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Al Jazeera To Buy American TV Network

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Al Jazeera said on Wednesday it will buy Current TV, the struggling cable channel founded by Al Gore and partners, in a move that will boost the Qatar-based broadcaster’s footprint in the United States.

The Tide source reported that the terms were undisclosed, but analysts estimated the deal could be worth as much as $500m.

Al Jazeera said it would start a new US-based news channel with the acquisition, which will make it available in more than 40 million US households, up from 4.7 million prior to the deal.

The deal brings Al Jazeera, which operates under the patronage of the emir of Qatar and his family, into closer competition with American news channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox.

But the award-winning channel that is seen in more than 260 million homes in 130 countries faces hurdles with US distributors and viewers, television industry analysts said.

Current, a liberal channel which has battled low viewership, had been distributed in about 60 million of the 100 million homes in the United States with cable or satellite service.

One of its distributors, Time Warner Cable, which accounted for about 12 million of those homes, announced late Wednesday it was terminating its carriage deal.

“Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” Time Warner Cable said in a statement.

The Tide source reported in April Time Warner Cable was considering dropping Current if it did not reach certain ratings thresholds.

A spokesperson would not elaborate. Current is also distributed by Comcast Corp and DirecTV, with 22.4 million and 19.8 million subscribers, respectively.

Comcast or DirecTV were either unavailable or declined comment. Dish Network Corp also declined comment.

Both Comcast and DirecTV also hold equity stakes of more than five per cent in Current, according to public filings.

Current said Gore, its chairman, and co-founder Joel Hyatt, the chief executive officer, will remain on the advisory board.

Analysts said Al Jazeera would have to overcome a significant image problem in the United States, where many viewers remember its stridently anti-war reporting of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Al Jazeera has deeper pockets. The downside is the politics. People in America associate Al Jazeera with the Muslim world or the Arab world or the Islam world and they have problems with that,” said Jimmy Schaeffler, pay TV consultant at The Carmel Group.

“They have psychological, political and emotional concerns and that will work against them.”

“There’s a fair amount of paranoia when it comes to Al Jazeera,” said Robert Thompson, professor of TV and popular culture at Syracuse University.

Al Jazeera has only been shown in a handful of cities. It said its new US-based news channel would be separate from Al Jazeera English, and would provide both domestic and international news for American audiences.

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Estate Surveyors Reject Housing Deficit Report

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The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has disagreed with the report of housing deficit in Nigeria, insisting that there is no proof to justify the report.
The institution also corroborated the assertion of the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, that Nigeria does not have a 17 million housing deficit.
A recent report had indicated that there are 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria. 
President of NIESV, Emma OkasWike, who faulted the report in an interaction with newsmen, Monday, said the body was in full agreement with the minister’s statement and position on the matter. 
“We are in total agreement with the minister on the unreliability of the 17 million housing deficit being brandished in Nigeria for lacking scientific proof.
“We are using this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of data bank and our commitment to the provision of a property data bank for all state capitals and major cities in Nigeria”, NIESV president said.
Wike, however, agreed that there are more demands in housing sector due to mass movement from rural areas to urban centres, adding that when demand exceeds supply, there will be scarcity. 
He said that the solution to the problem lies in having accurate data of empty houses in the cities, which could assist in further planning.
The NIESV president hinted that his institution had been challenged to come up with accurate data on the housing issue, pointing out that such data would help solving the housing problem.
“We have laws in this country, and law is not the problem; it is not enough to say repeal the law, but the implementation is the problem.
“The communities fighting over land, resulted in enacting the Land Use Act, and every section of the Land Use Act has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. The administration of the law is the problem we have in this country, but not the law perse”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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FG To Shut Ikorodu Terminal Over Explosive Overtime Cargoes

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Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government may shut down the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos over the recent alarm raised by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) on some explosive overtime cargoes.
Members of the Governing Board, NPA, had recently expressed worries over some overtime cargoes that have been abandoned for over 44 years at the facility, even as they called on management of the Nigeria Customs Service to expedite actions to evacuate some of the detained consignments.
Speaking with our correspondent recently on the next line of actions by the NPA Board in furtherance to the evacuation of the dangerous cargoes, one of the board members, Hon. Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa, said government might shut down the facility due to high risk involved.
The board member reiterated that the explosive cargoes pose serious threat to the facility and the nation, adding that it would be wise for government to shut down the terminal and give rooms for the evacuation of such items.
According to him, the executive board of NPA will hold a retreat to determine the next line of actions on Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos.
“The executive management would have a retreat and I wouldn’t tell you what the retreat is all about but in two weeks time, we are going to shut the port terminal at Ikorodu and that is what we are going to do”, he reaffirmed.
On the issue of revoking the licenses of some terminal operators,  Mijinyawa said plans were afoot to review the port concession agreement in order to be fair to all parties involved in the process of renewal.
Mijinyawa who is also the chairman, Seaport Concession, NPA, pointed out that the terminal operators had testified that NPA was committed to the concession agreement and would further ensure fair play to all parties involved in the renewal process.
He said, “We have to sit down and have a review of everything and of course if there are those worthy of renewal we just have to give them that opportunity but for the ones that have defaulted, it is better you find out why they default before any necessary actions because you just have to strike a balance.
“It’s not a matter of I am not going to renew the agreement but to find out why are they not functioning properly. Is it because of the Covid? Is it the NPA defaulting? Is it them defaulting? So, you just have to go through the documents and see for yourself before you make a judgment of that; so that we can be fair to all parties”.
 According to him, the terminal operators appreciated the efforts of the NPA on the working relationship between stakeholders as against the backdrop of port operations since 2006.

By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos

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CBN Not Supporting Solid Minerals Dev  – Minister

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The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, DrUche Ogah, has alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not been supporting the development of the mines and solid mineral sector in the country. 
The minister made the allegation at a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The forum was aimed at getting inputs of stakeholders to the contents of four bills on how to achieve rapid development of the solid minerals sector.
The bills are Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021, Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, and the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021.
The panel is also expected to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah said, “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria did not believe in us. If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown, that can change the landscape of our revenue.”
The minister said there was need to support research for growth of the sector.
According to him, “Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector”.
Ogah urged citizens to be involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.

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