the money, they advised caution for the dozens of charities whose associations are now tainted:Depending on the terms of the donations and how the funds were raised, there may be restrictions on whether a donation can be returned and the Commission may need to authorize such returns. Charities should seek the Commission’s advice about whether our authorization is required in their specific case. Trustees may wish to seek their own legal advice. The Commission does not expect trustees to return funds raised for charitable purposes in the circumstances but understands if they wish to consider doing so.So far, of the 19 organizations who have been given money by the Presidents Club, two said they would send the money back, four said they would accept no future donations, two said they would do both, and ten have made no comment. The Youth Sports Trust reserved judgment, saying they would accept no future funding if the allegations are “found to be correct.”The question of whether to accept or reject the donations forces charities to confront their own tolerance or support of power-based sexual misconduct. The dinner was not an innocent event that got out of hand, and the men were not rogue actors at an otherwise respectable gathering. The event was billed as “the most un-PC event of the year.” The Financial Times revealed that “[Auction] lots included a night at Soho’s Windmill strip club and a course of plastic surgery with the invitation to: ‘Add spice to your wife.’” Caroline Dandridge, who runs the agency that supplied the hostesses, told the girls, “You just have to put up with the annoying men and if you can do that it’s fine.” The Daily Mail reported that her agency’s website has closed, but prior ads from the agency, Artista, feature girls in tiny shorts and schoolgirl outfits, suggesting that the Presidents Club deliberately contracted with an agency that sells time with sexy women to raise money for children, year after year.Stephen Lee, a professor of voluntary sector management at the City University of London, said of the values associated with charities:[They] lie at the heart of what constitutes acceptable charitable behavior; their absence or their active denial makes the behavior unacceptable. This is why charities are so protective of their reputations. These are reputations that are hard won and which are put at risk, as in this case, in an instant. This is why The Great Ormond Street Hospital and other beneficiaries of the Presidents Club are right to refuse current donations and to return previous ones (despite some arguing it is “regrettable” to do so). Acceptance of these donations would be, in themselves, a moral outrage and offensive to the values that sustain and legitimize all charities.Some have argued that the charities should keep the donations because, after all, it’s for the children, and the charities have put it to good use. Because of Britain’s more difficult restrictions around returning donations, it may be that the majority of charities end up keeping the money. In that case, their silence and the weak protections offered by the Charity Commission will serve as an answer when people ask how this kind of thing can still happen in 2018.—Erin RubinShare15Tweet14Share2Email31 Shares
Share60Tweet7ShareEmail67 Shares“Screen time!” Photo: Peter MerholzJanuary 4, 2019; Washington PostWatching toddlers giggle, run, sing, and play together is almost guaranteed to bring smiles to even the crabbiest of adult faces. That play, according to most early childhood specialists, is truly their learning, and the “work” that helps young children’s brains grown and learn. But preschool and childcare comes with costs, according to NPQ and Martin Levine. Those costs are putting it out of reach for many who cannot afford the high costs of quality preschool and states that cannot subsidize the costs to meet their own standards of care for young children. What’s a parent—or a state—that wants its preschoolers to be “prepared” for kindergarten to do?Enter “the virtual preschool”—ta-da! It’s accessible. It’s inexpensive. It can be distributed in rural areas. Parents can manage it on their own. States can cut costs and reach thousands of preschoolers. What’s not to love?The first state-sponsored virtual preschool was piloted in 2015 in Utah. It was called UPSTART, and it has since expanded to more than seven other states. The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit that reports on education news, described virtual preschools in a report from October 2018:Online preschool programs have been growing in recent years, and thousands of parents have signed their children up. The programs offer everything from educational games to a full preschool curriculum complete with boxes of activities that are shipped to a student’s home and a teacher’s guide for an adult. Most online programs are offered by for-profit companies, although perhaps the fastest-growing is UPSTART, which was developed by the nonprofit Waterford Institute and is advertised as a kindergarten-readiness program. That program has been used by children in Idaho, Indiana, South Carolina, rural Ohio and Philadelphia, and is used by 30 percent of Utah’s four-year-olds. In 2013, the Waterford Institute received an $11.5 million federal grant to expand the program to rural children in Utah.The early childhood community has not been silent on the issues associated with young children and screen time. Groups are opposed to the use of screens, whether phone, TVs, computers, or other devices, as a means of teaching very young children. More than 100 early childhood organizations and educators signed a statement this past October demanding an end to public funding for virtual preschools. In part, that statement reads, “Virtual preschool may save states money, but it’s at the expense of children and families. Early learning is not a product. It is a process of social and relational interactions that are fundamental to children’s later development. Asserting that this process can take place online, without human contact, falsely implies that the needs of children and families can be met with inexpensive, screen-based alternatives.”The medical community has also weighed in on this issue with data on the impact of screen time on the brain development and health of children. And neither looks good for the use of devices and young children. As parents worry about how their children’s mental skills will develop, they may want to pay attention to the research on brain connectivity and brain chemistry. As Alice G. Walker writes for Forbes:One new study finds that time spent on screens is linked to not-so-great shifts in brain connectivity, while reading is linked to more beneficial changes. The researchers, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, had families rate how much time their kids spent on screens (smartphones, tablets, computers, and TV) and how much time they spent reading actual books. The children’s brains were scanned, to assess how regions involved in language were connected, and it turned out that screen time was linked to poorer connectivity in areas that govern language and cognitive control. Reading, on the other hand, was linked to better connectivity in these regions.Another recent study found that the brain chemistry of kids who fell into the category of smartphone or Internet addiction was different from that of non-addicted kids. In particular, changes were seen in the reward circuits of the brain, in the ratio of the neurotransmitter GABA to other neurotransmitters. (Interestingly, these changes generally reversed when the teens went through cognitive behavior therapy [CBT] for their addiction.) And other research has reported that cells in one of the reward areas of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, are activated when participants view Instagram pictures with more “likes,” which again suggests that social media use can tap into addiction pathways.In addition, there is a health overlay associated with too much screen time. Doctors have found that children using these devices are getting less sleep than those who do not use them, or who use them less frequently. And sleep is essential for brain development in young children, according to Keith Fabisiak, assistant chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Clara Medical Center. What’s more, children who are absorbed in their screens are usually fairly sedentary. The link between childhood obesity and excess screen time seems obvious. With close to 20 percent of American youth between ages 2 and 19 classified as obese in 2015–16, alarms should be sounding.As learning is more defined by how a child can articulate letters and numbers and succeed in testing, and less by how a child can solve a problem, relate to people, or build relationships, we may see the growth of virtual preschools. After all, they are cost-efficient and can reach children in rural areas. They resolve the sticky issue of student-to-teacher ratio that drives up the costs of care for young children. Plus, kids love to play on devices. But if we believe this, then we choose to ignore the advice of the early childhood experts who have done their research on child development and social and emotional development as well as the physicians and pediatricians who have looked at the physical and brain development of young children:The truth is that for children to master the print system or concepts of number, they have to go through complex developmental progressions that build these concepts over time through activity and play.Young children don’t learn optimally from screen-based instruction. Kids learn through activity. They use their bodies, minds and all of their senses to learn. They learn concepts through hands-on experiences with materials in three-dimensional space. Through their own activity and play, and their interactions with peers and teachers, children build their ideas gradually over time.We need to rethink the virtues of efficiency and cost-effectiveness and look to what is truly in children’s best interests—especially those children who have the least. Giving them a screen may not be doing them a favor.—Carole LevineShare60Tweet7ShareEmail67 Shares
At800, the body set up to test for interference from 4G networks on digital-terrestrial broadcasting in the UK, is raising awareness by launching a service that will see it print Twitter messages onto traditional postcards.People that live in areas where 4G at 800 MHz will soon be activated can Tweet a family member or friend using the hashtag #at800postbox and At800 will send the message by post.“The at800 postbox is a light-hearted way to remind people where new 4G mobile services at 800 MHz are being activated and to highlight at800’s role in resolving any Freeview disruption this could cause,” said At800.
Swiss telco Swisscom is deploying a new Android IPTV set-top box that is being operated by iWedia’s Teatro 3.5 software solution. The Swisscom TV 2.0 Android IPTV set-top box gives access to 250-plus TV channels, of which 80-plus are in HD. It also offers more than 6,400 videos on-demand in German, French, and Italian, more than 5,000 live sport events each year and seven-day catch-up services.The Teatro-3.5 software solution for Android STB is designed to extend Android to integrate all the multicast and connectivity components needed to support managed IPTV and OTT services with advanced Java User Interfaces.In the Swisscom deployment, Teatro-3.5 is also integrated with the Verimatrix VCAS for IPTV Conditional Access System, Verimatrix VCAS for Internet TV and Microsoft PlayReady Digital Right Management systems, to secure the delivery of premium content live and on demand.“We are delighted that Swisscom has chosen our software solution to operate its TV 2.0 Android box and manage its first screen offering. With this deployment, Swisscom becomes one of the first digital TV operators worldwide to leverage Android openness and flexibility,” said iWedia CTO Nikola Teslić.Switzerland-headquartered iWedia provides integrated software solutions for television devices and has development labs in Novi Sad, Serbia, and sales and support offices in China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, and Korea. iWedia will exhibit at ANGA COM on stand 10.2/ A30.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has struck a partnership with video distribution specialist Rightster.Rightster will collaborate closely with the ITTF to develop its YouTube channel (YouTube.com/ITTFChannel), and help maximise its exposure and revenue from the channel, according to the pair.According to Rightster, the ITTF will benefit from cross-promotion with Rightster’s stable of existing International sports governing bodies, while Rightster’s media sales team will apply their expertise to increasing revenue through cross-platform advertising and sponsorship.“With a company that has great experience in assisting channels grow and commercialise, especially in the sporting digital environment, we felt it was only natural to start a relationship with Rightster for our ever growing YouTube channel. We hope Rightster can now use their expertise to take our channel to the next level,” said ITTF marketing director Steve Dainton.
Imagine will exhibit at IBC on stand 7.G20 Broadcast technology provider Imagine Communications is launching VersioCloud, an IP-enabled, integrated cloud playout platform, at IBC. According to the company, the solution allows media companies to manage video operations and channel playout from the cloud, enabling them to accelerate new channel launches and extend their brands.Imagine says that VersioCloud makes all of the traditional integrated channel playout functions cloud-enabled, including branding, graphics, automation, and server capabilities. Also available as part of the cloud playout solution, Imagine Communications’ new Magellan SDN Orchestrator software control system and Selenio processing and compression solutions allow the management of hybrid SDI, ASI, and IP content, providing what it describes as an on-ramp and off-ramp between IP and legacy baseband transport to advance the transition to IP.Imagine says that the combination of cloud-based playout and hybrid transport will enhance all parts of the broadcast business including providing improved visibility to optimize advertising playout, efficient methods of disaster recovery, fast channel creation to accommodate seasonal or one-time events, the expansion of brands and content into new markets and new geographies without requiring expensive facilities, and a pay-as-you-go Platform as a Service (PaaS) model to lower the cost and time barrier to traditional methods of establishing linear and OTT channels.The company also says that by integrating VersioCloud with its Zenium workflow manager, media companies can design Playout in the cloud workflows to suit their particular needs.“Today’s video consumer has an increasing array of alternatives from linear TV and Over-the-Top sources, pressuring media companies to take aggressive action to maintain market share and keep viewers engaged with their content,” said Charlie Vogt, CEO of Imagine Communications.“VersioCloud’s disruptive new technology is the ultimate competitive advantage because it simplifies the creation and management of channels, advancing the monetization of content into new demographic or geographic markets. While other offerings are burdened by hardware CODECs or GPUs, VersioCloud is the industry’s only solution that is 100% software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) IT platforms.”
Vincent BolloréVivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré is set to discover today whether he will secure enough votes to double his voting rights within the company under France’s Florange law.Bolloré has built up his position in the company over the last two months and now holds 14.5% of the company’s shares, up from 5.15% at the beginning of March.Bolloré is facing opposition from shareholder PhiTrust, which has tabled a resolution opposing the application of the law, which grants double voting rights to shareholders of more than two years’ standing. Companies can secure exemption from the Florange law if two thirds of shareholders oppose its application.Bolloré recently neutralized the opposition of hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management to the double-vote application by promising to increase the amount Vivendi pays out to shareholders over the next two years.Vivendi president Arnaud de Puyfontaine and finance director Hervé Philippe have over the last few days reportedly been busy meeting investors representing about 20% of the company’s capital in a series of road shows, notably in New York and Boston, to convince them to support the move.
Vivendi is to make an offer to acquire the shares in Société d’Édition de Canal Plus (SECP) – the Canal+ Group unit that controls the Canal+ premium channel family in France – that it does not already own. Vivendi, which currently indirectly owns 48.5% of SECP through its 100% control of Canal+ Group, said that it had received a request from “a large number of SECP’s shareholders” to make the move. It is offering €7.60 per SECP share, a premium of 19.1% on the closing price ahead of the announcement. Vivendi said it would file its tender offer statement with the French securities regulator as soon as media regulator the CSA was officially informed of the transaction. The deal means that Vivendi will use about €500 million of its cash pile to secure control of Canal+’s domestic premium service, comprising Canal+, Canal+ Cinéma, Canal+ Décalé, Canal+ Sport, Canal+ Family and Canal+ Séries. SECP also controls Canal+’s terrestrial broadcasting licence, and Vivendi’s ability to take control of the unit was dependent on a 2009 change in the law to permit a single operator to control a terrestrial broadcast channel.SECP’s other shareholders, including banks are reportedly keen to sell their holding in the operation to improve their liquidity. However, the acquisition will enable Vivendi to simplify its relations with a key entity and give it greater control.Separately, Canal+ Group has posted a 4% year-on-year increase in revenues for the first quarter to €1.37 billion, driven by growth in Africa and Vietnam, and by continued growth of SVoD service Canalplay in France. Canal+ Group had a total of 15.2 million subscriptions, an increase of 605,000 year-on-year.Revenues from pay TV operations in mainland France were nearly stable year-on-year, in a difficult economic environment. However, international pay TV revenues were up 13.9% compared to the first quarter of 2014. Canal+ Group’s EBITA was €165 million, compared to €175 million for the first quarter of 2014, thanks to the impact of its increased investment in sport, notably French rugby and its exclusive deal with Eurosport on Canalsat.Vivendi itself posted revenues of €2.492 billion, up 7.5% or 2.5% on a constant currency basis. EBITA was up 17.9%, or 14.1% at constant currency to €218 million.
The next major update of the 3GPP mobile broadband standard will include features to enable public service broadcasters to deliver their content to 4G – and ultimately 5G – devices, according to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).3GPP Release 14, which is expected in June, will include a standardised interface for broadcasters to provide content which is then transported over LTE eMBMS, a service layer components broadly aligned with the profiles commonly used for TV distribution over traditional platforms, and improvements in the radio access network to enable cost-efficient rollout of wide area eMBMS coverage, according to the EBU, which contributed to the process.The organisation said that work on the release was still ongoing, with further work to be done on developing the TV service layer in LTE as well as broadcast capabilities in 5GIn a video interview published by 3GPP last month, 3GPP chairman Erik Gutman said that there had been “support for broadcast for some time within 3GPP” with a system-wide mechanism for delivering multicast and broadcast content. However, he said, this had not had wide commercial adoption. He said the forthcoming release would identify what factors needed to be addressed and “make as much headway as possible”.“We will now offer a standardised interface for broadcasters to provide content. We will have mechanisms within the system to provide profiles to provide mechanisms for direct transmission of content from broadcasters that are using digital standards. We will also offer a broadcasting system for streaming and delivery that complies with a whole set of profiles that are widely adopted in the industry. Last and quite important, we will have advances on the radio access side that will lower the cost and broaden the coverage,” said Gutman.“These were areas where studies were done by the broadcasting community, and in particular the EBU, where they identified shortcomings. We have addressed those and I have direct experience with the community from the conference I just attended and it seems it is not a question of if this technology will be adopted, but when there will be larger adoption.”Gutman separately said he was confident the most crucial elements of 5G mobile would be identified and addressed by September 2018. He said that 5G was “not a one-release project” but that 3GPP would take a piece-by-piece approach to developing standards.System and Service achievements in Release 14 from 3GPPlive on Vimeo.
Netflix has hired former Universal exec Scott Stuber to head up its ongoing drive into original movies. Stuber, who had been a frontrunner to the role vacated by Brad Grey at Paramount, will oversee a growing slate of films at the US streaming service, which expects to release 30 titles this year.Stuber was vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal and co-chief of Universal-backed producer Bluegrass Films. His feature film credits include 8 Mile, Ted and the Bourne franchise.He had been one of the top candidates for the top job at Viacom’s Paramount Pictures after the announcement of Brad Grey’s exit.Dylan Clark, Stuber’s partner in Bluegrass, will run that business.Netflix confirmed the appointment. “Scott is well known and respected in the film industry,” said content chief Ted Sarandos.“His innovative work and strong talent relationships should help accelerate the Netflix original film initiative as we enter into a new phase of big global productions with some of the greatest directors, actors and writers in the film business.”Stuber added: “Netflix is at the forefront in changing the way entertainment is enjoyed throughout the world, bringing a greater variety of stories to more people than ever before.“It’s an incredible opportunity to work with a company with such reach and that stands for such diverse quality content for global audiences.”SVOD service Netflix has been investing in original films since 2014 and has spoken about transforming the ‘antiquated’ movie windowing system. It has accelerated the number of projects on its slate in recent months.It has a deal with Adam Sandler for comedies and has features including Brad Pitt’s War Machine and Will Smith sci-fi offering Bright in the works.With selected projects, such as Idris Elba movie Beasts of No Nation (pictured), there will be a limited theatrical release, which means the project qualifies for film industry awards.Yesterday Netflix said it will finish the uncompleted Orson Welles film The Other Side of the Wind, the filmmaker’s last project and which has remained unfinished since the 1970s.
Russian media holding company National Media Group (NMG) has set up a joint venture with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) to operate the latter’s pay TV channels in Russia.According to a statement published by NMG, it has acquired an 80% stake of a company-operator that broadcasts Sony’s package of three pay channels in Russia.The partnership will allow NMG to sell advertising on the Sony Turbo, Sony Sci-Fi and Sony Entertainment channels in the country.“Partnering with Sony, a world’s major company, extends the presence of NMG in the pay TV segment, completing our package with unique brands,” said Olga Paskina, NMG’s CEO.“Sony Pictures is a key business player which makes it possible to count on expanding the formats of cooperation in the future.”NMG was founded in 2008 and comprises assets like Channel One, Ren TV, Channel 5 and Channel 78 and the Izvestia newspaper.In 2015 NMG formed Media Alliance, a joint venture with Discovery Communications, which manages the Discovery Networks, Eurosport and Turner channels in Russia.SPT offloaded 80% of its Russian channels operation in early 2016 to comply with new foreign ownership laws in the country.It sold the 80% stake in its Russian portfolio to Media Logica, which is run by Russian TV industry veteran Vladimir Khanumyan.According to a local Russian press report, NMG acquired the stake from Khanumyan.Russian president Vladimir Putin signed an amendment to the country’s media law in late 2014 that would limit foreign ownership of media companies in Russia to 20%. This came into effect in January 2016.
TV4 PlaySweden’s Bonnier Broadcasting has seen strong sales and profit growth on the back of record earnings at free-to-air broadcaster TV4 Group and a reduced loss from pay TV outfit C More.TV4 turned in sales of SEK4.739 billion (€450 million), up from SEK4.469 billion in 2017, and EBITA of SEK1.382 billion, up from SEK1.022 billion.C More saw revenues rise from SEK1.545 billion to SEK1.936 billion with an EBITA loss reduced from SEK296 million to SEK99 million.Struggling Finnish commercial broadcaster MTV increased its sales more modestly, from SEK1.732 billion to SEK1.891 billion, while its EBITA loss declined from SEK218 million to SEK211 million.Bonnier said that TV4’s results confirmed it as “one of the most profitable TV companies in Europe” thanks to strong growth in digital services, where TV4 Play has outperformed the Swedish AVOD market for the last two years, as well as cost-cutting.The group said that TV4 had successfully developed its advanced advertising capabilities, with the introduction of a families with young children target group on linear TV and the introduction of programmatic media buying with three of the six largest operators in the country – Telia, Com Hem and Boxer.In pay TV, Bonnier kicked off an initiative to make C More profitable at the start of last year, along with a plan to introduce more local programming such as drama series Beck, Jägarna and Dirigenten.Bonnier said that MTV had outperformed the challenging local advertising market, while digital AVOD service MTV Digital had grown its streaming usage by 40% and SVOD service C More Finland had also grown.Nordic telco Telia last year agreed to acquire Bonnier Broadcasting for SEK9.2 billion.
Liberty Global-Vodafone JV VodafoneZiggo, the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) and Dutch police have together secured the criminal conviction of the operator of a Netherlands-based card sharing piracy network,who has been sentenced to a conditional six-month prison sentence, with a probation period of three years, and 240 hours community service, at a court in The Hague.The AAPA hailed the conviction as the latest in a series of positive results of collaborative investigations led by Dutch Police, VodafoneZiggo and itself.The 29-year-old man from Oude Wetering in the Netherlands was convicted of criminal offences relating to card-sharing. The sentencing follows the conviction of a 40-year-old man in Groningen in July 2018, also on offences relating to card sharing and the illegal sharing of Ziggo services.Despite a growing focus on illicit streaming, card sharing piracy continues to pose a major threat to pay TV operators and broadcasters. Card-sharing involves an individual or group stealing and retransmitting a regularly changing control word that is passed between a smart card and a set-top-box, allowing subscribers to watch TV content they have not legitimately paid for.“Piracy is a crime which can impact the revenues of content owners and rights holders and have serious consequences for the industry. Premium content is in high demand across the globe and the AAPA will continue to work with leading operators like VodafoneZiggo to help protect their investments and bring to justice criminals who are intent on stealing and sharing this valuable content,” said Mark Mulready, vice-president, cybersecurity services at content security outfit Irdeto and vice-president, AAPA.“This conviction is a testament to the success of the collaboration between the industry and law enforcement groups and will hopefully help the pirates to rethink their disregard for the industry.”
With the recent launch of streaming service Trace Play and the forthcoming launch of an MVNO and new channels, urban music and culture specialist Trace is in the midst of a period of frenetic activity. Co-founder, chairman and CEO Olivier Laouchez took time out at MIPCOM to talk to Stuart Thomson about his plans.Olivier LaouchezAfro-urban music and entertainment provider Trace is in the midst of a period of heightened activity. The urban culture-themed content provider recently launched streaming service Trace Play – its biggest digital move to date – and is also forging ahead with the launch of new regional channels and a mobile virtual network operator.Trace Play is now available on multiple platforms across some 200 territories, using a platform built by Trace’s technology partner for the project, Simplestream. “This has been the most complicated project we have ever done, I must confess. The technological dimension has been complex,” says Olivier Laouchez, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Trace, speaking to Digital TV Europe on the Trace yacht at MIPCOM. “We learned a lot during the journey. It was more complicated than we expected, especially because of multiple territories, language rights, platforms, type of content and so on.”Laouchez says that Modern Times Group-owned Trace will begin to market the service commercially in November, with a focus on Africa, France, the UK and the US as its core target markets. Currently the service has “a few thousand” subscribers, each paying E2.99, or the dollar, sterling or local currency equivalent.In Africa in particular, Trace has focused on bundling Trace Play with mobile services, especially deals that include a zero rating for data used to view the service. Laouchez says that Trace is likely to close “six or seven” significant distribution deals before the end of the year, including a deal already concluded with Orange. The service is also available on streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV as part of the Amazon Prime line-up.Laouchez says that Trace Play use has been concentrated on music and, primarily, on linear consumption. He says that “90% of usage is somehow music-related” and that linear TV accounts for 65-70% of usage, with radio accounting for 20% and on-demand consumption the balance.He says that Trace Play will give users a “broader choice than you can find on any one operator”, where typically Trace will distribute three or four channels as opposed to the complete line-up available on the player.“In many countries we think we will have a dual audience – of people just interested in urban music alongside the different diaspora audiences who can find content on Trace Play that the they can’t find anywhere else,” he says.While the distribution mechanisms for Trace content are many and various, Laouchez is adamant that the key to success for Trace Play will be a clear focus on its core proposition – urban culture and music. “We put all our content budget into reinforcing our music offering. We also do live concerts. We are producing some musical content. We don’t buy any content from American studios, because we don’t think we can make the difference there,” he says. Recent scripted shows on the platform include Nigerian productions Wives on Strike and Crazy, Lovely, Cool. Trace has also put money into UK-produced comedy show Brothers with no Game.Live content will remain central to the proposition, however. Laouchez points to the fact that Trace is not only a broadcaster but an organiser of more than 200 major live events this year alone. The company has a partnership with the Afropunk series of events and is also organising a Trace Roots event in South Africa on November 4, while in Côte d’Ivoire it has teamed up with mobile operator MTN to sponsor a live festival in December. He says that Trace is creating a dedicated section of Trace Play for live events in order to stream coverage of them.Finally, says Laouchez, Trace is working on a plan – still at an early stage – to potentially launch a Portuguese version of Trace Play, with expansion into the Brazilian market in mind.Trace Play is not the only new major initiative from the company this year. Trace also has plans to launch its own MVNO in South Africa as well as plans for the launch of new regional channels.Plans for the MVNO are already at an advanced stage. Trace Mobile will launch in November on the Cell C network, building on an existing branded mobile resale offering. MVNO-enabler MVN-X is providing technology. Trace Play will be an integral part of the MVNO offering. While the online service will be available to all Cell C customers, Laouchez says that “there will be a benefit” for customers that access it through Trace Mobile.Laouchez says that Trace is hopeful of being able to launch Trace Mobile in other parts of Africa in the near future, with a target of “five or six” markets to see launches next year. He adds, however, that the MVNO concept is still relatively new for Africa’s major mobile operators, so it will take time for them to “see how it works”. For Laouchez, a Trace-branded telecom service is just one part of his overall mobile strategy. Bringing content and exclusive experiences drawing on Trace’s media and event activities is what will ultimately differentiate the MVNO offering, he says.Trace is also making moves to extract greater value from its content IP and reach in the African market, launching a new distribution arm – Trace Content Distribution – headed by former France Télévisions and Lagardère Studios executive Betty Sulty-Johnson. “It is expensive to produce content so you need multiple distribution partners,” says Laouchez.New channelsRegionalisation of content meanwhile remains a top priority for the company. Trace recently launched Trace Prime, its new channel for the US. Laouchez is hopeful of striking a carriage deal for the service, which will also be available on OTT TV, soon.Laouchez says that the company is looking to create more programming blocks featuring underground artists in order to differentiate it from more mainstream music offerings. In France, Trace plans to launch a Trace Hip-Hop block on its flagship Trace Urban channel that will air for up to six hours during the night “so we can connect with this more edgy and picky audience”.Trace also plans to launch a new channel targeting the Indian Ocean. Within the Trace portfolio, the region’s musical currents have hitherto been served by its Trace Tropical offering, which is primarily targeted at the Caribbean market, despite the fact that the two regions have distinctive musical cultures.The new channel, Trace Vanilla, will launch at the end of this year or the beginning of next, says Laouchez.“We are seeing the emergence of new talent from the Indian Ocean…and there is not one professional channel that covers all this music and culture,” says Laouchez.Regionalisation of its offering has long been key to Trace’s strategy where “it makes economic and also cultural sense”, he says. “You attract more advertising and investment because you are more relevant for the region.”Trace’s biggest current localisation project is, however, a new channel that spotlights the culture and music of Africa’s biggest country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Trace Kitoko, which is set to launch at the end of this year or the beginning of 2018, will be versioned in the Ngala language that is spoken both in the DRC and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville. The primary target market for the channel is the 90 million-strong population of the DRC, together with the five-to-six million of Congo-Brazzaville and a global diaspora of up to 10 million – over 100 million in total.“The DRC is the biggest French-speaking country in the world,” says Laouchez. “Because of the civil war most international journalists don’t go there [but] the reality – and I was in Kinshasa a few weeks ago and saw this – is that this is a country where everybody is not just passionate but crazy about music. The big artists there are superstars.”However, Trace Kitoko is likely to have a broader appeal, given the popularity of artists of Congolese origin in France. “Half of the biggest hip-hop artists in France are from the DRC.”Trace already took a step to enhance its presence in the DRC in August, striking a deal with mobile player Africell to carry Trace Play and for Trace to acquire radio station AfriRadio.Laouchez says that Trace Kitoko will be distributed in the DRC via partners but will be available globally via Trace Play. He says one of Trace’s missions is to bring different musical cultures together via its channels and digital platform. Localised channels typically comprise 70-80% local content supplemented by material from other parts of the globe.Laouchez is also mulling the launch of a new international channel “taking the best from each region” in which it operates. He hopes this global hits offering will be ready in time for Trace’s 15th birthday next year.“We want Trace to be a bridge between all countries with a strong urban identify and populations of African descent because this is what unites all the countries where we are have a strong presence,” he says.