Fed up with the global recession Then forget all

first_imgFed up with the global recession? Then forget all about it in one of the world’s most wealthy cities where you’d never know.A recent report from Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank has listed the world’s richest cities – but where there’s wealth – there’s expense.Yet even in the world’s most pricey places, Skyscanner shows you that some of the best things in life are still free and tourists visiting these exciting cities can enjoy the bling – without spending a thing (almost!).1. New YorkThere’s plenty to do in the Big Apple that doesn’t require a remortgage. Get some fresh air with a free walking tour of the gardens near Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Gadget lovers should visit the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, a free four storey interactive technology experience, or get closer to nature at the Bronx Zoo which is free on Wednesdays. Find cheap flights to New York2. LondonAlthough some of London’s top attractions are dear, one of the best things about London is that many of the capital’s museums are free. Nature lovers will adore the Natural History Museum; The Science museum is a firm favourite with families and the British Museum shows off some of the world’s most interesting and priceless artefacts from ancient civilisations and cultures. Find cheap flights to London3. ParisParis is known for being pricey and yes, a pint of bier may cost you €8, but some of the city’s most famous landmarks are free. It won’t cost anything to enter the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral; come out smelling of roses at the Fragonard Perfume Museum which is housed in a breathtaking Napolean III townhouse, or stroll along the banks of the Seine River which slices though the city and offers some of the best and most loved sights in capital. Find cheap flights to Paris4. TokyoJapan can be an expensive place but visitors can get plenty of Japanese entertainment without spending a single yen. Visit Yoyogi park on a Sunday and watch some of the city’s most interesting characters come out to play; from karate kids to leather clad rock-a-billies to teenagers dressed in strange ‘cosplay’ costumes, Yoyogi is more than enough free entertainment for one day. Find cheap flights to Tokyo5. Los AngelesThe US may be all about the bling, and LA is of course home to America’s glitz and glamourati but the City of Angels also offers a lot for free. Get no-cost sun, sea and sand at Cabrillo, Venice and Surfrider beaches; visit the star-lined Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard or check out the NoHo Art District where North Hollywood’s artsy community offer galleries, public art installations and live theatre. Find cheap flights to Los AngelesReturnOne wayMulti-cityFromAdd nearby airports ToAdd nearby airportsDepart14/08/2019Return21/08/2019Cabin Class & Travellers1 adult, EconomyDirect flights onlySearch flights Map Related10 great things to do in ChicagoFrom blues to views, baseball to beaches, art to science, shopping to… doughnuts, we take in 10 of Chicago’s top attractions.11 best things to do in New York for freeFancy a transatlantic holiday but you’re on a budget? NYC may be notoriously expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. From culture and sculpture to bridges and boats, here’s our pick of free things to do in New York.Top 15 attractions and things to do in TokyoA fascinating mix of the hyper-new and the ancient, you can see the second-tallest structure in the world – the Tokyo Skytree – on the same day as visiting a 1,400-year-old temple in Asakusa. Here’s our list of Tokyo’s top attractions, as eclectic as the city itself.last_img read more

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Rep Price helps honor Spring Lake Township

first_imgPrice and Meekhof welcomed Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash and other township officials to the Michigan Capitol, presenting them with a tribute to their achievement and commending Spring Lake Township on being the first recipient of the comprehensive recognition.Nash said the designation affirmed Spring Lake Township’s commitment to meeting the highest standards and delivering high-quality township services.“To achieve the complete Michigan Township Association’s Township of Excellence award was a very significant challenge and a significant honor to Spring Lake Township’s elected officials and our staff,” he said. “Now to be recognized by the Michigan governor’s office and the Michigan Legislature proves that our elected state officials are sincerely supportive of high standards in local government.”### 25Mar Rep. Price helps honor Spring Lake Township State Rep. Amanda Price, center right, presents a tribute to Supervisor John Nash commemorating Spring Lake Township’s MTA Township of Excellence designation. Spring Lake designated Township of Excellence by MTA State Rep. Amanda Price joined Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sen. Arlan Meekhof and the Michigan Townships Association (MTA) in honoring Spring Lake Township today as it was designated a Township of Excellence by the MTA.The MTA’s Township of Excellence Designation is awarded to townships that demonstrate best practices when delivering quality programs and services and accomplishing community-driven goals.“The Township of Excellence award is not an exercise to be taken lightly or without deep commitment,” said Price, R-Park Township. “I am very proud that Spring Lake Township was the first township in Michigan to achieve this level of excellence, and I commend them for their concerted efforts toward this goal on behalf of its citizens.” Spring Lake Supervisor John Nash holds the tribute presented to him by Rep. Amanda Price (at right), Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (third from right) and Sen. Arlan Meekhof (third from left). The tribute honors Spring Lake Township as the first recipient of the Michigan Township Association’s Township of Excellence award. Categories: Newslast_img read more

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Rep Barrett invites his father for governors State of the State speech

first_img17Jan Rep. Barrett invites his father for governor’s State of the State speech Categories: Barrett News,Barrett Photos Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, attends the governor’s State of the State speech with his father, Patrick on Tuesday.  They listened as the governor laid out his blueprint for the coming year.###Rep. Barrett serves the people of Eaton County including the cities of Charlotte, Olivet, Potterville, Grand Ledge, parts of Lansing, as well as the townships of Bellevue, Benton, Carmel, Chester, Delta Charter Eaton Rapids, Kalamo, Oneida Charter, Roxand, Sunfield, Vermontville, Walton, and Windsor Charter. He also currently serves in the Michigan Army National Guard as a helicopter pilot trained on several different aircraft.last_img read more

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Rep Barrett announces area natural resource grant projects

first_img Categories: Barrett News,News 16Jun Rep. Barrett announces area natural resource grant projects House passes legislation authorizing fundingThe Michigan House on Thursday approved legislation funding Natural Resource Trust Fund projects across the state, including two in Delta Charter Township.State Rep. Tom Barrett, of Potterville, said the projects will give families more opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty of Michigan.One development involves construction of a canoe launch on West Willow Highway. The $325,000 development involves construction of a canoe launch on the Grand River in the western section of Delta Township, a parking lot with handicap accessibility and a trail to the launch.The other is a restroom renovation at Delta Mills Park, anticipated to cost $350,000. It involves demolition of the old building and construction of a new restroom with a pathway connecting it to the pickleball court, picnic shelter and existing pathways.“While there are plenty of recreational opportunities in the Delta Township area, these projects will give families even more options,” Barrett said. “We have some of the most beautiful natural resources in the state right here in Delta Township, and now more people will have access to them.”The funding is comprised of revenue from the lease of state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments for the projects. The money comprises of restricted funds that are a combination of Trust Fund money with matching local funds and can only be used for these purposes.The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.#####The bill is Senate Bill 76.last_img read more

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Utility regulators try to block attorneys from testifying before House energy panel

first_img21Aug Utility regulators try to block attorneys from testifying before House energy panel Glenn says House has subpoena power, accuses MPSC of “stonewalling” to avoid explaining why they ignored their own attorneys’ warning against policy that will eliminate Electricity Choice, hike electricity rates for public schools, manufacturersLansing, Mich. — The Michigan Public Service Commission is attempting to block its attorneys from testifying before the House Energy Policy Committee next month, a move committee chairman Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., says is an attempt by utility regulators to avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why they’re ignoring their own attorneys’ warnings against adopting a policy change Glenn says would violate state and federal energy law and drive up electricity rates for thousands of public schools and major employers.MPSC’s technical staff in an Aug. 1st document followed commissioners’ June 15th instructions to propose a policy that will require electricity choice providers who compete with the state’s two regional electricity monopolies — Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison — to prove they can supply their customers using only higher-priced electricity that’s generated in Michigan. Final adoption of the policy is scheduled for September 28th. The move would take tens of millions of dollars out of public school classrooms each year to pay for higher electricity costs, Glenn said, and make Michigan’s business climate less attractive and competitive for new business, industry, and jobs.Glenn on Aug. 9th wrote to three assistant attorneys general assigned to counsel the MPSC — who in a public advice letter May 26th warned commissioners not to adopt the in-state generation requirement — to request that they appear before the House Energy Policy Committee to more fully explain why. The three attorneys’ letter was made public and is available on the MPSC website.“In your capacity as assistant attorneys general assigned to represent the MPSC, you told MPSC commissioners that you ‘advised against’ adopting an in-state generation requirement, listing multiple reasons why doing so would not be good policy or in the best interests of electricity customers in Michigan,” Glenn wrote.“Members of the House Energy Policy Committee and other lawmakers…question why MPSC commissioners appear to be ignoring your advice and counsel in instructing their technical staff to prepare an order implementing the very locational generation requirement you advised against,” he wrote.MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg on Aug. 15th responded to Glenn’s letter, refusing his request that the three attorneys testify before the committee. “It is inappropriate for our staff’s attorneys…to appear before the committee,” Talberg wrote, offering to testify herself instead.Glenn rejected the offer Monday (Aug. 21st) in a pointed letter to Talberg.He characterized Talberg’s offer to testify as “disingenuous” and “stonewalling,” saying he is “not interested in a shell game by which Public Service commissioners are obviously trying to avoid the embarrassment of explaining why they’re ignoring their own attorneys’ warning that an in-state generation requirement will drive up electricity rates and hurt electricity customers.”“We specifically did not invite Chairman Talberg or any other MPSC commissioner to testify precisely because committee members know, as she does, that her rote answer to all relevant questions would be that as a commissioner performing a quasi-judicial function, she cannot comment on a matter still pending before the commission,” Glenn said.On the other hand, Glenn said, the three MPSC attorneys’ May 26th letter — http://efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/docs/18197/0068.pdf — is a matter of public record available for review on the MPSC website, meaning commissioners “cannot credibly claim that allowing their attorneys to answer committee members’ questions would violate attorney-client privilege, since that applies only to confidential communications and the three attorneys’ advice letter has already been made public by the MPSC itself.”Glenn noted that the House has the authority, by simple majority vote, to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify before a House committee.In their May 26th public letter, assistant attorney generals Lauren D. Donofrio, Bryan A. Brandenburg, and Meredith R. Beidler wrote to the MPSC that imposing an in-state electricity generation requirement:* “Would not improve (electrical grid) reliability in Michigan and could potentially be a detriment to customers” and may “actually compromise reliability for some specific Michigan customers.”* Would contradict the rules and regulations of the federally-regulated Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the regional operator that manages electricity flow in the Midwest, including Michigan. MISO regulations allow electricity providers to purchase electricity from any source available.* Would reduce the amount of electricity available to energy suppliers who compete with Michigan’s two regional monopoly utilities, which would “make it extremely difficult, if not impossible,” MPSC attorneys wrote, for such competing energy suppliers to continue to serve their customers, the result being that customers “left short, due to the inability of the Alternative Energy Suppliers’ previously imported capacity to count in Michigan, would be turned over to the utility for (electricity) service.”“This is clearly a back door attempt by unelected bureaucrats — ignoring their own attorneys’ warnings of harm to Michigan customers — to eliminate our state’s Electricity Choice program by bureaucratic regulation, a protectionist scheme that was pushed by the state’s two monopoly utilities in the last legislative session but was expressly rejected by the people’s elected representatives,” Glenn said.Glenn said “the rare sight of two corporate monopolies so vigorously defending the government agency that’s supposed to regulate them — specifically MPSC commissioners’ rejecting their own attorneys’ warnings of economic harm to customers if they allow the monopolies to squeeze their cheaper competitors out of business — should give pause to both electricity customers and policy makers.”“Unless the elected representatives of the people of Michigan rein this agency in, it appears the MPSC is in the tank for the economic interests of two corporate electricity monopolies at the expense of higher electricity rates for Michigan customers and damage to our economy,” Glenn said.He said the Public Service Commission “has no legal authority to just make it up as they go along to serve the financial interests of the state’s two monopoly utilities, in direct violation of the plain language, spirit, and intent of state and federal law, and at the cost of hundreds of millions in higher electricity costs each year to Michigan schools and businesses.”The MPSC’s proposed “local clearing requirement” would force competing electricity providers to buy more expensive energy generated exclusively in Michigan, which threatens tens of millions in higher costs each year to public schools alone.Tuscola Intermediate School District Supt. Gene Pierce, president of the Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative, issued a statement Aug. 16th saying that the cooperative, “a coalition of 325 public school districts, stands with Rep. Gary Glenn in demanding the Michigan Public Service Commission respect legislative intent and preserve Michigan’s energy choice program.”“If the energy choice program is eliminated, schools stand to lose as much as $17 million in energy cost savings each year,” Pierce wrote. “That’s equivalent to taking 300 teachers out of the classroom or a $35 reduction in per pupil spending. …MISEC supports Rep. Gary Glenn’s call to respect the voices of Michigan voters and the decisions made by their elected representatives in the implementation of the state’s energy policy. The MPSC’s efforts to impose local clearing requirements exceeds the authority of public service commissioners and threatens the fiscal stability of Michigan schools.”The cooperative’s membership includes Michigan Association of Independent School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan School Business Officials, and Middle Cities Education Association.Ray Telman, the cooperative’s secretary-treasurer, had written the MPSC on July 13th: “We are certain that the Commission understands that many of the original legislative drafts…included a ‘local clearing requirement’ (later eliminated from the legislation) that would require alternative electric suppliers (AESs) to buy all or mostly all of their capacity locally in Michigan,” wrote Telman. “As you know, that language would have effectively eliminated the Electric Choice program, as DTE and Consumers own or have purchased virtually all local capacity and could and would either refuse to sell to AESs or sell to AESs at an above market price.”Glenn also cited a July 25th letter to the MPSC by House Majority Whip Rep. Rob Verheulen, R-Walker, and Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Twp., the primary sponsors of the compromise energy package approved by the Legislature in December and signed into law.The legislation “deliberately removed this contentious (‘local clearing requirement’) language and in doing so, a compromise was reached,” Verheulen and Afendoulis wrote. “The final language clearly allows Alternative Energy Suppliers to use any resource allowed by (the Midwest’s federally-regulated regional electricity grid manager, Midcontinent Independent System Operator) to meet capacity obligations without reference to local resources.”“We have strong concerns that the imposition by the Commission of any requirements on AESs in excess of those MISO requires…violates the legislative intent of (the new state energy law) and will place a significant additional burden on schools and businesses in our districts and all across Michigan,” Verheulen and Afendoulis wrote. “It will also threaten the sustainability of the (Electricity Choice) program, the viability and continuation of which was a primary goal of the legislation.”The proposed local generation requirement would directly violate not only the new state energy law, but federal regulations as well, Glenn said, both of which expressly state — as Reps. Afendoulis and Verheulen referenced — that a competing electricity provider “can meet its capacity obligations through owned or contractual rights to any resource that the appropriate independent system operator allows to meet the capacity obligation of the electric provider.” MISO does not require competing energy suppliers that sell to Michigan customers to sell only electricity that’s generated in Michigan.But the MPSC ignored not only their own attorneys but clear statements of legislative intent and state and federal law, declaring in a June 15th document exactly the opposite of the legislative record and text: “The Commission found that a locational requirement is required under (the new state law) and that a locational requirement applicable to individual (competing energy suppliers) is allowed as part of the capacity obligations set forth by the Commission.” (See item 3 at: http://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/0,4639,7-159-80741_80743-406252–,00.html )Glenn said such a move would not only violate state and federal laws and regulations and give monopoly utilities the ability to squeeze their cheaper competitors out of business, but would constitute an unauthorized assumption of law-making power by Public Service Commissioners that simply does not exist in state law.He cited a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in a 1993 lawsuit against the MPSC by Midland Cogeneration Venture, the largest gas-fueled electricity and steam producing facility in North America, which is located in the legislative district Glenn represents.The Appeals Court ruled that the MPSC “possesses no common law powers but is a creature of the Legislature, and all of its authority must be conferred by clear and unmistakable language in specific statutory enactments, because doubtful power does not exist.” Midland Cogeneration Venture v. Public Service Commission, 199 Mich App 286, 295–96 (1993)The Court of Appeals also ruled in 1999 that “where the Legislature has considered certain language and rejected it in favor of other language, the resulting statutory language should not be held to explicitly authorize what the Legislature explicitly rejected.” MCI Telecom Complaint, 460 Mich 396, 415 (1999).The following major manufacturing organizations, among others, have also sent letters to the Public Service Commission sharing Glenn’s view that the MPSC should not attempt to impose a local generation requirement for electricity sold in Michigan, a move they all said would be harmful to electricity users and Michigan’s economy:See the complete record at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mpsc/Capacity_Demonstration_Combined_Comments_579410_7.pdf* Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity, a group of major manufacturers whose combined electricity and gas bills exceed $1 billion a year in Michigan alone. ABATE’s membership includes Dow Chemical Company, the largest employer in Glenn’s legislative district, for whom electricity is the single biggest cost of doing business, and nearby Hemlock Semiconductor, the largest consumer of electricity in Michigan. The group also includes General Motors, Marathon Petroleum, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, and U.S. Steel.* Michigan Chemistry Council, of which The Dow Chemical Company is also a member.* The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, of which The Dow Chemical Company is also a member.* The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce* Spartan StoresGlenn said if the MPSC proceeds with plans to violate state and federal law and exceed its legal authority, lawsuits in federal and state court are a certainty. “I will recommend that the Legislature itself go to court, if necessary, to reassert that energy policy in Michigan will be set by the Legislature, who are elected by and accountable to the people, and not by an appointed bureaucracy that seems intent on advancing the financial self interests of two corporate monopolies at the expense of Michigan ratepayers and our economy.”****MPSC staff attorneys’ May 26th letter to MPSC commissioners, beginning at bottom of page 4: http://efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/docs/18197/0068.pdf “Staff advises against introducing a new requirement in 2018 for LSEs in Michigan that would allocate some percentage of the locational clearing requirement, or effectively allocate a portion of the capacity import limit on an individual entity basis. Doing so will not improve reliability in the short term.Moreover, assigning to large utilities in Zone 7 an allocation of the capacity import limit that AESs and smaller LSEs in Michigan have traditionally utilized will not improve reliability. The utilities already have over 98% of their resources in the zone and they do not use their pro rata share of the capacity import limit. Essentially reserving this unused portion of the capacity import limit to the utilities that do not use or need it would do little more than reduce the amount of the capacity import limit that is available to AESs and other small providers that previously have used a share of the capacity import limit.…Artificially reducing the amount of the available capacity import limit that these small LSEs utilize may actually compromise reliability for some specific Michigan customers in the short term.From a locational requirement perspective, if the status quo is kept for 2018 and the AESs and smaller entities are allowed to continue to utilize the unused portion of the capacity import limit, those entities could continue to source ZRCs from outside of Zone 7 and continue to serve the capacity requirements of their customers.If a significant pro rata share of the locational clearing requirement is assigned on an individual LSE basis, the vast majority of the ECIL would be allocated to large utilities in Zone 7 that traditionally don’t utilize it, which would significantly reduce the portion of the capacity import limit available to those smaller entities that have traditionally imported capacity.MISO has predicted that Zone 7 may possibly be short of capacity in 2018, which would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible for the smaller LSEs to source enough capacity from within Zone 7 to serve their customers. Those customers that were left short, due to the inability of the AESs’ previously imported capacity to count in Michigan, would be turned over to the utility for capacity service.To make matters worse, the utilities are proposing to obtain 2018 capacity for those customers in the MISO PRA (which could likely have been the exact same source used by the AESs) and be forced into providing interruptible service to the utility if enough capacity cannot be secured under the utilities’ proposals. Deviating from the status quo for 2018 regarding locational requirements would not improve reliability in Michigan and could potentially be a detriment to customers.” Categories: Glenn News,Newslast_img read more

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Which Nonprofit Outlets Wont Call Washingtons NFL Franchise by Name

first_imgShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares October 29, 2014;Columbia Journalism ReviewYou know who they mean. It’s that team in Washington, D.C. that’s owned by Daniel Snyder. It plays in a stadium in Landover, Maryland. A young superstar is the quarterback, the team has a top flight receiving corps, it upset the dreaded Dallas Cowboys in JerryWorld…but the team has that awful, racially disparaging name.Increasingly, the media won’t use the name. It’s not out of political correctness. It’s because of disgust that a twenty-first century team could be named for a racial slur. The Columbia Journalism Review published a list of sports media celebrities, such as Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms on CBS, and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy on NBC, who won’t use the word. Among media outlets, the newspapers and magazines that reject the word include the Oregonian, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Detroit News, and the Salt Lake Tribune. Free Download on Nonprofit Governance: Problem Board or Board Problem? CJR also mentioned one other nonprofit outlet: Mother Jones. Add Nonprofit Quarterly, too. We’ve been not only rejecting the use of the word, but campaigning against it, particularly because of the team’s creation of a foundation to buy its way into the Native American community’s goodwill.Our question: How many other nonprofit outlets are willing to ban the Washington NFL team’s racially disparaging epithet?—Rick CohenShareTweetShareEmail0 Shareslast_img read more

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Wikipedia Goes GLAM Strategies for Nonprofit Arts Institutions

first_imgShare6TweetShareEmail6 SharesOctober 12, 2015; Tech TimesIt was a few years ago, in an interview NPQ did with Anasuya Sengupta, then of the Wikimedia Foundation, that we heard about Wikipedia’s strategies for so-called “GLAM institutions”—galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. The initiative is designed to help cultural institutions share their resources widely through a variety of kinds of collaborative projects with experienced Wikipedia editors. Some models of such projects can be viewed here.One of these tech-savvy GLAM institutions is New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which has invested in making the best use of Wikipedia, embedding links from the site on its artists’ pages and hosting volunteer trainings to facilitate the updating of entries about the MoMA collection. One recent training, focused on Latin American art and culture, included scholars, educators, marketers, bankers and engineers.“We’re recognizing other people can contribute knowledge,” said Fiona Romero, director of digital content and strategy for the museum.But although Wikipedia does caution against conflicts of interest in the writing of entries, staff become involved too, like art historian and curator Alexandra Thom, who spent nearly a year writing 24 articles and editing another 18 to fill in the gaps on Wikipedia’s African art and culture content, an area she believed to have been portrayed negatively in Wikipedia.“I love Wikipedia for providing a seemingly endless web of linked information that I can follow from one article to the next,” said Thom. “In terms of the bigger picture and this project in particular, Wikipedia fascinates me for its ability to attract an enormous amount of attention from readers around the world.”Librarians from the Metropolitan Museum of Art also have been working to add bibliographic citations to articles. William Blueher, the metadata and collections librarian in the Met’s Thomas J. Watson Library, said that the activity has caused the museum’s Web traffic to increase tenfold between 2012 and 2014.—Ruth McCambridgeShare6TweetShareEmail6 Shareslast_img read more

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18 Months of Budget Impasse in Illinois Stresses Nonprofits and Devastates Lives

first_imgShare95TweetShare62Email157 Sharessafety net / ChadNovember 29, 2016; ChicagoThroughout the 2016 fiscal year, Illinois government leaders failed to pass a state budget. Without a budget, many nonprofits did not receive any state funding even though they had valid contracts and performed the promised services. One day before the 2017 fiscal year began, state leaders passed a six-month stopgap budget to fund services for the first half of 2017. That budget will end on December 31, 2016.Last week, the legislative session ended without state leaders passing a budget, leaving many Illinois nonprofit leaders holding their breath on their organizations’ ability to provide essential services after January 1st.Over the last eighteen months, the Nonprofit Quarterly wrote extensively on the state of Illinois’s lack of a budget and its devastating effects on some nonprofits. During this time, nonprofits providing programs mandated by the state constitution were paid but those providing non-mandated services were not. These nonprofits had valid contracts with the state to provide these essential services, and most struggled to provide the services as required under the contract.The governor, Bruce Rauner, and his staff promised to pay the providers after the impasse was resolved. But once the stopgap budget passed, the governor used a clause in the contract to limit reimbursements. Additionally, since the state did not have the revenue to make the payments, the disbursements were further delayed. Nonprofit leaders, including Diane Rauner, the governor’s wife, who leads a large Illinois nonprofit organization, sued the state. They lost in county court and the suit is now on appeal.The failure of the state to pay for “nonessential” services caused great hardship for citizens throughout the state. For example, college students did not receive their MAP grants, K-8 schools did not receive educational funding, and people scheduled to leave prison were forced to stay locked up because halfway houses could not pay the staff that would support their reentry. At the same time, 62 percent of Illinois residents reported the budget impasse did not affect them.In These Times and Kartemquin Films are creating an eight-part documentary, Stranded by the State, on the effects of the 2016 budget impasse on residents and the nonprofit institutions that serve them.In These Times is a Chicago-based independent nonprofit magazine dedicated to advancing democracy and economic justice. The first program was released two weeks ago, highlighting the effects on Illinois’s higher education system and the tens of thousands of students served.The limited late payments and decreased tax revenue continue to devastate an already damaged safety net and the State as a whole. As of November 16th, Illinois owed $10.6 billion in outstanding bills and possess a deficit of over $5 billion. Last month, North Side Housing and Support Services announced it would close a 72-bed shelter on the North Side of Chicago by the end of the year.Currently, state leaders are meeting behind closed doors to try and reach agreement. Although Democrats lost a small number of state house representatives and senate leaders, they continue to hold majorities in both legislative houses. The Republican Governor continues to demand nonbudgetary items, including term limits on legislative leaders, before he will agree to a budget; Democrats in the legislature refuse to discuss these items. The Democrats won the State Comptroller’s office during the November election, but it is unclear if and how this will affect the impasse.To create a balanced budget and begin to pay down the debt without instituting major long-term budget cuts, the state needs about $7 billion dollars in additional revenue annually. In the meantime, nonprofit leaders must recover from the presidential election and advocate for a solution before they and the residents they serve are stuck in another devastating situation.—Gayle NelsonShare95TweetShare62Email157 Shareslast_img read more

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Donations and Volunteers Flow to Meals on Wheels after OMB Chiefs Comment

first_imgShare37TweetShare35Email72 Shares“East Cooper Meals on Wheels volunteers prepare food for residents in need Oct. 10, 2016.” U.S. Department of AgricultureMarch 19, 2017; Washington Post and GoodJust as with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, the Trump administration’s policies have prompted a dramatic surge in donations for the Meals on Wheels program. It’s another example of the phenomenon of “rage fundraising,” where the anger and concerns of donors to progressive and anti-poverty causes threatened by President Trump’s proposed policies and budget have brought about a fundraising boom.A recent study found that delivering more meals to seniors’ homes results in fewer people going to nursing homes because those capable of living on their own with little assistance can remain at home. Meals on Wheels says it costs about $2,500 to provide a homebound senior with daily meals over one year, about the same as a one-day hospital stay or ten days in a nursing home. The program, which serves 2.4 million American senior citizens, tells CNN and the Washington Post that in one suburb, deliveries could be cut in half if the proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which some states use in part to support Meals on Wheels, becomes reality.There’s also speculation by the organization that Trump’s budget could slash the Older Americans Act, which funds more than one-third of Meals on Wheels operations, although the actual effect of the budget cuts will not be clear until more details come out. The White House also proposes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes more than $800 million annually for Meals on Wheels.But, at the same time, donations have increased, with Meals on Wheels’ national office taking in more than 50 times what it normally raises each day since the White House released its first draft “budget blueprint” last week. The block grants fund a small portion of Meals on Wheels operations nationwide, and some of its 5,000 local branches rely on the funding to varying degrees. (A branch outside Detroit would lose a third of its budget, while one in San Jose would lose $100,000.)The fundraising and volunteer recruitment message from Meals on Wheels is clear. “Federal funding is at risk,” says the homepage of the nonprofit’s website, “Help us defend these vital services today.” Donations to the Meals on Wheels national office will be spent on advocacy and awareness campaigns, a spokeswoman told the Post. Each local branch has its own donation sources, but they’ve reported donation surges, as well as a 500 percent increase in volunteer signups.“It’s reassuring that the public has stepped up,” Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America told CNN. “Cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America, which in turn saves billions of dollars in reduced health care expenses.”Good, the website that reports on nonprofits and helps them market and communicate their causes, says that despite eye-catching headlines like “#LetThemDie: ‘Heartless’ Donald Trump Blasted For Killing Meals On Wheels Funds” and “Trump’s Budget Would Kill a Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens,” things just aren’t that simple:Meals on Wheels is not a federal program that operates solely on federal funds. It’s not directly targeted or even mentioned in Trump’s initial budget. Rather, Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit supporting senior nutrition programs across the country that has been boosted with federal support.Further, Meals on Wheels is not one single national organization, but an affiliation of independent operations around the U.S. There are more than 5,000 affiliates, all with different sources of funding, including government appropriations, foundation grants, individual donations, and corporate support. In one example cited in the Good reporting, San Diego’s program relies on federal funding for 35 percent of its budget, although its executive director told Good that “until we know what the cuts are going to be, I couldn’t give you a number.” And that will take a while.Good’s stance is that “we shouldn’t be so upset about whatever Trump may do. Ultimately, individual donors have more power than the government.”According to Hollander, Meals on Wheels has had a tremendously successful “public-private partnership,” for which every “federal dollar is matched with about three dollars from other sources.” Without question, Trump’s proposed budget is misguided at best and disgraceful at worst, and it will hurt the poor, elderly, and needy most. But to say Trump is mercilessly cutting a program that saves elderly lives is an oversimplification of the larger budget problem.Trump’s budget blueprint is just a proposal for part of the federal budget (the administration’s full budget should be released late in the spring), and it’s important to remember that no president’s budget has ever been left intact by Congress. Both Republican and Democratic legislators have promised to protect the Meals on Wheels program. And citizen advocacy comes into play, as well. Good points out that “like many other nonprofits trying to operate in the era of Trump, [Meals on Wheels] needs help in contacting representatives to tell them that the cuts are “not acceptable.”—Larry KaplanShare37TweetShare35Email72 Shareslast_img read more

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The Undoing of the CFPB Why Consumers Should Know and Care

first_imgShare58Tweet9Share14Email81 Shares“Money, Mississippi.” Credit: Department of Communication University of WashingtonDecember 5, 2017; The Atlantic and the Washington PostAs the Trump administration removes and replaces all vestiges of Obama’s eight years in office, one of the agencies that could disappear might do so without so much as a whimper from much of the general public, to the detriment of consumers across the nation who will feel the pain but not know what they lost.The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was established in 2010 as a part of the Dodd-Frank reforms following the 2008 financial crisis. Its purpose is consumer protection in the financial sector, with a focus on banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors, student loan providers, and other financial companies operating in the United States. According to the US Treasury Department, the bureau is tasked with the responsibility to “promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services.”Given this task, and that most Americans have or use some form of credit, it seems likely that the CFPB would be well known and put to good use. But, that’s not so. As reported by Gillian B. White for the Atlantic:A 2013 poll of 1,000 people done by a progressive nonprofit, Americans for Financial Reform, showed that only about 40 percent of Americans hadn’t heard of the CFPB or had no opinion about it. It doesn’t seem like awareness improved much with time. In a small but representative survey of around 500 adults conducted in 2017 by the financial product–recommendation website CreditCards.com, approximately 81 percent said they didn’t know enough about the agency to have an opinion about it.This is a sad state of affairs for an agency that is working to put money back into the pockets of ordinary consumers and insure that financial institutions operate with transparency.An example of the agency’s work included the unexpected receipt of a $1,600 check by Joel Wertheimer, a civil rights lawyer from New York.“I sort of didn’t believe it,” he said. The notice that came along with the check said that he was receiving the payment in relation to “a debt-protection program offered by Citibank.” Wertheimer had opened up a credit card with Citibank when he graduated from college and vaguely remembers language about a credit-protection program. “I thought that was something I needed,” he remembers.It turns out that Wertheimer’s was one of the 7 million accounts that the CFPB determined fit the criteria of deceptive marketing and unfair billing practices at Citibank—where so-called “add-on” programs didn’t offer that much protection at all, and suckered customers into paying for the extraneous services with misleading promotions. Wertheimer’s $1,600 check came from the $700 million fine the Bureau levied against the bank for its practices—and he didn’t have to do anything to receive the money he was due.Via its website and phone system, the CFPB is set up to respond to finance-related consumer complaints both large and small, and it has been doing so since its creation. Many complaints over forced mediation clauses have found their way to the CFPB, although much of this work is still in process.As unknown as the CFPB is, it has been embroiled in controversy since its creation. Before her election to the U.S. Senate, the CFPB was the brainchild of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who advocated for its creation with the support of the Obama administration. It has been a thorn in the side of Republicans since it was proposed. The fact that the position of CFPB Director has somewhat “protected” status—the director, once nominated by the president and approved by the Senate for a five-year term, cannot be forcibly removed—has caused even greater consternation for the new administration. A federal appeals court ruled in 2016 that the structure at the CFPB is unconstitutional and ordered that the CFPB be restructured. But the resignation of Richard Cordray, the first CFPB Director, and President Trump’s immediate naming of Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as acting director has created a sense of impending doom for this agency among those who viewed it as a beacon of protection for consumers in this country.Acting Director Mulvaney says he has no plans to gut the agency, but his history of publicly criticizing it may be a sign of things to come. One of his first acts as acting director was to put a 30-day freeze on hiring, regulation, rulemaking, and payouts to consumers.As the nation looks at the reinstatement of President Trump’s travel ban, one finds crossover with the CFPB there, too.Libre by Nexus helps post bond for people being held in immigration detention centers while they wait for their cases to be heard in backlogged courts. In exchange for their freedom, immigrants sign contracts promising to pay Libre $420 per month while wearing the company’s GPS ankle devices. Those contracts have been the subject of lawsuits and allegations of fraud by immigrants who said that they did not understand them. The company has denied wrongdoing.Soon after Mulvaney’s appointment, it was announced that the CFPB would pull back on its probe of Libre by Nexus until a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit the company filed against the agency. According to an article in the Washington Post, the announcement indicated that all of the agency’s investigations and lawsuits are being reviewed.As with other takeovers of government agencies, this one will probably follow a similar path of dismantling regulations and an exit of qualified staff with a commitment to the original intent of the work of consumer protection. If you were counting on someone, somewhere in government to watch out for you and your finances, that agency may now be a thing of the past.—Carole LevineShare58Tweet9Share14Email81 Shareslast_img read more

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About one million DVBT2 settop boxes have been d

first_imgAbout one million DVB-T2 set-top boxes have been delivered in Russia to date, according to local reports citing the head of the country’s ministry of communications, Igor Shchegolev.Addressing students at the Moscow State University Graduate School of Television, Shchegolev said that DVB-T2 represented a more efficient way of delivering digital broadcast services than the DVB-T standard. While Russia has a plan to transition its digital-terrestrial services to the new standard it is currently broadcasting DVB-T2 services only in the Republic of Tatarstan.Shchegolev said the authorities were involved in discussion with equipment suppliers, including a number of local Russian manufacturers, ahead of a planned mass distribution of boxes in 2013-14. The cost of digital transition has been estimated at RUB122 billion (€3.17 billion).last_img read more

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Digital TV Labs which provides independent receiv

first_imgDigital TV Labs, which provides independent receiver conformance products and services, has become the first HbbTV test centre to be registered by the HbbTV Consortium.Digital TV Labs is the first lab officially licensed to certify compliance with the HbbTV 1.1.1 test suite for HbbTV-enabled connected TVs and set-top boxes.Digital TV Labs said it can provide test reports in hours using its automated Ligada iSuite test harness.Keith Potter, Digital TV Labs CEO, said, “We are very pleased to be the first registered HbbTV test centre.  We believe HbbTV conformance testing is vital to ensure interoperability of this fast-growing hybrid technology that is being widely adopted by broadcasters. With our world-wide coverage of DVB and ISDB-T broadcast testing services including Freeview in the UK and now Dolby technologies, Digital TV Labs provides a unique one-stop shop testing service both in our UK and Hong Kong labs.”last_img read more

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German cable operator Primacom has acquired networ

first_imgGerman cable operator Primacom has acquired network builder and operator Sy-Fra, acdding a further 22,000 homes to its existing base. Sy-Fran operates networks across Germany, mainly in Saxony and Thuringia.Primacom said Sy-Fra’s customers’ contracts will remain unchanged.Primacom CEO Joachim Grendel said the acquisition was in line with its strategy of expanding its service area through further acquisitions.last_img

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Broadcaster France Télévisions has tapped existing

first_imgBroadcaster France Télévisions has tapped existing on-demand TV partner Hubee to provide its video-on-demand and catch-up services on service provider Free’s platform. France Télévisions is using Hubee to deliver its Pluzz.fr service on the Free platform. The broadcaster is providing catch-up content from its five channels on the service.Pluzz video-on-demand currently offers about 3,000 titles across a number of genres, with plans to add about 200 titles each month.Hubee already provides the platform for France Télévisions’ Pluzz TV portal.last_img read more

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Netflix passed the 65 million subscribermark in t

first_imgNetflix passed the 65 million subscriber-mark in the second quarter and confirmed plans to launch in China next year as part of its ongoing expansion efforts.For three months ending June 30, Netflix said it added a record 3.3 million new streaming members – exceeding its Q2 forecast of 2.5 million net additions and almost doubling its 1.7 million new additions in the previous year quarter.Though Netflix did not launch in any new markets in Q2, it said that its international segment is growing at “a rapid pace” with plans already in place to launch in Japan in Q3; in Spain, Italy and Portugal in Q4; and in further global markets after that.Asked on the company’s earnings call about its plans for China, chief financial officer David Wells said: “We hope to be able to launch the service there next year”. However, CEO Reed Hastings cautioned that this would be a “modest investment.”Netflix said that it added 0.9 million members in the US and added 2.4 million members internationally in Q2, claiming that these higher-than-expected figures were “fuelled by the growing strength of our original programming slate” – which included the first seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil, Sense8 and Dragons: Race to the Edge.Netflix said that international revenue grew 48% year over year, despite a negative US$83 million (€76 million) impact from currency. However, international losses increased sequentially due to full quarter of operating costs in Australia and New Zealand, where Netflix launched in March.Discussing the Japan launch, Hastings said on the earnings call that Netflix planned to launch some local original programming in this market and will price the service “more aggressively” than Hulu did when it entered Japan some four years ago.“Japan will probably be our slowest market to get to certain penetration threshold, but it may be one of our best markets in the long-term because when the Japanese society embraces a brand, it’s a very deep connection, very long-term. We’re willing to make that investment, knowing that it’s not the quick route to success that might be in other countries,” said Hastings.Netflix said it anticipates that its content spend will approach US$5 billion in 2016 on a profit and loss basis and that it will “devote more investment to originals both in absolute dollars and percentage terms.” This spend will span series, documentaries, stand-up comedy and feature films.“We’re pleased to see the growing momentum of our original programming driving strong growth in the US and abroad,” said Hastings and Wells in a letter to shareholders, summarising Netflix’s Q2 results.“With our first set of international markets having achieved contribution profitability, we’ll be making our first foray into Asia this fall with our Japan launch, and are gearing up to offer our service around the globe.”last_img read more

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Scripps Networks Interactive is launching its HGTV

first_imgScripps Networks Interactive is launching its HGTV channel in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time in partnership with local pay TV operator BeIN Media Group.Scripps has agreed a deal with BeIN to launch lifestyle channels HGTV and Travel Channel.Travel Channel will be available from August 1, bringing content including House Hunters International, Delicious Destinations and Expedition Unknown to MENA viewers. HGTV will be available from November 2, bringing shows relating to home improvement, DIY, design, real estate and landscaping including Listed Sisters, Tiny House Hunters, Property Brothers and Love it or List it to BeIN’s subscribers.HGTV has hitherto only been available in the US, Canada, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.“HGTV is a journey of transformation for your home and how you live.  When you are looking for inspiration it is the premiere destination for home improvement, DIY, design, real estate and landscaping content,” said Phillip Luff, Managing Director, UK & EMEA, Scripps Networks Interactive.“Since its launch in 1994, HGTV has established itself as a top 10 network in all of cable in the U.S. We are thrilled to bring HGTV’s high quality content to audiences in the Middle East and North Africa in partnership with beIN.”Yousef Al Obaidly, deputy CEO of BeIN Media Group said, “Scripps Networks is well known globally for its premium quality factual programming.  Their ability to produce and package content that is extremely relevant for discerning high net worth individuals and families is well recognized.  I am pleased that through this partnership, beIN is able to bring two great channels to our viewers.”last_img read more

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Dirk Wössner Deutsche Telekoms domestic German bu

first_imgDirk WössnerDeutsche Telekom’s domestic German business chief Niek jan van Damme is to leave his post earlier than planned and will be replaced by Rogers Communications consumer business chief Dirk Wössner after a transitional period.Van Damme will leave at the end of this year, and Wóssner will take over on January 1.Van Damme’s decision to quit early means that Wössner, who has previously worked for the German telco, including as director of sales and consumer customers, will be able to return to the company. A later decision would have meant he would have “been tied for a longer period”, according to Deutsche Telekom chairman Ulrich Lehner.Commenting on Wössner’s return, Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges said that his experience with Rogers would be invaluable for the company. He highlighted Rogers early lead in offering 4K television and 1Gbps broadband.Höttges thanked Van Damme for his 15 years of service and highlighted his role in consolidating the group’s fixed and mobile businesses into a single entity, the build-out and upgrade of networks and an improvement in service quality.“After intensive talks with our CEO Tim Höttges and the Chairman of the Supervisory Board Ulrich Lehner, I have decided to resign from my current position as of the end of the year. It’s a bit earlier than I had originally intended, but it’s a good fit with my personal life planning and the best way to ensure a seamless transition – similar to the situation with René Obermann and Tim Höttges four years ago,” said Van Damme.“I am looking forward to this new challenge and wish to thank everyone for the trust they are placing in me. Niek Jan van Damme has my special gratitude for his willingness to help me shape the transition together,” said Wössner.last_img read more

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Italian government officials are reportedly moving

first_imgItalian government officials are reportedly moving forwards with the process of determining whether Vivendi exercises a controlling influence over Telecom Italia (TIM). The moves represent a further ratcheting up of pressure on the French media group, which has resolutely rejected claims that it now “controls” TIM.According to Italian press reports, the government could determine by the middle of next month that Vivendi has failed to provide proper notification that it controls TIM, leading to a it potentially levying a penalty of up to 1% of the cumulative turnover of TIM and Vivendi together.Italian officials are also likely to consider whether to trigger the Golden Power that allows the government to intervene in cases where its strategic interests are threatened. The officials have reportedly been looking closely at whether uncertainty about the future of Sparkle, the TIM subsidiary that manages fibre-optic backbone cables, including submarine cables that connect Italy with the wider world, could justify intervention.Earlier this month, Vivendi told Italian markets regulator CONSOB that “all empirical data” available proved that “Vivendi is not in a position to control Telecom Italia ordinary shareholders’ meetings”. TIM itself said that the pair’s “coordination activity” centred on strengthening the TIM management team with a senior executive from Vivendi to achieve greater coordination “between the industrial and commercial activities of the different companies, in the context of the existing strategic plan”, and the creation of a new joint-venture between TIM and Vivendi’s pay TV unit Canal+.Vivendi has also made representations to the government that it does not exercise control over the telco. Its attempts to assuage Italian concerns have been complicated by the French government’s decision to nationalise STX France, the St Nazaire naval shipyard that was acquired by Italy’s Fincanitieri earlier this year. French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni are scheduled to have a bilateral meeting on September 27 that will likely include discussion of the St Nazaire case.last_img read more

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The European Broadcasting Union EBU has expresse

first_imgThe European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has expressed concern about the underfunding of Ukrainian public broadcaster UA:PBC next year.According to the EBU, the Ukrainian 2018 state budget envisages providing only about half of the budget previously defined by the country’s law on public television and radio broadcasting.The law envisages funding of 0.2 % of overall state budget expenditure for the previous year, equivalent to about €40 million. The EBU pointed out that this is already one of the smallest budgets in Europe, with other broadcasters having higher budgets, while covering smaller areas and communities.The EBU said that operating sustainable public service media was acknowledged as a strategic aim of the Ukrainian state and that a robust and independent public service broadcaster as a crucial tool in the fight against corruption, the respect of the rule of Law, and an important step towards Ukraine’s European integration, was embedded in recent political reforms.The broadcaster’s board issued a statement expressing concen that the new budget could effect its ability to fulfil its remit and its independence on the even of a general election campaign in the country.UA: PBC’s director-general Zurab Alasania was cited by the EBU as saying that the broadcaster “is suffering very hard times. It’s a time of reform for us, and rebuilding a former state company into an independent public service media. The lack of required funding undermines the whole reform process, and our future itself.”EBU Director General Noel Curran said: “The EBU calls on the Ukrainian Government to ensure appropriate, fair and independent funding for UA:PBC in line with the Ukrainian Law and European standards. A sudden drop in its funding levels, would undermine the important process of reform UA:PBC has undertaken in order to operate as sustainable and independent public service media organization.”The EBU was deeply involved in the creation of UA:PBS, sending a mission to Kyiv in 2014 to advise on the merger of the broadcaster’s predecessor organisations.Underfunding of public media in Ukraine is not new. Alasania was named as head of UA:PBS in April last year, having played a major role in establishing the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU), the UA:PBC’s principal predecessor organisation, before resigning in November 2016 over disagreements regarding the funding allocated to that broadcaster for 2017.last_img read more

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The newly formed BBC Studios has revealed today th

first_imgThe newly formed BBC Studios has revealed today that its BBC Worldwide content chief, Helen Jackson, will depart after 31 years, as it revealed a host of executive appointments for the newly merged business.Helen JacksonJackson, who led the BBC’s acquisition of a range of successful production companies, will remain at BBC Studios throughout 2018 and work closely with indie partners. She will also continue as a director on the board of a number of invested indies.“Helen’s contribution to the BBC is hard to overstate. She has had both the vision and the relationships to attract numerous producers to BBC Worldwide over many years and is rightly held in the highest regard both inside and outside the organisation,” said Studios CEO Tim Davie.Furthermore, new executive appointments will take effect in April with the formation of the merged company, which made the decision to pair up last November.There will be four genre-managing directors. Hannah Wyatt will now become MD for factual entertainment & events; Lisa Opie will lead factual; Nick Betts will head scripted and Suzy Lamb becomes MD of entertainment and music.Each MD will be responsible for leading the commercial, creative and business teams within BBC Studios production, and developing and implementing the business strategy for their genre.BBC Studios has also appointed its regional presidents. Ann Sarnoff becomes president of Americas; Marcus Arthur will lead for the UK & Ireland and Australia/New Zealand and Paul Dempsey will take charge of global markets.Each president will be responsible for leading content sales, branded services including joint ventures, consumer products and other commercial exploitation activites in their market.Davie added: “Now that Mark [Linsey] and I have our full Executive Committee in place, we are looking forward to getting on with growing BBC Studios as a world-class home for British creativity.”Appointments previously announced to the new BBC Studios Executive Committee include Davie, as CEO; Mark Linsey as CCO; Tom Fussell, CFO; Anna Mallett, COO and MD, Production; Martyn Freeman, general counsel and Jabbar Sardar as HR Director.last_img read more

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