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Facebook, Arcadia, April Fools: Everything that matters this morning

By March 31, 2019No Comments
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Industry unimpressed by Facebook calls for help to regulate content

Mark Zuckerberg’s claims that regulators and governments should play a more active role in controlling internet content have failed to impress US government and trade bodies.

The Facebook CEO’s comments, published in the Washington Post some two weeks after a gunman live streamed a terror attack on a New Zealand mosque, suggested that the responsibility for monitoring harmful content is too great for social media firms alone.

Zuckerberg proposed new laws should be created applying to harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. He is calling for common rules on harmful content all social media sites must adhere to, enforced by third-party bodies.

The Facebook CEO wants all major tech companies to release a transparency report every three months, industry-wide standards to be implemented controlling how political campaigns use data to target voters online and he is calling on more countries to adopt European-style GDPR protections.

However, the wider industry may take some convincing. The Financial Times reports that Jason Kint, CEO of the US trade association for online publishers Digital Content Next, described Zuckerberg’s statements as “mostly . . . a public relations effort”.

Meanwhile David Cicilline, Democratic chair of the US House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee, said in a tweet that “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t get to make the rules any more” and as Facebook has “shown it cannot regulate itself”, he asked why anyone would want the Facebook CEO’s advice anyway.

READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg’s call for more tech rules fails to impress (£)

Struggling Arcadia could swap shares for rent cuts

Arcadia is considering offering landlords shares in the company in exchange for rent cuts as the retail giant behind Topshop and Miss Selfridge contemplates a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

The Times reports that Sir Philip Green is considering offering landlords a stake of between 10% and 20% in Arcadia in order to get them to cooperate with the CVA. It is understood that Arcadia plans to use the CVA, an insolvency process intended to be used as an alternative to administration, to close 30 of its 570 shops and cut rents by an average of 30% on its remaining stores.

There are also suggestions that Green might be forced to step away and let a new management team lead the CVA. Another option is for Arcadia to offer landlords a lump sum in the tens of millions of pounds, similar to the amount they would receive if the group went into administration.

Arcadia has been hit by scandals over recent years following the collapse of BHS, which the company sold to the now discredited Retail Acquisitions for £1, as well as allegations of bullying and sexual harassment made against Green himself. The performance of the group has also been called into question after operating profits dropped by 42% to £124m in the year to August 2017.

READ MORE: Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green mulls ‘shares for rent cuts’

BMW and Jameson the pick of the April Fools

BMW-April-Fools

This April Fools’ Day, BMW is offering its customers the chance to harness the power of the moon in a bid to “push the limits of electric driving”.

From today, BMW drivers will be able to add Lunar Paint as an optional extra to their i vehicle. The paint uses revolutionary photovoltaic technology to harness the power of the moon and passively recharge a car’s battery in the hours of darkness.

Meanwhile, in the world of whiskey, Jameson has found a new way to ensure the drink is shared – not stolen. Bottles of Jameson triple-distilled whiskey are now being fitted with anti-theft glittershot technology. All drinkers need to do is to set the cap to ‘Glitter Shot Active Mode’ and any sip-stealer will be immediately covered with 10,000 particles of green glitter. Crafty!

Not to be outdone, The Saucy Fish Co. has set its sights on disrupting the snack category with the launch of new sub-brand The Saucy Fishcuit Co. Inspired by research showing health-conscious consumers are crying out for fishy snack alternatives, the brand has developed three biscuit varieties to take on the mid-afternoon slump.

An update on the humble custard cream, the Custard Bream will blend delicate bream-flavoured cream with the finest Cornish cream, while Clammy Dodgers will pair luxurious Scottish rope grown clams with a jammy centre. To complete the range, Rich Sea biscuits mix the bold flavours of sea-salt and seaweed.

Sales and marketing director, Amanda Webb, explains that after experimenting with Iced Squid Rings, Jaffa Hakes, Wagon Eels and CodNobs, the team settled on a range of three fishcuits for the initial launch.

“Rest assured, each product in the range has passed the ultimate biscuit quality test – they taste delicious when dunked in a cup of tea,” she adds. “And being fish-based they float rather than sink to the bottom of the cup, leaving those nasty mushy bits nobody likes.”

Gambling brands warned not to ignore FOBT stake cut

The Gambling Commission has warned gambling companies not to try to circumvent the stake cut for Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which comes into force today.

The maximum limit per spin on FOBTs has dropped from £100 to £2 in a bid to prevent gamblers losing large amounts of money in a short space of time on the machines, which have been described as the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.

Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, says there is work to be done to make other products online, on mobile and on the high street safer as gamblers shift their behaviour following the stake cut.

He adds: “It’s imperative that operators invest in and use data, technology and measures to identify harmful play and can step in to protect players when needed. They should be innovating to protect their customers, as much as they do to make a profit.”

The cut in the FOBT maximum stake could lead to the closure of up to a third of the 8,500 high street betting shops open last year, according to reports in the Financial Times. Ladbrokes Coral-owner GVC is expected to close approximately 1,000 of its 3,475 shops following the stake reduction, while William Hill is seeking rent cuts of up to 50% to keep its shops open.

READ MORE: Gambling industry warned over fixed-odds stake cut

Former marketer appointed as new FA chief exec

Mark Bullingham will succeed Martin Glenn as the Football Association (FA) chief executive from the 2019/2020 football season onwards.

Bullingham joined the FA in August 2016 as commercial and marketing director to lead the commercial, marketing and digital functions within the organisation, before being appointed chief commercial and football development officer in December.

He is credited with helping to grow annual FA revenue by 25% by brokering key sponsorship deals with Nike and Barclays, “record breaking” domestic and international Emirates FA Cup broadcast agreements and helping to drive record viewership and engagement figures on FA digital channels.

Bullingham says he is confident in the “talent and determination of the workforce” and the direction in which the FA is headed. However, he stresses his ambitions to double the women’s and girls’ game across the country, host major international tournaments and create digital tools to help volunteers across all areas of the grassroots game.

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