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International Federation of the Phonographic Industry publishes Digital Music Report 2015

April 27, 2015 Comments off

IFPI publishes Digital Music Report 2015
Source: International Federation of the Phonographic Industry

Revenues from digital music services match those from physical format sales for the first time, according to IFPI’s Digital Music Report, published today.

Digital revenues rose 6.9 per cent to US$6.9 billion, representing 46 per cent of all global music sales and underlining the deep transformation of the global music industry over recent years. The industry’s overall global revenues in 2014 were largely unchanged, falling just 0.4 per cent to US$14.97 billion (US$15.03 billion).

The new report shows an industry in continuing transition, with consumers embracing the music access models of streaming and subscription. Another steep increase in subscription revenues (+39.0%) offset declining download sales (-8.0%) to drive overall digital revenues, while the number of paying users of subscription services rose 46.4 per cent to an estimated 41 million.

Subscription services are now at the heart of the music industry’s portfolio of businesses, representing 23 per cent of the digital market and generating US$1.6 billion in trade revenues.

New Report Identifies Possible Next Steps in U.S. Energy Development

April 27, 2015 Comments off

New Report Identifies Possible Next Steps in U.S. Energy Development
Source: American Geosciences Institute

The U.S. energy portfolio changes over time. Scientific and technologic advances related to hydraulic fracturing have dramatically increased the supply of U.S. oil and gas; because of this, a methane economy – in which natural gas provides the leading share of primary energy consumption – is now a possible scenario for U.S. energy development. In a report released by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the social, political, technical and environmental components of a methane economy are identified. The report also addresses how industry, government and the public might best work together to advance common energy goals.

The report is based on the inaugural AGI Critical Issues Forum where experts were asked to consider whether a natural gas-dominant economy is achievable in North America and if such an economy would be desirable. In this forum, U.S. geoscientists, economists and environmental experts identified barriers and enablers to such an economy. They reviewed geological, infrastructural, technological, and financial factors that may affect future gas supplies and the demand for natural gas. The experts also considered the environmental, health, and safety factors that may have a significant effect on the development of natural gas.

One of the conclusions of the report is that social license granted by consensus public opinion – at the national, state and local levels – can be either a substantial enabler or barrier to a methane economy, and its importance cannot be overstated.

American Society of Magazine Editors Guidelines for Editors and Publishers

April 25, 2015 Comments off

ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers
Source: American Society of Magazine Editors

The true value of a print or digital magazine brand lies in its relationship with its readers. The unique relationship between magazine media and media consumers is founded on the reader’s trust in the magazine’s editorial integrity and independence.

The purpose of the ASME Guidelines for Editors and Publishers is to sustain that trust by articulating basic principles for the conduct of magazine journalists. The guidelines also summarize industry practices, drawn from those principles, concerning editorial content and advertising and include information about federal regulations relevant to magazine media.

In a rapidly changing media marketplace, no one set of guidelines can answer every question. The ASME Guidelines address only the critical challenges encountered by print and digital journalists working in today’s advertising-supported media. The basic principles that inform the guidelines, especially transparency, are also applicable to other forms of magazine media, including conferences and events.

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Biodiversity, the diversity of life on earth at all levels, is declining, mainly as a result of human-induced pressures such as over-exploitation of natural resources, loss of viable habitats, pollution, climate change or invasive alien species. EU biodiversity policy is based on the Birds and Habitats Directives, which served as the basis for the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites now covering 1 million square kilometres on land (or 18% of EU land area) and 250 000 square kilometres of marine sites. The policy is driven by the biodiversity strategy setting ambitious aims for 2020 (halting the loss of biodiversity) and 2050 (protecting and valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services), with the addition of a strategy on green infrastructure. The European Commission estimates that the Natura 2000 network delivers benefits worth between €200 and €300 billion per year, against management costs estimated at €5.8 billion per year. The LIFE Programme co-finances some measures related to biodiversity, especially as regards Natura 2000. Funding aimed at protecting biodiversity is also available under the agricultural, regional, fisheries, and research policies. The European Parliament has long been supportive of EU biodiversity protection policy. Developments in EU biodiversity policy include a process of ‘biodiversity proofing’ of the EU budget, improved monitoring, definition of priorities for the restoration of degraded ecosystems, ‘biodiversity offsetting’ of unavoidable residual impacts, and a ‘fitness check’ of EU nature legislation.

CRS — Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (February 10, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Trade, including agricultural trade, is clearly on the national agenda in the 114th Congress. The United States is engaged in negotiating two large regional trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) among 12 Pacific-facing nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union. These agreements hold the potential to expand foreign markets for U.S. farmers and food processors by eliminating, or substantially lowering, tariffs and restrictive quotas around certain commodities, such as rice and pork in Japan, or by dismantling supply management programs that protect poultry, eggs, and dairy in Canada. Also on the negotiating agenda are non-tariff trade barriers, including certain sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that governments employ to safeguard human, animal, and plant health, but which may also be used to deter imports. Geographic Indications (GI) that restrict the use of common names for certain agricultural products and can thereby impede trade in U.S. farm products are on the agenda of U.S. negotiators in both TPP and T-TIP. At the global level, further liberalization of agricultural trade is an objective of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), but those talks have effectively stalled.

CRS — Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs (February 4, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Over the years, Congress has authorized and the federal government has administered programs to provide food to the hungry and to other vulnerable populations in this country. This report offers a brief overview of hunger and food insecurity along with the related network of programs. The report is structured around three main tables that contain information about each program, including its authorizing language, administering agency, eligibility, services provided, participation data, and funding information. In between the tables, contextual information about this policy area and program administration is provided that may assist Congress in tracking developments in domestic food assistance. This report provides a bird’s-eye view of domestic food assistance and can be used both to learn about the details of individual programs as well as compare and contrast features across programs.

CRS — Farm Credit System (February 3, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Farm Credit System (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Farm Credit System (FCS) was created to provide a permanent, reliable source of credit to U.S. agriculture. When Congress enacted the Federal Farm Loan Act in 1916, credit often was unavailable or unaffordable in rural areas. Many lenders avoided farm loans due to the inherent risks of agriculture. Statutory authority is in the Farm Credit Act of 1971, as amended (12 U.S.C. 2001 et seq.). Comprehensive changes were enacted in the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987.

The FCS is authorized by statute to lend to farmers, ranchers, and harvesters of aquatic products. Loans may also be made to finance the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, for home ownership in rural areas, certain farm- or ranch-related businesses, and agricultural, aquatic, and public utility cooperatives.

FCS is a commercial for-profit lender and is not a lender of last resort. Borrowers must meet creditworthiness requirements similar to those of a commercial lender. FCS has “young, beginning, and small” (YBS) farmer lending programs, but without targets or mandates.

The FCS holds nearly 41% of the farm sector’s total debt (slightly higher than the nearly 40% share of commercial banks) and has the largest share of farm real estate loans (46%).

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