The development of the Digital Free Trade Zone would offer a conducive environment for digital companies to carry out their business, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during his opening address at the Global Transformation Forum in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via yourlocalguardian.co.uk – – Tue, 21 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
Google’s European chief has publicly apologised after online adverts for major brands appeared next to extremist material, but declined to say whether the company would begin actively seeking out such content and taking action against it.
Matt Brittin, Google’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the Advertising Week Europe conference in London on Monday: “I want to start by saying sorry to the brands affected by this. I take the issue very seriously and I apologise in the instances where that may have happened.”
But his response was deemed inadequate by Yvette Cooper, Labour MP and home affairs select committee chair, who said the company was “failing to do enough” to weed out extremist content.
Brittin told an audience of advertising industry figures that the company would improve its ad placement system, which has seen ads attached to videos by extremists, including hate preachers and the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
The ads help fund payments to the people who post the videos, with every 1,000 clicks worth about £6.
Brittin insisted the sums involved had been “pennies not pounds” but admitted,“clearly we need to do more on that”.
He declined three times to say whether Google would start actively seeking out extremist content, rather than investigating only after users flag up inappropriate material, such as videos on YouTube, which it owns.
“Of course we’re looking again at how we improve what we’re doing on enforcement. That’s a question of resources and technology and community,” he said.
Cooper, who last week accused the company of “profiting from hatred” said she was not satisfied with Brittin’s response to the issue.
“This apology from Google doesn’t go far enough,” she said. “They need to say whether they will be paying back any of that advertising revenue and to answer our questions on what more they are doing to root out extremism or illegal activity on YouTube because they are still failing to do enough to remove illegal or hate-filled content from YouTube.
“They still don’t seem to have woken up to the seriousness and toxicity of some of the videos they are still hosting and their own responsibility to deal with that. And they still haven’t agreed to use any of their much-feted search engines to identify illegal content such as National Action videos and remove them.
“It isn’t enough for Google to respond only when their advertising revenues take a hit. They are one of the biggest and most powerful companies on the planet. They can afford to do far more, far faster to deal with illegal and hate-filled content online.”
Brittin admitted that the company “need[s] to do better” but also appeared to blame advertisers for failing to deploy tools designed to ensure their ads do not appear next to extremist content.
“What we found is that there are many controls available but they’re not always being used so we need to make sure they’re simpler and easier to use,” said Brittin.
Google executives have been summoned to the Cabinet Office later this week to explain to ministers what they plan to do about extremist content and ads attached to it on YouTube and Google’s wider network.
But a date for the meeting has yet to be arranged, according to Whitehall sources, while Brittin was unable to say what measures the company will promise to take.
“You’ll have more detail from us very soon on that. We’re working to get it right and if we need some improvement we will do,” he said.
The government and several high-profile companies have suspended adverts, or are reviewing whether to do so, after it emerged that extremists including Duke were able to profit from adverts on Google’s network.
Marks & Spencer became the latest company to pull advertising from Google on Monday, adding its name to a growing list that includes government departments, major advertising agencies and well-known companies. McDonald’s, the BBC, L’Oréal, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, the Guardian, Audi and Channel 4 are among the firms to suspend advertising.
BT and Sky said they were reviewing their relationship with Google.
Unilever’s chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, who was speaking alongside Brittin at the Advertising Week Europe seminar, said the consumer goods company has not pulled its adverts from Google and had not yet been affected.
Brittin’s public apology comes after he was urged to do so by Rob Norman, chief digital officer at GroupM, part of the world’s largest advertising group WPP.
While Brittin admitted that Google had work to do to mend fences with advertisers, he also pointed out that it handles a huge volume of content, including 400 hours of YouTube video uploaded every minute.
In Brazil, authorities allege that major meat processing companies bribed officials in order to allow them to sell rotten beef and poultry. The government is now attempting to save the country's reputation as one of the world's top meat exporters. Also today, we take a look at last year's champagne sales.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via yourlocalguardian.co.uk – – Mon, 20 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
Ninety-five councils have had home care contracts cancelled by private companies, an investigation has found.
BBC Panorama found that agencies were struggling to deliver the care required with the funding offered, forcing the companies to end their contracts.
Numerous authorities across south London have raised council tax this year in a bid to ease the social care crisis, including Kingston, Merton and Croydon.
It found that a quarter of the country's 2,500 home care providers were at risk of insolvency, and almost 70 had closed down in the last three months.
The agencies – which provide help for people living independently at home – also struggled to recruit and retain staff, Panorama reported.
One home care company – Cymorth Llaw in Bangor, Wales – was forced to hand back its contract with Conwy council because it felt unable to provide adequate care with the council's funding offer of £15 per hour.
Ken Hogg, co-director of the company, told the programme: “We didn't think we could do it for the money – it was as simple as that.”
He said the company has always paid employees above the national minimum and living wage.
But with pension contributions, National Insurance and training – among other costs such as mileage and travel time – the amount the council were paying “doesn't leave a great deal”.
BBC Panorama also found a similar issue at home care company Mears, who cancelled a contract with Liverpool City Council in July saying £13.10 per hour was not enough to cover the costs, and at least £15 an hour was needed.
Alan Long, executive director at Mears, told the programme: “That was a terrible thing to do for both service users and for care staff, we absolutely did not take that lightly, but frankly what choice did we have?
“We just cannot do the two most basic things that you need to do in home care – one, pay staff the absolutely minimum of a living wage and, two, be able to recruit people, enough people to deliver the service that Liverpool Council actually expected from us.”
The Local Government Association warned in January that the number of people who had “unmet basic needs”, such as getting washed, dressed or getting out of bed, could rise because of “continued underfunding” of social care.
It said those who got care could face shorter visits from carers.
Problems arranging social care in the community have also led to an all-time high level of delayed discharges in the NHS, with patients who are medically fit to leave hospital unable to do so.
There have been repeated calls for more money for social care, with charities, local councils and think tanks saying the gap in funding is between £1.3bn to £2bn.
In this month's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £2 billion of extra funding for social care over the next three years, and said the system was “clearly under pressure”.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 20 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
Vodafone has announced the merger of its Indian business with rival mobile operator Idea Cellular to create one of the world’s largest telecoms operators.
The announcement ends months of speculation over a possible tie-up.
The combined company will have an enterprise value of around £19bn and be the biggest telecoms operator in India with almost 400m customers and a market share of 35pc.
The deal, which means that Vodafone has gone into business with the powerful Birla dynasty, has been triggered by a mobile price war that was kickstarted by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and his new operator Reliance Jio.
Following the merger, which is expected to close in 2018, Vodafone will own 45.1pc of the combined company, while the Aditya Birla Group will own 26pc.
The Aditya Birla Group, which is Idea’s parent company, has the right to acquire more shares from Vodafone “with a view to equalising the shareholdings over time,” the companies said.
Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s chief executive, added: “The combination of Vodafone India and Idea will create a new champion of Digital India founded with a long-term commitment and vision to bring world-class 4G networks to villages, towns and cities across India.
“The combined company will have the scale required to ensure sustainable consumer choice in a competitive market and to expand new technologies – such as mobile money services – that have the potential to transform daily life for every Indian.”
The companies said they expect cost and capex synergies of about £8bn after integration costs, with operating cost savings representing 60pc of the expected savings.
The Aditya Birla Group has the sole right to appoint the company’s chairman, which will be Kumar Mangalam Birla, the group’s chairman. Vodafone will appoint the chief financial officer, while the two groups will jointly agree on the appointments of the chief executive and the COO.
Shares in Idea rose almost 15pc immediately after the announcement of the news but quickly reversed, plummeting back down by around 15pc.
Dawoon cofounded Coffee Meets Bagel along with her sisters Arum and Soo. As COO & Head of Marketing, Dawoon oversees the company’s overall vision, strategy, branding, and marketing. Dawoon explains why her sisters started Coffee Meets Bagel and how their dating service empowers women. She also tells the story of rejecting Mark Cuban’s 30 Million Dollar offer on Shark Tank and the up’s and down’s of starting a business with her family.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 17 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
The owner of British Airways is entering the fray of the burgeoning low-cost long-haul market with a new airline to be named Level in a bid to take the wind out of rivals such as Norwegian and WestJet.
International Airlines Group said Level will launch in June with an initial two new Airbus A330 aircraft flying from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said Level would become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alonside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
Mr Walsh added Barcelona was “just the start” and that other European destinations would be added.
Level will be initially staffed by Iberia’s flight and cabin crew, creating up to 250 jobs in Barcelona, the launch city for the brand.
Fares will start from €99 for a one-way ticket. Checked luggage, meals and seat selection will be among the perks for those willing to pay for one of the 21 premium economy seats each aircraft will have.
The remaining 293 seats will be economy, where passengers will be able to choose what they want to pay for.
Norwegian’s website has flights from Barcelona to San Francisco from €162 in the winter months, meaning Level could become a serious competitor.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thu, 16 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
Ofcom to assess whether deal gives mogul too much control of UK media and whether his family are ‘fit and proper’ owners
Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover bid for Sky is to be investigated by the media regulator to see if it gives the mogul too much control of news output in the UK and whether the Murdoch family are “fit and proper” owners following the phone-hacking scandal.
The culture secretary, Karen Bradley, has referred 21st Century Fox’s bid to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own to Ofcom to investigate potential public interest issues on two grounds.
Bradley told MPs she has issued a European intervention notice on the grounds of “media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards” linked to the bid from Rupert Murdoch’s company. Bradley confirmed the decision in a statement to MPs in the Commons.
Ofcom will look at whether Fox’s takeover will raise issues of UK media plurality and concentration in Murdoch’s control.
The deal will give Murdoch full control of Sky News, as well as the Times, Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and radio group TalkSport, through separate company News Corp.
The second issue is whether Fox is committed to the required editorial standards, such as accuracy and impartial news coverage.
If Ofcom does not raise any concerns, Bradley must clear the bid.
However, if the regulator cites problems she must decide whether to accept an undertaking from Fox to address them.
Opponents of the bid have raised concerns that Murdoch, who also owns the rightwing Fox News, will use his influence to drive the news agenda and that there is a risk of the “Foxification” of Sky News.
Murdoch critics have called for the bid to be blocked while rival broadcasters are expected to lodge complaints and make representations in the UK and Europe – the European commission is also examining the deal – after expressing concerns that a Fox/Sky combination will dominate bidding for top-flight sport, TV shows and movies.
Fox News, which is also broadcast in the UK, has fallen foul of the regulator a number of times through editorial lapses. Last year, Ofcom criticised a Fox News programme for breaching the UK code when a guest said Birmingham was a city “where non-Muslims just simply don’t go”.
Separately Ofcom, which will now have up to 40 working days to report back to Bradley on the public interest concerns, will kick off its own concurrent review of whether Fox is “fit and proper” to take control of Sky’s broadcasting licence.
Ofcom, which has already said that Fox taking over Sky’s licence would warrant such a review, launched a “fit and proper” investigation following Murdoch’s previous attempt to takeover Sky back in 2010.
The investigation found that Sky remained a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence, despite the phone-hacking affair that embroiled the now-defunct News Corporation, then the parent of Fox and Murdoch’s UK newspapers.
However, it published a scathing assessment of James Murdoch – then the chief executive of his father’s UK newspaper group and chairman of Sky – finding that his conduct repeatedly fell short of the standards expected.
The political fallout ultimately resulted in Rupert Murdoch withdrawing his bidand James standing down as chairman of Sky and quitting the UK newspaper business to run Fox, the film and TV operation, from the US.
Rupert Murdoch subsequently spun off the publishing and newspaper assets into a separate company, News Corp, and film and TV into 21st Century Fox, with independent boards, in part a corporate governance measure to facilitate another tilt at Sky.
James Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox, was reappointed as the chairman of Sky last year. In October, he had to rely on the support of Fox, Sky’s largest shareholder, to win approval for his return after more than 50% of independent shareholders voted against his reappointment.
At the time of the last bid the Murdochs agreed a deal to spin off Sky News to allay media plurality concerns. This time James Murdoch has stated that he does not believe any “meaningful concessions” will need to be made to get the deal through.
In a letter to Bradley during the 10-day period she has had to review whether to refer the bid to Ofcom, Fox argued that in the six years since the aborted bid the media landscape has changed beyond recognition.
The company says that media plurality is flourishing with the rise of digital rivals such as Google and Facebook and news distributors and new outlets such as Vice, Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, while newspaper sales decline.
It also argues that splitting the publishing and TV and film operations into two companies solves corporate governance, competition and plurality issues.
However, opponents argue that the Murdoch family will still be the ultimate owner of both newspaper and TV assets in the UK and that will give them too much control over UK news media.
Fox has also pledged to keep Fox News at arm’s length and “continue to broadcast news under the Sky brand maintaining its excellent record of compliance with the Ofcom broadcasting code”.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 15 Mar, 2017) London, Uk – –
Price rises are being considered by nearly three-quarters of major food and drink businesses, according to an industry monitor.
Pubs and restaurants are facing the spectre of rising costs from the business rates review as well as the forthcoming rise in the national living wage. Meanwhile competition within the sector is becoming even more fierce.
Like-for-like sales in February rose 1.7pc, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. This compares well to more moribund retail sales data that recently showed growth in January was at its lowest rate since November 2013.
“Encouraging though these figures are, pub and restaurant groups will be working even harder this year to maintain trading levels as their margins are squeezed by increasing overheads,” said Peter Martin, vice president of business consultancy CGA Peach.
“As our recent CGA Business Leaders' Survey of 450 senior executives across pub, bar and restaurant chains showed, almost three-quarters are looking to pass increased costs, at least in part, on to the consumer this year.
“That means they will have to redouble efforts to up the customer experience.”
Analysts at Barclays noted prices were rising across the pub sector, something that had been discussed at a recent meeting with pub group Marston's.
“Given sector cost headwinds, management commented that it is seeing competitors raise prices across the pub sector,” Barclays said.
“Marston’s do not see themselves as price leaders but they have said prices are being raised, and they are prepared to follow this with their own gentle price increases.”
Restaurant groups had the best of February’s trading according to the Coffer Peach data, with like-for-like sales up 2.4pc nationally on the same month in 2016, boosted by family business during the school half-term holidays.
Managed pubs, which are run by the company that owns them instead of being leased, recorded a more modest 1.2pc rise in like-for-like sales.
London outperformed the rest of the country with like-for-likes sales ahead 2.6pc against 1.4pc outside of the M25.
Total sales growth in February among the 34 companies in the Coffer Peach Tracker was 4.7pc, reflecting the impact of new openings over the year.
However, the underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes are running at just 1pc ahead for the 12 months to the end of February.
Eleanor Gilbert, a senior associate in Employment Law at Winckworth Sherwood, tells Ian King Live that the bar is still quite high for a company to fire an employee if they wear a visible religious symbol, despite a ruling from the European Court of Justice that employers can ban them.
The U.K. Parliament's Treasury Committee has ruled that Bank of England Deputy Governor Charlotte Hogg does not possess the standards required for the role due to her failure to disclose that a relative works at Barclays Plc, which is regulated by the BOE.
Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, and Peter Dixon, global equities economist at Commerzbank, discuss the decision on “Bloomberg Surveillance.