HMV’s fate to be sealed by 15 January
HMV’s administrator has given potential buyers until tomorrow (15 January) to make a bid to rescue the music retailer.
The company, which employs 2,200 people, called in administrators from KPMG just after Christmas, blaming a “tsunami of challenges” for its “extremely weak” festive trading.
Several approaches to save the retailer have already been made, according to Sky News.
The music and entertainment retailer was bought by investment firm Hilco six years ago after falling into administration for the first time. It currently operates 125 stores, which remain open for now.
Microsoft search engine found to surface child porn
Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been found to not only surface child porn but suggest related keywords and images that provide more child pornography, according to a report by TechCrunch.
The website commissioned online safety startup AntiToxin to investigate the search engine following an anonymous tip.
It discovered that searching for terms such as “porn kids” and “nude family kids” resulted in suggestions of illegal child exploitation imagery. Worryingly, this same content also surfaced when these terms were not explicitly searched for, suggesting Microsoft is failing to adequately police the search engine.
Bing also made suggestions for child porn: when researchers searched for “Omegle Kids”, a video chat app popular with teens, one of the auto-complete suggestions was “Omegle Kids girls 13”, which surfaced child pornography.
Microsoft’s chief vice-president of Bing and AI products Jordi Ribas says in a statement: “Clearly these results were unacceptable under our standards and policies and we appreciate TechCrunch making us aware. We acted immediately to remove them, but we also want to prevent any other similar violations in the future. We’re focused on learning from this so we can make any other improvements needed.”
Christmas doesn’t help increase retail footfall
Retail footfall over the five-week Christmas shopping period to 29 December fell by 2.6%, marking the 13th consecutive month of decline, according to the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Springboard Footfall Monitor.
This is an improvement on the same period in 2017, however, when footfall dropped by 3.5%.
Shopping centre footfall saw the greatest decline, dropping 3.9% during the period, which is broadly in line with both November’s 2018 and December 2017’s rates of -3.8%. It is the 21st consecutive month that shopping centre footfall has declined.
Footfall on the high street was also down, falling 2.1%, the fifth consecutive month it has declined. Footfall in retail parks fell by 2.1% as well, a drop from -1.4% in November 2018.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, says: “[The decline] comes at a time when retail is in the midst of a transformation, investing in technology and the online offer, as well as offering more experiences in physical shops. This is evolving many high streets into a destination for wider services, as well as shopping.
“However, many well-known brands have disappeared from our high streets, and without government intervention there will be more to come. Government should take action by reforming the broken business rates system and ensuring consumers and retailers retain tariff free, frictionless trade with the EU after 29 March.”
The Guardian swaps plastic for potato starch wrapping
The Guardian has replaced the plastic bags it wraps Sunday supplements in with a compostable potato starch alternative.
The newspaper said it dropped the polythene covers after feedback from readers, despite the change resulting in an increase in production costs. It has so far been introduced in London, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, with plans for the new wrapping to be phased in across the rest of the UK over the coming months.
Rather than being recycled, the new wrapping, which is produced by Ecover, should be disposed of on a compost heap or in a food waste bin. The Guardian, which claims to be the first national newspaper to make the switch, says the wrap is suitable for domestic composting and designed to “completely compost within six months in a well-maintained compost heap or food waste bin”.
The reaction on social media has been largely positive, however some have questioned whether their local authority will allow the item.
WFA forms global taskforce to tackle digital media concerns
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has assembled a global taskforce to help drive change in the digital media ecosystem.
The Global Media Board will be led by Procter & Gamble’s global media director Gerry D’Angelo, who has been appointed co-chair alongside Ben Jankowski, senior vice-president of global media at Mastercard. Both men will also head up the WFA’s Media Forum.
Together, members of the newly-formed group spend more than $45bn on communications each year. They have been tasked with driving adoption of the eight measures set out in the WFA’s Global Media Charter, including ad fraud, viewability, brand safety and transparency.
The board also includes members from Unilever, Volkswagen, Mars, Adidas and LVMH.
D’Angelo says: “Advertisers can no longer relinquish control of media, data and algorithms. Together, we’re transforming the media industry, taking back control to lead mass disruption through active participation in industry bodies such as the WFA, and promoting measures as set out by the Global Media Charter.”