Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Morning Brief: Situation calm in Cyprus ahead of vote on levy on bank deposits; Chicago Sun-Times goes free with its native iPad edition; more media app updates to come

Update: This afternoon the Cypriot parliament voted down the bailout deal that would have levied a tax on bank deposits. The vote was not close with 39 "no" votes and 19 abstentions. No one it seems wanted to have this raw deal hung around their necks.

Despite some protests yesterday from citizens upset with the government's decision to levy a special tax on bank deposits, the Cypriot government will try and win a vote today in the nation's parliament. The only concession the government appears ready to offer is that bank deposits for amounts below €20,000 will be exempt.

A vote is expected this afternoon amid concerns that President Nicos Anastasiades does not have the votes necessary to pass the plan even in its revised form – though the MPs may decide that the levy is their only real option to avoid being kicked out of the Eurozone. (Update: another delay, the vote may now moved to tomorrow. Meanwhile, the bank holiday continues with local banks closed until Thursday, though this too could be changed.)

Meanwhile, it appears that the European group offering the bailout has pointed the finger straight at the government in Nicosia for the situation saying that it was the government that proposed the tax levy on small depositors. The government, which only recently won power, is therefore left to face the wrath of voters for this situation.

A large batch of new media app updates were issued by Apple this morning, but none of them is as intriguing as that offered by the Chicago Sun-Times: the latest update for Chicago Sun-Times for iPad makes the paper a free circulation newspaper – at least on the iPad.

Readers can now download the natively designed tablet edition for free, or even subscribe on a monthly basis free of charge.

The Sun-Times has three news apps in the Apple App Store: the one above takes the news stories from the print edition and reformats them into native layouts using the Mag+ platform; an eEdition offers a replica edition using the NewspaperDirect app solution; and a third app is a stand-alone news app that takes the RSS feeds from the paper's website and reformats them into a news reader format.

The paper also has five tablet magazine apps, built using Mag+, that are for sports and entertainment features.

There will be a follow-up to this post to cover some of the other important media app updates issued today.