MBC Iraq channel to launch next month

The official MBC Iraq broadcast will commence on Feb. 17. (Photo/MBC Group)
Updated 04 February 2019

MBC Iraq channel to launch next month

LONDON: Broadcaster MBC Group plans to launch a “premium” TV channel geared toward Iraqi families next month, it said in a statement on Saturday.
MBC Iraq will air a “diverse selection of Iraqi programs, including dramas and comedies,” the broadcaster said.
Official broadcasts will begin on Feb. 17, with previews of the channel’s output aired on the two preceding days.
The launch of the channel is part of a five-year plan for MBC Group to “grow its offerings throughout the region,” it said.
In the previews of the channel’s output, it will air a broadcast of the “Winter at Tantora” Saudi cultural festival featuring a number of Iraqi singers. On Feb. 16, it will
air the debut of the sixth
season of “Arabs Got Talent” at 9 p.m. Iraq time.
“MBC’s relationship with Iraqi viewers is one that has been ongoing for years, primarily through televising Iraqi dramas, featuring Iraqi talent including superstar singers and many TV stars,” MBC said in a statement.
“Behind the scenes, many Iraqis have contributed to the growth of the group through their hard work in HR, admin, technical, production, and more since the company’s establishment in 1991.”
The channel will air Iraqi drama and comedy productions, in addition to “socio-cultural premium entertainment shows.”
“MBC Iraq is the result of the purposeful vision of chairman of the board, Sheikh Waleed Al-Ibrahim, and the culmination of MBC Group’s five-year expansion and growth plan, which we announced in the last quarter of 2018,” said Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group.
“MBC Iraq is a premium television network that caters to the needs of a sophisticated Iraqi audience, offering exclusive and premium content suitable for all members of the family and all age groups. Our aim is to offer increased localized productions, offering opportunities to Iraqi talent and prospects in media to its youth.”


Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

Updated 03 April 2020

Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

  • The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography”
  • Trends will display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits”

PARIS: Google says it will publish users’ location data around the world from Friday to allow governments to gauge the effectiveness of social distancing measures, brought in to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of Google’s blogs.
Trends will display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.
For example, in France, visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, museums or theme parks have plunged by 88 percent from their normal levels, the data showed.
Local shops initially saw a jump of 40 percent when confinement measures where announced, before suffering a drop of 72 percent.
Office use is possibly stronger than suspected meanwhile, as the decline in that area is a more modest 56 percent.
“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Google execs said.
“This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”
Like the detection of traffic jams or traffic measurement Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history.
No “personally identifiable information,” such as an individual’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available, the post said.
The reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.
From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide.
In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing “anonymised” smartphone data to better track the outbreak.
Even privacy-loving Germany is considering using a smartphone app to help manage the spread of the disease.
But activists say authoritarian regimes are using the coronavirus as a pretext to suppress independent speech and increase surveillance.
In liberal democracies, others fear widespread data harvesting and intrusion could bring lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.