OTTAWA — Forcing cable and satellite TV providers to offer pick-and-pay pricing could result in some television channels disappearing, and likely won’t mean lower prices for consumers, say industry insiders.[np_storybar title=”Tories to force TV providers to let consumers ‘pick and choose’ individual channels” link=”http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/10/13/cable-and-satellite-tv-services-must-offer-more-consumer-choice-industry-minister-james-moore/”%5DConsumers are frustrated over being forced to buy large bundles of channels they don’t want when they sign up for satellite and cable TV services, says Industry Minister James Moore. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]Industry Minister James Moore says the Harper government’s throne speech Wednesday will outline plans to mandate an unbundling of TV offerings.The Conservatives are expected to instruct Canada’s broadcast regulator to require that cable and satellite TV service providers offer a form of a-la-carte pricing, where consumers can choose to pay for individual channels.The move will be “evolutionary” for Canada’s broadcast sector, say industry watchers who see pick-and-pay as a necessity with broadcasters trying to compete with increasingly popular online services, including Netflix.But content producers and independent specialty channel operators are running scared.Potentially every broadcaster, at least initially, would be worse off“We’re very worried,” says a television executive who did not want to be identified.“Potentially every broadcaster, at least initially, would be worse off” under pick-and-pay, he said.It’s also likely to spark a war among broadcasters and service providers and will certainly mean a ramping up of marketing by the cable and satellite companies to convince customers to stay with bundled packages.There are already hints of the battles that lay ahead.Cable companies will demand more “flexible” pricing from the television networks that supply the programming, an executive with Rogers told The Canadian Press.If there is more flexibility, consumers, producers and the distribution companies will all benefit, said Rogers vice-president Kenneth Engelhart.“I’m optimistic that we can have pick-and-pay, we can have a valuable service and we can have Canadian content,” said Engelhart.“I believe we can have it all.”Shaw Communications, which has strongly opposed pick-and-pay, declined to comment Tuesday when asked about the pitfalls of such a pricing model.Some channels rarely watched by viewers will certainly disappear as a pick-and-pay system comes into place, said Michael Hennessy, president and CEO of the Canadian Media Production Association.“It’s almost inevitable because, to the extent that pick-and-pay reduces the penetration of all channels — and therefore reduces subscriber and advertising revenues — some will just simply not be (economically viable),” he said.“But the big question is: Will (pick-and-pay) be the primary model, or will the response from the industry be even more attractive packaging?”As well, consumers may not benefit from lower prices, say other observers.Service providers could raise prices for on-demand programming if they see revenues decline, or begin to charge more for individual channels in markets where there is little competition.Adopting regulations of this magnitude will take time. The Conservatives are likely to throw the entire process into the hands of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.The CRTC is already scheduled to hold consultations on the future of television, beginning Oct. 24. The regulator wants to gather the views of Canadians on how they think the broadcasting system should function. Pick-and-pay prices is certain to be raised as an issue.But those consultations could take months, and developing regulations even longer. And that means it could be 2015 or beyond — well after the next federal election — before cable and satellite TV distributors are mandated to adopt a new pricing model.In the meantime, there is nothing preventing service providers from adopting new pricing models on their own.Companies such as Videotron (TSX:QBR.B) are already offering a form of pick-and-pay. Eastlink also allows customers to choose from a list of channels under what it calls its Personal Picks plan. Prices vary depending on how many channels are selected.Rogers has also experimented with pick-and-pay, saying the pricing scheme was popular while it was offered to customers in London, Ont. The experiment lasted only a few months, ending in March 2012.
TORONTO — The Toronto stock market ended October trading sharply lower Thursday, amid major announcements from the oilpatch, earnings disappointments and uncertainty about the Federal Reserve’s next move.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 13,361.26 -94.07 -0.70%S&P 500 — 1,756.54 -6.77 -0.38%Dow — 15,545.75 -73.01 -0.47%Nasdaq — 3,919.71 -10.91 -0.28%The S&P/TSX composite index was down 94.07 points to 13,361.26, led by sliding gold stocks.Despite the decline, the TSX closed at a 27-month high as the market enjoyed its best month all year, leaving the main index up 4.5% for the month and 7.5% year to date.Bombardier Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) was a major drag, down 54 cents or 10.23% to $4.74 on very heavy volume of 27.2 million shares, as the transport giant posted adjusted net income of $165 million or nine cents per share, which was one cent below estimates. Revenue of $4.1 billion also missed analyst estimates.“Their order backlog is up a little bit, but at the same time, order backlogs don’t produce anything until the equipment is completed and sold and delivered,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.The Canadian dollar rose as growth for August came in higher than economists had forecast. The loonie was up 0.52 of a cent to 95.9 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product grew by 0.3% in August versus an expected rise of 0.2%.Suncor Energy Inc. announced that the $13.5-billion Fort Hills oilsands project will go ahead. The cost will be shared between Canada’s largest energy company and partners Total E&P Canada Ltd. and Teck Resources Ltd. (TSX:TCK.B).Suncor also said it recorded net earnings of $1.69 billion, or $1.13 per common share, for the third quarter, compared with $1.54 billion, or $1.01 per common share a year ago. Suncor stock moved down 10 cents to $37.89 while Teck lost $1.41 to $27.90.U.S. indexes were lower after the Fed left traders no wiser about when the central bank might start tapering its US$85 billion monthly bond purchasing program.The Dow Jones industrials dropped 73.01 points to 15,545.75, the Nasdaq was down 10.91 points to 3,919.71 while the S&P 500 index lost 6.77 points to 1,756.54.The Fed said it would maintain the program for now but hinted that tapering could occur earlier than many investors thought. There had been hopes that the Fed wouldn’t move until at least March, well after Janet Yellen has taken over the reins at the central bank.Gold stocks were the biggest sector decliner, down 4.3% while December bullion fell $25 to US$1,324.30 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) fell $1.07 to C$26.56.Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) is cutting its capital spending budget by a further US$1 billion next year as a result of suspending construction at its troubled Pascua-Lama project located by the Argentina-Chile border. At the same time, the miner handed in adjusted earnings of 58 cents per share, seven cents better than estimates. Its shares were 62 cents lower to $20.28.Techs were also a drag as shares in business software company Open Text Corp. (TSX:OTC) fell $2.63 or 3.3% to $76.62 even as the company more than doubled its quarterly profits to $30.6 million, or 52 cents per share.The base metals sector was down 1.23% as December copper lost two cents to US$3.30 a pound. HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) dropped 18 cents to C$8.50.The energy sector was down 0.3% with December crude down 39 cents to US$96.38 following a tumble of almost $1.50 Wednesday in the wake of data showing a much bigger than expected rise in U.S. inventories last week.Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSX:IMO) had $647 million of net income, or 76 cents per share, down from $1.04 billion or $1.22 a year earlier and below the estimate of 98 cents per share and its shares dropped 42 cents to C$45.53.Financials were down a slight 0.1% but was one of the star TSX performers, up over 6% for the month and 18% year to date with markets feeling a lot more comfortable that the Canadian housing sector isn’t coming in for a hard landing.“I’m not too sure there are any worries about the housing market,” said Ketchen, adding there are other reasons bank stocks have become so popular with most of the big banks hitting fresh, 52-week highs this week.“I think when you look at the dividend increases, earnings increases and the Canadian banking industry has a very, very strong reputation and people feel comfortable with (financials),” he said. TOP STORIESOnce again, oil and gas comes to rescue Canada’s economyBarrick Gold suspends work at troubled Pascua-Lama mineBombardier dives most in 8 months as it fails to deliver on CSeries update and profitSuncor approves $13.5B Fort Hills oil sands project to boost productionWHAT’S ON DECK FRIDAYECONOMIC NEWSUNITED STATES8:58 a.m.Markit Manufacturing PMI (Oct): Economists expect a reading of 51.1, flat from last month 10 a.m.ISM index (Oct): Economists expect a reading of 55, down from last month CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESChevron Q3 earnings: Analysts expect US$2.73 a share The Washington Post Company Q3 earnings: Analysts expect US$5.54 a share CANADAFirst Capital Realty Inc Q3 earnings Fortis Incorporated Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 26¢ a share Norbord Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 20¢ a share Pembina Pipeline Corp Q3 earnings: Analysts expect 25¢ a share SNC-Lavalin Group Inc Q3 earnings: Analysts expect a loss of 81¢ a share
TORONTO — The best way to secure retirement for more Canadians is with a third option for pension plans, and not the way Ontario is approaching the problem by expanding the Canada Pension Plan, says Kevin Sorenson, minister of state for finance, on Thursday.[np_storybar title=”Forget talk of a pension crisis, Canadians are very well protected in their retirement” link=”https://business.financialpost.com/2014/04/23/forget-the-talk-of-a-pension-crisis-canadians-are-very-well-protected-in-their-retirement/”%5DPhilip Cross: Canadians are anything but the robotic automatons portrayed in models and blanket increases in pension coverage are needless. Keep reading. [/np_storybar]The federal government wants to create a target-benefit plan, or shared-risk plan, as an alternative to defined-benefit plans, generally favoured by workers, and defined-contribution plans, which are favoured by employers. It’s billing the new framework as a “sustainable and flexible” option, which will only be available for Crown corporations and federally-regulated workers in the transportation, banking and telecommunications sectors.“We need to have a third option,” said Sorenson following the announcement during a speech at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto.“We are not picking and choosing for Canadians. We want the defined-benefit plan there as a choice, we want the defined-contribution plan to be an option and we want the target-benefit plan to be an option.”We would encourage Ontario to look at balancing their budgets, and move away from higher payroll taxes for people of OntarioOttawa calls the voluntary plan as an “innovative approach” that will allow employers and employees to create targets, and adjust benefits and contributions to their needs in times of surplus or deficit, like the recent financial crisis that put many defined-benefit plans in jeopardy due to investment shortfalls.The proposed framework would allow companies with defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans to convert to target-benefit plans, if all parties agree. The flexibility of the third option may prove attractive to employers who are moving away from the risk of defined-benefit plans.With more workers retiring in the next few years, and living longer, the drain on pension plans has led to concerns that Canadians may be not be adequately prepared, financially, for retirement.Sorenson said a shared-risk plan will allow flexible target benefits to be set, based on a pre-determined formula. Retirees would benefit from the “pooling of longevity risk” between employers and employees, something not offered by the current plans. Public consultations regarding the proposal will be held during the next 60 days.Sorenson said Ottawa continues to oppose expanding the Canada Pension Plan by boosting premiums and benefits, an initiative favoured by Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba, but one the federal government called “risky” and said would cost jobs and stunt business development by raising premiums for workers and firms.“We are not looking at the present time enhancing CPP. We have said that now is not the time to talk about extra payroll taxes,” he said“We would encourage Ontario to look at balancing their budgets, and move away from higher payroll taxes for people of Ontario. We believe it would put businesses here in Ontario at a disadvantage to other businesses across the country.”Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said his province plans on moving ahead with its own provincial pension plan, even without the support of the federal government. In the past, Sousa has accused Sorenson of misrepresenting the issue with statements that enhancements to CPP could cost up to 70,000 jobs.“Talk of a modest enhancement was, however, dismissed by the federal government in December, and today’s announcement gives no sign of a change in direction,” he said in a statement.“It is as a result of this continued inaction that has forced Ontario to act now, so that today’s workers have a more secure retirement tomorrow. We will continue to move forward to implement a made-in-Ontario alternative to protect Ontario workers in their retirement. Doing nothing is not a solution to this problem.”Meanwhile, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it supported Ottawa’s move but was disappointed that the target-benefit plan would not be available to the public service.“With the private sector moving quickly away from traditional defined benefit pension plans, a shared risk model will be a terrific addition to Canada’s pension landscape,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly.“A shared risk plan could also help taxpayers get out from under massive unfunded pension liabilities, such as the $6.5 billion liability at Canada Post alone. We hope the federal government doesn’t stop with Crown Corporations and considers moving the core civil service to a less costly shared risk pension plan.”Sorenson would not commit to whether these new plans would be extended to the public service, only stating that it will continue to take it under consideration following the consultation period.The Harper government has long preferred tax-free savings accounts and pooled registered pension plans, both voluntary savings vehicles created by the Conservatives, rather than mandated CPP improvements.The CPP, established in 1965, currently provides retirement benefits to contributing workers up to a maximum of about $12,500 annually.Maximum yearly premiums of about $4,700 are split half-and-half with employers; the self-employed pay the full amount. There are currently more than 1,200 federally-regulated pension plans in Canada.— With files from Julian Beltrame
Quotations for key foreign currencies in terms of the Canadian dollar. Quotations are nominal, for information purposes only.Canadian dollar value on Tuesday, the previous day, three-months and one-year: Currency Tue Mon 3 months Year U.S. dollar 1.2370 1.2341 1.3238 1.3237 British Pound 1.6620 1.6640 1.6848 1.7171 Japanese Yen 0.0110 0.0110 0.0119 0.0132 Euro in U.S. 1.1787 1.1858 1.1194 1.1254 Euro in Cdn 1.4580 1.4634 1.4819 1.4897Quotations provided by the Bank of Canada
VANCOUVER • Loblaw Companies Ltd. says it’s exploring the possibility of offering grocery home delivery one day.Spokesman Kevin Groh says in a statement that the company has “engaged” a number of e-commerce innovators around the world, including Instacart, as it continues to explore the best ways to serve its customers in the future. He says that may include home delivery.Loblaw already offers a click-and-collect program, where customers order their groceries online and pick up the items at a store’s parking lot within a selected time frame. Groh says the program will soon be at 200 of the company’s stores.California-based Instacart enables customers to shop from local stores’ inventory and place an order via an app, which is then picked up by an “expert shopper” and delivered to the customer’s location.The news comes after tech giant Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods Market, which has 13 Canadian locations. The acquisition could accelerate the development of online grocery delivery in Canada.Currently, Canadians have few options for grocery delivery with a small number of companies, such as Grocery Gateway, and a few large chains offering the service in limited locations.
Bilateral discussions between the leaders of Sri Lanka and Seychelles were held at the State House in Seychelles. Sri Lanka and Seychelles signed three agreements today (30) following bilateral discussions between President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is currently on a two-day state visit to Seychelles and his Seychelles counterpart James Alix Michel.The agreements signed were bilateral air-service agreement, MOU on vocational training and youth development and MOU on defense cooperation between the two countries. “May the cooperation between our two countries be an example to the world. Both our countries are island nations. “Therefore we must make sure our voice is heard. We have already set an example in the area of climate change. We can be a role model to the world,” President of Seychelles James Alix Michel said during the discussion. When President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka awaits to welcome Seychelles to CHOGM 2013, President Michel said “Sri Lanka is a true and sincere friend. We will continue to support you at international fora.”Vice President of Seychelles Danny Faure and several other ministers, and Minister of External Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Minister of Public Relations & Public Affairs Mervyn Silva, Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin Vaas De Gunawardena, Members of Parliament Lohan Ratwatte and Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga and Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal were also present at the discussion. The President, while noting a positive growth in trade between the two countries, announced that a branch of Bank of Ceylon will be open in Seychelles. Commencing direct flights between Sri Lanka and Seychelles is especially important because it paves the way to consolidate the friendship between peoples of two the countries.President Rajapaksa said “now the 30-year long war is over. Sri Lanka now enjoys durable peace and stability.” He explained the activities relating to resettlement of the Internally Displaces Persons in the North of Sri Lanka, restoration of infrastructure facilities destroyed by terrorists, rehabilitation and reintegration of combatants, releasing child soldiers just after a month with the end of the conflict and various ongoing development projects after the end of the conflict.President Rajapaksa also elaborated on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The government had so far spent USD 300 million only for the development of North. “Elections to the Northern Provincial Councils will be held this year. I have made the promise to the people of my country, not to the international community,” he added. President Rajapaksa’s visit laid a solid foundation to the bilateral relation between Sri Lanka and Seychelles; President Michel said adding that President Rajapaksa is an exemplary leader. While commending Sri Lanka for progressing on the path of reconciliation under the leadership of President Rajapaksa, the Seychelles President said there is an immense opportunity for economic and trade relations between the two countries at a time Africa is opening up.The visit to Sri Lanka by President Michel was a landmark in bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Seychelles, President Rajapaksa said. It is a great honor to be the first Sri Lankan leader to visit Seychelles, he added. President Rajapaksa was of the view that visits of this nature will further enhance south-south cooperation. The discussion also focused on several other areas of mutual interest including fisheries, education, culture, tourism, health and renewable energy. President Michel commended the assistance of Sri Lanka in recruiting teachers and said Sri Lanka provides “best teachers.”
The invited speaker of this year, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Ms.Christiana Figueres, addressing the Assembly, highlighted the links between climate change and health, and warned that “if the world does not fundamentally change its approach to energy within the next 5 years, there is a risk that damage to the atmosphere will be irrevocable and continue to impact health for decades”. Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr Rajitha Senaratne drew the attention of the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva to the recent floods and landslides in Sri Lanka that affected nearly half a million people and appreciated the expression of solidarity and support by countries, partners and the World Health Organization (WHO), to strengthen the timely health response to the affected people, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission to Geneva said today.Addressing the Assembly under this years’ theme, “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development “, Minister Senaratne stated that “the Government of Sri Lanka is fully committed to the Sustainable Development Agenda and has already set up a multi sectoral Sustainable Development Secretariat to achieve this goal”. The meeting was also addressed by the President of the Assembly – Hon. Dr. Ahmed Bin Mohammed al –Saidi, Minister of Health of Oman, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General /WHO and a large number of Health Ministers from Member countries.On the side – lines of the WHA, the Minister also met with his counterparts from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal and Spain, and withDr Poonam Singh, the Regional Director of South East Asian Region (SEAR) of WHO. Drawing attention to the increasing influx of migration, Minister highlighted the need to pay attention to the health of migrants, irrespective of their status of migration. In this context, he recalled the offer made by the President of Sri Lanka to host the second Global Consultation on Health of Migrants in Sri Lanka October this year, and stated that Sri Lanka is envisaging a political declaration as the outcome of the Global Consultation to demonstrate the commitment to this important issue. Minister Senaratne, participating as a panellist at a side – event jointly organised by the WHO and several Member States, including Sri Lanka on Prevention and Control of Noncommunciable diseases (NCDs), shared the best practices of Sri Lanka in achieving its multisectoral NCD targets.Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Director General of Health Services Dr. P.G. Mahipala, and other senior officials of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine were associated with the Minister during his meetings. (Colombo Gazette)
Accordingly, the proposal made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to continue the operations of the Anti-corruption Committee Secretariat which was established in 2015 until such a Serious Fraud Office is introduced, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. (Colombo Gazette) The Anti-corruption Committee Secretariat is to continue operations, the Government informaton department said.The Government said it has paid its attention on restructuring the anti-corruption institutional structure and it has been proposed to establish a fully powered Serious Fraud Office in Sri Lanka which is similar to the Serious Frauds Office in United Kingdom.
TOI has also come to know that Surendra, who is in Delhi, had even called up a senior officer of SOG on Wednesday to enquire about the whole racket. Sources further said that SOG officials had also told the Sri Lankan bureaucrat that the accused has been nabbed before he could execute his plan in their country. “So far, we could make out a case of embezzling Rs 16 crore. The quantum of fraud could be much bigger than what has come out so far,” said an officer. The 37-year-old BBA graduate and mastermind in the case, Abhishek Joshi, had not only allegedly met the President of Sri Lanka in Goa, he was also in touch with top administrative officers of the island nation to start financial institutions. On Wednesday, the SOG unearthed the embezzlement of nearly Rs 16 crore and illegal money exchange of Rs 1.38 crore by cooperative bank officials, and arrested five ,persons including the CEO, former chairman, present chairman and the mastermind of the fraud.Abhishek is seen as the kingpin in planning and executing the whole embezzlement.Joshi is a BBA graduate and fluent in English. While investigating the case, the sleuths of SOG were stunned when they recovered a photograph of Abhishek with Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lankan President. Sleuths further stated that Abhishek had hired 12 personal bodyguards and used their services whenever he visited Alwar. “Prior to the seizure of Rs 1.32 crore, Abhishek’s lifestyle was the talk of the town in Alwar. He used to travel in a gold-plated SUV,” the officer added. (Colombo Gazette) “We found that the accused Abhishek had visited Sri Lanka and had explored possibilities to start a bank in any of the states in the island nation. We have also recovered a photograph of the accused with the Sri Lankan president. He was in touch with some top-ranked administrative officers of a few states in the neighbouring country,” said a senior officer of the SOG on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.Asked about the interest of the accused in Sri Lanka, Dinesh M N, inspector general of police, said, “All I can say is that we are investigating and looking into every angle in this case. Various things that we have recovered need to be verified.”A senior officer close to investigations, said, “He was expected to meet Surendra Gunaratney, who is an adviser to the government of Sri Lanka on international affairs, and also a chief secretary rank officer to discuss investment possibilities on Wednesday. During his interrogation, Abhishek had also confessed to planning to start a bank in Sri Lanka. Thus, there could be a possibility that the Rs 16 crore, which he had embezzled with his family, was to be invested in Sri Lanka.” During the investigation, the SOG team also found that he was planning similar frauds in the neighbouring country after starting the bank. The mastermind in a major Indian fraud case had met President Maithripala Sirisena and was looking to open a bank in Sri Lanka, investigators revealed, according to the Times of India.The investigation carried out by the special operation group (SOG) of Rajasthan police, which revealed that Rs 16 crore was embezzled at Alwar Urban Cooperative Bank, brought to light plans hatched by the accused, which included starting a bank in Sri Lanka.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has urged Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to take steps to hold the Parliament debate on the reports of the Presidential Commission which investigated the treasury bond scam and the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate into serious acts of fraud and corruption, before the Local Government elections.JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that even President Maithripala Sirisena is now of the opinion that the debate must be held before February 10. Meanwhile, party leaders had decided that the debate on both days will be a full day debate. The reports of the Presidential Commission which investigated the treasury bond scam and the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate into serious acts of fraud and corruption, were tabled in Parliament this week. (Colombo Gazette) Parliament is set to debate the reports of the Presidential Commission which investigated the treasury bond scam and the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate into serious acts of fraud and corruption on February 20 and 21st.