Holidaymakers booking flights to New Zealand have voted the country their favourite long-haul destination in the annual Readers’ Travel Awards.The Australasian country beat off competition from Cambodia, Chile, Vietnam and Japan to claim top spot from readers of the Guardian, the Observer and guardian.co.uk.Further good news came when Air New Zealand was voted passengers’ second-favourite airline after Singapore Airlines.Andy Pietrasik, guardian.co.uk’s travel editor, said the results suggested that many travellers wanted to get “as far away as possible from the bad news at home”.”New Zealand also scored more highly than last year in winning this category, showing that the New Zealand experience has lost none of its appeal during the recession,” he explained.”This will stand it in very good stead as the travel environment improves.”Last month, readers of Conde Nast in the UK voted New Zealand their second favourite destination in the world.Statistics New Zealand figures published today (October 21st) revealed a 9.3 percent increase in the number of overseas visitors arriving in the country during September compared to the same month last year.ReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map RelatedTravel trends & analysis 2010: Top 50 destinations for UK travellersWe reveal the top 50 most searched for destinations from UK airports for travel in 2010.Air New Zealand Black Friday deals 2018In partnership with Black Friday Air New Zealand Deals 2018 Fly London to Los Angeles for prices from £175* Book Now Air New Zealand is launching the best sale fares of the year, including 100 x £175 return economy flights from London to Los Angeles*. The offer launches this Friday, 23rd…Real Value Resorts: Perception Vs RealityReal Value Resorts: Perception Vs Reality
State Rep. Dave Pagel today announced three grant recommendations from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to purchase land and develop parks and trails in Berrien County.Pagel, of Oronoko Township, said the grants will expand recreational opportunities for families in Southwest Michigan. Funding for the projects is comprised of revenue from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments.“I’m really happy the Trust Fund Board has recommended funding these three Berrien County projects,” Pagel said. “We have some of the most abundant natural resources in Southwest Michigan, and the land purchase and improvement projects will enable people to better enjoy them.”Recommended projects are:A $56,000 land purchase to acquire 12 acres contiguous to Love Creek County Park. The new land will be located on the northwestern border of the park.A proposed recreational development in Oronoko Township that includes the addition of two football/soccer fields, a concession and restroom building, a parking lot, a regional trailhead, universally accessible pathways and a section of a regional trail. The cost for the project is $278,100.Development of a wide, non-motorized pathway along the north side of U.S. 12 from the village of Edwardsburg to the Edwardsburg Sports Center in Ontwa Township. The connector path will allow safe travel from the Edwardsburg school system and the village’s existing network for walkways to the walking/running trails, playgrounds and athletic fields at the Sports Complex. The project will cost $40,000.The Legislature will consider the recommendations in 2018.##### 20Dec Rep. Pagel: Grant recommendations will fund three local recreation projects Categories: News,Pagel News
26Jan Rep. Farrington approves bills giving families and seniors broader tax relief Tags: Tax relief Categories: Diana Farrington News The Michigan House has approved legislation giving Michigan families and seniors broader income tax relief.The bills continue and increase personal exemptions for Michigan taxpayers and their dependents on their income taxes, while providing additional relief for senior citizens.Rep. Diana Farrington, of Utica, voted for the three-bill package that will enable people to keep more of their hard-earned money.“People have been claiming exemptions for themselves and their dependents on their income taxes for years, and this is not the time to end that,” Farrington said.The legislation, House Bills 5420-5422, will:· Ensure Michigan taxpayers can continue claiming personal exemptions on income taxes after federal tax reforms signed into law last month, and increases the state personal exemption from the current $4,000 to $4,300 for the 2018 tax year, with gradual increases reaching $4,800 for 2020;· Certify taxpayers in Michigan cities with an income tax will continue to be able to claim exemptions if the city adopts a uniform ordinance; and· Help senior citizens in addition to the personal exemption increase by providing a $100 refundable income tax credit for a single filer age 62 or older – or $200 for joint filers.House Bills 5420-5422 now move to the Senate for consideration.###
Share45Tweet2ShareEmail47 SharesNovember 9, 2016; Boston GlobeHere is the blueprint for President-elect Trump’s immigration reform policy. On Thursday afternoon, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, told a Topeka television station, “I’m a member of the immigration policy transition team, and there’s going to be a lot to do there, in part because Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama are diametrical opposites when it comes to immigration policy, so there will be a lot of changes.” Salon provides this profile of the nation’s leading “anti-immigrant zealot.”Here is an at-a-glance list of the immigration reform pledges from President-Elect Trump’s website:Build a wall on the southern border.End catch-and-release.Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.Block funding for sanctuary cities.Cancel unconstitutional executive orders & enforce all immigration laws.Suspend the issuance of visas to any place where adequate screening cannot occur.Ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.Finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.Turn off the jobs and benefits magnet.Reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.Not listed here are Trump’s campaign pledges, including the deportation of millions of unauthorized immigrants and the total “ban” on Muslims entering the country.Chelsea is a city of nearly 37,000 residents located directly across the Mystic River from Boston. Chelsea is a sanctuary city; 44 percent of its residents are immigrants. The Boston Globe interviewed its residents and leaders about the election and found sorrow, fear and resistance.On Wednesday, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said Chelsea has no intention of helping deport immigrants who haven’t committed any crimes.“We’re not interested whether you’re documented or undocumented as long as you’re here trying to do what’s right,” he said in an interview in his City Hall office. “We’re happy to have you as part of our community. And this election changes nothing.” But he acknowledged that Chelsea is powerless to stop federal immigration officials from arresting immigrants in the city.“You can imagine in a community like Chelsea what this means,” said Gladys Vega, executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, a nonprofit that aids immigrants. “This morning I’ve been in bakeries and bodegas crying with people.… People are in a panic.”One of Trump’s campaign pledges was to terminate President Obama’s executive action granting reprieves from deportation to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children and are now young adults. The Boston Globe reports that as of June, 741,546 people nationwide have received a reprieve from deportation under Obama’s program.“There’s real fear right now,” said Conrado Santos, lead coordinator of the Student Immigrant Movement and who obtained a work permit under Obama’s program. “But we are going to build community and we’re going to protect each other and we’re going to protect our families. We’re going to fight back. We’re not going to go easy.”—James SchafferShare45Tweet2ShareEmail47 Shares
Freeview set-top company TVonics will use the internet port in some of its devices to stream live coverage of the WBO boxing title fight this Saturday.The fight between Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew from the Liverpool Echo Arena will be streamed live on Freeview channel 112 at 19:00 on Saturday via the internet port on TVonics’ high-definition products, the DTR HD500 and DTR Z500HD. It will be delivered via Frank Warren’s new boxing channel, BoxNation, which is usually only available to Sky and Virgin Media customers.TVonics recently activated the IP connection on its latest HD DVRs, enabling the delivery of on-demand and catch-up services including the BBC’s iPlayer.“Freeview users have been missing out on BoxNation, but that is set to change, said TVonics chief technology officer, Andy Carr. “Our latest generation of digital TV recorders give viewers the very best of traditional broadcast television and now they can also access high quality, on-demand content via the internet port. It’s the best of both worlds without having to shell out for pay-per-view.”
Connected TV platforms are too complicated and are deterring consumer from using services, according to BBC iPlayer general manager Daniel Danker.Speaking at the Digital Television Group (DTG) summit in London this morning, Danker said the bulk of growth in the use of iPlayer was now on connected TVs. While iPlayer on PC grew by 14% and iPlayer on tablets grew by 580%, use of the service on TVs grew by over 1,000%.However, he said, “The majority of this growth came from operator services that have nicely integrated processes, with no need to fumble with the remote or switch between menu systems.”In total, use of iPlayer on the iPad was still four times that of connected TV, despite the far higher penetration of connected devices, he said. There was an urgent need to make connected TV services more user-friendly, he said.“This for us means a renewed focus on the red button,” said Danker. “In the UK red button services allow us to reach an audience that has no interest in watching our services on a computer.”Danker said that access to iPlayer from the living room screen had grown to 2.6 million homes. “However, if we are going to bring the connected TV experience to audiences, it must be simple. We know will have succeeded when the technology becomes invisible,” he said.
Mobile TV and on-demand specialist MobiTV is expanding its EMEA operations with the launch of a new London “hub”.The office will be managed and operated by MobiTV co-founder and president Paul Scanlan. He will continue to manage and grow all aspects of the company’s sales and partnership activity in EMEA.The company recently announced further upgrades to its TV everywhere proposition with the introduction of NDVR – a cloud-based solution that addresses digital rights management issues geographically.The EMEA markets have demonstrated strong growth potential for IPTV and TV everywhere,” said Scanlan. “I look forward to MobiTV playing a key role in enabling the development and adoption of TV everywhere deployments in EMEA and other global markets.” MobiTV will be exhibiting at IBC on Stand 14.151 in the Connected World Hall
Orange plans to go ahead with a plan to exercise its option to increase its stake in video sharing site Dailymotion from 49% to 100% before finding a new American partner to invest in the company, according to French press reports.According to reports, Orange will take full control of Dailymotion and then decide how big a stake to relinquish depending on the identity of any partner it finds to develop the company.Dailymotion is reportedly also planning to open a production studio in Paris. According to the reports, the 600 square metres studio will be opened between now and the end of May.
Canal Plus has struck a deal with Gaumont to make the latter’s catalogue of films available on its CanalPlay Infinity subscription video-on-demand offering.The deal will add over 60 Gaumont titles including Les Barbouzes, Le Pacha, Clara et les Chics Types, Leon, Nikita and Le Grand Blond Avec Une Chaussure Noire to the CanalPlay Infinity line-up.CanalPlay Infinity provides a range of movies and TV shows for €9.99 a month to subscribers of SFR, Free and Bouygues Telecom’s TV services as well as via PCs, tablets and Xbox 360 games consoles. Canal Plus has also launched a ‘second screen’ version of the service available via PCs and tablets for €6.99.
Sky has updated its Sky+ app to include an enhanced search service that will let users discover TV shows by cast names, actors and key words.Rolling out on the Sky+ app for Android, this auto-generates suggestions as a user types a word, based on current popular TV search terms. Sky said the intelligent search will also develop and evolve as more customers run searches via the Sky+ app.At the same time, on-demand listings have been added to the Sky+ app on Android, so that customers can browse catch up content, TV box sets, Sky Movies and the Sky Store.When the Sky+ app is connected to a Sky+HD box via WiFi customers will also be able to download the show they want to watch to their Sky+HD box, the firm said.
Persian-language web TV provider GLWiZ has added Euronews Persian to its line-up of services worldwide. Euronews Persian will now be available via GLWiZ’s IPTV set-top, the GLBox, via the glwiz.com website and the GSWiZ app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices.GLWiZ provides programming to approximately two million visitors a month, targeting Iranian, Afghan and Tajik Persian speakers as well as Azerbaijani, Armenian, Assyrian and Kurdish populations. Over 50% of GLWiZ users are located in Canada and the US.“GLWiZ is looking forward to this collaboration with Euronews as it allows our Persian-speaking – Farsi – viewers the chance to closely follow developments in their home country,” says Anissa Moeini, vice-president of business development at GL Group of Gold Line. “At GLWiZ, our aim is to remove borders and connect people home through our strong technology solutions. It is with partners like Euronews that this aim is made possible.”
France-based digital technology provider Neotion has launched a new cardless conditional-access module (CAM) for Slovakian pay DTT service, Plustelka. Plustelka will broadcast its service on four nationwide multiplexes. MUX1, MUX2, MUX3 will host 10 free-to-air channels, while MUX4 will carry 12 Pay TV channels for a monthly fee of €5.99.Neotion CAM is compliant with the CI+ 1.3 standard but is also backward compatible with older versions like CI+ 1.2, according to Neotion. It is powered by Irdeto Media Content Protection, while Neotion partner Strong will manage the master distribution of the products and will reallocate orders to local partners in Slovakia.
SES’s Astra 5B satellite, which was built by Airbus Defence and Space, is due to launch on board an Ariane 5 launcher on Friday March 21.The delayed 5B is the first of six Airbus telecommunications satellites that are due to launch in 2014, according to the firm.SES said that the satellite will be launched into space from the European Space Centre in French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 ECA rocket between 19:05 pm and 20:02 pm local time.Astra 5B will be deployed at 31.5° East and will provide transponder capacity in Ku and Ka bands. Its reach will be over Eastern European and neighbouring markets for DTH, direct-to-cable and feeding to digital terrestrial television networks.Astra 5B will be the eighth Airbus Defence and Space-built Eurostar E3000 satellite in the SES fleet to be placed in orbit, following the recent launches of ASTRA 2E in September 2013, SES-6 in June 2013 and ASTRA 2F in September 2012.
US telco AT&T and Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group said yesterday they will invest US$500 million (€362 million) in over-the-top TV services. The telco has a huge base of wireless and broadband customers and plans to take on the likes of Netflix and Hulu with its own video services for connected consumers.The OTT initiative will see the pair sink cash into acquiring, building and launching web TV platforms, creating both advertising and subscription-based video-on-demand channels and streaming services.The Chernin Group, the business Chernin formed after leaving Fox, will fold in its holding in Crunchyroll. It acquired a majority stake in the San Francisco-based anime streaming service late last year with Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo the other major investor. It offers anime fans about 15,000 hours of content.Peter Chernin said: “Consumers are increasingly viewing video content on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles and connected TVs on mobile and broadband networks. AT&T’s massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us.”John Stankey, chief strategy officer at AT&T said: “Combining our expertise in network infrastructure, mobile, broadband and video with The Chernin Group’s management and expertise in content, distribution, and monetisation models in online video creates the opportunity for us to develop a compelling offering in the OTT space.”AT&T currently operates the US IPTV serivce U-verse, which has 11.3 million subs, but the move into the OTT is its first in the sector.The telco yesterday reported first-quarter results, claiming the best revenue growth in five years and upping its full-year guidance. First quarter revenues were US$32.5 billion. It added more than two million wireless and high-speed broadband customers in the quarter.
Al Jazeera-owned sports networks BeIN Sports has secured the suspension of rival Canal+’s exclusive five-year deal with France’s national rugby league (LNR) for coverage of first division or ‘Top 14’ matches over the next five seasons from the country’s competition regulator.The Competition Authority’s ruling will come into effect after the 2014-15 season so as not to cause problems for this year’s Top 14 championship. However, the authority has ruled the rights for the remaining four years of the deal must be re-opened to a fresh competitive tender under transparent and non-discriiminatory conditions.Canal+ secured exclusive rights to Top 14 matches for the next five years in January after a dispute between it and the LNR over the latter’s decision to open up the rights to the 2014-18 seasons to a new competition in order to secure a better return than that provided under the pair’s existing contract.Canal+ responded at the time by filing several legal actions, including one before the Paris Tribunal de Grand Instance, to have the competition suspended. The LNR withdrew its appeal for offers ahead of any legal decision and awarded the rights once again to the pay TV operator under undisclosed terms. BeIN Sport filed a complaint in March about the conditions under which the rights had been awarded.The Competition Authority has now ruled that the Top 14 rights fall under the category of ‘premium rights’ and, as such, their award must be subject to a transparent and non-discriminatory competitive process.Canal+ expressed its “profound disagreement” with the Competitoin Authority’s decision and said it would take the case to the Paris Court of Appeal.
German broadcaster Your Family Entertainment (YFE) is to launch a new kids channel, Fix & Foxi, on December 1.The launch of the channel follows YFE’s acquisition of rights to the popular comic books of the same name by Rolf Kauka five months ago. The service will be distributed to over 130 cable networks, according to the broadcaster.In addition to Fix & Foxi, the channel will air shows including Miss Spider, Maggie und das Biest and Sieben Kleine Monster, based on the books by Maurice Sendak.YFE chairman Stefan Piëch said the launch of the channel was “a long-awaited dream come true” and described Fixi & Foxi as one of the few kids brands that “works globally”. The Fix & Foxi books have been published in territories including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in Latin America, and in China.“Fix & Foxi is a popular brand that has been known to three generations and now gets its own, completely unique pay-TV channel, which strongly stands out from the competition and will be appreciated by children and the whole family,” said Paul Robinson, YFE’s executive vice-president, international.
Sony’s 4K TV and Video Unlimited 4K service.Shipments of 4K TVs increased by more than 500% year-on-year in the third quarter to top 3 million units, according to IHS’s DisplaySearch.The Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast report said that 4K TV shipments have “significantly accelerated” this year, due to more competition and more accessible pricing.Some 6.4 million 4K TVs have been shipped in total this year, according to DisplaySearch, with China accounting for 60% of global 4K TV shipments in Q3.“China is the leading 4K TV consumer market, and local Chinese brands are now fiercely competing with Samsung, which is aggressively pushing for growth in China,” said DisplaySearch.Samsung accounted for 36% of global 4K TV shipment revenues in Q3, giving it the lead in this market ahead of LGE, Hisense and Sony, which took 15%, 10% and 9% of 4K revenues respectively.“Chinese brands have a stronger share thanks to greater volume within China, and a low average price compared to global brands competing in markets outside of China. However, with the arrival of greater competition in North America and other markets, as well as rising 4K TV exports from Chinese brands, competitive price compression will be difficult to avoid for most brands,” said DisplaySearch.The research found that total TV shipments improved 4% year-on-year in Q3 and LCD TV shipments alone rose nearly 9%.“While the last several years in the TV business have been difficult in terms of overall shipments and revenue, the market is showing some broad resiliency now, with most regions enjoying growth in the third quarter,” said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research at DisplaySearch. “Consumption for primary TVs is entering a renewed replacement cycle in some key regions, while adoption of larger screens and 4K and other higher resolutions will keep consumers upgrading.”“With a scarcity of content and streaming options, much of the early success for 4K will rely on education campaigns from brands and price compression that will make it more affordable.”
Russian set-top box maker, GS Group, has said that its new hybrid games console and a digital HD receiver will be available to subscribers of satellite operator Tricolor TV from later this year.GS Group confirmed that development of the receiver and gaming platform is “almost complete” and that the device will be available from the fourth quarter of 2015.“The project has been developed specifically for the leading Russian satellite operator Tricolor TV, where an active subscriber base exceeds 11 million households. Moreover, several ways of game monetisation will be proposed to developers, including the free-to-play business model and premium versions,” said GS Group.The set-top and technology firm first presented a prototype of the hybrid device at a conference in Moscow in January, while last month it named the first developers that are working on games for the device during the DevGAMM Moscow conference.GS Group said it has reached tentative agreements on games development and prototyping with developers including Creative Mobile, Herocraft, Steel Monkeys, and Alawar – and is open to working with other talented developers on the project.The device’s gaming platform is powered by the Android OS, letting users play individually or with others over the web. The receiver will let viewers watch satellite channels in Full HD.
OTT service YipTV, which targets people of foreign extraction living in the US with a range of international content, has added 10 channels from SPI International/FilmBox to its line-up of content.Yip TV now offers subscribers access to: FightBox, DocuBox, FashionBox, Fast’nFunBox, 360 TuneBox, MadscreenBox, FilmBox Arthouse, FilmBox Russia, Kino Polska International and Kino Polska Muzyka.SPI channels will become part of the YipTV premium package and will extend the YipTV line up of 70 channels for the monthly subscription for US$14.99 (€13.30) with no ongoing contract requirement.“As we look to broaden YipTV’s appeal to our target market, we feel the FilmBox channels from SPI International go a long way toward diversifying our mix of content. We’re not yet anywhere near the breadth of programming we want to offer but these FilmBox channels represent a big step in that direction,” said YipTV CEO Michael Tribolet. SPI International president Loni Farhi said: “We are excited to make our channels available on YipTV to provide diverse types of programming to both ethnic and general audiences in the US. Our worldwide channels FightBox HD, DocuBox HD, FashionBox HD, Fast’nFun-Box and 360 TuneBox have a general appeal to most viewers as they offer mainstream-level interest, while FilmBox Russia and the two Kino Polska channels cater to a particular ethnic group. Finally, FilmBox Arthouse should generate interest among film aficionados who wish to have access to independent and arthouse films that are not easily accessible via main outlets in the US in particular.”
Bouygues TelecomOrange’s discussions with French industrial conglomerate Bouygues to acquire the latter’s Bouygues Telecom unit “are ongoing and require at least several weeks before any decision is taken”, the company has said, taking observers by surprise after reports over the weekend that a deal was imminent.Posting strong full-year results, Orange said that, regarding Bouygues Telecom, it would “act solely in the interests of its shareholders, employees and customers and will be particularly attentive to the value created by such a project”.Separately, Orange reported 7.933 million TV customers at the end of December, up from 7.19 million a year earlier.In France, the company had 6.423 million TV subscribers out of a total of 10.734 million broadband customers, up from 6.051 million out of a total of 10.354 million broadband homes.In Spain, Orange grew its TV base to 306,000 on the strength of its ability to offer top-tier football, up two and a half times the figure for the end of 2014. The company had 3.753 million broadband customers at the end of December, up 6.7%.Referring to the Spanish market, Richard said that “the integration of Jazztel has exceeded our objectives and has enabled us to create the most dynamic convergent operator in the market”.In Poland, Orange gained TV customers but lost broadband customers over the year. The company had 787,000 IPTV and satellite TV customers out of a total of 2.105 million broadband customers at the end of December, up from 749,000 out of a total of 2.241 million.Overall, the company had 18.1 million fixed broadband customers at the end of the year, up 3.1%. This number included 1.882 million fibre subscribers, including 960,000 in France and 809,000 in Spain. Orange’s mobile base was 201.2 million, up 3.2%, including 110.2 million in Africa and the Middle East, up 4.1%.Total revenues amounted to €40.236 billion, down 0.1% on a comparable basis. Restated EBITDA for the year, was €12.426 billion, up 0.1% after a 2.5% decline in 2014. Net income increased by 141.5% to €2.958 billion.“Our good results for 2015 confirm the relevance of our new strategic plan, Essentiels2020, designed to differentiate us in terms of quality of customer experience. For the first time since 2009, and one year ahead of target, restated EBITDA for the year is growing,” said Richard, who highlighted the company’s focus on Africa and the Middle East as a “growth area”.“This growth is the result of a very strong commercial performance, particularly in very high-speed broadband, and our continued efforts to control costs. The number of 4G customers, which reached 18 million, has doubled in a year and we have 1.9 million fibre customers, three times more than at the end of 2014. We also have 110 million mobile customers in Africa and the Middle East, up 4.1% year on year on a comparable basis,” he said.