Saudi-Egyptian sports alliance to replace blocked Qatari beIN Sports

Updated 20 June 2017
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Saudi-Egyptian sports alliance to replace blocked Qatari beIN Sports

JEDDAH: The frequency of a new unencrypted sports TV network that will replace the blocked Qatari beIN Sports is set to be announced on Wednesday, Saudi Media City Chairman Muflih Al-Hafatah said on Twitter.
PBS Sport is launching in the region on Arabsat in alliance with Egypt and will be based in Cairo. Al-Hafatah described the channels as “Egyptian with a 100 percent Saudi capital.”
He tweeted: “New channels will be free as much as possible in accordance with what international laws permit.” He added that if encryption is required, the prices will be affordable for everyone.
A press conference is due to take place after next week’s Eid holiday, to offer further details about the new sports channels, Al-Hafatah said. The new PBS network will include 11 channels in high definition (HD). All channels will use the 4K-resolution technology.
PBS Sport announced on its official Twitter account that it has signed a contract with the Argentinian veteran footballer Diego Maradona to join the team of sports analysts, as well as the Saudi retired footballer Nawaf Al-Temyat.
The new channels will provide sports fanatics with a new service after the blocking or restriction placed on Qatar’s beIN sports channels, along with arms of the Al Jazeera news channel, in some countries amid the ongoing diplomatic row in the Gulf.
“Away from politics and ranging of our policies in our homeland, we won’t allow a state that sponsors terrorism to monopolize television entertainment in our Arab countries,” Al-Hafatah tweeted, in reference to Qatar.
The Qatar network broadcasts popular football tournaments such as Spanish La Liga and Copa del Rey, UEFA Europa League, and English Premier League.
Prices announced on the PBS Sport Twitter account are SR80 ($21) for monthly subscriptions, SR400 ($106) for six months and SR750 ($200) for a year.
What potential subscribers are looking for from the new service is a variety of sports analysis and commentary, and high quality in the broadcasting of games.
“Fast planning to establish high-quality new sports channels is challenging and needs time and preparation,” Khalid Attiya, 43-year-old football tournaments enthusiast, told Arab News.
Attiya currently has a beIN Sports subscription that he renewed on May 1, a month before the Qatari crisis, for which he paid SR1,350 ($360).
“I have not received any notification that my current subscription would be suspended,” he added.
Among the rights that beIN Sports has already bought were the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup matches.
Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad had previously said that Saudis working at Qatar’s beIN would be compensated with local jobs in parallel positions.
The upcoming PBS Sport channels are now accepting job applications from new talents, particularly commentators and presenters, the PBS Sport Twitter account posted.


Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

A Google sign is seen during the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy) in Shanghai, China August 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Google employees demand more oversight of China search engine plan

  • Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability
  • Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is not close to launching a search engine app in China, its chief executive said at a companywide meeting on Thursday, according to a transcript seen by Reuters, as employees of the Alphabet Inc. unit called for more transparency and oversight of the project.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told staff that though development is in an early stage, providing more services in the world’s most populous country fits with Google’s global mission.
Hoping to gain approval from the Chinese government to provide a mobile search service, the company plans to block some websites and search terms, Reuters reported this month, citing unnamed sources.
Whether the company could or would launch search in China “is all very unclear,” Pichai said, according to the transcript. “The team has been in an exploration stage for quite a while now, and I think they are exploring many options.”
Disclosure of the secretive effort has disturbed some Google employees and human rights advocacy organizations. They are concerned that by agreeing to censorship demands, Google would validate China’s prohibitions on free expression and violate the “don’t be evil” clause in the company’s code of conduct.
Hundreds of employees have called on the company to provide more “transparency, oversight and accountability,” according to an internal petition seen by Reuters on Thursday.
After a separate petition this year, Google announced it would not renew a project to help the US military develop artificial intelligence technology for drones.
The China petition says employees are concerned the project, code named Dragonfly, “makes clear” that ethics principles Google issued during the drone debate “are not enough.”
“We urgently need more transparency, a seat at the table and a commitment to clear and open processes: Google employees need to know what we’re building,” states the document seen by Reuters.
The New York Times first reported the petition on Thursday. Google declined to comment.
Company executives have not commented publicly on Dragonfly, and their remarks at the company-wide meeting marked their first about the project since details about it were leaked.
Employees have asked Google to create an ethics review group with rank-and-file workers, appoint ombudspeople to provide independent review and internally publish assessments of projects that raise substantial ethical questions.
Pichai told employees: “We’ll definitely be transparent as we get closer to actually having a plan of record here” on Dragonfly, according to the transcript. He noted the company guards information on some projects where sharing too early can “cause issues.”
Three former employees involved with Google’s past efforts in China told Reuters current leadership may see offering limited search results in China as better than providing no information at all.
The same rationale led Google to enter China in 2006. It left in 2010 over an escalating dispute with regulators that was capped by what security researchers identified as state-sponsored cyberattacks against Google and other large US firms.
The former employees said they doubt the Chinese government will welcome back Google. A Chinese official, who declined to be named, told Reuters this month that it is “very unlikely” Dragonfly would be available this year.