Nicosia municipality rejected suggestions on Tuesday that tactile paving — usually used to guide people with impaired vision — on a stretch of the Eleftheria Square had been installed improperly with lampposts obstructing the path.The municipality, which has been under constant fire over delays in completing the square, was forced to issue a statement after fresh criticism over the installation of tactile paving on Costakis Pantelides Street, which links the square with the bus terminal.Photos on social media showed a stretch paved with tactile tiles, used to guide visually impaired people, with lampposts fitted at regular intervals along the route.In a post on its Facebook page, the local authority said the tiles had been properly installed.“Tactile marking on Costakis Pantelides Street on the same line with benches and lampposts is not a path for visually impaired people,” the municipality said.It said that the road is shared space between pedestrians and vehicles constructed on the same level.The tactile paving had been installed to alert people with disabilities that they were entering a stretch used by motorists, the municipality said, providing a photo from London where the same concept had been used.Even so, some observers pointed out that the tiles used on the square – mostly raised, flat-topped bars – were normally used as guidance tactile whereas blister tactile was used on even surfaces to warn visually impaired people that they were at the end of the footway and there was a carriageway ahead.South Kensington, London You May LikeIQgal7 Early Warning Signs of Cancer Women Shouldn’t IgnoreIQgalUndoForReasonAccessories To Liven Up Your Summer OutfitsForReasonUndoLowerMyBillsPay Off Your House At A Furious Pace If You Owe Less Than $625kLowerMyBillsUndo Two of serial killer’s victims buried in PhilippinesUndoHouse rejects presidential veto over repossession lawUndoBritish woman who claimed gang-rape taken to courtUndoby Taboolaby Taboola
Cyprus had the second-highest private debt to GDP ratio among European Union countries in 2013, according to the latest data released by Eurostat.Private sector debt, consolidated (including non-financial corporations, households, non-profit institutions serving households) reached 344.8 per cent of GDP, or €62,482 billion.By comparison the private debt to GDP ratio stood at 331.4 per cent in 2012 and 330.7 per cent in 2011.Luxembourg held the highest private sector debt ratio at 356.2 per cent of GDP, or €161 billion. In third place after Cyprus was Ireland with 266.3 per cent private debt to GDP.According to the same data, the balance sheets of Cypriot banks shrunk by 19.5 per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year.You May LikeLivestlyChip And Joanna’s $18M Mansion Is Perfect, But It’s The Backyard Everyone Is Talking AboutLivestlyUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndoKelley Blue BookYou Won’t Believe How Affordable These Ford Car Models AreKelley Blue BookUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
Categories: Hughes News,News State Rep. Holly Hughes today voted to accelerate sales tax relief for Michigan vehicle buyers, joining her House colleagues in overriding a gubernatorial veto.The House vote means additional tax relief for people buying cars, trucks and SUVs with a trade-in. Current law calls for phasing in planned sales and use tax deductions on purchases including a trade-in through 2039. With today’s vote, the reductions will be fully implemented a decade earlier.“This legislation is in the best interests of the people of Michigan,” said Hughes, of Montague, after the House joined the Senate in overriding a veto of legislation from Gov. Rick Snyder. “It’s good for our economy. It’s good for our auto industry. And it’s good for our hard-working families.”The Senate bills overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature were vetoed by the governor in July.The new law speeds reforms approved in 2013, allowing buyers to subtract the value of their trade-ins from the purchase price of a vehicle for sales tax purposes. The accelerated sales tax relief also will apply to boats and recreational vehicles bought with a trade-in. 17Jan Rep. Hughes votes to bring faster sales tax relief to Michigan car buyers ####
The state Legislature this week fulfilled one of Rep. Lee Chatfield’s top priorities, approving bills to lower income taxes for Michigan families.The bills headed to the governor preserve and increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on state income taxes, saving families hundreds of dollars overall.“This session of the House of Representatives began in January 2017, and from the very first day I’ve been leading the fight to lower income taxes,” said Chatfield, of Levering. “I’m proud to say we have approved legislation that will allow Michigan seniors and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money. This is a victory for retirees and every hard-working person in the state – our teachers, first responders and everyone else who heads to work every day to build a better life for their loved ones. They’re all going to save money.”The legislation approved this week ensures Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming personal exemptions on their income taxes, a necessary step after federal tax reforms signed into law in December. In addition, the bills increase the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,900 by the 2021 tax year.That translates to significant savings. The technical fix related to the federal reforms saves $170 per person per year — or $680 for a family of four – on state income taxes. The plan to raise the personal exemption to $4,900 provides $102 in additional relief for a family of four.While Chatfield wholly supported the bills approved this week, his preference continues to be a rollback of the Michigan income tax rate such as he proposed with the very first bill introduced in the state House in 2017.“There’s more than one way to lower taxes, and I am pleased we have found a broad and bipartisan consensus this week that saves money for all Michigan residents,” Chatfield said.###The legislation: Senate Bills 748 and 750. Categories: Chatfield News,News 17Feb Chatfield: Tax cuts approved by Legislature are a ‘victory’ for Michigan families
Categories: Reilly News 20Feb Reps. Reilly and Webber to present joint legislative update State Reps. John Reilly and Michael Webber will present a joint legislative update to local residents on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Township Hall located at 4393 Collins Road in Rochester. The presentation will take place during the Oakland Township Board of Trustees meeting that evening.Information on legislation regarding auto insurance, tax reform and local issues will be among the key issues discussed.“I’m looking forward to giving residents an update on what we’ve been working on in Lansing,” Rep. Reilly said. “I encourage anyone in Oakland Township to join us and participate in this unique and informative event.”“Attending local events is a great way to connect with people one-on-one. Webber said: I always look forward to meeting residents and discussing ways we can improve our communities.”For additional information, contact Rep. Reilly at 517-373-1798 or via email at JohnReilly@house.mi.gov. Rep. Webber’s office may be reached at 517-373-1773 or MichaelWebber@house.mi.gov.
01Mar Rep. Frederick bill further streamlines property rehabilitation efforts The Michigan House on Wednesday advanced a bill proposed by state Rep. Ben Frederick, of Owosso, which allows more flexibility for assessed property value during commercial redevelopment periods.The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Exemption was enacted in 2000 with the goal of providing local governments with an economic development tool to incentivize redevelopment of blighted and distressed properties. An OPRA certificate can be requested through local government by property owners or developers that freezes the assessed value of the property for up to 12 years while revitalization work occurs.If a property value decreases or was assessed inaccurately, however, the property owner or developer would remain locked into a higher tax rate. Frederick’s proposal allows the OPRA certificate to be removed, if requested and approved by the local government.“This is a program that has been pivotal in helping bring back areas of Shiawassee and Saginaw Counties,” said Frederick, who serves on the committee. “We need to continue to encourage long-term revitalization projects here in our state and such projects should accurately reflect changing property values and assessments. This is a flexible, common-sense solution that local governments can review case-by-case to determine if a certificate removal is warranted.”House Bill 5436 moves to the Senate for further consideration.PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Ben Frederick (left) provides testimony for House Bill 5436 before the House Commerce and Trade Committee on Feb. 13. Frederick was joined by state Rep. Eric Leutheuser, who is sponsoring similar legislation addressing commercial rehabilitation. Categories: Frederick News,News
Content identification technology provider Civolution has announced that its NexGuard – Online Media Delivery (OMD) video watermarking technology will run on Windows Azure Media Services.Windows Azure Media Services is a new set of cloud-based media technologies that enable Microsoft customers and partners to create, distribute and manage customised media solutions across various devices and platforms. Civolution said NexGuard – OMD enables secure delivery of digital media assets processed through the cloud on Windows Azure.Civolution is one of Microsoft’s “build-in” security partners for Windows Azure Media Services, enabling customers to protect their content during delivery. Movie and television content producers, premium channels, and content aggregators can take advantage of the cloud to organise online screening for professionals or over-the-top video-on-demand for consumers, both with video watermarking capability.“Microsoft is pleased to be working with Civolution and their digital watermarking and fingerprinting applications for media interaction, intelligence and protection,” said Sudheer Sirivara, senior director of Windows Azure Media Services at Microsoft. “Civolution helps customers who need secure delivery of digital media assets that are delivered on Windows Azure.”Windows Azure Media Services enables users to upload a video asset to the cloud and configure watermarked output renditions. The watermark insertion is performed in two stages. The first stage, referred to as ‘watermark pre-processing’, is performed once per media asset while transcoding original assets to the desired delivery format. The second step, referred to as ‘watermark smart embedding’ is applied upon streaming by Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN) or third party CDNs.After a media asset is passed through the NexGuard watermark pre-processor, the file is delivered in Smooth Streaming format, to PC, Mac, Xbox and various connected devices including iOS, Android and connected TV’s which are capable of supporting the Smooth Stream format. This format can then be uploaded to a CDN for delivery to the end user and is compliant with Microsoft Silverlight. At the CDN level, a transaction identifier is applied by the NexGuard watermark smart embedder, making each delivered stream and copies thereof uniquely traceable, according to Civolution.Should watermarked content be illegally copied and redistributed, Civolution, through its automated online NexGuard detection service portal, will report the unique identifier back to the content owner. The identifier is inserted into the original stream at the point of delivery.
Broadcast services provider GlobeCast has been chosen as a technical partner for the launch of Al Jazeera’s new sports channels for the French market.GlobeCast has coordinated various satellite capacities, provided fibre contribution links and is running an IPTV headend for the distribution of the beIN Sport 1 and 2 channels.BeIN Sport 1 launched on June 1 and beIN Sport 2 will debut at the end of July. They are being delivered by GlobeCast in SD and HD to reach satellite, cable and IPTV homes throughout France.
Dutch cable operator Ziggo attracted 20,000 new subscribers to its All-in-1 bundle in the third quarter, taking total penetration to 48.6% of its customers base. However CEO Bernard Dijkhuizen noted that the company had seen increasing competition, resulting in lower growth for the bundled offering, which had also been hit by reduced marketing activity.Dijkhuizen said Ziggo was nevertheless “on track to continue to increase our market share and grow our revenue” and said that core revenues should grow in line with expectations for the full year. EBITDA should also be in line with expectations, he said.Ziggo saw continued growth in digital pay TV driven by an increase in the number of premium packages per subscriber and strong year-on-year growth in VOD transactions by over 140%.Internet subscribers were up 16,000 in third quarter, driven by the sale of All-in-1 bundles and business bundles. Ziggo’s telephony business was however hit by free-to-air call rates reductions, lower call minutes per subscriber and growth in free on-net calling and flat-fee subscriptions.The company posted revenues of €380.1 million, up 1.2% year-on-year. Adjusted EBITDA was €227 million, up 8.1%.
Search and recommendation provider ThinkAnalytics now has a customer base of over 80 million licensed subscribers across 35 operators, the company has revealed.ThinkAnalytics said it had signed 15 new deals in the last six months and boosted its first nine months revenues by 75% year-on-year.
Hagen RickmannDeutsche Telekom has named Hagen Rickmann as the new sales director for Telekom Deutschland, the telco’s domestic arm. Rickmann replaces Dirk Wössner is leaving the company at his own request to join Canadian cable operator Rogers Communications, where he will be responsible for the consumer segment as President of the Consumer Business Unit.Rickmann was previously sales director at T-Systems.“We are gaining a true IT, telecommunications and sales professional for our team. He will make an outstanding contribution in his new function, building on the experience that he has acquired at T-Systems in the last few years – especially in the important area of business customers,” Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges said of Rickmann.
kabel DeutschlandFinnish technology provider Teleste’s Cableway AG subsidiary has secured a contract with Vodafone-owned Kabel Deutschland to upgrade and maintain its cable networks. Cableway has signed a three-year frame agreement with Kabel Deutschland with a one-year option on the upgrading and maintenance services of cable networks. According to Teleste, the contract will be worth between €50-60 million a year.The agreement builds on Cableway’s traditional field service expertise and expands it further towards sales activities by Cableway field technicians. A successful pilot of these sales activities was conducted in 2014, according to Teleste.In 2008 Kabel Deutschland outsourced its technical upgrading and maintenance services of cable networks and as a result, Cableway gained a significant market share as a provider of such upgrading and maintenance services.
Hans J. CarstensenNorwegian commercial broadcaster TV 2 has bought Nordic pay TV channel provider C More’s Norwegian sports operations, as part of a major content deal between the two firms.Egmont-owned TV 2 has acquired all C More’s sports rights and sports channels in Norway, including its C Sports service, in a deal that includes Norwegian national football league coverage.The firms have also entered into a long-term cooperation regarding C More’s film and series offering on the Norwegian market, with TV 2 taking over the Norwegian activities of C More Entertainment from Bonnier.Film and series will continue to be distributed under the C More brand, but the long-term partnership will see TV 2 take responsibility for marketing, sales and packaging.TV 2 said the deal is part of its strategy to strengthen its position in the Norwegian pay TV market and better compete against global players.“TV 2 has a very strong position and anchoring as the largest media company and public service media provider in Norway. Now we get even stronger. TV 2 wants to be competitive exactly by being great on the content that Norwegians are looking for,” said chairman of the board of TV 2 and CFO of Egmont, Hans J. Carstensen.C More’s Norwegian offering consists of 11 sports channels, seven movie channels and two entertainment channels that air TV series.TV 2 claims to be the largest commercial media company in Norway by daily consumption time, and claims the largest viewer share in the 20-49 age segment.It has eight channels, including its main network TV 2, digital channel TV 2 Sumo and a number of smaller networks including TV 2 News, TV 2 Sport, movie network TV 2 Filmkanalen and youth network TV 2 Zebra.The deal is expected to close during the spring pending approval from the Norwegian Competition Authority.
RTL-owned MCN StyleHaulRTL Group has created a digital hub that will manage RTL Group’s portfolio of digital acquisitions and help support their international expansion.The RTL Digital Hub team will develop the firm’s investments in multichannel networks, in particular BroadbandTV and StyleHaul, and in the digital advertising sales businesses SpotXchange and Clypd.The RTL Digital Hub will also work to develop partnerships with external companies, as well as internally between RTL Group’s broadcasters, its production arm, FremantleMedia, and other divisions of parent company Bertelsmann.“In addition, the RTL Digital Hub will intensively scan the market for further investments in the online video space,” said RTL.The new team will be led out of the US and Europe by Marcel Reichart, who becomes executive vice-president of RTL Digital Hub. Reichart first joined Bertelsmann in 2012 as executive vice-president of digital development and partnerships and will continue with this role in addition to his new duties.In his new post, Reichart will report to RTL Group’s co-CEOs, Anke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de Posch.“The creation of the RTL Digital Hub underlines our strategic goal to become a global force in online video and to further increase our presence in North America,” said Schäferkordt and de Posch in a statement.“With our recent investments in North America – BroadbandTV, StyleHaul and SpotXchange – we’ve reached critical mass in online video. Now we will bundle our efforts to develop our rapidly growing reach in this area into a more significant and profitable third pillar of RTL Group.”RTL said that the CEOs of BroadbandTV, StyleHaul and SpotXchange will continue to have “full responsibility for their operations” in line with the group’s decentralised organisation.RTL Group currently claims it generates more than 7 billion online video views per month, with its MCNs addressing young audiences and topics like women’s lifestyle and fashion, gaming, music and kids content.RTL Group’s MCNs serve a combined base of 42,000 content creators, which include famous Youtubers like Zoella (StyleHaul), Fernanfloo (BroadbandTV) and El Rubius (Divimove).“Having supported RTL Group’s successful online video strategy and digital investments in my current role, I am thrilled to now work even closer with the impressive entrepreneurs of the RTL Digital Hub portfolio and the RTL Group team to drive and create a fast-growing and innovative global leader in digital video,” said Reichart.
Fred von LohmannYouTube has offered to provide legal defence for a select amount of content that it believes represents ‘fair use’ of copyrighted content.Announcing the move, the Google-owned video site said that using content like music or TV clips to parody, critique or change that content so it has “social value beyond the original” is often protected by fair use rules in the US.YouTube claims that these rules help discussion and creativity to flourish and said it is prepared to defend “some of the best examples of fair use on YouTube” in court – if necessary.“We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedowns,” said Google copyright legal director, Fred von Lohmann.“With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the US, feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.”YouTube said intervening would help protect individual content creators who may be intimidated by DMCA’s counter notification process.It also said that its programme could, over time, contribute to a “demo reel” that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices.While we can’t offer legal protection to every video creator – or even every video that has a strong fair use defence – we’ll continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as part of our normal processes,” said von Lohmann.“We believe even the small number of videos we are able to protect will make a positive impact on the entire YouTube ecosystem, ensuring YouTube remains a place where creativity and expression can be rewarded.”
Ed VaizeyThe UK government has unveiled plans to make superfast fibre broadband available to all new home developments.Announcing the new deal, the government said it has worked with BT’s Openreach network infrastructure arm and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) on an agreement that aims to provide fibre to new homes either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative.As part of the deal, Openreach is introducing an online planning tool for homebuilders that will tell them if new properties can be connected to fibre for free, or if a contribution is needed from the developer.From today, the housing industry will also have access to an Openreach ‘rate card’ that details the fixed cost contributions needed by homebuilders in cases where joint funding is needed.“Broadband connectivity is just one thing that home buyers now expect when buying a new build, so this industry-led push to make superfast, or indeed ultrafast, broadband speeds available by default in new homes represents a very important step in meeting the UK’s digital needs,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey.The government has stated an ambition to build 1 million new homes over the course of the current parliament.
Facebook is setting up a dedicated social VR team and has announced plans to launch its 360-degree video streaming technology on Samsung Gear VR headsets.Outlining its plans on the eve of Mobile World Congress, which kicks off in Barcelona today, Facebook said that its new social VR team will focus entirely on exploring the “future of social interaction in VR”.The social network claimed that “millions of people watch 360 videos on Facebook every day”, with more than 20,000 of these videos now available and “hundreds more” being added daily.“This team will explore how people can connect and share using today’s VR technology, as well as long-term possibilities as VR evolves into an increasingly important computing platform,” said Facebook.The team will also will work closely with Facebook-owned VR headset company Oculus and other teams at Facebook to “build the foundation for tomorrow’s social VR experiences on all platforms.”In terms of the Samsung Gear launch, Facebook said it would deploy its 360 technology on Gear VR in the “next few weeks” and said that doing so is a “more efficient way of delivering 360 videos” as it shows only the pixels you’re actually looking at in the highest quality, instead of delivering the entire 360 video in high resolution.“To make this work, we create dozens of variants for every 360 video that gets uploaded to Facebook, each tailored to a specific viewing angle, and then as you watch the video, we rapidly adjust which variant we display based on where you’re looking,” said Facebook.“By doing this, we’ve quadrupled the resolution quality of 360 streaming video in VR by reducing the amount of required network bandwidth by 4x — so videos look clearer and play faster.”Facebook started to roll out 360-degree videos in the service’s News Feed last September, in an effort to take immersive content “a step further.”
Belgian operator Belgacom has signed an exclusive agreement with the Belgian Pro League to rename and broadcast the current D1B division 2 championship.The championship will now be made up of eight teams, will be named the ‘Proximus League’ and will be broadcast by Proximus for the next four seasons – as of the 2016-2017 season.Proximus said the new agreement will allow it to strengthen its local football coverage by offering the Proximus League in its new format along with coverage of the Jupiler Pro League in its entirety.“This agreement will enable the Pro League to financially support its eight new members and, in the interest of the public in particular, increase the quality of this new championship. This clearly represents a promotion for the Division 2 clubs that will have acquired the right to access it at the end of this season,” said Pro League CEO, Pierre François.
Vincent BolloréVivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré has given the strongest indication yet that he plans to reduce or eliminate the free-to-air element of pay TV service Canal+.Bolloré told financial daily Les Echos that Canal+ was not obliged to make content available unencrypted and said that while free-to-air content could gain advertising revenue in the short term, in the longer term it contributes to a reduction in subscribers.According to Les Echos, Canal+ plans to reduce its free offerings drastically in the autumn. Possible candidates for encryption include magazine show Le Tube and Le Supplément. Canal Football Club and Canal Rugby Club, which includes exclusive sports content, are likely to remain in the clear. The future of the broadcaster’s free primetime window, which includes Le Grand Journal and Le Petit Journal, both of which have lost audience share, remain uncertain.According to Les Echos, a number of shows could potentially be shifted to free-to-air digital channel D8.Bolloré told Les Echos that he believed Canal+ could be saved and would be saved, with the caveat that this could only be achieved if economies were made. He said that the service could rebound if the French competition regulator gives a green light to the group’s agreement to broadcast BeIN Sports content, which includes Ligue 1 football.Separately, in his interview with Les Echos, Bolloré hinted that there could be some sort of integration between Vivendi and marketing and communication group Havas. Bolloré’s own company Bolloré Group owns 60% of Havas.Bolloré said however that he had no specific plan to bring the two groups together at this stage.Any integration of the pair could raise issues of conflict of interest given Vivendi’s ownership of free-to-air channels D8, D17 and iTélé.Bolloré’s son Yannick, the CEO of Havas, was recently appointed to Vivendi’s supervisory board.
Altice-owned French operator SFR has unveiled more details about SFR Sport 1, its new channel that will serve as the vehicle for its flagship exclusive coverage of English Premier League football.SFR is also reportedly in talks with BeIN Sport to develop combined offerings.The channel will launch tomorrow as the new Premier League season kicks off with a match between champions Leicester and Hull City, followed by Everton v Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City v Sunderland.SFR Sport 1 will offer several magazine shows as well as live match coverage. The channel will former players Christophe Dugarry, Éric Di Meco, Jérôme Rothen, Emmanuel Petit, Frank LeBoeuf, Jean-Michel Larque and Roland Courbis as presenters and commentators.The channel will feature a range of magazine programmes including Half Time, featuring Julien Momont and Emilie Broussouloux, PL Zone, a catch-up show featuring Salim Baungally, and Multizap, a highlights show featuring Premier League and other content.According to French financial daily Les Echos, citing unnamed sources, SFR has held talks with BeIN Sport to develop combined offerings with the Qatar-backed pay TV service, which holds the rights to some French Ligue 1 matches and the European Champions League tournament.According to Les Echos, SFR has already tried unsuccessfully to strike deals with Canal+ Group and Orange, which foundered over the price it was asking.An agreement with BeIN Sport would likely attract critical attention from Canal+, which recently signed a non-exclusive deal with its rival after an exclusive partnership was struck down by the French competition regulator.SFR Media chief Alain Weill has meanwhile said the operator would be happy to distribute its sports channels exclusively on its own platform for the first few months at least, although the group remains open to redistribution agreements with other operators.