Pakistan ready to unblock TikTok if ‘vulgar’ content removed

Pakistan ready to unblock TikTok if ‘vulgar’ content removed
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Updated 12 October 2020

Pakistan ready to unblock TikTok if ‘vulgar’ content removed

Pakistan ready to unblock TikTok if ‘vulgar’ content removed
  • Adverse economic effects include depriving creators of livelihoods, deterring investors and harming digitization policy

KARACHI: TikTok will be unblocked in Pakistan if the platform removes “vulgar” content, a government minister said Saturday.

The Chinese app was banned for failing to remove “immoral” content after being given time to comply with instructions from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Information and Technology Minister Syed Aminul Haque said the block would be lifted if the app carried out the required cleanup.

"For the time being, (TikTok) has been closed,” he told Arab News. “If they give a guarantee, then it will be allowed to reopen. They were warned twice during the last three months to remove the vulgarity-related content. Every time they promised, but did not comply.” 

He said that the government was ready to talk to TikTok.

“If they approach (us), we will sit with them and after removal of the content, it (the app) will be restored,” Haque added.

In September the PTA said it had approached TikTok to immediately block “objectionable content” available on its platform in Pakistan and prevent the use of its platform “for disseminating illegal content.”

It did not say at the time what actions it would take if TikTok did not comply.

The decision to block the app has caused a debate, with experts warning that it would have an adverse economic impact.

“Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok are the cheapest source of marketing outreach and fastest conversion sources,” Badar Khushnood, a member of the National E-Commerce Council, told Arab News. “If the touch points of access to the market are closed and we don’t understand their needs, then many small and micro businesses will be affected. Their marketing cost was low due to these marketing tools. It would be far better to make a decision by multi-stakeholder engagement. We need to understand how these new communication technologies operate. How to align our cultural, religious, and national agendas with them for this deep multi-stakeholder engagement is must.”

The ban is also seen as detrimental to the government’s Digital Pakistan Policy to accelerate digitization for economic development.

“It shows a regulatory environment where apps can be blocked and that makes the environment unfriendly to investors, especially in the tech sector at a time where the IT sector is growing," Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, a civil society organization geared toward advocacy, policy, and research in the areas of digital rights in Pakistan, told Arab News. “Moreover, apps like TikTok are a source of income for thousands of content creators, with some having a following of more than 10 million. This shows the economic potential that such a ban averts to the detriment of so many creative Pakistanis.”

One of Pakistan's most popular TikTok celebrities, Hareem Shah, said the ban would affect those who made a living from the platform.

“If we look at TikTok, there are many poor (people) who have taken to this platform as a means of livelihood,” she added. “Their means of livelihood has been taken away ... This should not happen.”

According to political analysts, blocking social media platforms made Pakistan look like a country that was unenthusiastic about allowing innovative disruptive technology companies to grow.

Pakistan blocked five dating apps in August: Tinder, Tagged, Skout, Grindr and SayHi. 

In July, the PTA said it had banned the Singaporean live-streaming app Bigo over “immoral, obscene and vulgar content.” Bigo was subsequently unblocked. The hugely popular online game PUBG was also banned in Pakistan throughout July.

“Applying laws in such a broad manner does not send the right message to local and international investors and start-ups,” political economist Uzair Younus told Arab News. “It raises clouds over Pakistan’s technology sector.”


StarzPlay to broadcast new shows during Ramadan in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media

StarzPlay to broadcast new shows during Ramadan in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media
Updated 20 April 2021

StarzPlay to broadcast new shows during Ramadan in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media

StarzPlay to broadcast new shows during Ramadan in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media
  • StarzPlay subscribers will have access to a range of GCC and Arabic programming by the UAE media firm throughout Ramadan
  • Earlier this year, the companies collaborated to live-stream Ultimate Fighting Championship events across the MENA region

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Media has extended its strategic agreement with StarzPlay to broadcast six new Arabic and GCC drama series during the holy month of Ramadan.

Earlier this year, the companies collaborated to live-stream Ultimate Fighting Championship events across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As part of the extended partnership, StarzPlay subscribers will have access to a range of GCC and Arabic programming by the UAE media firm throughout Ramadan.        

Abdul Raheem Al-Bateeh Al-Nuaimi, acting general manager of Abu Dhabi Media, said: “This ongoing agreement with StarzPlay is in line with Abu Dhabi Media’s commitment to strengthening the reach of our digital and entertainment content through strategic partnerships.”

The collaboration is also aimed at increasing digital engagement for Abu Dhabi Media’s Ramadan campaign “Hatha Waqtaha,” which features a line-up of programs and productions with Emirati, Gulf, and Arab stars, he added.

The titles on StarzPlay streaming throughout Ramadan include “A’liqoun,” “Bayn Anf w Shafatyn,” “Bukhour Al-qasa’ed,” “Nabd Mu’aqat,” and “Heen Ra’at.”

Khaled Benchouche, senior vice president for strategy and original content at StarzPlay, said: “We have recorded a growing demand for original Arabic programming and have steadily built our content library.

“With our new partnership with Abu Dhabi Media, we will have a wider breadth of some of the most popular Arabic programming and are delighted to bring this additional choice of quality programming during Ramadan.”


Arab News, FII Institute partner to shed light on the future of regional media industry

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
Updated 20 April 2021

Arab News, FII Institute partner to shed light on the future of regional media industry

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J, Abbas (L) and FII Institute CEO Richard Attias.
  • Cooperation to produce research, panel discussions and industry level, government white papers

Riyadh: Arab News — the Middle East’s leading English language daily — is partnering with the Future Investment Initiative Institute to shed light on the future of the regional media industry. 

The year-long cooperation — marking the newspaper’s 46th anniversary — will see the co-production of a series of expert panel discussions, surveys, white papers and recommendations of how the industry can survive the digital disruption and create sustainable models for the future. 

“The past two decades saw traditional media dramatically impacted by rapidly developing technology. The rise of tech giants, social media platforms has created an uneven competitive environment and curtailed many traditional media outlets ability to have a sustainable growth model, be it through advertising or subscription models,” said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News. 

“While technology has had a positive impact on many new businesses and individual content creators/influencers; it has meant that established, credible media organizations are left with no means to sustain the costly process of producing, editing and disseminating credible news. It has also made it easier for other entities to illegally benefit from, infringe on these organizations copy rights.” He added. 

The partnership between Arab News and FII Institute will see the larger impact of technology on economic models of media businesses discussed. It will also cover topics such as the negative impact of social media platforms on matters such as the rise of fake news, increase in hate speech and loss of personal privacy. 

“As part of the FII institute commitment to empowering the world’s brightest ideas to materialize and scale sustainability, we are delighted to partner with Arab News on this deep dive into the media industry, and find solutions to help the industry evolve and resolve its digital transformation issues,” said Richard Attias, CEO of the FII Institute.

“As such, we invite all key players — be it traditional media, tech companies, social media platforms, advertising agencies, government officials — to take part in the discussions as per the year-long agenda which will be announced soon. By including the relevant stake holders, we are sure our Institute and Arab News can help bringing points of view closer, identify exact issues and hopefully come up with creative solutions to all of them,” added FII Institute’s Richard Attias. 

The first deliverable of this cooperation, will be a white paper produced by the Arab News Research and Studies Unit (RSU) based in London. The paper, to be released in May, will be published under the title of “The Myth of Digital Transformation” and will seek to explain in detail the technical problems that face the media industry from a commercial perspective and what impact do they have on various levels. 

The paper will be available for distribution via Arab News and the FII Institute websites, and a panel discussion will be held following its release to shed light on its findings. 


Arab News bags six indigo design awards, launches web gallery of most celebrated works

Arab News bags six indigo design awards, launches web gallery of most celebrated works
Updated 20 April 2021

Arab News bags six indigo design awards, launches web gallery of most celebrated works

Arab News bags six indigo design awards, launches web gallery of most celebrated works
  • The newspaper has won 47 international design awards since its relaunch in 2018

RIYADH: Arab News, which today celebrates its 46th anniversary, has added six Indigo Design awards to the 41 honors it has accumulated since the relaunch of the region’s leading English language daily in 2018.

The recent awards — two of each gold, silver and bronze — went to Arab News’ special coverage across its international editions - Arab News en Francais and Arab News Japan.

One gold award went to the promotional launch video of the Arab News French edition which went live on July 14, 2020.

“Selection of the quintessential French song “la foule,” interpreted with Arabic instruments, lent the video a unique element, bringing East and West in beautiful harmony,” Ali Itani, Region Head Japan & France, said of the first place-winning Arab News En Francais promotional video.

Commenting on the Japanese edition, he said: “Japanese and Arabic calligraphy are world renowned for their unique styles.

“Incorporating the two with the rising sun of Arab News Japan was not only appreciated but also presented to the former Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, during his trip to Saudi Arabia.”

The new design was presented by Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas and Ali Itani (left) to then Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in 2020. (Arab News photo)

Ever since Arab News announced its new digital transformation strategy in 2016, importance has moved towards design and innovation, with the appointment of the publication’s very first creative director as well as a focus on commissioning award-winning designers around the world to make this happen.

“For Arab News to be recognized with six Indigo Design Awards is a brilliant achievement,” said Creative Director Simon Khalil. “ Winning 47 design awards to date is remarkable and it reinforces the creative vision we have at Arab News.

Arab News Creative Director Simon Khalil.

“Our mission is to inform and delight our readers around the world and these awards will push the whole team to be even more innovative.”

Indigo also took pride, saying in a statement: “We are very proud to have such a big media company as Arab News among our awardees. We are impressed with what they do as a publisher, especially their value-added content that contributes immensely in social change.”

As part of its 46th anniversary announcements, Arab News also today launches a new section on its website which houses all its award-winning special editions, covers and videos in one place to serve as a resource for students, news designers and editors alike. This can be accessed by visiting www.arabnews.com/greatesthits.

 


Ramadan series ‘Al-Tawoos’ to be investigated in Egypt over use of ‘inappropriate’ language

Ramadan series ‘Al-Tawoos’ to be investigated in Egypt over use of ‘inappropriate’ language
Updated 19 April 2021

Ramadan series ‘Al-Tawoos’ to be investigated in Egypt over use of ‘inappropriate’ language

Ramadan series ‘Al-Tawoos’ to be investigated in Egypt over use of ‘inappropriate’ language
  • Egyptian TV soap “Al-Tawoos” has become the first Ramadan series to be investigated by Egypt’s media regulatory body
  • The council said it had received “numerous complaints” about “the use of language that does not agree with the council codes”

CAIRO: Egyptian TV soap “Al-Tawoos” has become the first Ramadan series to be investigated by Egypt’s media regulatory body for its alleged use “of language offensive to family values.” 

The Supreme Media Council issued a statement Sunday saying it had launched an urgent investigation with those who produced the show and the television channel airing it, Al Nahar TV. 

The council said it had received “numerous complaints” about “the use of language that does not agree with the council codes.”

The regulatory body added that while it respects freedom of expression, it insisted that Egyptian family values must remain “a priority for purposeful art” in order “to preserve the identity and cohesion of families and move away from any image that distorts it.”  

“Al-Tawoos” – Arabic for The Peacock -- is set in a social context dominated by mystery and suspense, and stars Syrian actor Gamal Soliman, Egyptian veteran Samiha Ayoub, Sahar Al Sayegh, Khaled Alish, among others.  

Soliman plays the role of a veteran lawyer Kamal El Ostoul who specializes in compensation cases, but circumstances force him to investigate a rape case that turns his life upside down.

When the promo of the series first came out, it started trending among social media users who said they saw a huge resemblance between the show and the infamous Fairmont rape crime.  

The notorious case involved a group of men accused of drugging a girl and raping her as she lay unconscious at a private after party at the five-star Fairmont Nile City hotel. 

The crime has become a case of public opinion and has received international criticism. Some preparators remain outside Egypt and some others who were under arrest were released on bail. 

Though in the TV series has changed the occupation and socio-economic class of the survivor, yet the show still appears strongly inspired by the hotel gang rape case.


Veteran producer, cameraman in Iraq dies of COVID-19

Veteran producer, cameraman in Iraq dies of COVID-19
This 2003 photo shows Khodeir Majid at the AP office at the Palestine hotel. (AP)
Updated 17 April 2021

Veteran producer, cameraman in Iraq dies of COVID-19

Veteran producer, cameraman in Iraq dies of COVID-19
  • He went on to cover the breakdown in security and the sectarian bloodbath that prevailed for years, as well as the US occupation, the rise of the Al-Qaeda terror network, and finally, the war against the Daesh group

BEIRUT: Khodeir Majid, who covered Iraq’s numerous conflicts as a video producer and cameraman for The Associated Press for over 17 years, has died, relatives said Friday. He was 64.
The cause of death was complications due to the coronavirus. Majid had been hospitalized for about three weeks, but his condition rapidly deteriorated in the last few days and he died Friday morning.
Majid joined the AP in Baghdad in March 2004, a year after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. He went on to cover the breakdown in security and the sectarian bloodbath that prevailed for years, as well as the US occupation, the rise of the Al-Qaeda terror network, and finally, the war against the Daesh group.
Killings, kidnappings and bombings were an everyday occurrence, sometimes with multiple bombings on the same day.
Through it all, Majid, known as Abu Amjad to family and friends, was a beloved colleague and a calming presence in the Baghdad bureau. He was a dedicated journalist and a good friend to many, working quietly and behind the scenes to make sure accreditation and paperwork were secured, badges were collected, interviews were nailed and stories were covered. “Abu Amjad was a rare source of joy during difficult times working in Baghdad for the past 17 years. He will be remembered as a kind and dedicated professional,” said Ahmed Sami, the AP’s senior producer in Baghdad.

BACKGROUND

Majid was buried in Iraq’s Shiite city of Najaf Friday. He is survived by his wife and five children.

Samya Kullab, the AP’s correspondent in Baghdad, recalled Majid’s dedication and commitment toward getting evasive ministers and officials to grant the AP interviews. “He chased the Transport Ministry for months recently. ‘He keeps saying next week but don’t worry, I will not stop calling’ — such was his dedication to getting the story.”
“I never forget,” he would say.
Kullab and other Baghdad colleagues also recalled his kindness.
“His wife would make these date biscuits he shared with me on one occasion. I mentioned casually that I liked them,” Kullab said. “The next day I had date biscuits to last a month.”
Majid was buried in Iraq’s Shiite city of Najaf Friday. He is survived by his wife and five children.