Hariri newspaper drops off Lebanese stands

Established by late billionaire premier Rafik Hariri, Al-Mustaqbal is affiliated to his son Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Current party. (File/AP)
Updated 31 January 2019
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Hariri newspaper drops off Lebanese stands

  • For two decades, Al-Mustaqbal recorded key events of the multi-confessional country’s history
  • Al-Mustaqbal is only the latest in a string of Lebanese newspapers to call it quits

BEIRUT: Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal issued its last print version after 20 years on Thursday, it said, the latest victim of the country’s media crisis.
Established by late billionaire premier Rafik Hariri, Al-Mustaqbal is affiliated to his son Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Current party.
“Al-Mustaqbal folds up its last pages today,” said an editorial on the front page of the newspaper, whose name means “Future” in Arabic.
“On February 14, 2019, it relaunches digitally.”
For two decades, Al-Mustaqbal recorded key events of the multi-confessional country’s history, including the 2005 assassination of its founder in a bombing.
In the years after the Sunni Muslim politician’s killing, the newspaper became a platform for the Future Current party launched in 2007, as it faced rivals including the Shiite movement Hezbollah.
On Thursday, Al-Mustaqbal editor-in-chief Hani Hammoud wrote that his newspaper was struggling to adapt to the digital era.
“In 20 years, a generation of readers has turned into consumers who feel that 120 characters... is enough for them to know,” he wrote.
“The daily battle of editors at Al-Mustaqbal... has become to find a headline that doesn’t make the reader feel like they already saw it the previous night on their smartphone.”
The newspaper suffered a financial crisis in 2015, prompting the dismissal of employees and a delay in payment of salaries, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says.
Al-Mustaqbal is only the latest in a string of Lebanese newspapers to call it quits.
In September, political daily Al-Anwar disappeared from print after nearly 60 years due to “financial losses.”
In June, prestigious pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closed its Lebanon offices, where it was first founded in 1946 before later becoming Saudi owned.
Its printing presses in Beirut stopped the same month, leaving its international version only available online.
In late 2016, Lebanese newspaper As-Safir closed 42 years after publishing its first edition, with the founder saying it had run out of funds.
Lebanon has weathered a series of political crises since civil war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, and the prime minister has for eight months failed to get all political parties to agree on a new cabinet.


India court reverses TikTok app restrictions

Updated 25 April 2019
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India court reverses TikTok app restrictions

  • It is already banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the US
  • The case against TikTok was launched by an activist group that said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography

NEW DELHI: An Indian court has reversed a decision that ordered Google and Apple to take down Chinese-owned video app TikTok over the spread of pornographic material, local media said.
The controversial but wildly popular app allows users to upload and share short 15 second clips from their phones and claims to have 500 million users worldwide — more than 120 million of them in India.
It is already banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.
The Wednesday ruling by the Madras High Court in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state requires the popular platform to prevent “obscene videos” from being posted.
“(The court) warned if any controversial video violating its conditions were found uploaded using the app, it would be considered a contempt of court,” a report by the Press Trust of India agency said.
On April 16, India’s government demanded Google and Apple remove the service from its app stores, though the order did not stop those who had already downloaded the app from using it.
The case against TikTok was launched by an activist group that said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography.
India’s government told the court on Wednesday that they had formed a committee to suggest ways to regulate apps like TikTok, PTI said.
TikTok told the court that they had removed around six million controversial videos from the platform since the order was announced banning new downloads last week.
The app hit the headlines in India earlier in April after a 19-year-old man was accidentally shot dead by a friend in Delhi as they posed with a pistol to make a video on the platform.
TikTok has become a major rival to Facebook, Instagram and other social network sites among teenaged smartphone users in the past year.
Bangladesh banned TikTok in February as part of a clampdown on Internet pornography.
The same month, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said a $5.7 million fine ordered against the company was the largest imposed in a child privacy investigation.
The social network failed to obtain parental consent from underage users as required by the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, FTC officials said.