Business Feed

Can bitcoin succeed in China?

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 12:18pm
Bitcoins are still a bit of a mystery to many of us. It is billed as a digital currency, but it's not regulated. Can it succeed in China? CNN's Pauline Chiou looks at the regulation.
Categories: Business Feed

Business of being Shaun White

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:23am
Shaun White is once again going for the gold, and this time he's doing it as a savvy business man, as Christine Romans reports.
Categories: Business Feed

Business of being Shaun White

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:23am
Shaun White is once again going for the gold, and this time he's doing it as a savvy business man, as Christine Romans reports.
Categories: Business Feed

Weird places to find the golden arches

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 9:23am
As McDonald's opens its first branch in Vietnam, take a look at some of the big breakthroughs it has made in the past -- from its first outlet in the Soviet Union to the branch at Guantanamo Bay.
Categories: Business Feed

Flight maps: The newest airline moneymaker?

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 8:33am
In-flight maps are becoming more than just time-killer on long flights. The day may soon come when you can book hotel rooms, rental cars and sports tickets through them while in the air. When that happens, airlines will make a killing.
Categories: Business Feed

Modernize LaGuardia

CNN - Business Feed - Mon, 02/10/2014 - 7:36am
Vice President Joe Biden was right to call attention to New York's LaGuardia Airport; now we have to fix it, the authors write.
Categories: Business Feed

Why are Rice Farmers Protesting in Thailand?

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 11:44pm

Protesting farmers in front of the Ministry of Commerce in Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright@Demotix (2/6/2014)

Hundreds of rice farmers have been protesting in the past several days in Bangkok after the Thailand government has repeatedly failed to provide payments under the rice pledging program. Delayed payments have already reached 130 billion Baht affecting more than a million farmers.

Introduced in 2011 after the election victory of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the program involved the government buying the rice output of local farmers at high a price before reselling the rice to the global market. The program was meant to improve the savings of farmers.

For five decades, Thailand was the world’s largest rice exporter but it has been overtaken by India and Vietnam in recent years. Critics blame the rice pledging program for the huge financial losses in the rice sector.

The rice protest has intensified the country’s political crisis as anti-government protests continue to gather thousands in the streets of Bangkok.

Majority of farmer-protesters are not affiliated with the People's Democratic Reform Committee which has been the lead organizer of the anti-government protests. In fact, many farmers are from the village strongholds of the ruling party.

The opposition has expressed support to the protesting farmers and has initiated a donation campaign to help sustain the protest in the city. The opposition is also blaming corruption under the Yingluck government for the present suffering of rice farmers.

For its part, the government said it was unable to pay farmers because of the protests which caused the dissolution of the parliament. It urged protesters not to block or occupy government banks.

It assured farmers that the government is finding a mechanism on how to deliver the payments. It also rejected criticism that the rice subsidy program has become a disastrous populist policy:

Ultimate goal of the rice pledging scheme is not the Government’s popularity, but simply the upgrade of income security for the better lives of farmers, and for the better future of our posterity since rice farming means growing the better future on our own land without any impact to the country’s monetary and fiscal disciplines.

But Bangkok Pundit believes a new subsidy program should be implemented by the government:

…some other form of subsidy which doesn’t involve the government being in the business of selling rice is a better option. A direct subsidy of something similar would be a much easier scheme to implement and manage. You can set a budget and you wouldn’t have to go through the problems the government is facing now with trying to issue bonds and who to borrow the money from.

Below are some photos and reaction on Twitter. In this photo, farmers mounted a street blockade near Bangkok, the country's capital.

How many Thai rice farmers does it take to blockade key transportation arteries? Not many. http://t.co/wMu7XMPFLm pic.twitter.com/Hrnjinfqgt

— Andrew Clark (@qandrew) February 6, 2014

Bangkok protesters showed solidarity to the farmers by gathering cash donations:

Protesters donating money to help rice farmers, many of whom have not been paid by govt. since Oct. 2013 pic.twitter.com/RzLRTb8I7O

— teamkorn (@teamkorn) February 7, 2014

@PravitR thinks the Prime Minister should immediately apologize to farmers:

Yingluck should meet affected rice farmers right away & apologize instead of playing hide & seek with PDRC. #Thailand #Yingluck

— Pravit Rojanaphruk (@PravitR) February 5, 2014

This morning I am praying for #rice #farmers that they be paid fairly for all their hard work.

— Stewart Perry (@bangkokpastor) February 5, 2014

Personally think YL govt politicized rice issue2 by blaming late payment solely on protest pressure on banks, ignored own failure 2sell rice

— Waan Chomchuen (@waanspeaking) February 7, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

Why are Rice Farmers Protesting in Thailand?

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 11:44pm

Protesting farmers in front of the Ministry of Commerce in Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright@Demotix (2/6/2014)

Hundreds of rice farmers have been protesting in the past several days in Bangkok after the Thailand government has repeatedly failed to provide payments under the rice pledging program. Delayed payments have already reached 130 billion Baht affecting more than a million farmers.

Introduced in 2011 after the election victory of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the program involved the government buying the rice output of local farmers at high a price before reselling the rice to the global market. The program was meant to improve the savings of farmers.

For five decades, Thailand was the world’s largest rice exporter but it has been overtaken by India and Vietnam in recent years. Critics blame the rice pledging program for the huge financial losses in the rice sector.

The rice protest has intensified the country’s political crisis as anti-government protests continue to gather thousands in the streets of Bangkok.

Majority of farmer-protesters are not affiliated with the People's Democratic Reform Committee which has been the lead organizer of the anti-government protests. In fact, many farmers are from the village strongholds of the ruling party.

The opposition has expressed support to the protesting farmers and has initiated a donation campaign to help sustain the protest in the city. The opposition is also blaming corruption under the Yingluck government for the present suffering of rice farmers.

For its part, the government said it was unable to pay farmers because of the protests which caused the dissolution of the parliament. It urged protesters not to block or occupy government banks.

It assured farmers that the government is finding a mechanism on how to deliver the payments. It also rejected criticism that the rice subsidy program has become a disastrous populist policy:

Ultimate goal of the rice pledging scheme is not the Government’s popularity, but simply the upgrade of income security for the better lives of farmers, and for the better future of our posterity since rice farming means growing the better future on our own land without any impact to the country’s monetary and fiscal disciplines.

But Bangkok Pundit believes a new subsidy program should be implemented by the government:

…some other form of subsidy which doesn’t involve the government being in the business of selling rice is a better option. A direct subsidy of something similar would be a much easier scheme to implement and manage. You can set a budget and you wouldn’t have to go through the problems the government is facing now with trying to issue bonds and who to borrow the money from.

Below are some photos and reaction on Twitter. In this photo, farmers mounted a street blockade near Bangkok, the country's capital.

How many Thai rice farmers does it take to blockade key transportation arteries? Not many. http://t.co/wMu7XMPFLm pic.twitter.com/Hrnjinfqgt

— Andrew Clark (@qandrew) February 6, 2014

Bangkok protesters showed solidarity to the farmers by gathering cash donations:

Protesters donating money to help rice farmers, many of whom have not been paid by govt. since Oct. 2013 pic.twitter.com/RzLRTb8I7O

— teamkorn (@teamkorn) February 7, 2014

@PravitR thinks the Prime Minister should immediately apologize to farmers:

Yingluck should meet affected rice farmers right away & apologize instead of playing hide & seek with PDRC. #Thailand #Yingluck

— Pravit Rojanaphruk (@PravitR) February 5, 2014

This morning I am praying for #rice #farmers that they be paid fairly for all their hard work.

— Stewart Perry (@bangkokpastor) February 5, 2014

Personally think YL govt politicized rice issue2 by blaming late payment solely on protest pressure on banks, ignored own failure 2sell rice

— Waan Chomchuen (@waanspeaking) February 7, 2014

Categories: Business Feed

India's Solar Vision Promises Clean Energy And Happy Farmers

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:37pm

Array of solar panels at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY-NC-SA

Around 628 million people around the world do not have access to electricity and 290 million of them are from rural India. Many Indian farmers have to rely on archaic power grids and fossil fuels to run water pumps for their irrigation.

The Indian government is aiming to replace 26 million diesel-powered groundwater pumps with more efficient solar-powered irrigation models. This will save about six billion US dollars a year in electricity and diesel subsidies for the country. This will also help tackle the rising demand for coal as two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated by coal. Additionally crowd-sourcing of unused solar power will also add a lot of energy to the national grid.

India nearly doubled its solar capacity in 2013 to a cumulative 2.18 gigawatts of power. The country plans to install 10 GW of solar plants by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022, according to the the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy. India is also considering to apply to the World Bank for a 500-million-US-dollar solar loan to build the world's largest solar power plant (4GW) in Sambhar in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Yadav K writes in Indian Public Sector blog details about the 4GW power plant in Sambhar:

The project will spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan and will entail an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the first phase. [..] The solar PV (photo-voltaic) power plant will use PV modules based on crystalline silicon technology and with an estimated life of 25 years, the solar plant can supply 6,400 million units of energy per year. It eco-friendly project will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tonnes per year.

Katie Fehrenbacher writes in technology blog Gigaom:

As more devices become connected to networks and the Internet — here comes the Internet of Things — more and more of them will seek to have their own power source, and currently solar power is one of the cheapest and most mobile forms of distributed energy available. [..]

If India does reach these numbers of solar-powered water pumps, it would be the largest deployment of this technology in a single country. Reducing the grid electricity usage, and the use of expensive diesel, will not only lower carbon emissions, but it could also help the power grid operators better run their networks and reduce the power costs for the farmers.

Here are more reactions on Twitter:

$1.6 billion of investment in 5 years as the first 200,000 pumps go solar to save India’s Archaic Grid http://t.co/qa3b5fH28P

— Divyam Nagpal (@DivyamNagpal) February 8, 2014

India to build world's largest solar plant – 4,000 MW, 77 sq km area http://t.co/91LsPxZjIG Great…but when?? We are great at announcing!

— Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) February 5, 2014

Solar energy production cost in India has reduced to half in recent years. It has shrunk to 7.50 rupees per kWh. #1 #solar

— Abdul Azeez (@abdulazeezsk) February 8, 2014

However, the rapid development requires industrial production of Solar plants which may create new bio-hazard:

Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India,

— Earth Debt (@DebtSlave7bn) February 8, 2014

Blogger & Solar Energy expert Ritesh Pothan thinks that there are a number of issues that must be resolved if 2014 is to see India make any progress towards its solar ambitions.

More info on India's solar developments can be found in Renewable Energy India and Solar Power India Facebook pages.

Categories: Business Feed

India's Solar Vision Promises Clean Energy And Happy Farmers

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 4:37pm

Array of solar panels at Auroville, Pondicherry, India. Image from Flickr by Amaresh Sundaram Kuppuswamy. CC BY-NC-SA

Around 628 million people around the world do not have access to electricity and 290 million of them are from rural India. Many Indian farmers have to rely on archaic power grids and fossil fuels to run water pumps for their irrigation.

The Indian government is aiming to replace 26 million diesel-powered groundwater pumps with more efficient solar-powered irrigation models. This will save about six billion US dollars a year in electricity and diesel subsidies for the country. This will also help tackle the rising demand for coal as two-thirds of the country's electricity is generated by coal. Additionally crowd-sourcing of unused solar power will also add a lot of energy to the national grid.

India nearly doubled its solar capacity in 2013 to a cumulative 2.18 gigawatts of power. The country plans to install 10 GW of solar plants by 2017 and 20 GW by 2022, according to the the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), India’s flagship solar policy. India is also considering to apply to the World Bank for a 500-million-US-dollar solar loan to build the world's largest solar power plant (4GW) in Sambhar in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

Yadav K writes in Indian Public Sector blog details about the 4GW power plant in Sambhar:

The project will spread across 19,000 acres at Sambhar in Rajasthan and will entail an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the first phase. [..] The solar PV (photo-voltaic) power plant will use PV modules based on crystalline silicon technology and with an estimated life of 25 years, the solar plant can supply 6,400 million units of energy per year. It eco-friendly project will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 4 million tonnes per year.

Katie Fehrenbacher writes in technology blog Gigaom:

As more devices become connected to networks and the Internet — here comes the Internet of Things — more and more of them will seek to have their own power source, and currently solar power is one of the cheapest and most mobile forms of distributed energy available. [..]

If India does reach these numbers of solar-powered water pumps, it would be the largest deployment of this technology in a single country. Reducing the grid electricity usage, and the use of expensive diesel, will not only lower carbon emissions, but it could also help the power grid operators better run their networks and reduce the power costs for the farmers.

Here are more reactions on Twitter:

$1.6 billion of investment in 5 years as the first 200,000 pumps go solar to save India’s Archaic Grid http://t.co/qa3b5fH28P

— Divyam Nagpal (@DivyamNagpal) February 8, 2014

India to build world's largest solar plant – 4,000 MW, 77 sq km area http://t.co/91LsPxZjIG Great…but when?? We are great at announcing!

— Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) February 5, 2014

Solar energy production cost in India has reduced to half in recent years. It has shrunk to 7.50 rupees per kWh. #1 #solar

— Abdul Azeez (@abdulazeezsk) February 8, 2014

However, the rapid development requires industrial production of Solar plants which may create new bio-hazard:

Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India,

— Earth Debt (@DebtSlave7bn) February 8, 2014

Blogger & Solar Energy expert Ritesh Pothan thinks that there are a number of issues that must be resolved if 2014 is to see India make any progress towards its solar ambitions.

More info on India's solar developments can be found in Renewable Energy India and Solar Power India Facebook pages.

Categories: Business Feed

Yemenis Demand an End to Corruption and Unfair Sales Deals

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 2:39pm

Yemenis are back on the streets demanding their country's wealth – and holding those who squander it accountable.

Under the slogan “The People Reclaim Their Wealth” Yemen's revolutionary youth joined Yemen's Revolution Electronic Coordination (YREC) to demand the cancellation of what they describe as “unfair” liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales agreements, bleeding the country's resources.

According to on-going agreements, the former regime cheaply sold Yemen's LNG to France's Total and Korean Kogas, costing Yemen more than US$ 4 billion dollars in losses annually. Protesters claimed that LNG is sold below market price to those companies, following corrupt deals. They say that while Yemen sells its gas for US$ 2, the current market price for the gas is US$ 10.

Protesters also demanded compensation for the damage caused by the previous agreement and compelled the government to restore Yemen’s share in the production of LNG. According to the deal, Yemen keeps 22% of its LNG. The rest goes to benefit foreign companies, most notably Total's share of 39%.

On Thursday (February 6, 2014), the marches and rallies were staged across the capital Sana’a and in the western city of Hodeidah.

Protesters in the capital Sanaa marching and holding signs condemning Yemen's LNG sales agreement.

(video uploaded by presstv)

The slogan on the sign held in Hodeida's march reads “the people want to recover their wealth…the people want to recover their gas…the people want to recover their assets”

In Hodeidah, the rally started from the city’s Change Square, roaming a number of streets to mobilize citizens and make them aware of the corruption behind the deal.

Protesters in Hodeida holding signs demanding president Hadi to review Yemen's LNG deal


The campaign was adopted by the YREC two years ago under the slogan ” The People Reclaim Their Wealth ” to demand the restoration of Yemen's wealth and assets, to fight against corruption and to bring the corrupt signatories of such agreements to justice.

The campaign was widely accepted among Yemenis who are suffering from the severe economic conditions that the country is undergoing which has led the deterioration in their living conditions and decline into further poverty and unemployment levels.

Categories: Business Feed

Yemenis Demand an End to Corruption and Unfair Sales Deals

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 2:39pm

Yemenis are back on the streets demanding their country's wealth – and holding those who squander it accountable.

Under the slogan “The People Reclaim Their Wealth” Yemen's revolutionary youth joined Yemen's Revolution Electronic Coordination (YREC) to demand the cancellation of what they describe as “unfair” liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales agreements, bleeding the country's resources.

According to on-going agreements, the former regime cheaply sold Yemen's LNG to France's Total and Korean Kogas, costing Yemen more than US$ 4 billion dollars in losses annually. Protesters claimed that LNG is sold below market price to those companies, following corrupt deals. They say that while Yemen sells its gas for US$ 2, the current market price for the gas is US$ 10.

Protesters also demanded compensation for the damage caused by the previous agreement and compelled the government to restore Yemen’s share in the production of LNG. According to the deal, Yemen keeps 22% of its LNG. The rest goes to benefit foreign companies, most notably Total's share of 39%.

On Thursday (February 6, 2014), the marches and rallies were staged across the capital Sana’a and in the western city of Hodeidah.

Protesters in the capital Sanaa marching and holding signs condemning Yemen's LNG sales agreement.

(video uploaded by presstv)

The slogan on the sign held in Hodeida's march reads “the people want to recover their wealth…the people want to recover their gas…the people want to recover their assets”

In Hodeidah, the rally started from the city’s Change Square, roaming a number of streets to mobilize citizens and make them aware of the corruption behind the deal.

Protesters in Hodeida holding signs demanding president Hadi to review Yemen's LNG deal


The campaign was adopted by the YREC two years ago under the slogan ” The People Reclaim Their Wealth ” to demand the restoration of Yemen's wealth and assets, to fight against corruption and to bring the corrupt signatories of such agreements to justice.

The campaign was widely accepted among Yemenis who are suffering from the severe economic conditions that the country is undergoing which has led the deterioration in their living conditions and decline into further poverty and unemployment levels.

Categories: Business Feed

Public Buses Return To Cambodia’s Capital

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:48am

Promotional poster of the Phnom Penh bus trial.

Phnom Penh residents in Cambodia have one month to ride public buses which is part of an experiment to re-introduce public buses in the country’s capital in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Phnom Penh has one million motorbikes (motorcycle taxi or motodup) and 300,000 cars but this expanding urban hub surprisingly doesn’t have a mass transportation system.

The Phnom Penh governor hopes the one-month trial which will end on March 4 will help convince Cambodians to use public buses:

…the purpose of this pilot project is to reduce traffic accidents and traffic congestion as well as to change the Cambodians’ habit from using personal cars to public buses.

Public buses were first deployed in 2001 but the program lasted for only two months because of lack of government subsidies and passenger interest. Aside from riding the motor taxis, Phnom Penh residents also use the popular tuktuks.

Abigail Gilbert sees several benefits of using the bus:

The last public bus trial, more than 10 years ago, was not popular, as locals preferred the door to door service of the two-wheeled variety. This new City Bus trial, partly funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will discover if attitudes have changed. There are some clear benefits for visitors to the city, including the icy air-con, the impossibility of bag snatching, a set fare, and a clearly marked route.

Phnom Penh resident and prominent blogger Tharum Bun welcomes the arrival of the buses:

We’ve talked a lot about traffic jam, too many motorcycles and vehicles, and no public transportation. Starting early this February, the bus will run on Monivong Boulevard. It’s an opportunity for most of us, who are willing to get back on the bus.

But Tharum learned that some motor taxi drivers are worried about the impact of the buses on their livelihood:

The motor taxi driver told me that he’s worried about this this public transportation as he’s got only one source of income.

The trial will involve 10 buses running every day from 5:30am until 8:30pm.

Many Phnom Penh residents were excited about the bus trial and they quickly posted photos of the public buses on Twitter:

Vitou waits for the bus. This is the first time for him. #cambodia pic.twitter.com/JBVAk3cDvU

— Santel PHIN (@khmerbird) February 9, 2014

First day of one month test w/ public bus in #phnompenh #Cambodia View fr my office at Monivong pic.twitter.com/uN6NDR6CUD

— Anna Maj Hultgård (@AnnaMajHultgard) February 5, 2014

One of #PhnomPenh's new public bus stops. Yeah, public bus is coming to town. FINALLY. #Cambodia pic.twitter.com/MTbIunoXdo

— Mongkol T. (@somongkol) January 26, 2014

#Cambodia's capital city Phnom Penh gets a public bus system http://t.co/YpKAvhOTv2 #transportation pic.twitter.com/B12haIY9mO

— M. Ibrahim (@RED_MHI) February 9, 2014

Finally a city bus service has arrived in Phnom Penh #Cambodia but will it get used? pic.twitter.com/cDjBSqjicH

— Khiri Cambodia (@KhiriCambodia) February 5, 2014

*Thumbnail used is from @KhiriCambodia

Categories: Business Feed

Public Buses Return To Cambodia’s Capital

Global Voices - Business Feed - Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:48am

Promotional poster of the Phnom Penh bus trial.

Phnom Penh residents in Cambodia have one month to ride public buses which is part of an experiment to re-introduce public buses in the country’s capital in order to reduce traffic congestion.

Phnom Penh has one million motorbikes (motorcycle taxi or motodup) and 300,000 cars but this expanding urban hub surprisingly doesn’t have a mass transportation system.

The Phnom Penh governor hopes the one-month trial which will end on March 4 will help convince Cambodians to use public buses:

…the purpose of this pilot project is to reduce traffic accidents and traffic congestion as well as to change the Cambodians’ habit from using personal cars to public buses.

Public buses were first deployed in 2001 but the program lasted for only two months because of lack of government subsidies and passenger interest. Aside from riding the motor taxis, Phnom Penh residents also use the popular tuktuks.

Abigail Gilbert sees several benefits of using the bus:

The last public bus trial, more than 10 years ago, was not popular, as locals preferred the door to door service of the two-wheeled variety. This new City Bus trial, partly funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, will discover if attitudes have changed. There are some clear benefits for visitors to the city, including the icy air-con, the impossibility of bag snatching, a set fare, and a clearly marked route.

Phnom Penh resident and prominent blogger Tharum Bun welcomes the arrival of the buses:

We’ve talked a lot about traffic jam, too many motorcycles and vehicles, and no public transportation. Starting early this February, the bus will run on Monivong Boulevard. It’s an opportunity for most of us, who are willing to get back on the bus.

But Tharum learned that some motor taxi drivers are worried about the impact of the buses on their livelihood:

The motor taxi driver told me that he’s worried about this this public transportation as he’s got only one source of income.

The trial will involve 10 buses running every day from 5:30am until 8:30pm.

Many Phnom Penh residents were excited about the bus trial and they quickly posted photos of the public buses on Twitter:

Vitou waits for the bus. This is the first time for him. #cambodia pic.twitter.com/JBVAk3cDvU

— Santel PHIN (@khmerbird) February 9, 2014

First day of one month test w/ public bus in #phnompenh #Cambodia View fr my office at Monivong pic.twitter.com/uN6NDR6CUD

— Anna Maj Hultgård (@AnnaMajHultgard) February 5, 2014

One of #PhnomPenh's new public bus stops. Yeah, public bus is coming to town. FINALLY. #Cambodia pic.twitter.com/MTbIunoXdo

— Mongkol T. (@somongkol) January 26, 2014

#Cambodia's capital city Phnom Penh gets a public bus system http://t.co/YpKAvhOTv2 #transportation pic.twitter.com/B12haIY9mO

— M. Ibrahim (@RED_MHI) February 9, 2014

Finally a city bus service has arrived in Phnom Penh #Cambodia but will it get used? pic.twitter.com/cDjBSqjicH

— Khiri Cambodia (@KhiriCambodia) February 5, 2014

*Thumbnail used is from @KhiriCambodia

Categories: Business Feed

Why Her Majesty accepted sponsor

CNN - Business Feed - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 6:30am
It needed permission from the British monarch, but one of horse racing's most regal occasions has crossed the rubicon and will allow sponsorship branding for the first time in its 300-year history.
Categories: Business Feed

The Dependence of Russian Independent Television

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:58pm

Who is to blame for the demise of TV Rain? Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

In the last two weeks, seven satellite and cable television providers decided to stop broadcasting TV Rain, Russia’s only independent news station, cutting [ru] its national audience from just over ten million households to about two million. The catalyst for TV Rain’s troubles was a January survey the station conducted about the WWII Siege of Leningrad, which self-described Russian patriots interpreted as offensively worded. The apparent crackdown on the channel sparked a wave of anger from Russian Internet users, many of whom accused the Kremlin of forcing cable providers to abandon TV Rain.

TV Rain’s chief investor, Aleksandr Vinokurov, said at a press conference [ru] on February 4, 2014, that the station is “absolutely sure” that the companies now dropping the channel are doing so “under pressure.” Though he refused to name names, Julia Ioffe of The New Republic reported days earlier that Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov, and another high-placed figure, Sergey Chemezov, have both called cable and satellite operators several times, demanding that they “boot” the station.

While Vinokurov’s February 4 comments in part reaffirmed the widespread perception that TV Rain is currently battling political censorship, he also seems to have precipitated a backlash against the station, leading some bloggers to highlight the financial backstory that perhaps diminishes the degree of political persecution at work.

In his comments, Vinokurov offered [ru] to let cable and satellite operators broadcast TV Rain for free during the 2014 calendar year. Writing for politcom.ru, analyst Tatiana Stanovaya asked [ru] why Vinokurov is trying to address a political problem with “marketing” solutions. (In a Facebook post [ru] hours earlier, Stanovaya went so far as to call Vinokurov “naïve.”) For others online, the press conference’s focus on “marketing” similarly turned attention away from ‘crackdown by the bloody regime’ toward questions about the television business and TV Rain’s troubled past in that industry.

Why, after all, does Vinokurov’s offer extend only to the end of the year? What is the incentive to sign TV Rain, if operators must renegotiate new (paid) contracts in 2015? Stanislav Apetian, the blogger known as Politrash (who is notorious for ties to the Russian establishment and for attacks on opposition leader Alexey Navalny), seized on this detail, writing the next day on LiveJournal and Facebook that TV Rain’s troubles are more financial than political.

Drawing on a June 2013 report in Forbes.ru, Apetian cataloged TV Rain’s growth since April 2010, pointing out that the station’s problems with cable and satellite operators are as old as TV Rain itself. In the past, the chief dispute with operators like “Tricolor” has been who should pay whom. For the first year that the station existed, virtually no one was interested in carrying TV Rain, unless the channel agreed to pay for the privilege. Moscow’s biggest cable provider, Akado, broadcasted the station for a week in 2010 and then dropped it. Months later, the satellite company NTV+ agreed to carry TV Rain, but only after Sindeeva appealed to Natalia Timakova, a close friend who happened to be the press secretary for then-President Dmitri Medvedev.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Vinokurov, whose private fortune bankrolls TV Rain, actively sought outside investors to share the burden (and hopefully the future profits) of running the station. He courted the money of Mikhail Prokhorov and Alisher Usmanov, two of the richest men in Russia, both of whom have close ties to the Kremlin. Vinokurov couldn’t reach a deal with either of them, telling Forbes.ru that their offers to invest in TV Rain were underwhelming. The failure to tie the station to a powerful elite group like Prokhorov’s or Usmanov’s would later have great costs for TV Rain. Instead, Vinokurov and Sindeeva appear to have ‘bet on the wrong horse,’ placing their hopes in President Medvedev.

Even from the start, loyalty to Medvedev was never easy. In late March 2011, Sindeeva actually pulled the channel’s most popular show, “Poet and Citizen,” off the air, claiming that a lyric in the program directed at Medvedev was excessively critical. After a Facebook post explaining her reasons for the censorship, Sindeeva even appeared [ru] on TV Rain itself to defend the decision, on-air.

President Medvedev visits TV Rain's studio. Medvedev center, Natalia Sindeeva right. 25 April 2011, Kremlin photo service, public domain.

TV Rain is often described as a product of the political thaw that occurred in Russia during Medvedev’s single term as president between 2008 and 2012. While this sentiment seems to imply that TV Rain bloomed into existence spontaneously, Apetian points out that the station failed to attract serious cable and satellite coverage until April 2011, when President Medvedev (less than a month after the “Poet and Citizen” scandal) personally visited the station’s office in downtown Moscow. Within weeks of Medvedev’s visit, Akado was broadcasting TV Rain again, even paying the station a “symbolic” 28 dollars per month for the rights. Before long, upward of 13 different operators were beaming the channel across the country—all suddenly amenable to TV Rain’s refusal to pay them any money.

Many of those cable and satellite companies are now backing away from TV Rain. Some are jumping on the bandwagon of moral outrage, faulting the station for its Leningrad Siege faux pas, and others cite business grounds. The suits running Russia’s cable and satellite operators have leapt at the chance to ditch TV Rain. That opportunity exists thanks to the mounting hostility of Russian apparatchiki and the decline of Medvedev’s political influence. But would a bit of bluster in the Duma and a few angry phone calls from a former arms-export official so easily sway an entire industry, if that industry wasn’t already itching to be rid of TV Rain?

Echo of Moscow pundit Anton Orekh asked this exact question in a blog post [ru] on February 4, arguing that cable and satellite operators can kill two birds with one stone by dropping TV Rain now, appeasing the conservatives in the Russian establishment and jettisoning a troublesome content-producer they never wanted in the first place.

The TV Rain developments suggest that its relative success was more a function of political protection (now gone) than business acumen. The station lost its patron before gaining the momentum necessary to stand on its own. Now the country's politicians and businessmen seem determined to watch it wither and die. That could very well happen—and soon.

Categories: Business Feed

The Dependence of Russian Independent Television

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:58pm

Who is to blame for the demise of TV Rain? Images mixed by Kevin Rothrock.

In the last two weeks, seven satellite and cable television providers decided to stop broadcasting TV Rain, Russia’s only independent news station, cutting [ru] its national audience from just over ten million households to about two million. The catalyst for TV Rain’s troubles was a January survey the station conducted about the WWII Siege of Leningrad, which self-described Russian patriots interpreted as offensively worded. The apparent crackdown on the channel sparked a wave of anger from Russian Internet users, many of whom accused the Kremlin of forcing cable providers to abandon TV Rain.

TV Rain’s chief investor, Aleksandr Vinokurov, said at a press conference [ru] on February 4, 2014, that the station is “absolutely sure” that the companies now dropping the channel are doing so “under pressure.” Though he refused to name names, Julia Ioffe of The New Republic reported days earlier that Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov, and another high-placed figure, Sergey Chemezov, have both called cable and satellite operators several times, demanding that they “boot” the station.

While Vinokurov’s February 4 comments in part reaffirmed the widespread perception that TV Rain is currently battling political censorship, he also seems to have precipitated a backlash against the station, leading some bloggers to highlight the financial backstory that perhaps diminishes the degree of political persecution at work.

In his comments, Vinokurov offered [ru] to let cable and satellite operators broadcast TV Rain for free during the 2014 calendar year. Writing for politcom.ru, analyst Tatiana Stanovaya asked [ru] why Vinokurov is trying to address a political problem with “marketing” solutions. (In a Facebook post [ru] hours earlier, Stanovaya went so far as to call Vinokurov “naïve.”) For others online, the press conference’s focus on “marketing” similarly turned attention away from ‘crackdown by the bloody regime’ toward questions about the television business and TV Rain’s troubled past in that industry.

Why, after all, does Vinokurov’s offer extend only to the end of the year? What is the incentive to sign TV Rain, if operators must renegotiate new (paid) contracts in 2015? Stanislav Apetian, the blogger known as Politrash (who is notorious for ties to the Russian establishment and for attacks on opposition leader Alexey Navalny), seized on this detail, writing the next day on LiveJournal and Facebook that TV Rain’s troubles are more financial than political.

Drawing on a June 2013 report in Forbes.ru, Apetian cataloged TV Rain’s growth since April 2010, pointing out that the station’s problems with cable and satellite operators are as old as TV Rain itself. In the past, the chief dispute with operators like “Tricolor” has been who should pay whom. For the first year that the station existed, virtually no one was interested in carrying TV Rain, unless the channel agreed to pay for the privilege. Moscow’s biggest cable provider, Akado, broadcasted the station for a week in 2010 and then dropped it. Months later, the satellite company NTV+ agreed to carry TV Rain, but only after Sindeeva appealed to Natalia Timakova, a close friend who happened to be the press secretary for then-President Dmitri Medvedev.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Vinokurov, whose private fortune bankrolls TV Rain, actively sought outside investors to share the burden (and hopefully the future profits) of running the station. He courted the money of Mikhail Prokhorov and Alisher Usmanov, two of the richest men in Russia, both of whom have close ties to the Kremlin. Vinokurov couldn’t reach a deal with either of them, telling Forbes.ru that their offers to invest in TV Rain were underwhelming. The failure to tie the station to a powerful elite group like Prokhorov’s or Usmanov’s would later have great costs for TV Rain. Instead, Vinokurov and Sindeeva appear to have ‘bet on the wrong horse,’ placing their hopes in President Medvedev.

Even from the start, loyalty to Medvedev was never easy. In late March 2011, Sindeeva actually pulled the channel’s most popular show, “Poet and Citizen,” off the air, claiming that a lyric in the program directed at Medvedev was excessively critical. After a Facebook post explaining her reasons for the censorship, Sindeeva even appeared [ru] on TV Rain itself to defend the decision, on-air.

President Medvedev visits TV Rain's studio. Medvedev center, Natalia Sindeeva right. 25 April 2011, Kremlin photo service, public domain.

TV Rain is often described as a product of the political thaw that occurred in Russia during Medvedev’s single term as president between 2008 and 2012. While this sentiment seems to imply that TV Rain bloomed into existence spontaneously, Apetian points out that the station failed to attract serious cable and satellite coverage until April 2011, when President Medvedev (less than a month after the “Poet and Citizen” scandal) personally visited the station’s office in downtown Moscow. Within weeks of Medvedev’s visit, Akado was broadcasting TV Rain again, even paying the station a “symbolic” 28 dollars per month for the rights. Before long, upward of 13 different operators were beaming the channel across the country—all suddenly amenable to TV Rain’s refusal to pay them any money.

Many of those cable and satellite companies are now backing away from TV Rain. Some are jumping on the bandwagon of moral outrage, faulting the station for its Leningrad Siege faux pas, and others cite business grounds. The suits running Russia’s cable and satellite operators have leapt at the chance to ditch TV Rain. That opportunity exists thanks to the mounting hostility of Russian apparatchiki and the decline of Medvedev’s political influence. But would a bit of bluster in the Duma and a few angry phone calls from a former arms-export official so easily sway an entire industry, if that industry wasn’t already itching to be rid of TV Rain?

Echo of Moscow pundit Anton Orekh asked this exact question in a blog post [ru] on February 4, arguing that cable and satellite operators can kill two birds with one stone by dropping TV Rain now, appeasing the conservatives in the Russian establishment and jettisoning a troublesome content-producer they never wanted in the first place.

The TV Rain developments suggest that its relative success was more a function of political protection (now gone) than business acumen. The station lost its patron before gaining the momentum necessary to stand on its own. Now the country's politicians and businessmen seem determined to watch it wither and die. That could very well happen—and soon.

Categories: Business Feed

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leave Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 9:02pm

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

Coulda been watching the #WinterOlympics only @GoWithFlowJa chose to give all the rights to SportsMax who isn't even showing it live #SMH

— Kimberly (@K_Wil_) February 7, 2014

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

I'm tryin to watch the dam Winter Olympics opening ceremony and these assholes on #SportsMax a chat STFU!!!’ And come off my screen!!!

— Lexy Nash (@WhoDatLexy876) February 7, 2014

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

Get FREE Sportsmax trial during the Winter Olympics on LIME TV pic.twitter.com/h0A1Z7bsWA — Anderson Armstrong (@bloodarmstrong) February 7, 2014

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

.@SportsMax_Carib bought the rights. RT @DayVan_TeaMal: Why is the Sochi Olympics blocked on @Flowtt? — Hassan Voyeau (@tech_tt) February 6, 2014

@Flowtt well give us Sportsmax free during that time

— ?Mark De Silva? (@Markanthonysilv) February 7, 2014

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Giga Paitchadze, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Giga Paitchadze's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leave Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 9:02pm

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

Coulda been watching the #WinterOlympics only @GoWithFlowJa chose to give all the rights to SportsMax who isn't even showing it live #SMH

— Kimberly (@K_Wil_) February 7, 2014

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

I'm tryin to watch the dam Winter Olympics opening ceremony and these assholes on #SportsMax a chat STFU!!!’ And come off my screen!!!

— Lexy Nash (@WhoDatLexy876) February 7, 2014

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

Get FREE Sportsmax trial during the Winter Olympics on LIME TV pic.twitter.com/h0A1Z7bsWA — Anderson Armstrong (@bloodarmstrong) February 7, 2014

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

.@SportsMax_Carib bought the rights. RT @DayVan_TeaMal: Why is the Sochi Olympics blocked on @Flowtt? — Hassan Voyeau (@tech_tt) February 6, 2014

@Flowtt well give us Sportsmax free during that time

— ?Mark De Silva? (@Markanthonysilv) February 7, 2014

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Giga Paitchadze, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Giga Paitchadze's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed

Caribbean Numbers Involved in Telephone Phishing Scam

Global Voices - Business Feed - Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:06pm

If you see a missed call originating in the Caribbean from someone you don't know, it is likely that you have been targeted by perpetrators of the ‘one-ring phone scam’. While the numbers used in these phishing activities can originate anywhere in the world, Slate reports that Caribbean numbers have been noticed with alarming frequency over the past few weeks:

The Better Business Bureau lists calls from Antigua and Barbuda (268), the Dominican Republic (809), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284), and Grenada (473) as potential scam threats. People who do call back could be charged something like $30 for the international call, depending on the carrier, and see fraudulent service fees showing up on their phone bills. This process of ‘cramming,’ when third-party scammers sneak bogus charges onto legitimate phone bills, is ever on the rise, according to the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

Affected persons around the world took to Twitter to report the issue:

Gona go out on a limb here and assume that the missed call I just got from Antigua/Barbuda is not a close friend of mine. If so, sorry.

— Craig Doran (@CDoran19) February 4, 2014

Got a missed call today from Jamaica. Definitely a first. A puzzling, puzzling first.

— Casey Morell (@csymrl) December 14, 2013

Occurrences of these calls have also been reported in Trinidad and Tobago on Facebook. Shelley-anne L Thompson weighed in on the discussion:

I get that like once a month and have never called. come on, people you know this scam! dont let your curiosity trap you.

Maisha Hyman had this to say:

I'm glad to see this! I've recently had hang up calls from Antigua and Grenada! Like wtf?!

Others were more concerned about the impact of the scam on the region. Michael Nahous of Trinidad and Tobago was not amused:

How can they charge you $30.00 without some contract arrangement with the telephone carrier….its only digicel, cable wireless and the local telephone companies in these islands…if they know its a scam why cant they just disconnect the number.

People affected by the scam are being urged to alert their service providers if they spot any unusual charges on their phone bills.

The thumbnail image used in this post is by Milica Sekulic, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license. Visit Milica Sekulic's flickr photostream.
Categories: Business Feed
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