Good experience DES MOINES, Iowa, (CMC): Grenada’s Olympic champion Kirani James produced a world-leading time to win the men’s 400 metres at the Drake Relays here on Friday night, and continued his fine start to the new international season. The 23-year-old stormed to 44.08 seconds – the second fastest time ever run in the first four months of a year – to edge American nemesis, former World and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who was timed at 44.22. James’s fellow countryman Bralon Taplin claimed third in 44.92. “It shows that I’m on course to do some great things so long as I don’t take anything for granted and keep on doing the right things for the rest of this season,” James said following the performance. “I’m happy with the time, I’m happy with the performance, and I’m just happy to be here at Drake. I always have a good experience here, so all is well.” On a chilly day at Drake Stadium, James showed little negative effects from the weather. Running out of lane five, with Merritt in lane four, James held a narrow lead heading into the final 100 metres and managed to hold on despite Merritt nearly pulling level. The win came against the backdrop of James’s impressive 44.36 run at the Bahamas Invitational in Nassau two weeks ago, and sent a strong warning to his rivals, with attention already on the Summer Olympics in Rio. James, who dominated the London 2012 event but finished third at the Beijing World Championships last year, said he was much more prepared for this year’s showpiece. “Now is a lot different. I understand the event a lot better. I know the athletes more,” he said. “It’s a lot more technical … people look out for you to perform, and that’s part of it.”
Two Ontario Liberals go on trial Thursday on Election Act bribery charges stemming from a 2015 byelection in Sudbury, but the stakes are also high for Premier Kathleen Wynne herself.The Sudbury trial happens nearly simultaneously with another Liberal trial — related to the cancellation of two gas plants — which makes for terrible optics for the party. But while that second trial involves staffers for former premier Dalton McGuinty, the Sudbury scandal is one forged entirely under Wynne’s tenure.The premier herself is set to testify on Sept. 13.“Politically, it’s not good,” said Nadia Verrelli, an assistant political science professor at Sudbury’s Laurentian University.Regardless of the outcome, it may focus the provincial election campaign — with a vote nine months away — on questions about the Liberals’ integrity rather than their policies, she said.Pat Sorbara, at the time the Ontario Liberal Party CEO, faces two charges and Gerry Lougheed, a Sudbury Liberal fundraiser, faces one charge. They both deny wrongdoing.In late 2014, the Sudbury riding became vacant when the New Democrat who won it five months earlier stepped down for health reasons. The Liberals had their eye on winning back a riding that until 2014 they held for about two decades.Andrew Olivier, who was the Liberals’ candidate in the riding in the general election, wanted to run again, but Wynne had other ideas. She ended up successfully luring the riding’s NDP MP — Glenn Thibeault — to run for the provincial Liberals.One of Sorbara’s charges relates to an allegation she promised to get Thibeault “an office or employment” to induce him to become a candidate, which both deny.Sorbara and Lougheed are alleged to have offered Olivier a job or appointment in exchange for stepping aside for Thibeault, who was ultimately given the post of energy minister last year.Wynne has said that she had already decided Olivier would not be the byelection candidate by the time Sorbara and Lougheed spoke to him, therefore anything offered was not in exchange for stepping aside. Rather, Wynne says, she was trying to keep him in the party fold.The trial may come down to the timing of that decision or a he-said-she-said, Verrelli said.“I would imagine it also comes down to what Olivier believed and what both Sorbara and Lougheed believed that they could offer,” she said.“So Kathleen Wynne could have had her mind made up, the question is: was that communicated to her aides?”When Olivier first raised the allegations in December 2014 he said Wynne told him she wanted someone else to run, and that she had a vision for Sudbury that didn’t include him as the Liberal candidate.Olivier is quadriplegic and records important conversations in lieu of taking notes, but while he recorded both Sorbara and Lougheed — posting the audio to YouTube — he has said technical difficulties prevented him from recording his chat with Wynne.Lougheed, a local Liberal figure who was on the police services board and runs a funeral home, spoke to him first.“So I come to you on behalf of the premier and on behalf of, I guess, Thibeault more indirectly, to ask you if you would consider stepping down — more than that Andrew, nominating him,” Lougheed said.“In the course of that deliberation the premier wants to talk to you. They would like to present to you options in terms of appointments, jobs, whatever, that you and her and Pat Sorbara can talk about.”Wynne later spoke with him, then Sorbara called.“So Andrew let me ask you this, I mean, of course you recognize the position that we’re going to find ourselves in here, right, where she’s going to have to make a decision around the appointment, right, versus, allowing this to go ahead,” Sorbara said.“We should have the broader discussion about what is it that you’d be most interested in doing and then decide what shape that could take that would fulfil that, is what I’m getting at, whether it’s a full-time or part-time job at a constituency office, whether it is appointments to boards or commissions, whether it is also going on the (party executive).”The Ontario Provincial Police investigated the allegations both criminally and under the Election Act. Sorbara was cleared criminally, but Lougheed was charged with one count of counselling an offence not committed and one count of unlawfully influencing or negotiating appointments. Those charges were stayed.When the Election Act charges were laid in November, Sorbara had recently taken a leave of absence as the premier’s deputy chief of staff to become the Ontario Liberal Party CEO and 2018 campaign director. She stepped down after being charged.The bribery section of the Election Act says no person shall directly or indirectly “give, procure or promise or agree to procure an office or employment to induce a person to become a candidate, refrain from becoming a candidate or withdraw his or her candidacy.”A conviction carries a penalty of up to $5,000. If a judge finds it was broken “knowingly,” the penalty is a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to two years less a day in jail.The trial is scheduled over 21 days in September and October.
Shares in US satellite pay TV companies DirecTV and Dish Networks have spiked after rumours of a merger between the pair emerged this week.Following a report from Bloomberg claiming Dish chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen hadapproached rival DirecTV, Dish’s shares grew.7.9% to US$63 (€46) and DirecTV’s shot up 6.6% to US$77.96.Dish’s share price had fallen 1.4% to US$61.22 and DirecTV’s was down 3.5% to US$74.67 at press time, but the spike suggests investors would be keen on a merger.Dish claims more than 14 million subscribers in the US, while DirecTV has more than 32 million combined subs in States and Latin America.Should they merge, the US cable market would be further consolidated as it goes through a period of rapid change. Comcast is set to buy rival Time Warner Cable for US$45 billion, though the deal has lead to fears of creating a monopoly in the market.A combined Dish-DirecTV business would provide a viable competitor toComcast-TWC, but further marginalise smaller players in the cable and broadband markets. Bloomberg reported Ergen approached DirecTV in direct response to his rivals’ deal.Yesterday, the New York Post reported the three million TWC subscribers Comcast must shed in order to satisfy regulators and complete the deal may be spun off. This would see TWC CFO Arthur Minson and COO Dinni Jain running a new cable business.
Ericsson has split off its Broadcast and Media Services business into a separate business and has revived the Red Bee brand for its new name.Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services will now become Red Bee Media and will operate as a separate business fully owned by Ericsson. The Red Bee Media name and brand identity will apply to all of Ericsson’s Broadcast and Media Services businesses worldwide. The broadcast and media services business has operations in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, United Arab Emirates, and the US. Red Bee Media employs around 2,500 broadcast and media specialists globally.Steve Nylund, CEO of Red Bee Media, said: “We looked at not only our vision and strategy for the future but also what we, as a business, now stand for. The Red Bee Media brand has a long and rich heritage in TV and media and is well recognized across the industry. Adopting this brand will enable us to strengthen our position as an independent and agile media services organization. It will provide the basis for our business, our people and our clients to unify around a shared identity that represents our purpose, brand positioning and values.”Earlier this year Ericsson said it was “exploring strategic opportunities” for its media business and split it into two groups: Broadcast and Media services and Media Solutions, to create a “stronger operational focus”. The company said it would continue to develop media solutions, tapping into the rapid growth in video traffic on networks including mobile.“It is apparent that Ericsson is struggling to sell off this asset. Many of its rivals are struggling in light of the challenging and competitive landscape. Therefore private equity could be the only realistic and viable option,” said Paolo Pescatore, VP, Multiplay and Media, CCS Insight, commenting on Ericsson’s latest move.“However, strategically content is proving to be a key battleground for all telcos which represents a significant step towards offering a suite of connected and smart home services. With this in mind Ericsson was undoubtedly bringing together a strong suite of assets in TV. Moving forward we expect to see rivals such as Huawei and Nokia place more focus on this area as a means of differentiating their offerings beyond connectivity,” he said.
France Télévisions is going to stop distributing complete programmes on YouTube, following director-general Delphine Ernotte’s earlier move to no longer distribute content on Netflix.Delphine ErnotteTaking part in a discussion on the future of television at an event organised by Les Echos and France Info – and sponsored by Google – at the end of last week, Ernotte said that the pubcaster is “going to stop putting complete programmes on YouTube” after describing the revenues gained from distributing content on the platform as little more than “a tip”.Ernotte was speaking after YouTube spokesperson Justine Ryst, speaking at the same event, had spoken about “the logic of complementarity and opportunity with media groups” and the “sharing of value” with the latter.While she conceded that YouTube was “a formidable tool” and the video consumption experience of choice for young people, Ernotte said that she would only engage in discussions when there is a greater choice of platforms and a “slightly less violently monopolistic situation”.Also present at the event, Gilles Pélisson and Nicolas de Tavernost, CEO of commercial broadcasters TF1 and M6 respectively, joined Ernotte in lambasting the unequal competition faced by broadcasters from internet giants and calling for changes in the rules to create a more equal playing field.Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada, meanwhile said that the best response to the likes of Netflix was to create a compelling rival digital offering. Saada said that Canal+ would launch a new low-cost on-demand offering at the end of the first quarter of next year to replace its failed CanalPlay SVOD service.Revealing that CanalPlay’s base had collapsed from 800,000 to 200,000 at a French Senate committee hearing in July, Saada blamed restrictions placed on it by France’s competition regulator preventing it from effectively competing with the likes of Netflix.France’s free-to-air broadcasters – France Télévisions, TF1 and M6 – are collaborating to create a rival joint on-demand offering, Salto to take on the might of the likes of Netflix, despite skepticism from a number of quarters. Ernotte had already called for French broadcasters to join her in retaining rights to their content rather than sell them on to third-party platforms such as Netflix.