WarnerMedia to discontinue HBO and WB TV channels in India, and select other South Asia markets

WarnerMedia will discontinue HBO and WB TV channels in India, Pakistan, Maldives, and Bangladesh later this year as the entertainment conglomerate struggles to find a sustainable business model in South Asian despite operating in the region for over a decade.

The company said it will end HBO and WB TV channels in the aforementioned markets, where a cable subscription costs about $4 to $5 a month, on December 15. In India, for instance, it costs less than 25 cents to subscribe to both HBO (in HD) and WB atop a monthly cable plan, which costs about $2.

While HBO is a household name in the U.S. and several other developed markets, in India and other South Asian nations, its audience size remains tiny. Times Internet’s Movies Now, Star Movies, and Sony Pix had a considerably larger viewership than HBO in India last month, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council, India’s ratings agency.

Warner Media cited a dramatic market shift in the pay-TV industry for its decision. It said it will continue to offer Cartoon Network and Pogo in India, and distribute CNN International in the country.

“After 20 years of successes for the HBO linear movie channel in South Asia and more than a decade with the WB linear movie channel, this was a difficult decision to make. The pay-TV industry landscape and the market dynamics have shifted dramatically, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for further change,” said Siddharth Jain, SVP and Managing Director of WarnerMedia’s entertainment network in South Asia, in a statement.

HBO also maintains a content syndication partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in India. So the streamer will continue to offer HBO’s shows such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” — hopefully without any censorship — in the country.

“WarnerMedia has a strong interest in India and are committed to assessing optimal opportunities to serve valued customers here,” said Jain.

#asia, #entertainment, #hbo, #india, #south-asia, #tv, #warnermedia

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Google’s AI-powered flood alerts now cover all of India and parts of Bangladesh

India, the world’s second most populated nation, sees more than 20% of the global flood-related fatalities each year as overrun riverbanks sweep tens of thousands of homes with them. Two years ago, Google volunteered to help.

In 2018, the company began its flood forecasting pilot initiative in Patna — the capital of the Indian state of Bihar, which has historically been the most flood-prone region in the nation with over 100 fatalities each year — to provide accurate real-time flood forecasting information to people in the region.

The company’s AI model analyzes historical flood data gleaned from several river basins in different parts of the world to make accurate prediction for any river basin.

For this project, Google has not worked in isolation. Instead, it has collaborated with India’s Central Water Commission, Israel Institute of Technology, and Bar-Ilan University. It also works with the Indian government to improve how New Delhi collects data on water levels. They have installed new, electronic sensors that automatically transmit data to water authorities.

Thrilled by the initial results, two years later, Google’s Flood Forecasting Initiative now covers all of India, Google announced on Tuesday.

The company also said it has partnered with the Water Development Board of Bangladesh, which sees more floods than any other country in the world, to expand its initiative to parts of India’s neighboring nation. This is the first time Google is bringing Flood Forecasting Initiative outside of India.

Alerts for flood forecasting

Part of the job is to deliver this potentially life-changing information to people. In India, the company said it has sent out more tthan 30 million notifications to date in flood-affected areas. It says its initiative can help better protect more than 200 million people across more than 250,000 square kilometers (96,525 square miles). In Bangladesh, Google’s model is able to cover more than 40 million people and the company is working to extend this to the whole nation.

“We’re providing people with information about flood depth: when and how much flood waters are likely to rise. And in areas where we can produce depth maps throughout the floodplain, we’re sharing information about depth in the user’s village or area,” wrote Yossi Matias, VP of Engineering and Crisis Response Lead at Google.

Along the way, the company said it worked with Yale and found that there was room for more improvement.

This year, Google said it overhauled the way its alerts look and function to make it more accessible to people. It also added support for Hindi, Bengali, and seven other locaal languages, and further customized the messaging in the alerts. It has also rolled out a new forecasting model that doubles the warning time of many of its alerts.

Moving forward, the company said its charitable arm Google.org has started a collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to build local networks and deliver alerts to people who otherwise wouldn’t receive smartphone alerts directly.

“There’s much more work ahead to strengthen the systems that so many vulnerable people rely on—and expand them to reach more people in flood-affected areas. Along with our partners around the world, we will continue developing, maintaining and improving technologies and digital tools to help protect communities and save lives,” wrote Matias.

#ai, #apps, #artificial-intelligence, #asia, #bangladesh, #google, #india, #south-asia

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‘Feeling Seen for the First Time,’ Indian-Americans Cheer Kamala Harris’s Selection

Asian-American political leaders and community advocates described the choice of Ms. Harris as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee as a powerful statement on American possibility.

#black-people, #california, #harris-kamala-d, #indian-americans, #presidential-election-of-2020, #south-asia, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vice-presidents-and-vice-presidency-us

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In Poor Countries, Many Covid-19 Patients Are Desperate for Oxygen

Aid agencies are scrambling to get oxygen equipment to low-income countries where the coronavirus is rapidly spreading.

#africa, #congo-democratic-republic-of-congo-kinshasa, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #government-contracts-and-procurement, #hospitals, #latin-america, #lungs, #nigeria, #oxygen, #philanthropy, #poverty, #public-private-sector-cooperation, #rural-areas, #south-asia, #third-world-and-developing-countries, #unaids, #united-nations, #united-nations-childrens-fund, #ventilators-medical, #world-health-organization

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Coronavirus Rips Into Regions Previously Spared

As the West settles into a grinding battle with the disease, the virus surges across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and South Asia.

#africa, #bangladesh, #bolsonaro-jair-1955, #brazil, #cairo-egypt, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deaths-fatalities, #egypt, #hospitals, #latin-america, #middle-east, #putin-vladimir-v, #quarantines, #ramaphosa-cyril, #russia, #sisi-abdel-fattah-el, #south-africa, #south-america, #south-asia

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The Cloud Forming Over America’s Spies

A retired C.I.A. officer sees danger ahead for the independence and political impartiality of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies if Trump’s choice for director of national intelligence is confirmed.

#africa, #atkinson-michael-k-1964, #central-intelligence-agency, #china, #classified-information-and-state-secrets, #coats-dan, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #espionage-and-intelligence-services, #grenell-richard, #haspel-gina, #house-of-representatives, #inspectors-general, #instant-messaging, #iran, #justice-department, #london-england, #middle-east, #national-commission-on-terrorist-attacks-upon-the-united-states, #news-and-news-media, #north-korea, #office-of-the-director-of-national-intelligence, #presidential-election-of-2020, #putin-vladimir-v, #ratcliffe-john-lee-1965, #senate, #south-asia, #trump-donald-j, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #washington-post

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Millions Had Risen Out of Poverty. Coronavirus Is Pulling Them Back.

Experts say that for the first time since 1998, global poverty will increase. At least a half a billion people could slip into destitution by the end of the year.

#africa, #banerjee-abhijit, #bangladesh, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #food, #food-aid, #harvard-university, #income-inequality, #india, #international-monetary-fund, #labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #massachusetts-institute-of-technology, #poverty, #recession-and-depression, #remittances, #south-asia, #third-world-and-developing-countries, #unemployment, #united-nations, #world-bank

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