Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

Aung Naing Soe, a Burmese freelance journalist and interpreter, is hugged by his mother during his first court appearance together with three others after being accused for allegedly flying drones illegally over parliament buildings in Naypyitaw. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar: A Myanmar court jailed two journalists on assignment for Turkey’s state broadcaster, along with their interpreter and driver, for two months on Friday for violating an aircraft law by filming with a drone.
Cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were detained on October 27 along with their Myanmar interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and driver, Hla Tin.
The four had been working on a documentary for TRT World, the English-language subsidiary of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, when they were detained for attempting to fly a drone near parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw.
While none of the four detained is a Turkish national, the case has further strained diplomatic ties in the wake of President Tayyip Erdogan accusing Myanmar’s military of carrying out a “genocide” against the Buddhist-majority country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Police initially began investigations into whether they had violated an import-export rule that carries a penalty of up to three years in jail, but the judge in the case opted to introduce a fresh charge of contravening the 1934 Burma Aircraft Act, which carries a maximum sentence of three months.
Both the cameraman and reporter pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, and the judge sentenced all four to two months, according to a Reuters reporter at the hearing.
A fresh hearing will be held on November 16 to determine whether charges will be laid for violating the import-export rules.
“The detainees admitted that they committed the crime hoping they would only be fined, so it shocked us when the judge sentenced them to two months,” said defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw.
The lawyer said he would appeal for a reduction in the sentence to a fine.
Before proceedings began on Friday, Mok told reporters in the court that they were sorry for any disrespect of the Myanmar’s laws, but complained that the legal process had lacked transparency.
“We have no idea what is going on and we are not allowed to speak to our family,” she said.
“And the rules and procedures are not explained to us. We were asked to sign statements that are completely in Burmese that we cannot understand.”
Interpreter Aung Naing Soe told reporters as he was brought to court the four had not been mistreated while in custody, though police had asked about who they had spoken to and about the trips he had made to several of Myanmar’s restive regions, including Rakhine.
Myanmar says the military counter-insurgency clearance operation launched in August was provoked by Rohingya militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine State, and has denied both Erdogan’s accusation and a top UN official’s description of the operation as a “classic case of ethnic cleansing.”
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh since the military operation began.


Fox rejected higher offer from Comcast before Disney buyout

Updated 19 April 2018
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Fox rejected higher offer from Comcast before Disney buyout

SAN FRANCISCO: Media giant 21st Century Fox, which was sold to Disney in December, rejected a higher buyout offer from Comcast over fears of regulatory risks, a filing showed Wednesday.
The joint regulatory filing by Fox and Disney said a buyout by cable operator Comcast “carried a more significant risk of exposure to a range of negative outcomes for 21CF” while “a transaction with Disney would provide superior closing certainty as a result of the lower regulatory risk faced by Disney.”
The decision came in the wake of the US Department of Justice legal challenge to a mega-merger between Time Warner and AT&T.
Comcast also refused to provide compensation if the transaction was blocked by competition authorities, while Disney proposed $2.5 billion.
Comcast had offered $34.40 per share compared to Disney’s $29.
On December 14, Disney announced the purchase of many of Fox’s assets for $52.4 billion, though a final approval by antitrust authorities is not expected before 2019.
Comcast was reported in February to have relaunched its bid, according to reports, offering to assuage some of Fox’s concerns.
The media landscape is undergoing accelerated upheaval as traditional TV and film players seek to merge with cable operators to better combat tech giants, including Netflix and Amazon and their video streaming platforms.