Kathryn Kannampuzha / MumbaiTIRUN Travel Marketing, the India representative for Celebrity Cruises completed 25 years of serving the Indian market. The company organised a Celebrity Cruises update session for the media and travel agents earlier this month. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Celebrity Cruises and Jo Rzymowska, VP & Managing Director, Celebrity Cruises UK, Ireland & Asia addressed the media and travel agents about the latest updates on Celebrity Cruises.Perlo updated, “In the month of November 2018, we will be introducing Celebrity Edge – the finest and the most futuristic cruise ship offering. And we have chosen Malala Yousafzai as the Godmother of Celebrity Edge. We are making an investment of USD 400 million in 2019-2023 across the fleet and nine cruises will be renovated.”Ratna Chadha, CEO, TIRUN Travel Marketing revealed that Celebrity Cruises has grown 60% Y-O-Y when the industry experienced a growth of about 20 to 25% and this in itself reflects the cruise line’s performance and relative customer appeal. Speaking about the target for 2018, Chadha asserted, “We are looking forward to further stimulate growth and bring greater disruptions in 2018. Some of the reasons that make us optimistic while doing so are the cumulative increase in short-duration Europe Cruises, the possibility of newer cruise itineraries to Indian shores planned during December 2018, and the introduction of revolutionary Celebrity Edge.”
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A 3-city workshop organised for Reunion Island and its tourism suppliers took place in the key cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in the first week of April. Organised with Atout France, this initiative formed a part of Reunion Island’s strategy of developing close synergies with the Indian market and augmenting Indian visitor arrivals to the Island.A delegation of 7 suppliers helmed by the President of the Reunion Island Tourism Board Stéphane Fouassin and the Market Manager Lydie Sangarin showcased the Island’s tourism offers to members of the trade in all 3 cities. The delegation comprised the national air carrier Air Austral, destination management companies, iconic hotels and a helicopter ride attraction. An informative presentation on the Island made by the Reunion Island Tourism Board followed by meetings with the suppliers led to an in-depth understanding of the Island, its experiences and how to best showcase their products in the Indian context.Stéphane Fouassin, President of the Reunion Island Tourism Board commented, “India is an important source market for us and we believe that Reunion Island is a perfect fit for visitors wanting to enjoy a holiday by the sea coupled with adventure experiences. An array of diverse activities ensures that the island perfectly caters to the needs and requirements of its visiting families, couples, friends on a holiday and adventure enthusiasts”.Sharing her thoughts, Sheetal Munshaw, Director Atout France in India said, “We are extremely pleased to showcase Reunion Island – a French overseas department and its myriad array of experiences to the Indian travel trade. We are confident that this workshop will pave the way for more Indian arrivals to the Island in the future. In addition, the visa access policy for stays less than 15 days certainly increases the appeal of this island nestled in the Indian Ocean. We look forward to continuing our fruitful collaboration with the Reunion Island Tourism Board in 2019”.About the Island: Located in the Mascarene Archipelago, Reunion Island – a French overseas department – offers travellers the exoticism of a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. At the crossroads of European, African and Asian cultures, Reunion is a true melting pot of different cultures.
W Retreat & Spa – Maldives has unveiled a fresh new take on the luxury retreat. Curated by cutting-edge trend influencers, the retreat reflects a unique vision of the Maldives, now and beyond, of Angela Chang, Director of Design, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific; Tahir Sultan, well-known fashion designer; Alec Monopoly, famous street artist; Tara Stiles, yogi and W Hotels’ FIT consultant; Su-Man Hsu, the most in-demand celebrity facialist; and renowned DJs such as Scarlett Etienne, Silky and Erica Rhone.“We are thrilled to work with this eclectic group of trendsetters, who came together and fused their imaginations to create a buzzing new energy on the island,” said Jean-Louis Ripoche, Complex General Manager, W Retreat & Spa – Maldives and Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa.Luxury Playground, RebornLed by Angela Chang, the new look of the retreat evokes a sensory experience that reflects the perfect blend of W’s innovative architectural design and contemporary aesthetics. At the same time, the colours, materials and glowing elements convey the unique, vibrant and playful personality of the island.Ideally located on the seaside with breath-taking scenery, the restyled Wonderful Beach Oasis retreats bring to life the synergy of the beach and Indian Ocean.Set over the Indian Ocean, the newly designed Fabulous Lagoon Oasis and Spectacular Ocean Oasis overwater retreats capture the energy of the Maldivian underwater sea life with blue and white tones. Signature items include a white super-sized stingray rocking chair designed by Thomas Pedersen as a modern interpretation of the classic rocking chair, a jellyfish see-through coffee table, stunning medusa bedside lights designed by Roxy Towry-Russel, a glowing starfish pillow and an Italian designer trolley bar that highlights the cocktail culture of the W brand.W Retreat & Spa – Maldives features 78 private retreats and suites, including 28 Wonderful Beach Oasis, 25 Spectacular Ocean Oasis, 21 Fabulous Lagoon Oasis, 3 WOW Ocean Escape and 1 Extreme WOW Ocean Haven (the W brand’s interpretation of the Presidential Suite). Each chic and spacious retreat features a king-sized signature W bed, deluxe Bose® sound system, 42-inch television, wine refrigerator, delightful Munchie Box (the W brand’s reinterpretation of the staid mini bar), sumptuous Bliss® bath amenities, infinity plunge pool and sundeck.‘Let It Glow’ PackageTo commemorate W Retreat & Spa – Maldives’ restyling, the ‘Let It Glow’ package offers:Vibrant UV night snorkelling experience on the breathtaking house-reef‘Ocean-to-table’ dinner curated by Chef Paul Lewis on Escape, the luxury two mast yacht, under the starry Maldivian skyInfinite glowing cocktails at 15Below, the only underground night club in the Maldives5-hour body treatments and massages at Gaathafushi, W Maldives’ private islandA minimum stay of 4 nights is required. The package starts at US$2285++ per night.Digital DetoxGuests may also embark on a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience on Gaathafushi, W Retreat & Spa – Maldives’ very own private island. Here, they can stay overnight on their own deserted island, intact and wild, with no TV or Internet; indulge in exquisite serenity, exploring the surrounding silent lagoon before hanging on the beach; and unwinding like never before with a glass of Champagne and the best sunset views, while their own private chef sets up a special candlelight BBQ dinner.Rates start from US$1480 per night. A minimum stay of 5 nights is required (including 1 night at Gaathafushi).www.whotels.com/maldives
By Michele Kambas and John O’DonnellCyprus hopes to borrow on financial markets this year, its finance minister told Reuters on Thursday, saying the island’s economy had more in common with bailout turnaround Ireland than Greece.Harris Georgiades said Ireland, which reformed after near bankruptcy, was a role model as Cyprus climbs out of recession and prepares to borrow on markets ahead of the end of its reform-for-aid programme in the middle of next year.“I’m … referring to the Irish example as the one that we should follow,” he said.“I think that it is impressive that Ireland has been in very deep difficulty … but have effectively implemented a programme of reform … and is now the fastest growing economy in the euro zone.”Seeking to distance himself from Greece, where leftist party Syriza has taken power to confront the euro zone over the terms of the country’s bailout, Georgiades said: “There are cultural and national ties but that’s it.”“There was a strong link between the two economies through our banking sector,” he said. “That was terminated two years ago.”Cyprus needed a 10 billion euro bailout from the euro zone and others in 2013. The aid pulled the island from the brink of bankruptcy, following heavy losses at its banks after a Greek debt restructuring.But the experience angered many Cypriots, who were forced to shoulder some of the cost of propping up banks, a burden many on the island resent.On Thursday, the European Central Bank’s decision-making Governing Council gathered in Nicosia for the second day to flesh out terms of its new quantitative easing programme, under which it will print money to buy mostly government bonds.The scheme is not yet open to Cyprus as it has failed to implement a new insolvency law that would make it easier to repossess properties, which under the current system can take up to 20 years. Georgiades said the law would be finalised within weeks, allowing Cyprus’s bonds to be purchased.At a meeting on the Mediterranean island, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades earlier made the case to ECB chief Mario Draghi for its debt to be included in the ECB’s quantitative easing scheme, a person familiar with the talks told Reuters.Georgiades said that Nicosia hoped to sell one or two new bonds this year, and predicted modest economic growth.He also said he may not need close to 2 billion euros of bailout cash that was earmarked for recapitalising banks and other spending. That money, he said, could be used to repay debts instead.“It’s pretty clear that we should not be requiring additional funds, for instance, for the recapitalisation of our banks.”“We have already consolidated our public finances,” Georgiades said, calling for a discussion about changing the use of “at least some of those funds” for “repaying existing debt”.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 ArePopularEverythingUndoYahoo SearchYou’ve Never Seen Luxury Like This On A Cruise Ship. Search Luxury Mediterranean CruisesYahoo SearchUndo Pensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoCruise passenger airlifted to Paphos hospitalUndoRemand for pair in alleged property fraud (Updated)Undoby Taboolaby Taboola
State Rep. Bruce Rendon, at right, today took the ceremonial oath of office as state representative for the 103rd House District in the 97th Michigan Legislature. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley administered the ceremonial oath in the state Capitol in Lansing. He serves the people of Crawford, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Ogemaw and Roscommon counties.“I am excited about the new ideas and legislation that we will be working on to continue Michigan’s economic recovery that can help create more jobs for people,” said Rendon, R-Lake City.Rendon’s wife, Daire, and his mother-in-law, Louise Nickels, also took part in the ceremony. Categories: Rendon News,Rendon Photos 09Jan Rendon takes 2013-14 oath
State Representative Daniela R. García of Holland recognized the Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon for its philanthropic endeavors in the community.“This restaurant has been a symbol of hope to so many throughout our community,” García said. “This business truly embodies the giving spirit that makes Ottawa County and West Michigan special.”Since the early 2000’s, Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon has raised more than $250,000 to support local causes. The Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon continuously raise between $5,000 and $10,000 per charitable event.“We appreciate all that the Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon continues to contribute to our community and the state of Michigan. We thank owner Mark Herman and his staff for all the hard work they do,” García said. 12Jun Representative García honors the Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon Categories: Garcia News PHOTO INFORMATION: Representative Daniela R. García (front left) recognizes Crazy Horse Steakhouse and Saloon owner Mark Herman and his staff.
Categories: Hoitenga News 14Mar Rep. Hoitenga helps House approve veteran service office grant program State Rep. Michele Hoitenga of Manton today voted with her House colleagues to approve a measure encouraging Michigan counties to establish and maintain veteran service offices through a new grant program.The legislation, which Hoitenga co-sponsors, will give each county with a veteran service office that satisfies pre-approved requirements $25,000, plus an additional amount based on the number of veterans in the county. To continue receiving the grant, an established county veteran service office must meet benchmarks for staff performance and reporting while maintaining the previous year’s funding level.Currently, there are 11 Michigan counties without a veteran service office. This could be due to a lack of funding, a county partnering with a neighboring county or the number of veterans in the area. A Veteran Service Officer (VSO) may only be available for a few hours each month at a single location depending on the county.“Wexford County is one of the few counties in Michigan helping with veteran services for counties without established veteran service departments,” Hoitenga said. “This makes access limited and makes for long waiting lines for our veterans seeking assistance. The new grant will encourage counties dependent on other counties’ veteran services to become more independent by establishing their own county veteran offices. No veteran should have to in some instances drive two hours to meet with an accredited county VSO. Services should be as close to their homes as possible.”House Bill 5536 now moves to the Senate for consideration.#####
03May Rep. Howrylak to host consumer education event on May 11 Categories: Howrylak News State Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy is partnering with the Michigan attorney general’s office to host a consumer education event on Friday, May 11.This month’s presentation will feature information on phone, mail and e-scams and how to avoid being victimized from these crimes.“I hope to provide a learning opportunity for citizens of all ages so they can recognize the warning signs of potential scams and how to avoid them,” Rep. Howrylak said.There is no charge to attend and a light lunch will be provided. The event starts at 11 a.m. at Clawson’s Hunter Community Center located at 509 Fisher Court. Individuals looking for more information may contact Rep. Howrylak’s office toll-free at (877) 248-0001 or by emailing MartinHowrylak@house.mi.gov.
Share5Tweet2Share1Email8 SharesMarch 20, 2016; Voice of America and GNN LiberiaThe arrest of Liberian activist Vandalark Patricks might have gone unnoticed had local civil society not organized public protests to demand his release later that week. Police responded to the protests with teargas and stones.According to news reports, Patricks was arrested on February 23, 2016, and charged with sedition and criminal libel after he read a statement on behalf of a civil society group on February 21st “urging civil society to take part in a march to call for justice and accountability for the killings of several human rights defenders and activists.”One account states that Patricks alleged “government involvement in a series of high-profile deaths over several years.” Most recent and notable among these deaths and most is that in early February of businessman-politician Harry Greaves, former head of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company and confidant-turned-critic of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Greaves has since been buried under controversial circumstances, but his death and the government’s handling of it appear to have been the trigger for public calls for justice.Released on bail since March 1st, Patricks’ health is said to be deteriorating as a result of an alleged injection with an unknown substance by the police during his arrest and detention. He has had his passport seized and has been prevented from leaving the country to seek medical attention, instead being forced to remain in a country with sparse healthcare facilities.The case raises a number of issues and questions. The obvious transgressions against Patricks’ human rights and the continuing threat to his life if he is not allowed access to adequate medical care are of paramount concern. Also important—and the subject of some in-depth analyses—are queries about the preparedness of Liberia’s security institutions to assume full responsibility for national security without the backing of the once-robust UN peacekeeping mission, the UN Mission in Liberia, which has guaranteed security since 2003. The police response to an apparently peaceful protest seems to suggest some heavy-handedness to perceived threats to public safety. Third, and the focus of this article, is what the case portends for Liberia’s democracy.The rising incidence of protests and public demands for justice and accountability stands side-by-side with a patent global crackdown on civil society and freedom of expression. Governments from North Africa to the Far East have become increasingly creative about curtailing constitutionally guaranteed rights to speech and the freedom of expression and association. There are very few saints in what one publication termed a “backlash against democracy.”Liberia, like many African countries, has a long history of using laws on sedition or public order to target political dissidents. In this sense, Patricks’ travails are nothing new. However, if the oddly-termed “Arab Spring” revolutionary wind sweeping across Africa has taught us anything, it is that Africa’s societies are no longer as tolerant or unquestioning as they have been in the past and are thus more likely to take to task governments that violate their rights. In the interest of continued national and regional stability, the government of Liberia would do well to handle Patricks’ case with the delicacy that it demands.—Titilope AjayiShare5Tweet2Share1Email8 Shares
Share4TweetShareEmail4 SharesSouthside Slopes / daveyninFebruary 16, 2017; WESA-FM (Pittsburgh’s NPR News)For the moment, efforts to jumpstart Pittsburgh’s quest for affordable housing rest on the shoulders of first-term mayor Bill Peduto. While efforts by the Pittsburgh City Council to create an affordable housing trust fund are stymied by differences over funding streams, the mayor has announced a spate of executive orders designed to keep the affordable housing issue alive.Like the more famous (or notorious) executive orders of the Obama and Trump administrations, Peduto is sidestepping a gridlocked legislature to install regulations designed to promote housing development and promote inclusive housing options.The initiatives are described in the WESA report as ranging from “helping individuals stay in their homes” and “promoting larger homestead exemptions” to increasing tenant protections. The orders encourage developers to make affordable options a priority through tax incentives and improved zoning rules.Far from being groundbreaking, action-oriented new policies, the mayor’s statement sounds like a political platform. As a first-term mayor with two primary challengers already in the field, Peduto is seeking to cement his reputation as a development and equity leader. The mayor knows that you can’t create policy without being elected—or reelected.Reaction of traditional Peduto supporters is predictably supportive as the mayor embarks on his campaign for re-election. WESA quotes Action Housing’s Lena Andrews as saying, “So now we’re all paying attention, we’re all focusing on policy, and we’re thinking about a city-wide strategy, and the mayor is spearheading that.”Facing an African American challenger in May’s primary, Mayor Peduto likely found the response from Pittsburgh’s African American newspaper, the Courier, reassuring. The Courier, looking at a wider range of recent executive orders than WESA had, concluded, “Such efforts underscore the recommendations put forth by the Affordable Housing Task Force.” Likewise, there was support from the University community where much of the recent rental redevelopment and code enforcement efforts have been most evident:Affordable housing has been an ongoing issue in Pittsburgh, especially for the past few months. Several protests have broken out across the city with one most recently taking place in East Liberty on Inauguration Day as an underlying theme during the Intersectional Women’s march. The protesters who attend these events have called for an increase in quality of affordable homes as well as more low-income homes in developments across the city.It’s likely that the masses of affordable housing advocates who become “regulars” at City Council meetings will soon return to the streets as the weather improves.Keep in mind that this is Rust Belt Pittsburgh, not progressive Seattle, Portland or San Francisco. Pittsburgh’s FIRED lobby—Financial, Investment, Real Estate and Development—has been less than enthusiastic about Peduto’s policies. Two more recent stories suggest that the mayor may be setting up “straw men” to oppose his policy positions. In a news article from last week, the mayor cast the Trump administration as the real opponent in the primary campaign, despite the fact that the new president doesn’t have a housing policy as far as anyone can tell. Then, the Department of Public Works Division of Forestry hit a controversial Pittsburgh developer with a $42,000 fine for cutting down 10 trees at the proposed site of a Whole Foods Market that was formerly low-income senior housing. The sacrificial trees had no real impact on the proposed gentrification, but in politics, symbolism goes a long way.In this heavily Democratic town, the primary is most likely more important than the general election. Clearly, the battle is on.—Spencer WellsShare4TweetShareEmail4 Shares
Share34Tweet26ShareEmail60 SharesBy Billy Baque (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsFebruary 26, 2018; Atlanta Business Chronicle“No one I know in the economic business believes that Amazon started with a blank piece of paper,” writes Atlanta-based economic development consultant J. Mac Holladay in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “I believe that they had the three final candidates [who] were completely researched and selected BEFORE [emphasis in original] the process started,” remarks Holladay.Holladay adds, “There has never been a public competition like the one going on for what is called the Amazon HQ2.… Cities and regions across the country have submitted ‘proposals’ that run from bizarre to very creative. Included in many of them are massive incentives of all descriptions including large amounts of cash. As an economic development professional who has participated in many large projects as both a state economic development director and a local Chamber executive, let me offer perhaps a different view of what is happening.”Holladay’s answer: “The Game has given Amazon in-depth and detailed information of literally hundreds of communities; make that exactly 238 who proposed. It has also revealed to the firm what folks would do in terms of incentives. No matter who gets this project, Amazon knows the data for and boundaries for any and all future projects they may have from coast to coast.”Holladay notes that many of the 238 communities submitting proposals knew that their odds were slim, but the bidding process itself can be beneficial. As Holladay explains, “So now the list is supposedly down to 20 ‘finalists.’ Several of those chosen have gotten some excellent ‘earned media,’ like Indianapolis did in a recent New York Times article. There is no doubt that going through the process has brought different players together in many places, and that process can have a positive effect going forward in preparation for other projects. In fact, several of our clients, who knew they were not really competitive for the project, have made it clear that the proposal creation process has had a real positive effect for their region.”In a sense, the Amazon process shares the traits of many Obama administration programs, like Promise Neighborhoods, in which the prize money—ahem, federal grants—was vastly short of the demand, but where the proposal process brought together partners, spurring local projects even in the absence of federal support, as occurred in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood.Holladay notes that Amazon has gotten free press, but also risks a backlash if the company gets too greedy. Holladay asks, “How could a CEO with [Jeff Bezos’s net worth of $114 billion] and a firm with billions in the bank, justify asking local and or state government, some still recovering from The Great Recession, to give them mountains of taxpayer money?”As NPQ noted in January, while cities often award corporations with tax abatements, these are not fundamental to most business location decisions. As the nonprofit research and advocacy group Good Jobs First puts it, “We have said since Amazon announced this rare public auction that incentives will be somewhere between marginal to irrelevant in Amazon’s decision. That’s because all state and local taxes combined equal just 1.8 percent of the average company’s cost structure. It’s the other 98.2 percent of costs for business basics such as labor, occupancy, and other business inputs that almost always determine where companies expand or relocate.”Holladay echoes this view: “The belief about this headquarters project has been that the quality and availability of the workforce…and the quality of place, including local mobility and an open and welcoming community.…Those two along with national and global access via a great airport would seem vital to long term success. As far as company stability and success in the future, they will far outweigh a one-time incentive package.”How much Amazon seeks to squeeze out in incentive payments from the “winning” city, adds Holladay, will reveal “a great deal about the culture and value system of Amazon itself.”—Steve DubbShare34Tweet26ShareEmail60 Shares
Share9Tweet9ShareEmail18 Shares“Neglected,” Sarah RossMarch 26, 2019; National Public Radio, New York Times, and the Washington PostAt NPQ we have followed the opioid crisis and its intersection with philanthropy for nearly a year-and-a-half now. The Sackler family, who descend from brothers Raymond and Mortimer, ranked not too long ago as the nation’s 19th-wealthiest, with assets of $13 billion, and have been highly visible philanthropists. But the main source of their wealth has been from sales of the opioid OxyContin, which was produced and marketed by the family-owned firm Purdue Pharma. Martha Bebinger, writing for NPR’s “Shots,” notes that court documents filed in Massachusetts show the Sacklers paid themselves nearly $4.3 billion between 2008 and 2016 alone out of Purdue Pharma earnings.The impact of the opioid crisis has been enormous, but still bears repeating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a record 47,600 people died after an opioid overdose in 2017 and nearly 400,000 since 1999. A total of 218,000 of these deaths, the CDC estimates, are related to prescription opioids. The loss of life in 2017 was five times that of 1999.In the last week, a concerted campaign by activists, including photographer Nan Goldin, began to move nonprofit institutions to turn down Sackler money. First, it was the National Portrait Gallery in London, then London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum quickly followed. The Sackler Trust subsequently indicated that it would suspend all new philanthropic giving to avoid becoming a “distraction” for grant recipients. And now comes the first settlement in the multitude of lawsuits filed against Purdue Pharma, in which the Sacklers, although not named as defendants in the case, are contributing $75 million. (For the record, as is standard in legal settlements of this kind, neither Purdue Pharma nor the Sacklers have admitted responsibility, even as they have agreed to make payments.)“The first of more than 1,600 lawsuits pending against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin, has been settled,” Bebinger reports. Purdue, however, is not the only firm named in those 1,600 lawsuits. Many suits name a wide range of firms, including not just drug manufacturers like Purdue, but also drug distributors and pharmacy companies. Nearly two dozen firms are named as defendants.Increasingly, too, the Sacklers—namely, the eight Sackler family descendants who have been directors of Purdue Pharma—are also being named as defendants. Indeed, on March 18th, CNN reports, “More than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states…filed a federal lawsuit against eight members of the Sackler family” in federal court in the Southern District of New York.The overwhelming majority of the 1,600 lawsuits—which include suits filed by cities, counties, states, and many Indian nations—have been consolidated into a single legal proceeding that is in the courtroom of Cleveland, Ohio-based federal judge Dan Polster. Those cases currently have a scheduled trial date of October 21st.The Oklahoma case, however, is separate from the combined litigation and was scheduled to be begin several months earlier, on May 28th. While Purdue has now settled, some defendants still remain, with the main ones being Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals, so the trial may still occur. The judge in the Oklahoma case has ruled that the trial will be televised, which many speculate was an incentive for Purdue Pharma to settle.As for the terms of the settlement in Oklahoma, Bebinger reports that Purdue and its owners, the Sackler Family, have “agreed to pay $270 million to fund addiction research and treatment in Oklahoma and pay legal fees.” The state of Oklahoma is home to nearly 4 million people in a country of 328 million. If Purdue were to make similar per capita payments to the other 49 states, the total price tag of a settlement at that rate would exceed $22 billion.“The settlement comes one day after the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied Purdue’s appeal for a delay of the trial,” Bebinger notes. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s suit sought $20 billion in damages from the multiple defendants.Settlement funds will primarily go to fund a new National Center for Addiction Studies and Treatment at Oklahoma State University in Tulsa. It will be funded by $102.5 million from Purdue and $75 million from the Sacklers. It will be housed, reports Jan Hoffman at the New York Times, at the university’s Center for Wellness and Recovery and will easily dwarf that center, which reportedly has a current annual budget of only about $2.4 million. The settlement also includes $20 million for medicines to be used by patients in the center, $12.5 million for counties and municipalities in Oklahoma, and $60 million for legal fees.While the settlement numbers may seem large, they are overshadowed in comparison to the damage done by the opioid epidemic. Larry Bernstein and Katie Zezima of the Washington Post note that, “A consultant’s report that Oklahoma filed in the current case estimated that abating the opioid crisis in that state would cost more than $8.7 billion over the next 20 years.”Oklahoma’s fear that Purdue Pharma might seek out bankruptcy appears to have led the Sooner State to get what money it could while it can. Hoffman in the Times writes that “the possibility of bankruptcy exerted powerful leverage at the bargaining table.” Mike Hunter, the Oklahoma state attorney general, pointedly noted that Purdue’s payment to the state is secured against any possible bankruptcy filing.Abbe Gluck, a professor at Yale Law School who directs the Solomon Center for Health Policy and Law, told Hoffman that “the settlement does put a stake in the ground for the other cases. It telegraphs what these cases might be worth and makes the elephant in the room even larger—namely, do Purdue and the Sacklers have sufficient funds to give fair payouts in the 1600-plus cases that remain?”—Steve DubbShare9Tweet9ShareEmail18 Shares
Disney-owned sports broadcaster ESPN is considering exiting a number of international markets as a result of the growing costs of acquiring live sporting rights.Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Iger () told investors that the opportunities for ESPN are limited internationally.Speaking at the announcement of its first quarter financial results, he said: “ESPN’s international business has never been particularly large, nor has it been a huge priority for the company.”He added that it would continue with its partnership with News Corp across Asia and its standalone UK pay TV channel, which currently holds the rights to some English Premier League soccer games. “They’re going to continue to look at those opportunities with an eye toward determining whether they have the ability to grow or, in some cases, become profitable or, if not, potentially exit those markets. That’s not to say they we’re going to get out of international, but I think ESPN is likely to be selective about their presence there,” said Iger.The proliferation of pay TV platforms using key sports as a driver for their services, as well as deep pocketed Middle Eastern companies including Al Jazeera, makes it harder for companies like ESPN to make money on sports globally.“It’s tough going for them because they’re frequently competing with local or locally owned and controlled platform owners that are going after sports almost as loss leaders to drive subscriptions to their platforms,” Iger said. “It’s kind of tough to be as aggressive buying live sports. So the opportunities for ESPN internationally, I think, are somewhat limited. Not to say that they don’t exist, but it’s never going to be a big part of ESPN’s business.”
Russian service provider Rostelecom has named Maria Florenteva as vice-president, strategic planning and investors relations.Florenteva was a founder of WebMediaGroup, where she was responsible for finance, corporate development and shareholder relations. Previous to that, she was director of corporate development at NTC, owned by Rostelecom.
ProSiebenSat.1’s new channel ProSieben Maxx has launched in Germany today.The channel, aimed at males aged 30-59, is available on a number of cable platforms including Unitymedia Kabel BW and Tele Columbus, which has launched it on its digital tier, with a launch on analogue to follow in two weeks and the HD variant to be added in the fourth quarter.Unitymedia Kabel BW is using ProSieben Maxx to replace public channel NDR in North Rhine Westphalia, MDR and WDR in Hesse and WDR in Baden-Württemberg after Germany’s public broadcasters indicated they were no longer willing to support analogue retransmission.
The global market for internet connectable set-top boxes is expected to almost double over the next five years, according to research by IHS. According to IHS’s Set-Top Box Market Monitor, global shipments of connectable devices will grow to 125.6 million units by 2017, up from 65.8 million last year, meaning that a total of 45% of all set-tops shipped in 2017 will be connectable, up from 26% in 2012.IHS predicts that multimedia home gateways and thin client devices for cable networks will account for 25% of connectable box shipments over the period from 2013-17.According to the research group, IPTV pay TV operators account for the largest share of the connectable set-top market this year, with 39% of shipments. However, cable operators, driven by growth in China and multimedia home gateway migration globally, will account for 45.8 million shipments by 2017, says IHS.The research group predicts that North America will continue to be largest single market for connectable pay TV set-tops, but that Asia Pacific will experience the fastest growth, with a compound annual growth rate of 17.2% between 2012 and 2017.
The UK’s Community Channel has launched on online TV platform TVPlayer. Community Channel, owned and run by national charity Media Trust, is dedicated to communities, charities and local stories.TVPlayer, which can be watched online and via iOS and Android apps available from the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, has been downloaded 700,000 times in the six months since its launch, according to the company.“We are delighted that Community Channel has joined TVPlayer. We are committed to increasing our content offering for our users and are excited that Community Channel brings their engaging content to our platform,” said Lewis Arthur, platform manager for TVPlayer.
The Formula One Association has chosen cloud-based video distribution specialist Rightster to be the first online video partners for the new Formula E motorsports competition. The deal will see Rightster manage Formula E’s YouTube channel with particular focus on channel and rights management, social media amplification, programming support and cross-promotion across the relevant channels in Rightster’s network.The partnership will aim to attract a younger audience, specifically between the ages of 16 and 24, to the new sport, which pits electric cars against each other in races in cities including London, Beijing and Miami.“Rightster has a proven track record in growing YouTube channels globally and we’re thrilled to be chosen as a partner for this exciting new sport. Given Formula E want to target a younger audience, YouTube is the perfect platform to achieve it. The championship has already received a huge positive response on social media from younger generations and we look forward applying our expertise to further deepen this engagement over the coming months,” said Patrick Walker, chief commercial officer, Rightster.
Olivier SchrameckFrench media regulator the CSA is looking to ease the content creation obligations imposed on pay TV channels and create a more level playing field with international SVoD providers, according to CEO Olivier Schrameck. Schrameck told a meeting organised by channel providers association ACCeS that linear pay TV services and SVoD services were increasingly competing in the same space, but that the regulatory regimes governing each were very different, and that this had to change.Admitting that there is little the CSA can do in the short term to bring about Europe-wide regulation that recognised the importance of cultural creation, Schrameck said that the CSA could nevertheless take some steps to provide relief to domestic pay services.Currently, he said, pay TV channels are heavily regulated and subject to much stricter content creation obligations that non-linear services, and that the only advantage they have – access to film titles in line with the country’s strict windowing rules – applies only to movie channels.Schrameck said that channel providers rarely financed content above the 70% threshold that gives them the right to distribute that content exclusively. He said that non-terrestrial channel providers should be subject to a revenue threshold – say of €1 million a year – and progressively staged obligations in financing content, just like SVoD services.He said that movie channels should also be given greater rights to distribute certain content and that a greater proportion of European ‘non-EOF’ – non-French language – content should be taken into account in estimating the contribution of channels to quotas.Schrameck said that the CSA would also conduct an in-depth analysis of pay TV distribution that would take into account the changes taking place in the market such as the growth of OTT and non-linear services.Schrameck separately said that the CSA had welcomed the merger of Numericable and SFR as it created a new actor that would provide competition in the market, even though the CSA was aware of the risks and uncertainties associated with a deal of this scale.