Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday — while looking about as bad as it could while winning by that scoreline. Its go-ahead goal came on a penalty kick following a dubious call by referee Yuichi Nishimura. Its third goal perhaps ought to have been stopped by Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. And the one it conceded was an own goal by Marcelo.FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup forecasts have been updated to reflect the results of the match, as they will be at the conclusion of each game. The projections don’t account for style points — it’s the scoreline that matters — so Brazil won’t be harmed by winning ugly.A bit more about how these updates work in a moment, but one soccer-related thought first. Some of Brazil’s edge — it had an 88 percent chance of beating Croatia in our pre-match predictions — was because of home-field advantage. Some of that advantage, as Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim have found, comes because home teams are more likely to benefit from refereeing decisions. Soccer has an especially large home-field advantage, in part because the officiating plays such a large role in the sport, especially in calling penalties and issuing red cards. Would Nishimura have made that (mistaken) penalty call had the game been played in Dubrovnik, rather than Sao Paulo? We’ll never know for sure, but the odds say it’s less likely.Back to our forecasts: Technically speaking, there are two programs that our colleagues at ESPN Stats & Info run to generate our World Cup forecasts. One program is a match simulator that plays out the results of the rest of the tournament 10,000 times. The other is the Soccer Power Index algorithm itself, which informs the match simulator’s estimate of how strong each team is.We’ll be running the match simulator at the end of each game (there will usually be a lag of 20 to 30 minutes before we get the new results on the site). However, the Soccer Power Index (SPI) program, which is computationally intensive, runs only once per day, overnight after all games have concluded.I’ll explain why this distinction matters by asking you to imagine that Brazil had drawn 1-1 with Croatia, rather than pulling out the win. This would hurt Brazil in two ways: First, it would increase the odds that it would fail to advance from its group. (Granted, Brazil’s odds would still be very high.) That change would be reflected immediately in our forecasts based on the match simulator.But a draw would also have lowered SPI’s estimate of Brazil’s strength. (SPI rates recent matches heavily, and it regards Brazil very highly, so a draw might have had a fair amount of impact.) That change, however, would not be reflected until our overnight update.There are also some other, more subtle things that can go on with SPI in the overnight updates. It’s learning more about which players a team has in its starting lineup, which reflects the player-rating component of the model. It also learns more about the relative strength of the continents. A draw for Brazil, for instance, would have (very slightly) lowered SPI’s estimate of the chances for Argentina, Colombia, and so forth, as the match would represent one data point showing that South America was not quite as strong as assumed.As far as the actual scoreline goes — Brazil 3, Croatia 1 — it won’t do much to improve SPI’s view on Brazil, either, since SPI had Brazil winning against Croatia by slightly more than two goals on average.Based on the results of the match simulator, however, Brazil’s odds of advancing from Group A have risen to 99.8 percent from 99.3 percent before the match. It’s usually not worth sweating the decimal places since there can sometimes be noise introduced by the match simulator — 10,000 simulations is a lot, but not enough to entirely remove the margin of error. In this case, however, the match simulator is just pointing out the obvious: It was going to be really hard for Brazil to fail to advance, and it will be even harder now that it’s picked up three points.How much were Croatia’s advancement odds hurt? They weren’t, actually — instead, they rose slightly to 37.5 percent from 36.6 percent. Some of this probably reflects the statistical noise that I referred to earlier. However, there is one way in which the match helped Croatia: Losing to Brazil by only two goals is not such a bad result. Mexico and Cameroon, the other two teams in Group A, could lose to Brazil by larger margins. In fact, SPI has Mexico as a 2.6-goal underdog, and Cameroon as a 3.2-goal underdog. That could make a difference if the second advancement position from Group A comes down to a tiebreaker based on goal differential, as it might. And FIFA’s next tiebreaker is based on goals scored, so losing 3-1 is better than losing 2-0. I doubt the Croats will be happy with the result of Thursday’s game, however.
Freshman Kyle Snyder competes against Minnesota on Feb. 6 at the Schottenstein Center. The Buckeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 22-13.Samantha Hollingshead / Lantern photographerAfter winning nine straight dual meets, the Ohio State wrestling team is set to take on No. 11 Lehigh in the quarterfinals of the National Duals.The Buckeyes are favored in the majority of the matches, set to be held in Iowa City, Iowa, but coach Tom Ryan said he isn’t going to discount any opponent, especially as the postseason approaches.“We definitely aren’t overlooking Lehigh. Those guys are Pennsylvania boys, they have been through a lot of battles. Wrestling in that state, you have to be ready each and every week,” Ryan said. “If we are off in any matches, they can make this tough for us.”As to how confident Ryan feels, it’s about 50-50, he said.“I feel good about five or six matches, but anything can happen,” Ryan said.One of those matches will include OSU freshman Kyle Snyder, who ranks third nationally, going up against sophomore Elliot Riddick, ranked No. 10.“Riddick is not a pushover, he’s really good. He jumped up two weight classes from 174 to 197 and he looks like a natural 197 pounder,” Ryan said. “The good thing is our guy (Snyder) is always ready for every opponent.”Snyder is aware of his opponent’s skillset and says it’s a good matchup for him.“I’ve seen that he’s fast and has some good leg attacks, but I should be ready for all of that,” Snyder said. “The guys in our practice room have given me the same look and have me prepared.”Beyond Snyder’s top-10 matchup, the Buckeyes and the Mountain Hawks will send a total of five weight classes in which both wrestlers are ranked in the top 20.The winner of the quarterfinal will advance to face the winner of No. 2 Missouri and No. 12 Illinois in the seminfinals. The Buckeyes lost to the Tigers on Dec. 14 in Columbus, 20-19. The match was decided by the fourth tiebreaker in which Missouri achieved the first takedown in the opening match of the dual. OSU has yet to face Illinois this year.The match between OSU and Lehigh is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday with the semifinals beginning at 4 p.m. the same day.The semifinal winners are set to compete for the championship at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Sujoy Ghosh on sets of BadlaPR HandoutAmitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Panu starrer Badla is on a winning spree as the film raked in USD 3.7 million in 10 days in the overseas box office.The region-wise overseas collection of the movie is – Middle East – $1.45 million, North America – $1.32 million, Australia – $224,116; UK and Ireland – $213,782; Rest of the world- $493,000.In India, Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla garnered Rs 8.70 crore on day 10, also the film had already crossed Rs 50 crore mark on Sunday. Badla has become Sujoy Ghosh’s highest 2nd-weekend grossing movie, beating the record of Kahaani.Kahaani was a hit at the box office and sets a record for director Sujoy Ghosh as well, but the recent release Badla breaks the record of weekend 2 collection of Kahaani.The crime thriller revolves around Taapsee Pannu’s character Naina who is stuck in a murder case. Playing Badal Gupta, a lawyer to Naina, Amitabh Bachchan has recreated the magic of Pink.Also starring Amrita Singh, Tony Luke and Manav Kaul in supporting roles, Badla has been gauging appreciation for the remarkable performances.Badla is presented by Red Chillies Entertainment in association with Azure Entertainment, Co-produced by Gaurav Verma and produced by Gauri Khan, Sunir Kheterpal and Akshai Puri, the crime thriller is directed by Sujoy Ghosh, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu in the lead roles is running successfully in theatres.
A teenage girl succumbed to her burn injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital Saturday morning after she was allegedly set on fire on charge of stealing a mobile phone in Shibpur upazila of Narsingdi on Friday evening.The deceased is Aziza, 15, daughter of a certain Abdus Sattar, from Khainkur area of the upazila.Victim’s brother Sujon said, “A mobile phone of one of our neighbours was stolen around 8-10 days ago. The neighbour and her relatives suspected Aziza’s involvement and threatened her to burn if she didn’t return the phone within a week.”He said, “Some people picked up Aziza from behind of our house around 8:00pm Friday evening and took her to a place a few hundred yards away. Then, they had set her on fire after pouring kerosene on her body.”“Locals rescued her and took to a local hospital. Then we brought her to Dhaka Medical College Hospital from there in that night as her condition deteriorated,” victim’s brother added.Later, she succumbed to her injuries at the burn unit on Saturday morning.The victim sustained 96 per cent burn injuries, said DMCH police outpost assistant sub-inspector Bachchu Mia.
In this photo taken on 4 November in 2018, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal, left, Sister Alphy Pallasseril, centre, and Sister Anupama Kelamangalathu, who have supported the accusation of rape against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, talk at St Francis Mission Home, in Kuravilangad in southern Indian state of Kerala. Photo: APThe stories spill out in the sitting rooms of Catholic convents, where portraits of Jesus keep watch and fans spin quietly overhead. They spill out in church meeting halls bathed in fluorescent lights, and over cups of cheap instant coffee in convent kitchens. Always, the stories come haltingly, quietly. Sometimes, the nuns speak at little more than a whisper.Across India, the nuns talk of priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. They talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ.”He was drunk,” said one nun, beginning her story. “You don’t know how to say no,” said another.At its most grim, the nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them.The Vatican has long been aware of nuns sexually abused by priests and bishops in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa, but it has done very little to stop it, The Associated Press reported last year.Now, the AP has investigated the situation in a single country — India — and uncovered a decades-long history of nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the church. Nuns described in detail the sexual pressure they endured from priests, and nearly two dozen other people — nuns, former nuns and priests, and others — said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.Still, the scale of the problem in India remains unclear, cloaked by a powerful culture of silence. Many nuns believe abuse is commonplace, insisting most sisters can at least tell of fending off a priest’s sexual advances. Some believe it is rare. Almost none, though, talk about it readily, and most speak only on the condition they not be identified.But this summer, one Indian nun forced the issue into the open.When repeated complaints to church officials brought no response, the 44-year-old nun filed a police complaint against the bishop who oversees her religious order, accusing him of raping her 13 times over two years. Soon after, a group of her fellow nuns launched a two-week public protest in India’s Catholic heartland, demanding the bishop’s arrest.It was an unprecedented action, dividing India’s Catholic community. Inside the accuser’s convent in rural Kerala state, she and the nuns who support her are now pariahs, isolated from the other sisters, many of whom insist the bishop is innocent. The protesting nuns get hate mail and avoid going out.”Some people are accusing us of working against the church, of being against the church. They say, ‘You are worshipping Satan,'” said one supporter, Sister Josephine Villoonnickal. “But we need to stand up for the truth.”Villoonnickal has been a nun for 23 years, joining when she was a teenager. She scoffs at the idea that she wants to harm the church.”We want to die as sisters,” she said.Some nuns’ accounts date back decades — like that of the sister, barely out of her teens, who was teaching in a Catholic school in the early 1990s.It was exhausting work, and she was looking forward to the chance to reflect on what had led her — happily — to convent life.”We have kind of a retreat before we renew our vows,” she said, sitting in the painfully neat sitting room of her big-city convent, where doilies cover most every surface, chairs are lined up in rows and the blare of horns drifts in through open windows. “We take one week off and we go for prayers and silence.”She had travelled to a New Delhi retreat centre, a collection of concrete buildings where she gathered with other young nuns. A priest was there to lead the sisters in reflection.The nun, who like others interviewed for this story spoke on condition she not be identified, is a strong and forceful woman who has spent years working with India’s poor and dispossessed, from battered wives to evicted families.But when she talks about the retreat her voice grows quiet, as if she’s afraid to be overheard in the empty room: “I felt this person, maybe he had some thoughts, some attraction.”He was in his 60s. She was four decades younger.One night, the priest went to a neighbourhood party. He came back late, after 9:30 pm, and knocked at her room.”‘I need to meet you,'” he said when she cracked open the door, insisting he wanted to discuss her spiritual life. She could smell the alcohol.”You’re not stable. I’m not ready to meet you,” she told him.But the priest forced open the door. He tried to kiss her. He grabbed at her body, groping wherever he could.Weeping, she pushed him back enough to slam the door and lock it.It wasn’t rape. She knows it could have been so much worse. But decades later she still reels at the memory, and this tough woman, for a few moments, looks like a scared young girl: “It was such a terrifying experience.”Afterward she quietly told her mother superior, who allowed her to avoid other meetings with the priest. She also wrote an anonymous letter to church officials, which she thinks may have led to the priest being re-assigned.But nothing was said aloud. There were no public reprimands, no warnings to the many nuns the priest would work with through his long career.She was too afraid to challenge him openly.”I couldn’t imagine taking that stand. It was too scary,” she said. “For me it was risking my own vocation.”So the fierce nun remained silent.Catholic history is filled with women who became martyrs to their own purity: Saint Agatha had her breasts torn off for refusing to marry; Saint Lucy was burned alive and stabbed in the throat for defending her virginity; Saint Maria Goretti was 11 years old when she was killed by a man who tried to rape her.”It is a sin!” Maria is said to have cried out. “God does not want it!”But for a nun, fighting off a priest’s advances means pinballing through centuries-old sexual and clerical traditions. Celibacy is a cornerstone of Catholic religious life, as is sexual purity among nuns. Many nuns say a sister who admits to a sexual experience — even if it’s forced — faces the risk of isolation within her order, and possibly even expulsion.”You’re not sure if you’ll be kept in your congregation, because so much is about your vow of chastity,” said Sister Shalini Mulackal, a New Delhi-based theologian. “That fear is there for the young ones to disclose what has happened to them.”At the same time, priests are seen as living representatives of Christ, with obedience to them another Catholic cornerstone.Then there is the isolation of young women struggling to find their way in new communities after leaving their homes.Caught at this intersection of sexual taboo, Catholic hierarchy and loneliness, sisters can be left at the mercy of predatory priests.”There’s a lot of emotion bottled up and when a little tenderness is shown by somebody it can be so easy for you to cross boundaries,” said Sister Dorothy Fernandes, who has spent years working with the urban poor in eastern India. “It can be hard to tell what is love and what is exploitation.”It’s particularly hard for sisters from Kerala, a deeply conservative region long the birthplace of most Indian nuns. Sex is rarely mentioned openly in small-town Kerala, boys and girls are largely kept apart, and a visible bra strap can be a minor crisis for a young woman.”Once you grow up, once you get your first menstruation, you are not encouraged to speak normally to a boy. And the boys also vice-versa,” said a nun from Kerala, a cheerful woman with sparkly glass earrings and an easy smile. She remembers the misery of Sunday mass as an adolescent, when boys would stand outside the church to watch girls filing in, eyes crawling over their young figures. “We have a terrible taboo about sex.”That naivety, she said, can be costly.Like the time she was a novice nun, still in her teens, and an older priest came to the Catholic centre where she worked. He was from Goa, a coastal region and former Portuguese colony.She shook her head: “I was in charge of visitors, and we had this bad habit of being hospitable.”At one point, she brought the priest’s laundry to his small room, where he was sitting. As she set down the clothes, he grabbed her and began to kiss her.At first, she had no idea what was happening.”The kissing was all coming here,” she said, gesturing at her chest.The confusion of that day is still clear on her face: “I was young. He was from Goa. I am from Kerala. In my mind I was trying to figure out: ‘Is this the way that Goans kiss?'”She quickly understood what was happening but couldn’t escape his fierce grip. She also could not call out for help: “I cannot shout! He’s a priest.””I didn’t want to offend him. I didn’t want to make him feel bad,” she said.So she pushed herself away from him until she could slip out the door.She quietly told a senior nun to not send novices to the priest’s room. But, like the nun who fought the drunken priest, she made no official complaint.A complaint against a priest means leveling an accusation against someone higher in the church hierarchy. It can mean getting pulled into a tangle of malicious rumors and church politics. It means risking your reputation, and the reputation of your order.In the church, even some of those who doubt there is widespread abuse of nuns say the silence can be enveloping.Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, a New Delhi-based church leader, calls incidents of abuse “kind of sporadic. Once here, once there.”But “many people don’t want to talk,” he continued. “They may talk in the community, but they don’t want to bring it to the public, to the court.”Speaking up can also risk financial troubles, since many congregations of nuns are financially subservient to priests and bishops.The silence is magnified in India by demographics, religious politics and a deep-seated belief that women have little value.There are roughly 18 million Catholics in India, but that’s a small minority in this largely Hindu nation of 1.3 billion. Speaking up could tarnish the image of their church, many nuns worry, and feed criticism by Hindu hardliners.”Even we, as religious sisters, even we try to keep it quiet,” said Mulackal, the theologian. “A woman who goes through this experience, she just wants to hide it and pretend everything is OK.”The rapes, the nun says, happened in Room 20 of a small convent at the end of a one-lane road in rural Kerala.Set amid rows of banana and rubber trees near the little town of Kuravilangad, the sisters at the St Francis Mission Home spend their days in prayer or caring for the aged. In the garden, a statue of the Virgin Mary overlooks a decorative fish pond the size of a child’s wading pool. The pond is covered in green scum.The rapist, she says, was the most powerful man in this tiny small world: Bishop Franco Mulakkal.Smart and ambitious, Mulakkal had risen from small-town Kerala to become a bishop in north India, overseeing a sprawling Catholic community. He was also the official patron of her community of 81 sisters, the Missionaries of Jesus, wielding immense influence over its budgets and job assignments.The nun is a friendly woman with jet black hair known for her quiet confidence. Every few months, she says, Mulakkal would visit the St. Francis convent and summon her. Then, according to a letter she wrote to church officials, he raped her.The letter says the first rape happened on 5 May, 2014. The last time was on 23 September, 2016. The dates are recorded in the convent’s visitor logs.Mulakkal angrily denies the accusations, telling reporters the charges were “baseless and concocted” and accusing the sister of trying to blackmail him into giving her a better job.”I am going through painful agony,” said Mulakkal, who was jailed for three weeks and released on bail in October. “I tell everyone to pray to God: Let the truth prevail.”Catholicism envelopes this part of Kerala. Towns are marked by their cathedrals, convents and roadside shrines, where the Virgin watches passing traffic or St George slays the dragon. Businesses proclaim their owners’ faith: St Mary’s Furniture and Bed Center; Ave Maria Electronics; Jesus Oil Industries.Around here, many see Mulakkal as a martyr.A string of supporters visited him in jail, and crowds greeted him when he returned home, a ring of policemen holding back people who showered him with flower petals. “Hearty Welcome!” a banner proclaimed.But at the St Francis convent, one group of nuns watched news reports about that welcome with dismay. While the sister leveling the accusations against Mulakkal does not speak publicly, a half-dozen nuns cluster around her, offering support and speaking on her behalf.”Nobody came to see sister, but so many people came to wait in line to meet Bishop Franco in jail,” said Villoonnickal, the nun, who moved back to Kerala to support the woman she calls “our survivor sister.”That sister was the second of five children in a Kerala family. Her father was in the army. Her mother died when she was in high school. Wracked with grief, she was sent to stay with a cousin – a priest – living in north India. Inspired by her time with him, she became a nun in 1994, working in her early years as a teacher.She knew Mulakkal, of course. Everyone in the Missionaries of Jesus knows him. But the two were never close, the accuser’s friends say, and had no consensual sexual relationship.It was about fear.”The bishop is such a powerful person and standing against him, where will she go?” asked Villoonnickal. “If she went home what will happen to her?””Many times she was telling him to stop. But each time he was forcing himself on her,” she continued.Eventually, they say, she told some sisters what was happening. Then she says she repeatedly complained to church authorities. When nothing happened, she went to the police.She also went to confession.There, according to the other nuns, she was told she had to resist the bishop.”‘Even if you have to die, don’t submit yourself.'” the priest told her in confession, according to Villoonnickal. “‘Be courageous.'”Catholic authorities have said little about the case, with India’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference saying in an October statement that it has no jurisdiction over individual bishops, and that the investigation and court case, which could take many years, must run their course.”Silence should in no way be construed as siding with either of the two parties,” the group said. “We request prayers for the Church at this difficult time.”In Malayalam, the language of Kerala, sisters who leave the convent are sometimes marked as “Madhilu Chadi” — Wall Jumpers. It’s a mocking term for the sexually frustrated and is often used for nuns and priests who have fled religious life.Those who stay get respect. They have communities that embrace them. Their lives have direction, purpose. Those who leave often find themselves adrift in India, searching for new identities and spurned by families and friends. The events that knit families together — weddings, funerals, reunions — are suddenly off-limits. The emotional toll can be immense.Speaking up about the church’s troubles, many nuns say, could end with them forced from their convents, cut off in many ways from what they’ve always known.”It’s a fear of being isolated if I speak the truth,” said the nun who fought off the drunken priest. “If you do that, you have to go against your own community, your own religious superiors.”The result is an engulfing silence. Silence is the armor that sisters use to protect themselves and the lives they have created, even if it also means struggling with their memories, and protecting the men who abused them.In the end, most say nothing.”I didn’t tell anybody,” said the nun who escaped the priest kissing her chest, and who waited many years to talk about what had happened to her. “So you understand how these things are covered up.”
ITV’s international business has registered increased overall profit and revenue driven by a raft of international commissions. However, year-on-year sales at the UK free-to-air broadcaster’s programme sales division, Global Entertainment, decreased in 2011.ITV’s production and distribution activities are housed in its ITV Studios division. Total revenue increased 10% year-on-year, taking the total to £612 million (€724 million). EBITA profit of £83 million was up £2 million.ITV Studios now makes 55% of ITV1’s output and £345 million of ITV Studio’s revenues came from the UK.International production revenue was up by a third, driven by 45 new commissions including the upcoming ITV Studios coproduction Titanic. Programme sales revenue, meanwhile, fell £3 million, taking the total to £126 million and ITV blamed the weak DVD market in the UK.Kevin Lygo joined ITV Studios as managing director in 2010 and ITV CEO Adam Crozier said headway was being made in the production and distribution business. “We are making encouraging progress but, given the long lead time involved in production, there is still a lot of work to do to develop scale in our content business on the international stage,” he said. “We will continue to develop and invest in our international network as we build on the momentum which has been created within ITVS.”ITV recorded overall group revenue of £2.1 billion in 2011, a 4% year-on-year increase. EBITA was £462 million, a 13% increase year-on-year.“We’re now almost two years into our five-year transformation plan and our continued growth in revenue and profit – at a time when the advertising market is broadly flat – demonstrates that we’re performing in line with our strategic priorities,” Crozier said. “The increase in non-advertising revenues of £93m, driven by our studios and online businesses, is clear evidence of progress in rebalancing the company and our ability to grow new revenue streams.”
Anne SweeneyFormer Disney-ABC Television president Anne Sweeney has joined the board of streaming service Netflix.Sweeney was in chargeof The Walt Disney Company’s television operations when it scored a major original production deal with Netflix in October 2013, and now joins the SVOD platform’s board.Sweeney exited Disney in January after 11 years running its cable, broadcaster and international channels. She has more than 30 years’ experience in senior posts at TV firms, including a run as CEO and chairman of FX Networks and 12 years at Viacom-owned Nickelodeon.Netflix wants to use her experience to guide its international roll-out, with the plan to be in more than 200 territories by end-2016 well underway already.Microsoft’s executive VP and general counsel, Brad Smith, is also joining the Netflix board, which now totals nine executives.“We look forward to benefitting from Brad and Anne’s perspective as we continue to build ourglobal internet TV network,” said Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and chief executive.Ben Sherwood has replaced Sweeney at the top of Disney-ABC.
Scripps has identified a “substantial opportunity” for HGTV in Europe, and said that the global rollout of the channel is a “key priority”.Speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call, Scripps CEO Kenneth Lowe said that the company would make more announcements about Home and Garden Television in Europe in “the coming months”.This follows the launch of HGTV in New Zealand in June and its debut last month in the Middle East and North Africa region in partnership with local pay TV operator BeIN Media Group.Discussing Scripps’ International Networks segment more generally, Lowe said that Polish broadcaster TVN has been a “transformative acquisition” that has turned this division into a “growing and profitable endeavour”.“Today, our international networks, including our TVN portfolio, are distributed in more than 175 countries and territories around the world and broadcast in 29 languages, all on our way to 300 million cumulative subscribers,” said Lowe.Scripps added that UKTV achieved a 10% share of commercial impacts for the first time in its history, and said that no impact is currently being seen from the UK’s ‘Brexit’ decision to leave the EU.Scripps International Networks’ operating revenues for Q2 were US$147.0 million (€133 million) compared with $22.1 million a year earlier. International Networks’ operating income was US$18.6 million, compared to a Q2 2015 operating loss of $13.1 million, while adjusted segment profit was US$37.4 million, compared with adjusted segment losses of $10.1 million last year –primarily due to the inclusion of TVN.US Networks advertising revenue was up 8.9% to US$541.0 million. However, distribution revenues for US Networks decreased by 3.6% to US$196.1 million and Scripps said that “continued erosion in subscribers across the industry also impacted revenue”.Overall Scripps reported consolidated operating revenues of US$892.8 million, a 21.9% increase from last year.
FC Porto’s Estádio do DragãoSFR Sport has secured the exclusive rights to top-tier Portuguese football, adding to a portfolio of rights anchored on the English Premier League.The deal with Portugal’s La Liga means that SFR Sport will air coverage of the Portuguese championship exclusively in France, beginning tomorrow.The Altice-owned operator’s sports channels will air two to six matches live each day on the SFR Sport 1 and SfR Sport 2 channels, including matches of leading clubs Benfica and Porto, kicking off with Rio Ave v Porto.SFR’s coverage of English Premier League football kicks off this Saturday with current champion Leicester’s match against Hull City.The latest deal means that Altice Group holds the exclusive rights to Portuguese championship football in Belgium Switzerland and Luxembourg as well as France. It separately olds the distribution rights to Benfica TV matches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and sub-Saharan Africa.
In an era of instant access to information and highly tailored niche-interest TV channels, the 24-hour news channel faces fresh challenges. Andy Fry reports.When radio stations seek to justify their existence in the post-iPod world, they generally make two points. First, people like the personalities, not just the music itself. Second, radio introduces listeners to music that they wouldn’t find if left to their own devices. For individual radio stations, then, the route to success is not just to play music, but to hire charismatic DJs that can entertain audiences and know how to balance new content with old. Up to a point, this philosophy also applies to news. In an era when much of the same footage of the Libyan civil war, the Japanese Earthquake, Europe’s debt crisis or the latest celebrity scandal can be accessed with ease from a range of sources, on-screen presentation, analysis and story selection are more critical than ever to distinguishing a news channel from its rivals. This message has had a clear impact in the US, where primetime programming on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN has moved towards opinion, commentary and editorialising. At first, CNN resisted this shift, but by the autumn of 2010 it had revamped its primetime schedule in a bid to improve ratings, including the launch of Parker Spitzer, an unashamedly opinion-based show. Although this has now been replaced by another show, Into The Arena, the message is that polemic is seen as the route to primetime ratings success.This shift, which is also emerging in the international channel space, only tells part of the story however. The relationship between news and digital media differs from that of radio in one critical respect – audiences will not tolerate any delay in the provision of need-to-know news. This is why all the major players have extended their proposition out of cable and satellite into IPTV, online, mobile and tablets. It’s why they have also explored free-to-air channels, branded blocks and JVs with local news suppliers.Total news access isn’t just important because the audience expects it. It’s also crucial from a promotional point of view. While news channels don’t celebrate bad news, there’s no question that sudden and unexpected developments like those in North Africa are a major opportunity for them to reach new audiences, which often spend the first few minutes and hours after an event zapping between news sources. For channels, being first on the scene and delivering great coverage is a way of prising viewers away from their default provider.So how have the major players responded to the new dynamics in market? BBC World News commercial director Colin Lawrence says: “We start from a strong position in terms of the BBC’s brand and its track record as a news-gathering organisation. But I think the thing you really saw in the first part of this year was the absolute authority of the BBC’s news-gathering. In terms of insight and access, I don’t think any of the competition can match what we do.”Richness of coverage is critical to the brand, says Lawrence: “Your first alert to a news story might be via a text or your PC. But where do you go next on your news journey? For us, the key has been the detail we can provide across both the rolling news network and the bbc.com website.” Echoing the defence of radio in the on-demand world, he says: “A piece of video or a text is unsatisfactory in isolation. You can’t be so reductive in news. The reason you still see a vibrant audience for news bulletins is that people want interpretation, and that’s what BBC World News offers.” “For us, the key has been the detail we can provide across both the rolling news network and the bbc.com website.”Colin Lawrence, BBC World NewsWhile the BBC may be more conservative than rivals when it comes to delivering opnion-based programming (“Our approach in programmes like Hardtalk and Dateline would be to make sure we have a balance of strong alternative opinions,” says Lawrence), the channel has shown a willingness to stick with stories that have a compelling dramatic component, even if they are not news, purely-defined. A case in point is its extensive coverage of the Chilean miners story. “We did that because it was clear that our audience was deeply concerned about the story,” he says.BBC World News is in 252 million TV homes worldwide, mostly as a subscription channel (the exception to this being the Middle East where it is free-to-air). New media will be right at the heart of the channel when it joins the rest of the BBC’s newsgathering operation at Broadcasting House in central London in 2012. While expansion on to digital platforms doesn’t necessarily bring new pay revenues with it, “it does broaden the advertising and sponsorship proposition by offering additional engagement with audiences and experiential elements,” says Lawrence. The channel’s most recent sponsorship deal saw DuPont join forces with BBC World News behind a new 20 x 30 minutes series called Horizons, which will look at companies making an impact on the way the world will live and work in the future and will be supported on the digital landscape in a variety of ways (including Facebook and Twitter).Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is in a different position to BBC World News because it can rely on funding from the Qatari government, channelled via the Qatar Media Corporation. For Roch Pellerin, head of global distribution, this means the goal, pure and simple, is to expand distribution: “Al Jazeera started by supplying a free-to-air Arabic-language news service to the Middle East and Arabic speakers in Europe, Asia and the US. Then, five years ago, it was logical to launch an English channel.” Today that English-language channel is in 250 million homes across 135 countries. “Our agenda is to get the widest distribution, which means pay TV and free-to-air branded blocks are important,” says Pellerin. “All told, we have around 500 carriage deals, the most recent of which include ONO in Spain and Total Play in Mexico. We’re also available via DISH in the US.”While TV remains the most potent of Al Jazeera’s platforms, Pellerin echoes Lawrence when he says: “You have to be platform-agnostic. You can’t be a 21st century news provider and not be on all available platforms. In the Middle East, Al Jazeera was top news network on Twitter during the Egyptian uprising and has thousands of videos on YouTube.” Being available doesn’t always mean focusing on the latest platforms, says Pellerin: “There are places like Africa and Bangladesh where mobile penetration is high, but most phones are not 3G, so we have to reflect that in the news content we deliver to those audiences.”Al Jazeera is still regarded as something of an interloper in markets like the US and Europe. But in countries that don’t belong to the Anglo-American cultural tradition there is a more level playing field. Here, Pellerin believes certain factors distinguish the service from its rivals. “I think the physical closeness of the news team to the Middle East makes a difference, particularly at times like this when so much has been happening in North Africa. But there’s also a historic and cultural understanding that informs the channels,” he says.However, Al Jazeera is not purely focused on Middle Eastern news, and Pellerin points out that there are other points of differentiation. “We have a global organisation like our rivals. If there’s a point of difference, I think Al Jazeera tends to cover stories for a longer time after the initial breaking news. For me an example of that is the way we continue to cover Haiti,” he says.Of particular strategic significance is that Al Jazeera is moving towards a more localised strategy. In September 2010, it acquired a TV station in Bosnia and began broadcasting a local service in January 2011. More significantly, February saw it acquire Turkey’s Cine5 for U$40m (?28 million). The plan, says Pellerin, is to launch a local news channel.Growing presenceThe Middle East is an increasingly important market for Sky News. The BSkyB-owend channel has a significant international presence and, according to Simon Cole, deputy head of Sky News, international distribution is now very important for the channel, which has grown reach from 69 million homes to over 90 million homes in the last two years. “More people watch Sky News every day in Europe than any other international news channel,” says Cole, citing the latest EMS Survey figures showing the channel reaches 2,151,000 (4.6%) upscale Europeans. Sky News HD also has a growing presence in the Middle East and Asia (where it will be available in Malaysia on the Astro platform offering coverage of the UK’s Royal Wedding).Plans are currently afoot to spin Sky News off from owner BSkyB as part of the deal struck by News Corp to secure regulatory approval for its planned acquisition of the UK pay TV operator. “At the moment the plans for Sky News to be spun off as a separate company are still just a proposal,” says Cole. “If this were to happen, it would effectively maintain the status quo in respect of ownership, with News Corp owning a minority stake in Sky News as it does in BSkyB today. Sky News would therefore remain wholly dedicated to its international development as it is today.”[icitspot id=”7594″ template=”box-story”]Sky plans to launch an Arabic channel, Sky News Arabia, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Company, in spring 2012. The channel will be available across TV, mobile and web. “Plans will in no way change in light of the News Corp bid and we remain fully committed to the project,” says Cole. “The political developments in the region have only proved just how important the area is in terms of news. Sky News in the UK has seen some of its very best viewing figures over the past few months and we are confident that we are offering a genuine alternative to the current news offerings in the Middle East and North Africa with the new channel.”Multi-platform distribution is also increasingly important to Sky, which recently launched an innovative iPad app (see sidebar). Skynews.com receives 10 million monthly unique creating 100 million monthly page views, according to Cole.The strategic value of being available across media platforms is also emphatically underlined by France 24 which, like Al Jazeera, is primarily publicly-funded. Global distribution chief Philippe Rouxel says: “Typically, our three language-based websites – French, English, Arabic – attract five to six million unique users a month. During March that rose to 14 million. Looking back to the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, our site was number one among international providers.”France 24 has made it a priority to be available on new digital platforms at the earliest opportunity: “Cross-platform has been at the core of our strategy since pre-launch four years ago,” says Rouxel. “We knew we had to be there if we wanted to be comparable to CNN or the BBC. We also recognised the shift in audience behaviour which means that news needs to be instant, on all platforms, easy-to-use, and often free. Otherwise people get frustrated quickly.”With this in mind, he says, France24 was an early mover with video on the web and on other new platforms. “We were the first to launch our channel on the web and to stream a live signal via the web,” says Rouxel. “We were also the first channel to launch a live iPhone app in 2009. That has now had two million downloads. More recently we have gone onto tablets, which are becoming a major platform for people who want to fill a few empty minutes with news, maybe on the train to work or waiting between meetings.”Like its rivals, France 24 pursues TV distribution but recognises the need to be flexible in some markets: “We’re now in 160 million homes worldwide, double what we had four years ago, including DISH and RCN in the US. But in markets where there are barriers to TV distribution we look to other platforms,” says Rouxel. Recent alternative platform developments include distribution via mobile platforms TIM Brazil and NTT DoCoMo Japan.In theory, there’s nothing to stop international news being endlessly segmented along cultural lines, as long as there are public bodies ready to underwrite the costs. While France 24 is probably the most advanced non-Anglo-Saxon example, other channels offering a distinctive perspective on world events include Germany’s Deutsche-Welle TV, NHK World, RT (Russia Today) and CCTV’s English-language news channel CNTV. If there’s a difference between France 24 and CNTV, however, it is that the latter is playing a more overt ambassadorial role on behalf of its host nation. RT has a similar mandate. While the network has an authentic news gathering operation, the decision to disseminate news in English, Spanish and Arabic is fundamentally about putting Russia on the map as a political force and potential trading partner.Perhaps the most unusual model in the news broadcasting business is Euronews, which reaches around 330 million homes worldwide via 11 different language-versions (raising funds via a mix of public and commercial sources). Launched in 1993 by a number of broadcasters within the EBU, various shifts in shareholder structure mean that the channel’s ownership now consists of: France TV, RAI, RTR Russia, TRT Turkey, SSR Switzerland, SNRT Morocco, TVR Romania, RTP Portugal, NTU Ukraine and a variety of other broadcast partners. A Ukrainian-language version unveiled in late 2010. It’s a complex structure, admits Michael Peters, managing director of the executive board, “but the thing that stays consistent is the shareholders’ desire for an impartial news offer.”Like its rivals, Euronews saw a big spike in audience on its online service during the recent run of news stories. “The audience doubled,” says Peters. “While a lot of our footage was the same as [that of] the other broadcasters, we had some exclusives – such as the claim by Muammar Gaddafi that his father had funded the presidential campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy during 2007.”Multicultural perspectiveLike Rouxel, Peters says Euronews is not trying to replace its rivals – but he does believe that it provides a unique multicultural perspective on news. In terms of the changing news landscape, he says it has had an impact on Euronews in a couple of key ways. First, “our broadcasting model historically, partly because of our shareholder structure, was to run news actuality with a voiceover. But the need to have a distinctive engaging brand has encouraged us to start using presenter-led pieces on-air for the first time”, says Peters.Second, Euronews, like its rivals, has thrown itself wholeheartedly into new media, making itself available via online, mobile and connected TV. The latter has taught the channel an important lesson, says Peters: “You have to tailor your content for the different platforms and portals,” he says. “On YouTube, we have a franchise called No Comment which does extremely well for us, but it doesn’t work so well on our website. In another scenario, we have just done a deal with the carrier Air France, which will see us provide a 40-minute weekly news report, which is anchored by a presenter. That’s a completely different approach to YouTube.”Such differences in execution, however, cannot be at the expense of the brand, says Peters. “When you do things differently across different media, then the only thing that unites it all is the brand.”While channels including France24 and Al Jazeera bring a different perspective to news, business channel CNBC differentiates in terms of its target audience and content. Like rival Bloomberg, it focuses on high-end decision-makers, but lots of the strategic decisions it is making regarding content and distribution are along similar lines. It has, for example, made it a priority to extend its reach, says Justine Powell, vice-president, distribution EMEA: “It’s my role to extend our reach in every day-part, across every platform, in every location.” CNBC is open to both free-to-air or pay TV deals. “It’s something we decide market by market, says Powell, “Obviously, extra reach is good in terms of what we offer advertisers and sponsors. But subscription revenues are important too.” It is getting harder to make platforms pay, because there are so many news sources to choose from. Where CNBC encounters downward pressure on price “we seek to sustain our level of fee by offering more content, for example by providing a VOD catalogue.”CNBC’s business segment rival Bloomberg, currently in 252 million homes, has made rapid strides in Asia. In new media, April 2011 saw the launch of a new Bloomberg Businessweek iPad App (Bloomberg bought the magazine in 2009). Called Bloomberg Businessweek+, the app combines the magazine’s perspective on global business news and market trends with content and interactive features. “We re-imagined the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine for the iPad, enriching it in ways that make sense for readers,” explains Oke Okaro, general manager/global head Bloomberg Mobile.Local audiencesWhile channels including CNBC have chosen to target a specific audience, the original 24-hour news channel, CNN, has had a rough time in the last year, seeing its ratings suffer at the hands of US rivals and losing key talent that it has tried to build its brand around. But in other respects it has made progress in revitalising its brand. Currently in around 200 million homes worldwide, CNN has been one of the pioneers in rolling out HD and has made important strides in reaching out to local audiences across platforms. Last December it backed up the launch of its Abu Dhabi media hub with a revamp of its Arabic-language website. At the same time, says Rani Raad, general manager of CNNArabic.com: “Expanding on current activity with influential bloggers and Facebook forums in the Arab world, there are two segments for key social media influencers to post their thoughts and ideas, and add their URL so users can access their pages. The site’s team will provide a weekly roundup of the most important and interesting Arab blogs and forums and invite users to recommend favourites.” This is a timely addition. Broadcasters are engaging viewers and providing content across platforms. CNN appears to be exploring the point at which the two collide. If there’s a message from the recent developments in the Middle East it’s that new providers are no longer just observers in the debate but participants. For the Facebook/iPhone/Twitter generation, there’s no question that delivering news through social media can prove very compelling, since it allows them to build a dialogue with both the news provider and peers.