IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 12 April
Shared Access may pull plug on mobile deal | TweetUp to launch Twitter ad platform
The Irish Times reports that the annual Science Speak competition at the RDS in Dublin challenges university students to communicate their scientific research without using jargon. Students may use graphics and displays, but only ordinary language, with a minimum of scientific terminology. Now in its fifth year, Science Speak is organised by the RDS and the Irish Times in association with Irish Universities Promoting Science. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place on 27 April. For more information visit universityscience.ie.
The paper also says that US telecoms equipment firm Shared Access is considering pulling the plug on a EUR50 million investment in Ireland due to delays by the Office of Public Works in fulfilling a contract. Shared Access agreed a deal with the OPW in July 2008 to fit masts and other equipment at 375 Garda stations that could be leased to telecoms operators. The firm would then manage the network of stations, with revenues shared with the OPW. So far only about 12 of the projects at Garda stations have been developed and, frustrated by the length of time it is taking to get the green light for stations, Shared Access says it is considering pulling the plug on the deal.
The Irish Independent reports that on 17 April, music lovers will be encouraged to make purchases over the counter in their local record shop rather than by digital download. Encompassing 15 record outlets around Ireland, Irish Record Store Day 2010 will attempt to offer a lifeline to independent record shops under threat from rising rents, falling sales and internet sales.
The paper also says that Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe will on Monday announce 300 jobs for Cork at Abtran, a specialist outsourcing and call centre operation. Abtran last year committed itself to a EUR6 million expansion of its Irish facility, and the current announcement is expected to involve a further major investment. Abtran already employs around 600 staff, most of which are based at the University Technology Park at Curraheen Road, Cork.
The Financial Times reports on the launch of a new company, TweetUp, that aims to cash in on the popularity of Twitter with an ad-supported search platform. The company -- set up by Bill Gross, the Los Angeles-based internet entrepreneur who invented search advertising in the late 1990s -- will launch an auction-based advertising system closely modelled on Google's. Advertisers on TweetUp will be able to bid to have their own tweets displayed when users search for particular keywords in the company's Twitter search engine. Well-known investors behind the service include Steve Case, founder of AOL.
The paper also says that Seagate, the world's largest hard drive maker, has hooked up with Paramount Pictures to preload a selection of its portable hard drives with Paramount movies that can then be digitally unlocked for viewing. Some of Seagate's pocket-sized 500-gigabyte FreeAgent Go portable hard drives sold in the US will be preloaded with 20 popular movies, which will cost from USD9.99 each to unlock. Consumers will be able to buy the licence keys needed to unlock each movie online and then watch them as many times as they want.
According to the Wall Street Journal, French prosecutors have ordered a preliminary criminal investigation into allegations that management practices at France Telecom led several employees to commit suicide in recent years. An investigative magistrate will be appointed next week to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring France Telecom to trial for "moral harassment," a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor said. Prosecutors are acting on a complaint filed in December by Sud PTT, one of France Telecom's main labour unions. The union lodged the complaint after the telco said 35 of its employees had taken their own lives between 2008 and 2009.
The paper also says that two former studio heads overseeing last year's blockbuster videogame 'Modern Warfare 2' were fired for insubordination and trying to poach key employees from Activision Blizzard, the company has alleged in court filings. Activision is countersuing former Infinity Ward executives Jason West and Vince Zampella, who sued Activision for more than USD36 million in March. West and Zampella's lawsuit claimed they were fired so Activision could avoid paying them hefty royalties for their work on the 'Call of Duty' franchise. The filing by Activision seeks to show the firing was justified and claims the men met with a key gaming rival, which it says was one of several violations of their employment contract.
The Sunday Tribune says that staff in the Taoiseach's Office are facing bills for their work mobile phones after a report identified charges for services such as premium rate numbers, data and personal calls to the UK. An analysis of the use of work mobiles at the Department found at least five people had invoices that were classed as "not compliant" last April and May, and the report suggested that workers be asked to pay for the costs. Last year's bill for mobile phone costs is expected be more than EUR100,000. The report said the Taoiseach's Office could not ban premium texts or numbers, but said its policy regarding the use of such services should be made clearer in the Department's mobile phone policy.
The same paper writes that Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes is concerned over the fate of information on thousands of Irish Bebo users if the site is sold or shut down. Up to 500,000 Irish users are registered with Bebo and have given the website data such as personal photos and videos, age and relationship status. A spokeswoman for Bebo did not rule out the possibility that the data could be sold on to private firms or say whether it would all be destroyed. Hawkes said there were strict regulations governing the sharing of the information and that he expected Bebo to comply with Irish data protection laws.
The same paper says that auction site eBay is to begin a major marketing campaign to boost its dedicated fashion section on the site. Retailers such as Superdry, Bench and Schuh already sell stock from previous seasons on the site, and eBay is attempting change how customers perceive the site. The company has operations in west Dublin and recently announced it would create 150 jobs in Ireland.
The Sunday Times says that the Irish republican movement is embracing new media by putting its newsletter online. An Phoblacht will change to a monthly publication and will have its own website for a daily news service, interviews, historic film footage and an archive section.
The Sunday Business Post warns that RTE and newspapers are set to clash over online news content. Newspaper owners are to raise the issue at government level, saying that RTE.ie should not be allowed to use public funds to provide news free of charge in competition with commercial publishers. Other news websites are exploring the idea of charging for content, but RTE says its website is a "necessary and important" service for domestic and overseas readers.
The same paper says that Gaeltacht areas are being hindered by a lack of broadband access, with a new survey revealing that 55 percent of homes in the region have internet access. The survey by TG4 also revealed that half of homes there have digital television, with two-thirds open to moving to a future digital terrestrial television (DTT) service.
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