Share1TweetShareEmail1 Shares August 30, 2014; Durham Herald-SunAt the end of last week, the Durham, N.C. school board decided in a 6–1 vote to definitively sever its ties with Teach for America after the conclusion of their contract for the 2015-2016 academic year. The group had been up for a three-year contract that would have doubled the involvement of TFA teachers in the Durham school system. Board members who voted against the contract renewal cited the now-familiar concern about the apparent senselessness of placing inexperienced teachers in high-needs schools. Board member Natalie Beyer remarked, “It feels like despite the best intention and the efforts, this has potential to do harm to some of our neediest students,” and fellow board member Mike Lee said, “I have a problem with the ‘two years and gone,’ using it like community service, as someone said.”Among those speaking at the meeting were teachers who advocated for a reinvestment in a sustainable, stable teaching force in the schools, complete with mentors for younger teachers expecting to stay longer than two years. Ann Rebeck, president of the Durham Council of PTAs, suggested that TFA was a part of an assault on professional educators with its suggestion that all it takes to become a teacher is six weeks or less of training with no student teaching necessary. Rebeck concluded, “I believe, as do many hard-working educators, that this concept is an offense to the teaching profession.”As regular readers will recall, last December, Pittsburgh became the first school district to decline to renew its contract with TFA. Explaining their decision, Regina Holley, a school board member, described the mere five weeks of training the teachers receive as insufficient to provide participants with the full capabilities to handle difficult classroom scenarios. She said she thought the five-week course model was “a bit outrageous.”In a less direct fashion, Minnesota’s governor Mark Dayton vetoed TFA’s $1.5 million state budget, indicating that it was unnecessary given the already ample financial resources available to the organization. Moreover, in the past year or so, a website entitled Students Resisting TFA has cropped up, a self-explanatory movement against the organization. Whether or not you agree with the opinions on the site, the testimonials provided by TFA alumni and, most notably, students at schools involved in the program are worth a read.One 2011 TFA alum from Oklahoma says:“We need strong, passionate leaders in education. But TFA has no time for leaders…. There can be no questions asked. There can be no opinions reconsidered. This is not the arena in which true leaders deserve to operate.”As a national organization, TFA has accumulated vast financial resources and a following, particularly among young college graduates. However, the continued criticism from both insiders and outsiders of the organization’s training methods and the effectiveness of its teachers indicate there may be a shift away from the TFA model, as already set in motion by Durham and Pittsburgh.—Shafaq HasanShare1TweetShareEmail1 Shares
UK pay TV provider BSkyB has made a private bond placement with institutional investors to raise approximately US$800 million (€625 million).Sky said it expected to use the proceeds of the bond, which will pay 3.125% interest and mature in 2022, for general corporate purposes, for the refinancing of existing debt and/or to extend the maturity profile of its group debt, and also to make acquisitions to support its strategy.
UAE-based Sharjah Media Corporation has chosen Pebble Beach Systems to provide playout and disaster recovery at its Sharqiya from Kalba TV installation.Sharqiya from Kalba TV, the first station to broadcast from the city of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman, in the eastern part of the Emirate of Sharjah, will use a Pebble Beach Systems Neptune automation system controlling a total of four Dolphin integrated channel devices. Two of the devices will provide main and backup systems for playout, whilst the remaining two act as disaster recovery for the main Sharjah facility.Khalid Al Midfa, director-general of Sharjah Media Corporation, said, “We are pleased to collaborate with Pebble Beach Systems to deploy the Dolphin integrated channel devices at the new facility in Kalba city. The launch of Sharqiya from Kalba TV marks another important milestone for SMC. The new channel, which will broadcast from Kalba, will focus on Sharjah’s eastern zone and will air specially-produced programmes that are in tune with the expectations of Arab viewers.”
Liberty Global’s acquisition of a 12.65% stake in fellow Dutch cable operator Ziggo could have a negative impact on the creditworthiness of both companies, according to credit ratings agency Moody’s.Moody’s said that the acquisition made strategic sense for Liberty Global but that the move was nevertheless “credit negative, given that it uses incremental debt capacity and signals Liberty Global’s undiminished acquisition appetite only a few weeks after the company announced the acquisition of Virgin Media…for US$23.3 billion (€18.1 billion) in shares and cash, its largest acquisition to date”.Moody’s said that the Virgin Media acquisition presented “a major integration and corporate reorganization task for the company”. While it said it had no immediate plans to downgrade Liberty Global’s Ba3 rating, its ongoing review of the company’s credit rating would now include an evaluation of Liberty Global’s further plans for the Dutch cabler, “given that we would expect the company to explore a full take-over of Ziggo over time”.Moody’s said that Ziggo’s own rating would remain unchanged for now but that the prospect of Liberty Global, with its “more aggressive financial policy”, increasing its stake over time added an element of uncertainty to the outlook.
German pay TV operator Sky Deutschland has expanded its long term output agreement with MGM in a deal that exclusively hands it the Hollywood studio’s latest blockbuster movies.The deal also includes a renewal of the MGM HD Channel in Germany and Austria, which launched earlier this year.The content deal comprises exclusive pay TV rights for its linear channels and SVOD rights for Sky Deutschland’s on-demand services Sky Anytime and Sky Go.Movies such as Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey get their German and Austrian TV premieres on the 21st Century Fox-owned Sky platform as a result. The films, which also include Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and the forthcoming Carrie, will remain locked to free-to-air broadcasters for at least a year after.“Sky is number one when it comes to films, and through this output deal we can ensure that Sky customers will be the first to enjoy the latest high quality MGM movies. The new MGM HD Channel presents the greatest MGM classics in brilliant HD quality – a true added value for all film fans,” said Sky Deutschland’s executive VP, programming, Gary Davey.
Multiscreen platform provider Massive Interactive has been working with Deutsche Telekom to expand its Videoload service in Germany to LG smart TVs. Using the Massivision multiscreen development kit (MDK), Massive integrated its multi-device core application to the Deutsche Telekom environment, enabling the delivery of a native LG TV application, the company said.Video-on-demand service Videoload is available on PCs and Macs, Deutsche Telekom’s own Entertain IPTV offering and on Samsung smart TVs.Deutsche Telekom is Massive’s first customer in Germany.Gert von Manteuffel, vice-president product management, TV and video, Deutsche Telekom, said: “We’ve chosen to work with Massive for their proven expertise in this field and their ability to manage both the technical complexity of connected TV systems and seamless integration with our legacy systems. They have been able to deliver a high quality solution within a short timeframe which has been extremely valuable to us.”
CNN International and Eurosport have announced social media initiatives in the run-up to and during the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil.CNN International has announced plans to deliver coverage of the tournament across TV, online and mobile platforms, and has announced plans for a joint initiative with Facebook.CNN has teamed up with Facebook in a joint initiative, the CNN Facebook Pulse. This is described as a digital dashboard on the CNN.com site to present debate from around the world on the tournament.The Facebook Pulse will display the evolving “World Cup conversation” in real time through Facebook posts, pictures and Instagram photos, allowing fans to track trending topics, players and teams. Users will be able to explore trends and gauge reactions to developing stories in different parts of the world through “sentiment data”. Fans can join the conversation by updating their Facebook status and sharing their thoughts.CNN International will have a dedicated World Cup live studio set-up in Rio de Janeiro, alongside its permanent bureau in São Paolo.“When it comes to sporting events there is simply nothing bigger than the World Cup, and that is down to both its worldwide reach and the intense engagement of the fans,” said Nick Wrenn, vice-president, digital at CNN International.“We want to give those fans a platform to join together and get as deeply involved as possible in the global buzz around the games, the players and the unique sense of occasion that this tournament brings. The partnership with Facebook is a really exciting way for us to deliver that platform, and will deliver some fascinating insights into what the football community is thinking and discussing.”Eurosport meanwhile has unveiled plans to offer extensive online coverage incorporating social media.The sports broadcaster will run a ‘live hub’ in different languages on Eurosport.com, featuring live written commentaries from all 64 matches, interviews, videos, articles from Eurosport’s editorial teams and all the latest news, curated from platforms including Twitter, Instagram and various other websites.
Russian pay TV provider Orion Express has added 10 channels from Modern Times Group’s Viasat Broadcasting to its line-up.Orion Express is offering Viasat channels in two new packages – a Viasat premium HD offering and a Viasat offering – with the addition of channels TV1000 Russian Kino, TV1000 Premium HD, TV1000 Megahit HD, TV1000 Comedy, Viasat Sport, TV1000, TV1000 Action, VIiasat Explore, Viasat History and Da Vinci Learning.Orion Express CEO Kirill Makhnovskiy said the addition aof the channels was a “milestone” for the company.Viasat’s deal with Orion comes as cable operator Akado took the decision to pull its channels from its service after failing to agree a carriage deal.According to Russian daily Vedomosti, Akado pulled the channels at the beginning of the month after failing to agree new terms following the ban on advertising on pay TV channels in the country.
Over-the-top (OTT) video services like Netflix remain “a complement to, not a replacement for” traditional pay TV, with 40% of web users taking multichannel and an SVOD service, according to Horowitz Research.The firm’s Multiplatform Content and Services report claims that 42% of web users only take a multichannel service, compared to 11% who only take an SVOD service. Some 7% were found to have neither.The US study said that 78% of OTT users are also multichannel subscribers, but claimed that recent OTT developments from traditional pay TV distributors, like DISH’s Sling TV and DirecTV’s Yaveo, could “start changing the game.”“For many, streaming video has become an integral part of the viewing lifestyle. The idea of an internet TV service, at a lower price point and with more customisable options, is an attractive prospect,” said Adriana Waterston, Horowitz’s senior vice-president of insights and strategy.“No longer tied to their physical infrastructure, OTT offerings have the potential to offer huge opportunity for distributors to reach beyond their footprint, shaking up the entire pay TV model.”Horowitz’s report found that among web users overall, 51% have access to an OTT SVOD service like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime Instant Video. Among millennials, this figure rises to 75%, with 48% of people in this age bracket claiming to spend more than half of their viewing time streaming content.“For millennials, streaming is as natural as turning on the TV set, so an OTT service direct from a distributor could be a natural fit,” said Waterston.People aged under-35 were three times as likely to have an OTT SVOD service and no multichannel service at 21%, compared to just 7% among those aged 35 and above, according to the research.
Tom Rogers, TiVo CEOTiVo CEO Tom Rogers is leave his position after nearly 11 years at the end of January, also the end of the company’s fiscal year. Rogers will continue with TiVo as non-executive chairman.TiVo’s board has formed a search committee to identify the best internal or external candidate to lead the company. Board member Dan Moloney has been named lead independent director. Moloney is the former president of Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google in 2011.TiVo will take a one-time charge in the fourth quarter related to separation costs and expenses in connection with Rogers’ departure.“TiVo is a great company today – and I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of turning it around and building it from its DVR roots into the leader in providing next-generation TV in the United States and around the world,” said Rogers. “With the recent successful launch of one of the best reviewed retail television products ever, the new TiVo Bolt, and notable progress in our other core businesses, the Board and I agreed that this was an opportune time to seamlessly transition to a new leadership team. At a personal level, I will welcome the reduced bicoastal travel this will entail. And as a shareholder, I look forward to continuing to serve all TiVo shareholders as non-executive chairman.”Moloney said, “We are confident that Tom and TiVo’s experienced leadership team will ensure a smooth transition to a new CEO and president as Tom transitions to non-executive Chairman of the Board. We thank Tom for his countless contributions to TiVo during his time as CEO and president. The Board believes that these accomplishments aren’t fully reflected in TiVo’s stock price.”