Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thirty Canadian Hyundai dealers on ScreenScape platform

We hadn't heard much from ScreenScape (compared to their previous deluge of press releases). They've just announced an important partnership with Hyundai Auto Canada Corp., that would see their platform powering video displays in Hyundai showrooms and parts and service waiting areas.

"We find video to be a very effective way to share the experience of driving and owning a Hyundai," Michael Handy, director of marketing for Hyundai Canada, said. "ScreenScape gives us the ability to deliver video directly to customers inside our dealerships. This helps us coordinate our marketing efforts with local dealers and add value to the experience of buying and owning a new Hyundai."

According to the company, ScreenScape is a software platform that helps businesses engage audiences inside real world places using Internet-enabled digital displays. Using ScreenScape, Hyundai is able to form its own place-based media network consisting of its own dealerships or any other business that is a member of the ScreenScape Community.

We're constantly looking for ways to communicate more effectively with Hyundai customers,” Handy said. “ScreenScape allows us to leverage our existing investments in online video and social media and use them in a very local context. We know that several of our key suppliers also use ScreenScape, and so this gives us another way to work together as industry partners to provide support to our dealers, and value to our customers."

There are more than 192 Hyundai dealerships in Canada. According to Handy, more than 30 dealers are operational on the ScreenScape platform today, another 70 will be added over the next six months, and more will come in 2014.

"We'd like to welcome Hyundai Canada to the ScreenScape Community," Kevin Dwyer, president & CSO of ScreenScape, said. "They join a vibrant automotive community already using ScreenScape which includes new car dealers, tire centers, quick lube operators and parts retailers. It is gratifying to see so many interesting partnerships in this industry being expressed through place-based media."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cineplex looks to buy EK3 to grow digital signage business

Cineplex Inc. announced its offer to purchase EK3 Technologies Inc. ("EK3"), a London, Ontario-based, in-store digital merchandising provider, with operations in Canada, the United States and other countries.

The initial purchase price is approximately $40 million. In 2010, Cineplex made a similar move when it purchased Digital Display & Communications Inc., an implementer of digital signage networks and associated products and services, which at that time became Cineplex Digital Solutions. 

EK3 designs, installs, manages and consults on some of the largest digital merchandising networks in North America, with networks viewed by more than 1.8 billion shoppers annually. The company has developed proprietary state-of-the-art technology and patented software, and provides creative content production, media sales and extensive network operations services, which delivers digital merchandising networks that are scalable, reliable and secure.

EK3 clients include major retailers, such as Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Walmart, Target, as well as Canadian financial institutions RBC Financial Group and BMO Financial Group.

The acquisition complements Cineplex's existing digital signage business, Cineplex Digital Media ("CDM"), whose clients include Scotiabank, CIBC, SunTrust, Rogers, Oxford Properties, Brookfield office towers and ONroute, among others.

EK3 will be renamed and operate as Cineplex Digital Networks ("CDN"), and will continue to be led by EK3 President and CEO, Nick Prigioniero.

"Cineplex's brand, resources and media sales along with EK3's proprietary technology platform, network management, award-winning creative services and digital merchandising expertise is a powerful combination," said Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex Entertainment. "The strengths of CDM and CDN will make us a leader in the indoor digital signage industry and provides a platform for significant growth throughout North America."                                           

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New BroadSign customer orders 1,000 Android-based players

Digital signage software provider, BroadSign International, LLC, has announced that the first round of BroadSign Xpress smart players is in production with units available for delivery as early as September.

The company is now accepting orders for BroadSign Xpress; the first large-scale request for 1,001 units having been placed by a client who recently subscribed to the company’s Software as a Service.

BroadSign Xpress was announced in February 2013 and is BroadSign’s first step into the digital signage hardware solutions market. The fully-featured and fully-supported smart player runs on the Android operating system and was created to both eliminate the challenge of selecting a good long-term hardware solution and reduce the cost of hardware per deployment.

Following the release of BroadSign Xpress, 200 participants across the globe were given a beta player as part of the BroadSign Trailblazer Program. Recipients tested the smart player throughout the duration of the program and BroadSign incorporated resulting feedback into its final product design.

“The response to the introduction of BroadSign Xpress has been tremendous from the moment it was revealed at our First Annual Client Summit,” said BroadSign’s CEO, Brian Dusho. “Positive feedback received via the Trailblazer Program and high demand from new and existing customers attest that this initiative is the right decision for BroadSign as a provider of digital signage solutions. Inventory is limited and players are moving quickly.”

CRTC approves BCE’s bid to acquire Astral’s television and radio services

Conditions imposed will ensure the transaction benefits Canadians and the Canadian broadcasting system

OTTAWA-GATINEAU, June 27, 2013 — Today, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved an application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc. The CRTC’s approval comes with a number of conditions that are necessary to uphold the public interest.

“Astral’s application put forward a different approach and responded to many of our concerns” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “Yet there remained a significant risk that BCE could exert its market power to limit choice and competition. To ensure the public interest is served, we are requiring BCE to invest in new Canadian programming and sell more than a dozen services, and we are putting in place a number of competitive safeguards. This will maintain a healthy and competitive broadcasting system that offers more programming choices to Canadian consumers and citizens and more opportunities for Canadian creators.”

A healthy and competitive broadcasting system

The scale of the newly consolidated entity will facilitate the creation of diverse and high-quality Canadian programming in both languages and its distribution through conventional and digital media distribution channels. The CRTC is taking action to ensure Canadians reap the full benefits of this transaction. This includes making sure that Canadians have access to a healthy and competitive broadcasting system, in which independent broadcasters and distributors are treated fairly by large, integrated companies.

The application filed in agreement with the Competition Bureau included a proposal to sell 10 radio stations and 11 television services as well as certain restrictions, such as a prohibition on imposing restrictive bundling requirements on providers. The CRTC’s decision builds on the Competition Bureau’s assessment and includes specific measures to attenuate concerns related to competition, ownership concentration in the television and radio markets, vertical integration and the exercise of market power in the communications system.

Following the divestitures, BCE’s share of the French-language television market will be 22.6 per cent. Consumers in this market will benefit from a more competitive landscape. In the English-language market, its share will be 35.8 per cent, which required a careful examination of this transaction’s impact on the broadcasting system.

As a result, the Commission has put in place further measures to address potential anti-competitive behaviour, to maintain a dynamic marketplace and to ensure Canadian listeners and viewers will continue to have access to a diversity of voices in the market. Among other things, BCE must:
  • adhere, as a condition of licence, to certain sections of the CRTC’s code of conduct for commercial arrangements that limit potential anti-competitive behaviour and ensure fair treatment for independent programming services and distributors
  • not unduly withhold non-linear rights from competing distributors, even if BCE is not exploiting such rights itself
  • provide reasonable access to advertising opportunities on its radio stations to all competitors
  • file with the CRTC affiliation agreements with programming services and television distributors
  • enter into a CRTC-supervised dispute resolution process if an affiliation agreement is not reached 120 days before the expiry date of the existing agreement.

More choice for consumers and citizens, opportunities for creators

BCE will be required to invest $246.9 million in tangible benefits over the next seven years, which is $72 million more than it had proposed. This amount reflects the CRTC’s revised value of the transaction, as well as the size and exceptional nature of the transaction.

In particular, BCE must spend $175.4 million on initiatives related to the television sector, which is equivalent to 10 per cent of the value of Astral’s television services. These investments will notably result in the creation of original Canadian dramas, comedies, documentaries and award shows by independent producers. BCE will also support youth programming and initiatives designed to promote Canadian content on multiple platforms. A portion of programming expenditures will be reserved for official-language minority communities in each language.

Additionally, BCE will be required to support the development, production and promotion of Canadian feature films, notably through additional contributions to the Harold Greenberg Fund and Telefilm Canada, financial support of Canadian film festivals and initiatives to promote Canadian feature films.

BCE must also spend $71.5 million on initiatives related to the radio sector, which is equivalent to 7 per cent of the value of Astral’s radio stations. The company will provide funding to not-for-profit organizations that contribute to the growth and development of the Canadian music industry, help launch the careers of emerging artists and support campus and community radio stations.

This transaction will therefore enable the Canadian creative industries to innovate and contribute to the creation of more original programming for Canadian and global audiences.

Local programming

The CRTC is also ensuring that Canadians in 29 markets across the country continue to have access to local programming on television, including local news and information. BCE must keep open all of its existing local television stations, as well as the two stations it has acquired from Astral, at least until 2017. BCE must also maintain the stations’ current levels of local programming during this period.

CKGM Montréal

Finally, the CRTC is allowing BCE to operate four English-language radio stations in the Montreal market, including CKGM. Given the strong support expressed by Montreal’s English-language minority community for this station, BCE will have to maintain its current sports format for at least seven years. This decision constitutes a positive measure that will ensure the needs of the community are well served.

Corporate reorganization

The CRTC also approved two corporate reorganizations – one within Astral and the other within BCE – which are necessary to finalize the transaction.
Today’s decision follows a proceeding that included a public hearing, which was held from May 6 to 10, 2013. The CRTC received more than 800 interventions during this public proceeding, as well as two petitions totaling more than 16,000 signatures.