Monday, August 6, 2012

London Olympics might make money after all, NBC Sports chief says

Maybe the best way to cut through all the spin and counterspin on the Olympics is this:
Last week, NBC was saying it would lose money on the Olympics.
Yesterday, it said it might break even.
Today, the network is saying it could turn a profit on the $1.18 billion investment.
"Yeah, we think there's a small chance, a chance we could make a little bit of money over the next couple of weeks," Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, said in a conference call from London Thursday when asked if the network might turn a profit on the games.

Lazarus attributed the change to the big ratings for the first nights of competition starting Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He said NBC expected big ratings for the opening ceremonies, but that the first few nights of ratings for competition convinced NBC there was a new market of advertisers who didn't buy in advance but would like to buy now.

And while he didn't address it in the conference call, advertisers who buy after it's no longer a gamble pay higher rates.

And that is the name of the biggest game in all media these days: Finding a way to monetize -- maximum monetize -- the content you own. That's what the queue of new Olympics buyers shows: NBC has found a way in using social and online media to drive viewers to prime time to make money on old-media TV where it can charge the highest rates. It's as if newspapers found a way to use their online and social media platforms to drive that audience back to print subscriptions or box sales.

Lazarus addressed surprisingly polite questions about the ire sounded in social media over the weekend and earlier in the week, by sounding the same theme other NBC executives have said in telephone interviews with me: The majority of American viewers and media consumers seem to like what NBC is doing. It's a "loud minority" complaining.

"The overwhelming majority of people are voting with their clicker and their mouses and their fingertips on every device, saying, 'We're with you, we're enjoying what you're doing, thank you, please continue,'" he said.

"We listen, we read, we understand that there are people who don't like what we're doing. We think that's a very loud minority, and the silent majority has been with us the first six days."

Alan Wurtzel, head of research for NBC, said the network's digital results "parallel television" in terms of success.

He said, so far, 28 million have visited, while 4.6 million have been to the network's mobile sites. The latter is double Beijing.

Furthermore, digital and social media are driving younger viewers to prime-time TV, according to Nielsen research that he cited.

"We always said this will be the first truly social media Olympics, and that's exactly how it's turning out."

Wurtzel said 82 percent of viewers surveyed by NBC have said, "with all the buzz, I have become more interested in watching the Olympics."

He said "two-thirds" of viewers surveyed told interviewers, "I've gotten in these Olympics because friends and family members are actively engaged in posting and tweeting about the games."

"Our total teen audience is up 28 percent compared to Beijing," Wurtzel said. "Viewing by teen girls is up 62 percent, teenage boys up 7 percent. Viewing by kids 2 to 11 is up 33 percent."

Indicative of how good NBC is feeling about things, Wurtzel, a self-described "research geek," felt confident enough on the phone yesterday to offer reporters his favorite "fun factoid."

"Archery is the new curling," he said. "It's delivered an average of 1.5 million viewers making it the highest-rated cable sports, beating out basketball."
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Union Budget 2012-13: Income tax exemption limit raised to Rs 2 lakh

NEW DELHI: Disappointing a large section of income tax payers in the country, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made a small raise in the exemption limit in his Budget speech.
Pranab Mukherjee raised the exemption limit for income tax by just Rs 20,000 from Rs 1,80000 to Rs 2 lakh.
The new tax slabs are as follows:
Up to Rs 2 lakh: No tax
From Rs 2 lakh to 5 lakh: 10%
From Rs 5 lakh to 10 lakh: 20%
Above Rs 10 lakh: 30%
Promise to curb black money, major push on infrastructure, capital market reforms and huge subsidy cut were among the other proposals listed by Pranab Mukherjee in the Union Budget for 2012-13.
The revision in tax slabs will give some direct tax relief to individuals, even as eating out, buying luxury cars, air travel, availing some professional services and investing in gold jewellery will become costlier.
Presenting his 7th budget in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the finance minister said the exemption limit for personal income tax was being enhanced from Rs 1,80,000 to Rs 2,00,000, even as the limit for peak rate was being raised to Rs 10,00,000 from Rs 8,00,000.
"This will provide tax relief of Rs 2,000 to every tax payer," the finance minister said, adding: "My proposal on direct taxes will result in a revenue loss of Rs 4,500 crore."
He also announced new tax slabs under which income up to Rs 2,00,000 would be totally exempt, levy 10 percent for Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000, then 20 percent for Rs 5,00,000 to Rs 10,00,000 and 30 percent for income above Rs 10,00,000.
For the corporate sector, he said, while the tax rates were remaining unchanged, he assured cheaper access to funds for expansion, even as he tinkered with the excise rates and customs duties for specific items.
He proposed to raise the service tax rate to 12 percent from the present 10 percent.
In the speech, which started at 11 am and lasted 110 minutes, Mukherjee listed a slew of proposals that ranged from social welfare schemes and incentivising industry to fiscal consolidation and sector-specific reforms.
Assuring further liberalisation of capital markets, he announced a new equity savings scheme to extend income tax deduction of 50 percent to those who invest up to Rs 50,000 in equities and whose annual income is less than Rs 10 lakh.
The finance minister started his speech with the cascading effect of the global slowdown on India, but yet assuring people that there were clear signs of a recovery which should see the country grow at 7.6 percent in 2012-12, against 6.9 percent this fiscal.
"The global crisis has affected us. India's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow at 6.9 percent in 2011-12, after having grown at 8.4 percent in each of the two preceding years," the finance minister said.
"Though we have been able to limit the adverse impact of the slowdown in our economy, this year's performance has been disappointing. But it is also a fact that in any cross-country comparison, India still remains among the front-runners in economic growth."
At the same time, Mukherjee also said the Indian economy was at the cusp of a revival, as agriculture and services have continued to grow at a decent pace. It was industrial performance that was acting as a drag.
"While we do not have the aggregate figures for the last quarter of 2011-12, numerous indicators pertaining to this period suggest that the economy is now turning around. There are signs of recovery in coal, fertiliser, cement and electricity sectors."
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Wonder ways for a flat tummy

"An ideal diet and workout for every individual depends upon his/her weight loss requirement, body type and body shape," suggests Pandey. For instance, a pear shaped person may indulge in a less strenuous workout and minimal diet modifications to get the desired tummy in comparison to an apple shaped body, who is usually heavy in the tummy area.
Here are a set of workout and physical activities, which when combined with an ideal eating plan and cardio workouts can assure you of the killer abs that you always dreamt of...
1. Naukasana- A common yoga posture that works wonders on your abs.
Method: Lie flat on the ground, with your back on the floor. Raise your upper body and legs to an angle of 30 degrees and hold the posture for 30-40 seconds, then relax. Repeat this asana for 10 times to begin with, graduating to 30 times. Breathe normally all through the work out.

"Holding onto the posture tightens and contracts your upper and lower abs while repeating the movement tones them up," tells yoga expert Usha Chegappa of Bharat Thankur's Artistic Yoga.

2. Ushtrasana : It is the counter pose to naukasana .
Method: Stand on your knees, with heels facing upwards. Arch your back, placing your hands on your knees one by one. Hold your head behind pushing your belly outwards. Hold this posture for 30 seconds and repeat 30 times.

naukasana , the ab muscles contract building up tension in the area, while ushtrasana releases the tension by giving your tummy a good stretch. It is important to practice ushtrasana after naukasana to save one's back from injury," explains Usha.
3. Basic crunch : The good old crunch still remains the best exercise to bag the perfect abs.
Method: Lie on the floor with your legs off the floor in a right angle. Keep your shoulders just above the floor. Breathe in and bring your knees in towards your chest, while lifting your upper body to an angle of 30 degrees and breathe out while you relax. Repeat this exercise 15-20 times to begin with.

"Don't arch your back. The crunches will help you contract your abdomninal muscles giving them an effective workout," suggests Deanne.

4. Bridging: Stretch till you feel the burn!
Method: Lie flat on the floor with your hands resting by your sides, feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart and knees bent. Now, contract your abdominals, lower back and gluts and slowly lift your midsection to form a bridge from your knees, through your hips to your shoulders. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower. Fitness expert Kiran Swahney suggests, "Avoid this exercise in case you are suffering from lower back problems."
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Midcap crash


Market regulator Sebi has barred 19 entities from the securities market after an initial probe into the recent share price plunge in some mid-cap stocks, including Parsvnath, Tulip Telecom and Pipavav Defence.
Passing an interim order against these entities, which includes individuals and companies having dealt in these stocks, Sebi said it would expeditiously complete its investigations into the matter.
The entities restrained from accessing the securities market and prohibited from buying, selling or dealing in securities in any manner whatsoever include 4a Financials Securities, A To Z Steels, Ajit Kumar Jain, Trade Comm, G N Credits, Gajria Jayna Precision Industries, Kuvam Plast, Littlestar Vanijya, Manish Agarwal and Milestone Shares & Stock Broking.
The others among the 19 barred entities include Neelanchal Mercantile, North Eastern Publishing & Advertising Co, Passions System Solution, Premium Hospitality Services, Ramkripa Securities, Umang Nemani, Venus Infosoft, White Horse Trading Co and Yashika Holding.
These persons and entities can file their objections, if any, within 21 days from the date of this order, Sebi said in the order passed on Friday.

The probe relates to a sharp plunge of 20-26% in the shares of Parsvnath Developers, Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering, Tulip Telecom and Glodyne Technoserve on July 26 at the BSE and NSE.
Sebi said a sharp downward movement was noticed in these stocks between 0915 and 0949 hours on that day.
These stocks witnessed sharp intra-day price volume movement on both BSE and NSE on July 26, although no major corporate announcements or price sensitive information was disclosed to the exchanges by these companies during previous 15 days.
After analysing the trading activity of major clients, NSE and BSE found that some of these clients were not only common across these scrips but they also traded on both the exchanges.
A further probe into the matter found that the top identified clients whose sell volume constituted a significant share of the total sale transactions in these stocks accounted for up to 95% of the total sale transactions.
Sebi said the analysis of trade data showed that these traders were instrumental in pushing down the prices of the concerned stocks, as they were observed to be placing the sell orders below the best sell prices as well as the best buy prices available on various occasions.
Also, during the day, many entities related to the some of the traders were top net sellers in these scrips.
The regulator further said relationships have been established among some of the clients as per information available in its surveillance system, KYC details available with the stock exchanges, MCA databases and other publicly available sources.
Among others, Neelanchal Mercantile Private and Milestone Shares & Stock Broking have a common phone number and a common Kolkata address.
Flex Trade, Adish Jain and Manish Agarwal also have common phone number and a common address in Kolkata.
Milestone Shares & Stock Broking, Ajit Kumar Jain and Manish Agarwal were also found to have a common phone number.
Ajit kumar Jain is director in Mukesh Trade & Finance, which shares its phone number with Divya Drishti traders, which along with a few other related entities have been previously debarred from trading in market in the matter of creation of artificial market and price manipulation in scrip of Tijaria polypipes.
Having found various common addresses and phone numbers, Sebi`s probe has established that A To Z Steels, G N Credits, Premium Hospitality Services, 4a Financials Securities, Gajria Jayna Precision Industries, Venus Infosoft and Passions System Solution are related to each other.

Similarly, Neelanchal Mercantile, Flex Trade, Kuvam Plast, Milestone Shares & Stock Broking, Ajit Kumar Jain, Adish Jain, Nemani Umang, Step Two Corp, North Eastern Publishing and Advertising Co and Manish Agarwal are related to each other.
Further, a comparison of the trading pattern with the income details captured in KYC of the clients revealed that for certain clients the trading pattern does not appear to be commensurate with income shown in the KYC records.
For example, Manish Agarwal has disclosed his income at Rs 1-5 lakh, but did gross trading of Rs 4,910 million between January 1 and January 25, 2012.
Neelanchal Mercantile has not mentioned any income in KYC documents, but conducted trades worth over Rs 15 billion during this period, while a host of other entities also did trades way beyond their income levels.
A probe into concentration pattern of these entities from Jan.01 till July 25, 2012 showed that their trading concentration in the four stocks was up to 100%.
Sebi said their sale orders of substantial quantities were made with a view to create an impression of huge selling pressure at the time of start of the trading and several times the limit orders were placed at a price significantly below the Last Traded Price, thereby bringing down the price of the scrips. 
In some of the scrips, percentage of sell quantity by identified clients during the price fall patch was significant to their total sell quantity during the day and this was in the range of 50-100%, Sebi said.
Besides, the trading of the some of these clients during six months prior to July 26 was mainly concentrated in these four scrips only.
``In my view, generally, a seller would rationally seek a higher price to sell his shares; however, in this case the clients were placing sale orders at prices lower than LTP, thereby bringing down the price of the scrips,`` Sebi`s whole time member Rajeev Kumar Agarwal said in his order.
``More importantly, normally a seller would desist from revealing its entire sell quantity since that may cause the supply-demand balance to immediately become unfavourable to the seller. ``The data for the short period of time in each scrip indicates several instances of fully disclosed orders which were also a significant factor in causing the sharp decline of approximately 20 per cent in price of each scrip,`` he said.
Agarwal said the trading pattern of the clients` prima-facie indicates that there was a concerted attempt to artificially manipulate and depress the prices of the four scrips in a disorderly fashion.
Sebi said there is a prima facie case for a detailed probe, going by the ``several abnormal suspicious features which otherwise are likely to pass-off as normal buy and sell transactions in the market``, as also given the unprecedented price fall and significant volume of traded shares on July 26.
``It is noted that the trading pattern of few of the above clients along with other entities in various scrips including some of the aforesaid scrips for different periods is under examination of Sebi,`` the regulator said.
``... Further the trading pattern of the entities is prima facie found to be instrumental in depressing the prices of certain scrips at the beginning of the trading in the market on July 26, 2012.``
``If they are allowed to continue to operate in the market, the same is fraught with danger of immense mischief and incalculable damage to the securities market besides undermining the confidence of the investors in the fairness and integrity of the market,`` Sebi said.

The regulator said that it is ``a fit case where, pending detailed investigation, effective and expeditious action is required to be taken to prevent any further harm to investors and securities market and in order to protect the interest of investors and the integrity of the securities market.``
Sebi and the two stock exchanges had immediately swung into action after a sharp plunge was noticed in these four and a few other stocks on July 26.
The exchanges had also cut down the circuit filter on these stocks to five per cent to limit any further large-cap plunge in their share prices.
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Olympic athletes earn sponsorship money

Let's face it, many Olympic sports can seem somewhat arbitrary when taken out of the context of the Olympics. Though I have a deep respect for the fine folks around the world that row crew, I'm unlikely to follow them at any level other than the Olympics. The same can be held true with respect to many Americans and many sports.
This being the case, crew members (for example) are far less likely to be used as a marketing tool at any time other than the Olympics. Yet under the International Olympic Committee's Rule 40 the only groups that could even consider sponsoring a given athlete during the Olympics (and even months before and after) are official Olympic sponsors, titans of industry such as Visa, Tide and Nissan. Ironically, oftentimes the only athletes these big-name companies are interested in are the few athletes who don't need the money.
Rule 40 states:
"However, to protect against ambush marketing; prevent unauthorized commercialization of the Games; and to protect the integrity of athletes' performance at the Games, the (International Olympic Committee) places certain limits on how a Participants' image can be exploited during the Games Period. Ambush marketers have, in the past, used their association with athletes and (National Governing Bodies) to suggest or imply that they have an association with the Olympic games. This undermines the exclusivity that Organizing Committees and/or (National Olympic Committees) can offer official Games and Team sponsors, without whose investment the Games could not happen. The implication of an association with the Games through use of athletes is particularly powerful during and immediately before the Games. To protect against this, Rule 40 therefore places limits on the advertising activities of Participants, solely for the period of, and just before and after, the Games."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is maintaining the legitimacy of what is increasingly being referred to as the "infamous Rule 40," a rule stating that "Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games."
Though the rationale for Rule 40 goes back to the amateur roots of the Olympic movement, ensuring "that athletes maintained their amateur status," the IOC refuses to relent in their obsolete guideline.
Bearing in mind the level of competition in today's world, to be an Olympian requires full-time training, and full-time training requires full-time funding. In short, the IOC is raking in billions while the athlete is severely limited in his/her ability to market his/herself and make sponsorship deals.
What if athletes try to seek sponsors despite Rule 40? What is the sanction for a breach of Rule 40? Participants who do not comply with Rule 40 may be sanctioned by the USOC in accordance with the Code of Conduct Rule 23 of the Olympic Charter allows. "IOC sanctions including, ultimately, disqualification from the Games and/or withdrawal of the Participant's accreditation."
How can the IOC defend this practice of denying the athletes sponsorships? Their basic justification is that they are preventing ambush marketing, the idea that non-Olympics-affiliated companies will try to associate their company with the Olympics without paying up to the IOC, which, after all, dolls out cash to the National Olympic Committees (NOC) around the world, which are all supposed to support the individual athletes.
Yet even a cursory look into the IOC reveals that, for a nonprofit, their activities are highly speculative. With an estimated viewership in the billions, an athlete base of just over 14,000 (including the 205 Olympic teams and 170 Paralympic teams), and the countless hours each athlete has spent honing their skills, why not let the athletes seek sponsors and earn a couple of bucks?
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