FCC to Fine AT&T $106K for Overcharging FL Schools and E-rate Program
Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:46:34 -0400
The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine AT&T $106,425 for charging two Florida school districts some of the highest telecommunications rates in the state, in apparent violation of federal law and the FCC’s “lowest corresponding price” rule. The lowest corresponding price rule helps ensure that schools and libraries that participate in the FCC’s E-rate Program get the best rates available by prohibiting E- rate service providers from charging them more than the lowest price paid by other similarly situated customers for similar telecommunications services. The Commission alleges that AT&T charged the school districts prices for telephone service that were magnitudes higher than many other customers in Florida. One or both school districts paid the highest price in all of Florida for one service, while other customers paid much less. In addition to the fine, the FCC plans to order AT&T to repay $63,760 it apparently improperly received from the Universal Service Fund as a subsidy for these services.
“Charging school districts among the highest rates in the state for telephone or broadband internet service is outrageous,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “Schools and libraries across the country heavily rely upon federal and state funds to afford these critical services. We expect that every service provider will offer participating schools and libraries the same low rates that they charge to other similarly situated customers.”
The schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly known as the E-rate Program, enables eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries to receive discounts on telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, basic maintenance costs and managed internal broadband services. In its 2014 modernization of E-rate, the Commission directed the Enforcement Bureau to devote additional resources to enforcing the lowest corresponding price rule as part of a broader effort to maximize the benefits E-rate provides in schools and libraries and produce savings in the program.
In today’s Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL), the Commission alleges that AT&T violated the lowest corresponding price rule from at least mid-2012 to mid-2015, when it charged the school districts in Orange County and Dixie County, Florida, prices well above what other customers in the state paid. In addition, in each of these years AT&T certified its compliance with the E-rate program’s rules, apparently inaccurately. These certifications caused the Universal Service Fund to subsidize the school districts’ services at greatly inflated prices and allowed AT&T to receive at least $63,760 in federal support that it should not have received.
Consumer Tech Spending Sentiment Reaches 2016 High, Says CTA Indexes
Wed, 27 Jul 2016 11:03:09 -0400
Consumer confidence toward tech spending edged upward in July to reach its highest reading of the year, as sentiment toward the overall economy also increased slightly, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Indexes.
The CTA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, increased 4.1 points in July to reach 91.6, the highest reading for tech spending since November 2015.
"The fact that tech spending sentiment is at its highest level in more than 18 months suggests strength ahead of the second half of the year,” said Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., chief economist, CTA. “Early promotions are building interest and momentum for back-to-school shopping, which have likely contributed to the second straight month of rising tech spending confidence. At the same time, a diverse assortment of new products is now on the market and garnering increased consumer attention.”
The CTA Index of Consumer Expectations (ICE), which measures consumer sentiment about the U.S. economy as a whole, increased by 0.7 points in July to reach 172.
“Rising uncertainty last month around Brexit and other geopolitical concerns has diminished in recent weeks, and sentiment toward the overall economy incrementally improved in July,” said DuBravac.
Twitter to Partner With MLBAM on Live Streaming Partnership
Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:11:40 -0400
Twitter will live stream weekly out-of-market games from Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL). 120 Sports, the OTT network, will also produce an exclusive, nightly multi-sports highlights show called ‘The Rally’, the first show of its kind to be streamed live on Twitter. The MLB, NHL, and 120 Sports streaming rights come through Twitter’s new partnership with MLBAM.
“Twitter is the fastest way to see what’s unfolding in MLB and the NHL,” said Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer. “MLBAM has pioneered streaming live digital video and we could not be more excited to partner with them on live games as well as ‘The Rally’, giving our audience the live sports events they are already talking about on one screen on Twitter.”
“Twitter has long been a great partner and platform for both baseball and hockey fans as they follow their favorite teams and players every day,” said Kenny Gersh, MLBAM’s executive vice president, business. “We know fans will embrace what this wide-ranging partnership brings – expanded and reliable access to live baseball and hockey and the introduction of Twitter’s first daily live highlight show delivered intuitively to a platform where they’re actively engaged with the games.”
The once-per-week live streams of out-of-market MLB and NHL games will be available free to logged-in and logged-out Twitter users in the United States. MLB games also will be available worldwide, except in select international territories. A schedule for the MLB and NHL games will be available at a later date.
Twitter also will live stream ‘The Rally’, a nightly program produced by 120 Sports that will include highlights and expert perspective across multiple sports exclusively to Twitter users in the United States. ‘The Rally’ will utilize a distinct format designed to integrate with Twitter’s platform, using Twitter-based data to determine live trending topics as well as adding other interactive elements for instant conversation and analysis of the moments that matter most to sports fans – covering professional to college to action to Olympic sports and more.
“‘The Rally’” on Twitter will combine the production and editorial values of television with the speed and interactivity of digital media,” said Jason Coyle, 120 Sports president. “We are excited to bring this first-of-its-kind programming to Twitter as we continue the push of 120 Sports beyond the limitations of traditional media, infusing real-time, scaled fan sentiment and feedback into the sports conversation every night.”
NHK’S 24/7 English-Language News Channel Transmitting In HD on SES’s ASTRA at 19.2 Degrees East
Fri, 22 Jul 2016 17:28:53 -0400
Japan International Broadcasting Inc. (JIB), the official distributor of NHK WORLD TV for Japanese public broadcaster NHK, has signed a long-term agreement with SES to broadcast the 24/7 English-language news and information channel free-to-air in High Definition (HD) across Europe.
The transmission of NHK WORLD TV in HD has already started via ASTRA 1KR at 19.2 degrees East, and the SD channel is currently simulcast to allow for a smooth transition from SD to HD quality.
The number of HDTV homes in Europe has tripled over the past five years, and 78% of European satellite HDTV homes receive their TV channels from SES. In Europe, the number of HDTV channels broadcast by SES has grown by more than 30% over the last three years to nearly 700 channels.“The expansion of HDTV continues to be an important growth driver for SES. SES is proud to be broadcasting the HD signal of such a premium news broadcaster from Japan in the European market,” said Ferdinand Kayser, Chief Commercial Officer of SES. “As NHK WORLD TV already reaches a wide audience in other markets via SES satellites, this agreement reaffirms their confidence in our ability to deliver highly reliable broadcasting services.”
“Better picture quality is undoubtedly becoming very important to the European audience,” said Yoshihiko Shimizu, President and CEO of JIB. “We are very pleased to partner with SES to bring our HD channel to our European audience.”
NHK WORLD TV (HD) is currently available on Channel 707 of the Sky Deutschland platform, on Channel 927 in the Logical Channel Numbering of HD+ Set Top Boxes, and on Channel 473 of the Canalsat platform.
NAB Show New York Expands Show Floor Offerings
Thu, 21 Jul 2016 15:16:38 -0400
Produced by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and held November 9-10 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, the 2016 NAB Show New York will feature an enhanced show floor with new attractions, pavilions and an expanded list of exhibiting companies.
NAB acquired Content & Communications World (CCW) in 2014, and in 2015 reintroduced it as NAB Show New York. The event, featuring SATCON (an event-within-the-event focused on satellite technology), draws more than 7,000 attendees and includes 80+ educational sessions focused on the intersection of media, entertainment and technology.
Debuting at NAB Show New York this year are multiple new experiences, some of which originated at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas. These include VR Village, featuring advances in virtual reality technology; Connected Media|IP, a community of exhibits dedicated to exploring the continuing evolution of mobile, social and cloud services; and Innovation Lab, where entrepreneurs demonstrate innovative products and services providing critical solutions for the media industry. NAB Show New York will also feature a new Drone Pavilion, where attendees can learn about and operate the latest drone technology.
NAB Show New York will comprise 300+ exhibitors, featuring some of the world's leading brands and companies, including Adobe, Avid, BlackMagic Design, Canon, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony, many of which are expanding their presence and bringing cutting-edge innovations to the show. First-time exhibitors include Akamai, Arista Networks, CCPIT.ECC, Draco Broadcast and IBM Cloud Video.
“These are positive developments that illustrate the dynamic nature of this industry,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Conventions and Business Operations Chris Brown. “The new branding has allowed us to leverage the power of NAB Show and the NAB Show community to offer an enriched experience for attendees as they explore the latest and most important trends in broadcast, media and entertainment in the world’s most media-centric city.”
New for 2016, 50+ educational sessions will be held on five Inspiration Stages located throughout the show floor. Each stage will feature 30-minute sessions on topics such as New York film and television productions, live events, news, innovation investments, advanced advertising, over-the-top content, virtual reality and satellite technology. Additionally, the show floor will feature an area dedicated to networking and interacting with session speakers and panelists. Finally, the Post|Production Conference will expand with three new workshops highlighting drones, 4K and high dynamic range production.
The co-located InfoComm Connections will feature four new conferences, including The New Learning Technology Landscape; Exceptional Corporate Events; Digital Signage Summit, produced by Invidis Consulting; and Collaborate, produced by InfoComm and IMCCA. InfoComm International is the global trade association representing the commercial audiovisual and information communications industries.