No stopping Seeking My Dream

first_imgBalloting for ‘Horse of the Year’ and other awards not based on statistics by a 17-member panel comprising members of the press and Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) officials, is under way and early indications are that the 2015 derby and Diamond Mile winner SEEKING MY DREAM will be crowned ‘Horse of the Year’ by unanimous acclaim. Voting will conclude tomorrow inside the CTL Racing Office at Caymanas Park.Trained by 15-time champion Wayne DaCosta for Member of Parliament Derrick Smith, SEEKING MY DREAM enjoyed a record-breaking season. He won the two richest races on the calendar – the Cal’s Jamaica Derby in June with a purse of $7 million and the inaugural running of the Supreme Ventures Diamond Mile on December 5 which offered a record purse of $13.5 million, both with the season’s leading money-winning rider Omar Walker aboard.Having finished second in the 2000 Guineas, St Leger and CTL Invitational Mile on November 14, SEEKING MY DREAM pushed his 2015 earnings to a record $14.2 million, well clear of stable-companion PERFECT NEIGHBOUR in second with $5.1 million and Superstakes winner FRANFIELD in third with $4.9 million.Bred by Sherman Clachar and Norman Gordon, the chestnut colt by Seeking The Glory out of the 2008 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Alsafra was never worse than second in 10 starts last year – winning five races and finishing second in five as well.SEEKING MY DREAM should also be named champion three-year-old, champion middle-distance performer and champion native-bred horse.hoping for top awardsAs far as DaCosta is concerned, his horses should sweep the top awards. Speaking at Caymanas Park on New Year’s Day, the trainer said:”Seeking My Dream is unchallenged for Horse of the Year, having won the two biggest races on the calendar last year, while Perfect Neighbour who captured important races such as the Gold Cup and Harry Jackson Memorial Cup looks a cinch for first runner up, champion stayer and champion four-year-old and up”, he predicted.”The second runner-up award could be close between my horse Poker Star and the consistent grade-one campaigner Uppa Tune, but Poker Star is a safe bet for champion sprinter and Future King the obvious choice for champion two-year-old,, argued DaCosta.The Horse of the Year Committee will also choose the most improved trainer from a list of four nominees – Harry Parsard (30 wins), Donovan Plummer (19 wins), Marlon Anderson and Neive Graham with 17 wins each as well as most improved jockey from a list comprising Robert Halledeen (72 wins), Paul Francis (52), Shamaree Muir (43), Aaron Chatrie (38) and Jevanne Erwin (36).last_img read more

Spiritual journeys of Donegal mother and son featured in TV doc

first_imgBundoran native Ann Keenaghan and her son Ruairí McKiernan have opened up about their spiritual beliefs and reawakening for a new documentary on RTÉ.The mother and son shared their experiences of Qi Gong and mindfulness respectively in the Divorcing God documentary which aired recently on RTÉ One and is available to watch on the RTÉ Player.In it, comedian and journalist Oliver Callan travels around Ireland interviewing different people on the topics of religion and belief. Two years ago, on a flight to China to visit her son Seán Óg, Ann Keenaghan got chatting to a Chinese man who was seated beside her. It turned out that the man, Dr Shaofan Zhu, was a world-renowned doctor and master of the ancient Chinese practice of Qi Gong. Ann became immediately interested in Qi Gong, having already studied Kinesiology, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine.Qi Gong is a holistic system of body postures and movement, breathing and Taoist meditation. So began her journey to learn more and to begin training as a Qi Gong instructor.Oliver Callan and Ann Keenaghan on Divorcing God: RTÉOneAnn has brought Dr Zhu to Ireland twice to deliver workshops in Qi Gong and they have proven popular with people from throughout Ireland, including Donegal. She is currently preparing to welcome him for his third visit in July. She says the growing interest in Qi Gong among people of all walks of life is partially driven by an appetite for deeper spiritual connection.“Qi Gong can bring your energy into balance if you keep doing it, and can bring you into wellness,” she tells Oliver Callan in the 1-hour documentary. “By the time you finish doing all the movements while paying attention to your body, your mind becomes calm. It has been passed down in China for thousands of years and has played a huge role in keeping the Chinese healthy” she adds.Oliver Callan and Ann Keenaghan on Divorcing God: RTÉOneAnn’s son Ruairí McKiernan also features in the Divorcing God documentary. Ruairí is a charity founder and social campaigner who recently completed a 7-year term on the Council of State. He has also been a practitioner and advocate of meditation and mindfulness for over a decade and previously contributed a chapter on their benefits in Sr Stan’s book Seasons of Hope.He says a sense of spirituality is an important part of life for him and that this doesn’t require a belief in any particular religion.Oliver Callan and Ruairí McKiernan on Divorcing God: RTÉOne“Something is missing in the realm of the soul. In some ways, the dominant religion now is the religion of the market, the religion of capitalism, the altar of consumption, money, image, fame, success.” Ruairí says in the documentary.“There’s a lot of dysfunction, disease, loneliness, depression, suicide, and something is not right. I see people exploring Eastern traditions and pre-Christian traditions and maybe there’s a beautiful thing to emerge from the convergence of east and west.” “Life is evolving, belief is evolving, and we need to be brave enough to evolve with it,” Ruairí adds.Both Ruairí and Ann’s appearances in the documentary caught the attention of RTÉ broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan who tweeted her praise of mother and son.Divorcing God also hears from a variety of voices with different views on religion and spirituality. These include atheists, academics, and a survivor of clerical abuse.Divorcing God is available to watch until mid-July on the RTÉ Player. www.rte.ie/player/movie/divorcing-god/102644776272 Spiritual journeys of Donegal mother and son featured in TV doc was last modified: June 18th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Ann Keenaghandivorcing godReligionRTERuairi McKiernanlast_img read more

Sasol expands China presence

first_img27 September 2007South African petrochemicals company Sasol has opened an office in the Chinese city of Shanghai in order to market its diverse range of chemical solvents in the world’s fastest growing major economy.“The Chinese market is extensive and forms part of our vigorous pursuit of global growth opportunities in the chemicals sector,” Sasol Chemical Business group general manager Reiner Groh said in a statement on Wednesday. “We believe that we can offer a significant value proposition to the Chinese chemical markets.”He said that the opening of the Chinese office would lay the foundation for profitable and sustainable growth by enhancing customer service through local currency sales and new business development.Operating under the banner Sasol Chemicals Shanghai Co Ltd, the company will initially market products from the global Sasol Solvents business.Sasol Solvents operates plants in South Africa and Germany and supplies a wide range of products, including glycol ethers, C3/C4 alcohols, esters and acids, ethanol, ethyl acrylate, fine chemicals and aldehydes, glacial acrylic acid, ketones, methanol, n-butyl acrylate and mining chemicals.These are used in aerosol, agricultural, cosmetic, fragrance, mining, packaging, paint, adhesive, pharmaceutical, polish, printing and other applications.The company has targeted China as a future growth area. Business Report reported in March that Sasol has started feasibility studies for two coal-to-liquid synthetic fuel plants in China, which would produce a combined 160 000 barrels of fuel a day and could be in operation by as early as 2012.Sasol chief executive Pat Davies stated in the company’s annual report that they were “very upbeat” about the prospects for the two planned plants.He said the group foresaw “a rebirth in coal utilisation in some of the world’s coal-rich regions. This case is particularly strong in those countries that have insufficient or no oil reserves, such as Australia, India, China and the US.”Davies has said that processing just 10% of China’s coal reserves could produce as much liquid fuel equivalent as that produced from the world’s proven oil reserves.SAinfo reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Suicide is not painless if you’re the one left behind

first_imgHelen Walne, author of ‘The Diving’, which explores her brother Richard’s suicide. Photo: Ben Williams/BooksLive By Lorraine Kearney9 June 2014The Book Lounge in Roeland Street is a favourite haunt of Cape Town’s literati. Besides selling some of the more interesting books and better novels, it hosts weekly storytelling sessions for the young ‘uns and fabulous book launches.And so it came to pass that one sunny evening in the dying days of summer, a motley crew gathered among the books, after quaffing wine and snacking on delicious canapés in the basement. In front of us sat writer Helen Walne, serene and shining, talking about one of the last great taboos: suicide.Walne’s book, The Diving, is a wrenching, sometimes brutal, often funny, always beautiful memoire of her brother’s suicide. Richard Walne was a musician, singer, songwriter and poet. He was highly regarded – so much so that in Durban, a street has been renamed after him. You can now saunter down Richard Walne Road, next to Maydon Wharf Channel. It used to be called Canal Road, and it has a length of 0.8 kilometres.But at the age of 39, Richard walked into the cold Cape Town sea one day and did not return. Suicide always brings endless questions, heartbreak and guilt: why did he do it? Was I not enough to make him want to live? Did I not do enough to save him?Being a writer, after Richard died, Helen, who is a friend and colleague of mine, says she “went to the literature” – but came up empty-handed. There were no books to explain it; just as no one talked about suicide, no one wrote about it – from a personal perspective – either. Suicide is not supposed to happen. Our desire to live is supposed to trump the urge to top ourselves. It is so slippery a topic, so difficult to comprehend, that religions forbid it and deny that people who commit suicide get into heaven. In some countries, suicide is even illegal.Walne is best known for her humour. She is a funny gal, and her regular columns either have readers in stitches or apoplectic rages, so The Diving is not at all what you would expect. It is a deeply moving, utterly beautiful book. It doesn’t explain suicide (as she says, she cannot speak for Richard), but it unpacks her healing. And in that it may just show a way for someone else to find some hope, too.Visit Helen Walne’s website: www.helenwalne.co.za or follow her on Twitter: @helen_walnelast_img read more

Cold, wet weather can lead to purple corn

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, product manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.For much of the eastern Corn Belt, it has been too wet to plant this spring. However, in some areas corn has been planted is emerging or in the early growth stages of development. One phenomenon that commonly occurs at the early stages of the growing season is the appearance of purple corn plants. Corn plants can turn purple for several reasons related to environmental factors such as:Sunny days and cool nights (temps in the 40s to 50s F)Soil pH lower than 5.5Cool temperaturesWet soilStresses that hinder the uptake of phosphorusHerbicide injurySoil compaction.Because many fields have saturated soils and the forecast includes cooler nights and continued wet weather, producers may see some purple plants in their fields. Purpling in corn due to cooler weather most often occurs when plants are in the V2 to V5 growth stages. Because of diverse genetics, hybrids react differently to early stress and some will exhibit purpling while others will not. Anyone who has walked a test plot to observe early plant vigor or has split their planter between two hybrids has probably seen a side-by-side comparison where one hybrid turned purple while the other did not.The biggest concern for corn growers is usually about whether or not plants that turn purple will diminish corn yields. If the purpling is caused by a temporary stress (sunny days and cool nights, cool temperatures, wet soil, etc.) it will disappear when soils dry out and temperatures increase allowing for normal corn development. Temporary stresses generally do not affect yield. However, if the purpling is symptom caused by a problem that doesn’t go away with a change in the weather (soil compaction, herbicide injury, etc.) yield could be negatively affected.last_img read more

Punjab farmers stir: 38 trains remain cancelled, Delhi-Amritsar route severely affected

first_imgThirty-eight trains remained cancelled on Wednesday with almost all trains running between Amritsar and Delhi being disrupted amid farmers protest in Punjab, railways said.Senior Superintendent of Police Parmpal Singh, however, said in Amritsar that the agitation has been called off following an intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The trains which were cancelled include the Amritsar-New Delhi Express, Amritsar-Chandigarh Express, Haridwar-Amritsar Janshatabdi Express and the New Delhi-Jalandhar City InterCity Express. As many as eight trains were short-terminated and 11 trains were diverted, officials said. The farmers had been squatting on the rail tracks in Amritsar since March 4 in support of their demands, including full loan waiver, stopping auction of land and arrest of farmers, and payment for sugarcane crop with 15% interest.A petition seeking the removal of farmers protesting on the Amritsar-Delhi rail track was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday, with the court issuing notices to Punjab, Centre and leaders of farmers’ outfit Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee to appear before it on Wednesday.Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda informed the court that about 85 trains had been cancelled or diverted, affecting about 85,000 passengers.last_img read more

Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires

first_img Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling In four seasons with the Gamecocks, Bailey played in 46 games for South Carolina, starting in 38 of them. Primarily playing left guard, Bailey also spent time at center (2015) and right tackle (2017).In 2018, Bailey was named to Athlon Sports’ 2018 preseason second-team All-SEC team, and also made The Associated Press’ second team All-SEC team. A broken fibula cut his season short, however, suffering the injury in the team’s regular season finale. For his efforts, the lineman was invited to not only the East-West Shrine game, but also the NFL Draft Combine.Related LinksReport: Cardinals meeting with potential No. 1 pick Nick BosaESPN names Alford signing as Cards’ most impactful offseason moveCardinals have the most defensive production to replace in NFLList of former Cardinals players Arians, Bettcher brought to new teamsPFF: Could Cardinals draft Kyler Murray, keep Josh Rosen for QB battle?Although coming off the injury, Bailey did 24 bench press reps, had a 28-inch vertical and 103-inch broad jump.While the line struggled mightily last season, the Cardinals fared well using a later pick on an O-line man in the 2018 NFL Draft.Last season, one of the diamonds in the offensive-line rough was rookie center Mason Cole, a third-round selection.After starting center A.Q. Shipley, one of the most durable lineman on the team, went down with a torn ACL in the team’s Red & White practice, Cole stepped in and stepped up.Cole was the only lineman to start all 16 games. He also played nearly 100 percent of the snaps. On the flip side, seven Cardinals offensive lineman found themselves on the IR, while another was waived.In total, the Cardinals had 10 different line combinations throughout the season.The Cardinals hold 11 picks in the upcoming NFL draft. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactcenter_img (Photo by Jim Dedmon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) 3 Comments   Share   After having one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season, it’s no secret the Arizona Cardinals are looking to add depth down in the trenches.According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Cardinals reportedly worked out South Carolina’s Zack Bailey with the NFL Draft right around the corner.While Arizona has other names in mind for the No. 1 pick, Bailey is a projected early third-day pick, added Garafolo. The third day consists of rounds four through seven. Top Stories last_img read more

Rep McCready appointed to four key House committees

first_img Categories: McCready News 26Jan Rep. McCready appointed to four key House committees State Rep. Mike McCready has been appointed to serve on four key House committees during the 2017-18 legislative session.McCready, of Bloomfield Hills, will serve on the Commerce and Trade, Financial Services, Financial Liability Reform, and Families, Children, and Seniors committees.“These are all issues important to people in Oakland County, and I’m grateful they continue to put their trust in me to represent them well at the Capitol,” McCready said. “I’m eager for committees to start meeting so we can get back to work on legislation that helps struggling families and ensures Michigan’s economy continues to grow.”The House’s 26 bipartisan committees discuss, analyze and revise legislation before presenting it to the full chamber for consideration.People can contact McCready by calling his office toll free at (855) 373-8670, emailing MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov or visiting www.RepMikeMcCready.com.###last_img read more

The current system of release windows for movies i

first_imgThe current system of release windows for movies is often too rigid and can prevent the emergence of new business models, according to European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes.In a blog posting coinciding with the Berlin Film Festival, Kroes said that current rules and practices in the film sector, including release windows, “restrict flexibility” and make it harder for digital distribution models to develop. “For me, while such ‘exclusive’ periods may be important to finance some films, or get the most out of them, rigid and uniform rules can make it harder for the sector to capture digital benefits,” said Kroes. “This lack of flexibility troubles me. Because, in fact, different outlets for films – cinemas, TV, DVD, online – all have their strengths, and each can respond to different consumer needs.”Kroes said she believed some films would better be served by being made available online earlier, with the lower distribution costs of online distribution being particularly suitable low-budget and niche films. She said there was evidence from the US that the release of titles on video-on-demand before their theatrical release could create buzz and increase the overall return to a movie’s producers. “The US has seen big progress by releasing films earlier on VOD – earlier than on DVD or even before cinema release – to meet changed consumer expectations.  And maybe there’s a new way to finance production here: like through TV sequencing, or even by direct investment from online movie sites,” said Kroes.Kroes said she did not “want to impose anything on the industry” in terms of a change in the windowing system, and that she saw cinemas as “important parts of our communities and cultural lives” but said she believed “many in the industry” were “just as frustrated as I am by the existing lack of flexibility, the opportunities we are missing, and the damage to the goals of cinema overall”. She said she believed the best way to “benefit everyone in the chain” was to promote “the flexibility to use new, exciting digital channels to the full”.last_img read more

Scripps has used presenter Tomasz Schafenaker to g

first_imgScripps has used presenter Tomasz Schafenaker to give a Polish flavour.TV channels are investing in localisation and digital distribution in CEE, but the classic pay TV model still rules. Stuart Thomson reports. The universe of pay TV channels in central and eastern Europe has expanded over the last few years as digital services have extended their reach. International channel providers that have increased their presence in the market now face a range of channels familiar to them elsewhere – the growth in demand for non-linear and multiscreen viewing platforms as well as challenges to the existing pay TV ecosystem in the shape of OTT, changes in the TV advertising market and consolidation amongst distributors.Views of the overall state of the region’s market among channel providers show that it now displays characteristics common in mature pay TV territories. “We see the same challenges in this region that we do in other international markets, such as incumbents and other channel brands competing for pay TV budgets, and the need to rise above the crowd with an increasing number of free-to-air and paid channels,” says Jon Sichel, managing director, Scripps Networks, UK and EMEA.For Sichel, one key to success is to secure comprehensive programming rights, which enables broadcasters to be available across platforms. “The opportunity for us is linked to our high-quality programming we produce with deep rights cleared. This allows us to offer our content across multiple platforms and help support the pay TV ecosystem,” he says. Sichel adds that Scripps’ channel positioning and strength in content enables it to differentiate its offering. The company operates three pay TV brands in the region – Food Network, Fine Living and Travel Channel, with all three present in a number of markets.“In some cases we may decide to offer a free channel, as we have in Italy, where the consumer demand and advertising market offer an opportunity,” says Sichel. “In the CEE region, we find there’s enough room for our pay channels and receive positive responses from audiences and platforms alike.”There is a danger in making too many broad generalisations about central and eastern Europe. For Izabella Wiley,  general manager at A+E Networks Poland, each market “presents peculiarities and similarities regardless of our penetration and distribution”. In the case of the Polish market, she says distribution networks are fragmented compared with mature markets including the UK, but that both markets are highly competitive.“Overall in the CEE region it is very challenging to launch new channels nowadays, but we are working hard on growing the footprint of our portfolio of History, Lifetime and H2,” says Wiley. Over the last year, A+E has launched factual-crime channel CI on Romtelecom and UPC Romania in Romania, and Slovak Telecom and UPC Slovakia in Slovakia. “We have more plans in the pipeline and this only shows that there is still space for strong original content and quality brands,” she says.Bruce Tuchman, president, AMC/Sundance Channel Global, believes that channel providers face a general challenge of more bandwidth becoming available and a proliferation of distribution channels and content, which successful players have met, he says, by focusing on quality.“Only having content puts you in a good place and it shows to distributors that you have the goods,” says Tuchman. However, he believes that channels that essentially aggregate third-party content will continue to play a role provided they act as valued curators of that content. “I can see that owning your own content is becoming more important but these models will continue to coexist,” he says.For Louise Cottrell, vice-president, affiliate sales at AMC-owned Chellomedia’s subsidiary Chello Zone, the market in the region “has gone through many changes” and now presents “a sophisticated television marketplace with significant choice for viewers”, both in terms of the number of channels available and in terms of associated products and services.“The market has become more and more competitive for channel providers in general and channel content now has the potential to be viewed in so many different ways meaning content, scheduling and rights have to be as flexible as possible in order to retain and build the attention of audiences,” says Cottrell.Dual-revenue model The pay TV channel business continues to focus on the dual revenue model of combining subscription revenues from distribution partners with advertising, which can be sold by the channel or its agents, by distributors or by a combination of both. “What makes this business so unique and has enabled channels to enjoy the admiration of analysts is the dual revenues stream model, and it is important that it continues,” says Tuchman.Advertising revenue can be enhanced by localisation in the form of opt-out windows where blocks of advertising are sold locally, which may be combined with pan-regional or international advertising taking up the remainder of the ad time available.Localisation in general can take a number of forms. There are a number of distinct staging posts in between a single feed for all markets and full-scale local versions of channels with a significant portion of locally-sourced programming. These include the basic language versioning of channels and scheduling of channels to meet local tastes. Along the way, advertising opt-outs offer a straightforward revenue opportunity. However, developing an ad sales organisation involves a cost, and channel providers want to be as certain as they can that the investment will pay off. “Ad sales vary very much from market to market in terms of performance; in line with the economic position and climate but also of course in line with the depth of distribution and packaging of television channels,” says Cottrell.  “In those markets where we do undertake advertising sales, for example Poland, it is an important part of our business and helps supplement our pay TV revenues, which in turn allows us to further develop and customise our channels and support clients in the services that they need to deliver to their subscribers.”Extending efforts to create local programming is more costly and the revenue is less certain. However, developing local content to sit alongside acquired international fare is increasingly important for a number of reasons. First, it provides a way of securing viewer loyalty to a particular channel. Second, it differentiates the channel in the eyes of distribution partners and gives them a reason to sign up or extend existing deals. And third, it helps cement a distinct identity for the channel at a time when the very concept of the channel is under growing assault from the availability of non-linear and web-based content.For Cottrell, localisation is not an end in itself and its merits must be considered carefully before taking the plunge. She points out that Chello Zone has developed a portfolio of services with a “strong selection of finely tuned genre-based channels” that may or may not benefit from localisation. “The correct level of localisation is integral to success in any market – making sure content is in the local language and that schedules are targeted and built to the tastes of the local audience at a minimum – but investment into localisation needs to be undertaken carefully,” she says. “At the end of the day the numbers need to work and in some cases full localisation – e.g. truly local acquisition and commissions – is not actually what the viewers want.”Nevertheless, Chello Zone has introduced localisation for its most significant markets, in particular for the large Polish market, where it acquired WWE wrestling for the local version of the Extreme Sports Channel and introduced “some well-known Polish children’s content” for pre-school channel JimJam. Chello Zone’s four CBS-branded channels – the result of a joint venture – are scheduled with content from the CBS library as well as in line with local tastes, says Cottrell.[icitspot id=”195402″ template=”pull-quote”]“And in all cases we carry local Polish advertising. So there are many different ways to localise a channel, it depends very much on the territory and the channel in question – and needs to keep revenue and overall business development in mind,” she says.Polish pre-school channel Polsat JimJam is  a joint venture between Chello Zone and local broadcaster and pay TV platform provider Polsat. Elsewhere, the company has worked with a number of partners on various channels. “Ventures and partnerships have proven beneficial in being able to take certain channels to the next level and mould and shape them to the needs of a market,” says Cottrell. “We are always open to new ideas as regards partnerships whereby they may bring development potential, or fresh opportunities to build new business. But they need to be the right partners and a good fit to our channels and company economics if they are to work well.”LocalisationChannel providers have differing perspectives on the overall prospects for advertising revenue in the region. For A+E’s Wiley, the overall market has struggled to recover from the 2008 crash. However, she sees room for growth in advertising in the pay TV market.“The entrenched control of national channels on advertising is gradually being eroded in many markets as the value of thematic channels with their highly targeted and rapidly growing audiences, as well as flexible creative approach to ad sales, are increasingly recognised by the advertising community,” says Wiley. “A maturing market and sales strategies that consolidate thematic channels’ viewing share are delivering scale and significance to the pay TV market, allowing smaller channels to increase their power ratios and take an ever-increasing share of the TV market.”Wiley says that expanding advertising windows across the region is central to A+E Networks UK’s strategy, with the additional revenue allowing it to improve its localised service and increase consumer and trade marketing support. The company has had local ad-sales in Poland, Romania and Croatia for a few years, with new territories lining up.“The challenge is to identify markets where there is sufficient potential from local advertising to outweigh the high entry costs associated with launching advertising either through inserting it into our CEE feed and re-distributing locally, or our ultimate goal of introducing dedicated local feeds,” she says.A+E has launched separate feeds for History and CI in Poland and Romania and Wiley says other markets will follow. As far as local commissioning and acquisition is concerned, she says that “the era of local programmes made cheap and fast is long over” and that A+E Networks UK’s porfolio offers programming that “resonates well with different audiences around the globe” with shows such as Pawn Stars, Duck Dynasty or My Ghost Story.Over the last two years, A+E has implemented a significant number of local projects in the region, including CI’s Private Crimes and Killers, looking at stories behind shocking murders in recent years in Poland, Ukraine and Germany. Specifically for History it has created a five-episode series Heroes of War: Poland covering stories of many unsung heroes of the Second World War including that of Witold Pilecki, who voluntarily became a prisoner of Auschwitz to reveal the truth about what was happening there. Other initiatives include a series of shorts on sites of natural and cultural importance in partnership with UNESCO and featuring regional stories in popular international series including Pawn Stars, Mud Men and Miracles Decoded.Scripps’ Sichel says that the advertising market in the region is picking up with Poland showing growth of over 6% annually. “We are also seeing success with native advertising, allowing us to work more integrally with advertisers across our regions, including Unilever Polska, Nestlé Polska, Continental and Toyota,” he says. He claims that Scripps takes localisation seriously and has versioned Travel Channel into 23 languages and seven feeds. “While cost is obviously one factor we consider, we think it’s important to look at every territory on an individual basis and decide the best fit based on consumer interests, business model and platform development… We have an extensive global library, and we balance that with regional talent and content to add local flavour to ensure we’re meeting our consumer and platform interests in each market.”Scripps has tailored its programming to local tastes. Sichel cites the company’s use in Poland of chef Ewa Wachowicz and presenter Tomasz Schafernaker “to provide a Polish perspective” on its food offering. “We also work with other territories, such as Romania, to create programming that highlights relatively unknown destinations for our worldwide audience. In some markets, we’ve created localised short form content to blend with our long form programming, which has been a successful combination for us.”Tuchman says Sundance is still at an early stage of development in the region. However, in general, he says, “the idea of really segmenting and taking channels deeper on a market-by-market basis makes a lot of sense as it better matches up with advertisers’ budgets”. He says that technology now allows channels to break out local windows much more economically. While broadcasters in the analogue era had to retransmit an entire channel and pay for satellite capacity, digital distribution allows them to create sub-carrier feeds, for example. Breaking out ad windows is often necessary in any case because local rules about what can be advertised or national holidays can vary between territories, while the availability of local targeting on the web means that TV channels inevitably have to follow.AMC has combined the international presence of Sundance Channel and MGM Channel with the local identity of channels supplied by AMC-owned Chellomedia. For Tuchman, going local need not involve wholesale restructuring of a channel. He points to the success of local marketing initiatives on social media. “Especially with Sundance, we thought the audience was naturally adept at, and dependent on, social media as an adjunct to how they view TV. We have launched social media sites, Facebook pages and apps so we can connect to them and connect them with each other,” he says. “We do a lot of that and it enhances the customer experience, especially with narrative drama. You want to know what other people are thinking and so people in their own local languages want to connect with each other.”Digital servicesThe growth in digital platforms has led channel providers to view comprehensive rights acquisition as a key element in securing their future. “We are unique in that we own the vast majority of our content. This allows us to offer our programmes across multiple platforms where it makes consumer and business sense. We have worked with operators to offer VoD, catch-up, and digital rights to enhance our mutual relationship,” says Scripps’ Sichel. “For example, in some cases we offer recipes and short-form content on both our own regional sites and with our distributor partners. These digital distribution opportunities are still early in their development, as are our revenues in this area, but we see great opportunities ahead.”For most – and Scripps is no exception to this – digital distribution is to be done in partnership with established pay TV distributors. A+E’s Wiley takes a similar view. “We are working really closely with all our pay TV partners to ensure they get all the digital products required. TV Everywhere, OTT, backwards EPG and network PVR are products that at the moment are on top of the request list. We are in a fortunate position to own those rights,” she says. However, making money from digital services remains a slightly elusive goal.“TV viewing in CEE is growing, but it now involves time shifted viewing or multi-screen consumption such as on laptops, tablets and smartphones as well as the use of streaming and OTT services. In the markets supported by advertising, that will have a major impact on revenue. Nielsen has not caught up yet with the latest developments – especially considering the need to make a return on second screen investments possible. When viewing is shifting to non-linear, the measurement systems are still very much focused on linear TV,” says A+E’s Wiley. However, she insists that strong partnerships with distributors will point the way forwards. “The good news is that all platforms are looking to develop those new non-linear products and are keen to work with media companies who provide rights to top shows. Second screen, nPVR, TV Everywhere are all new products which have an amazing potential of development,” she says, highlighting the example of A+E teaming up with operators Cyfrowy Polsat and Romtelecom to make its Vikings series available on non-linear platforms ahead of its linear transmission.Chello Zone’s Cottrell says that competition is increasing across the central and eastern European market – with new services emerging that can be free-to-air as well as pay services – but points out that only brands that develop healthy lines of revenue are likely to succeed in the longer run. Competition is also emerging from digital-only players, including OTT service providers. However, again Cottrell argues that multiscreen and on-demand services are most likely to succeed if they are supported by an established pay TV model.“A wide television channel choice and digital television services such as TV Everywhere and VoD are not cheap to supply and need to be supported by a pay model, so it remains important for us to support key operators in supplying pay services,” she says.Cottrell says Chello Zone has not considered free-to-air or OTT opportunities itself, but doesn’t rule out such a move in the future. “As [Chello Zone] increases in prominence in the CEE territories and new distribution paths may open up that fit with our distribution strategy, then we will of course look to exploit commercial opportunities as may be available and suitable to our business,” she says.Though at an earlier stage of digital development than advanced TV markets such as the UK, central and eastern Europe is increasingly seeing the launch of new OTT and multiscreen services. Cable and satellite-delivered pay TV services increasingly see non-linear and mutiscreen services as important in retaining the loyalty of their subscribers, meaning that – as is the case elsewhere – they are launching services to see off web-based competitors as much as to develop new lines of business in their own right.“Digital developments are proving particularly important to cable and satellite operators in retaining their subscriber base and building customer loyalty.  In addition, audiences expect more flexibility in the way they view television channels – and when and where they watch,” says Cottrell. “With so much competition between platform providers and content providers, at this stage additional digital services are not always about new revenues, but about maintaining and building traditional revenue streams.”In general, however willing broadcasters are to experiment with multi-platform distribution in partnership with pay TV platforms partners, they take a more cautious view of OTT initiatives, while striking out entirely on their own remains for the most part off the agenda.A+E’s Wiley points out that major pay TV platforms are developing OTT offshoots to attract and retain various categories of viewers, with History and CI already available on OTT services launched by Cyfrowy Polsat and Romtelecom. She says more will follow this year, including distribution on platforms launched by T-Hrvatski Telekom and B.net in Croatia, and Orange in Romania.“It’s too early to judge how this will develop, but viewers are definitely looking for providers who can give an easy access to the second screen,” she says. “We also do not exclude a direct product for consumers. But if we do, we would look to partner with local pay TV providers, which are core to our business. At the moment we are not looking to diversify.”AMC’s Tuchman agrees. “Any OTT opportunities must respect the integrity of how the pay TV ecosystem works,” he says.Despite the challenges, the pay model remains tried and trusted for most channel providers in central and eastern Europe as elsewhere. In a market where digital distribution is still some way behind more mature markets in terms of mass adoption, classic pay TV still appears to have room to breathe.last_img read more