Global body criticizes Turkey over pressure against critical media

Global body criticizes Turkey over pressure against critical media
RTUK’s president, Ebubekir Sahin
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Updated 13 February 2021

Global body criticizes Turkey over pressure against critical media

Global body criticizes Turkey over pressure against critical media
  • The latest fines confirm that RTUK has become a means to stifle media content critical not only of the government or president, but also of any political allies

ANKARA: The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of media executives, journalists and editors who advocate press freedom, condemned the latest set of fines issued by Turkey’s media regulator, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) on Thursday, against several dissident TV stations over their critical broadcasting.
RTUK is tasked with issuing licenses and monitoring TV and radio stations.
“These latest fines confirm that RTUK has become a means to stifle media content critical not only of the government or president, but also of any political allies,” the IPI said on Feb. 11, after fines were issued against Halk TV, Haberturk, Tele 1, KRT and Fox TV.
Press freedom activists claim the IPI considers these fines an instrument through which to silence critical media content and to warn free media advocates.
In 2020, these networks were subject to a total of 46 administrative fines totaling around 10 million Turkish lira (approximately $1.42 million) and eight broadcasting suspensions.
Halk TV was recently fined after having hosted a program where the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the coalition partner of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was criticized.
Another fine against the same channel was related to commentaries about the disproportionate use of police force against countrywide student protests following the appointment by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of a political figure as the new rector of the prestigious Bogazici University.
The other TV channels were also fined over comments from guests on several programs criticizing Erdogan and pro-government judiciary members.
While RTUK members are designated by parties in parliament in proportion to their number of seats, the AKP and MHP hold six of watchdog’s nine positions, giving them the majority to design the limits of press freedom in the country.
Some media professionals have criticized RTUK of remaining biased when considering applications for broadcast licenses from independent TV channels, and posing bureaucratic challenges to the newcomers.
Last year, RTUK’s president, Ebubekir Sahin, publicly declared his political affiliation to Erdogan’s son-in-law with a tweet, considered by many as another signal of the council’s partiality.
Utku Cakirozer, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP and a journalist by profession, said the regulatory bodies, especially RTUK and the Press Advertising Agency (BIK), have been increasingly abusing their authority as defined by the constitution.
“These bodies are actually responsible for providing a free environment for the media channels. However, they turned into the punishment instruments for those who try to pursue independent and critical journalism,” he told Arab News.
Last year, BIK imposed public advertising bans on critical newspapers for a total of 803 days, depriving them from a significant source of revenue to sustain their journalism.
“The rising fines have unfortunately pushed the media companies toward auto-censorship to protect their much-needed advertisement revenues,” Cakirozer said.
Renan Akyavas, Turkey program coordinator of IPI, said RTUK’s latest fines confirmed a clear pattern to punish certain broadcasters critical of the government and its allies.
“The fines have a significant negative impact on the ad revenue of these broadcasters, creating serious financial pressure that could lead to their closure given the increased level and frequency of the sanctions,” she told Arab News.
According to Akyavas, Turkey has a long and established history of investigative and quality journalism, which continues to survive under extraordinary circumstances both financially and legally.
“The great potential of Turkey’s journalism can only thrive if the government’s crackdown and restrictions end. Critical coverage of government officials and other public figures must be tolerated in a democracy,” she said.
Experts also note that the greater digitization of Turkish society has inevitably pushed critical journalism toward online platforms to reach a wider audience without political interference.
Akyavas thinks that under these restrictive conditions, Turkey’s media has successfully adapted, and is competing with conventional, pro-government outlets in reaching Turkish citizens.


Gaming, tech mergers, acquisitions on rise in 2020: New report

Gaming, tech mergers, acquisitions on rise in 2020: New report
Updated 04 March 2021

Gaming, tech mergers, acquisitions on rise in 2020: New report

Gaming, tech mergers, acquisitions on rise in 2020: New report
  • There were 702 mergers and acquisitions agreements announced in 2020

DUBAI: Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the technology, media, and telecom (TMT) market last year bounced back from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic with deals worth nearly $1 trillion.

There were 702 M&A agreements announced with a transaction value greater than or equal to $50 million in the global TMT sector in 2020, according to data and analytics company GlobalData.

Its latest report, “M&A in TMT – 2020 Themes,” revealed that the combined transaction value of $903 billion was a 25 percent increase on 2019, when there were $723 billion worth of deals.

The second quarter (Q2) of 2020 saw just 103 M&A deals in the sector – the lowest quarterly deal count in the last five years – but volume rebounded to 230 in Q3 and 222 in Q4, making the second half of the year the highest in terms of both number and value of deals in the last five years.

In 2020, the total value of M&A deals in the TMT sector was the highest in America (including North, Central, and South America) reaching $492 billion, while it was the lowest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at around $13 billion.

In the MENA region, Israel led with 11 deals with a transaction value of $6 billion, followed by Turkey at $2.6 billion.

Snigdha Parida, analyst for thematic research at GlobalData told Arab News: “The key themes driving the M&A activity in terms of number in the MENA region are gaming, big data, and connectivity.

“M&A in the gaming sector has thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic globally with 130 percent year-on-year growth and has the same effect in MENA as well.”

Gaming leads the way with four deals valued at more than $50 million in the MENA region. The biggest deal among these was in the social gaming space where Zynga acquired Peak Oyun Yazilim ve Pazarlama for $1.8 billion.

The other prominent themes were e-commerce and technology. For instance, Collective Growth Corp. acquired Innoviz Technologies for $1.4 billion; Hellman and Friedman bought Checkmarx for $1.1 billion, and EPMG purchased OLX for $1 billion.

“The increase in mobile penetration and prolonged lockdowns with people working from home are driving investment around gaming and connectivity,” added Parida.


Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million

Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million
Updated 03 March 2021

Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million

Daily Mail owner snaps up New Scientist magazine for $97.8 million
  • The purchase comes soon after the British firm agreed to sell its EdTech business, Hobsons

The owner of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper acquired science and technology magazine New Scientist for $97.80 million in cash, as it looks to build out its subscriptions and digital offerings.
Daily Mail and General Trust said on Wednesday its consumer media division bought the publication from a consortium of investors led by New Scientist owner Bernard Gray.
“New Scientist is a world-renowned publication loved by its readers ... We are very much looking forward to supporting their exciting plans to grow as the go-to publication for anyone interested in the scientific world around us,” DMGT Chairman Jonathan Harmsworth said.
The purchase comes soon after the British firm agreed to sell its EdTech business, Hobsons, in an effort to narrow its focus on a handful of businesses.
New Scientist, founded in 1956, is expected to post an operating profit of about 7 million pounds in 2021, with revenue likely to exceed 20 million pounds, DMGT said.
The publication has a weekly circulation of about 120,000, of which just over half are based in the UK, and gets about 75 percent of its revenue from subscriptions.


Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat announces production plans for 2021

Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat announces production plans for 2021
Updated 04 March 2021

Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat announces production plans for 2021

Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat announces production plans for 2021
  • Channel already has more than 270 hours of traditional TV content scheduled for production in 2021

DUBAI: Arabic cooking channel Fatafeat has announced its production plans for the year reaffirming its commitment to local content.

The channel already has more than 270 hours of linear, or traditional TV, content scheduled for production in 2021, with more to be added in the coming months.

During the last two years, linear content had accounted for around 350 hours over each 12-month period and Fatafeat plans to exceed the number this year.

In addition to linear content, Fatafeat’s studio in Dubai Production City will produce social and digital content, which is expected to exceed the 1,000-plus hours of such content produced in 2020.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdowns and the following safety protocols hit production last year.

Layla Tamim, commercial manager at Discovery, Fatafeat’s parent company, told Arab News: ““In 2020, the lockdown protocols which resulted in the Fatafeat production studio closing occurred only one-month before Ramadan – a peak period for premiere content and partner content each year.”

“Whilst production wasn’t able to continue in the traditional sense, we are fortunate enough to work with an incredibly talented and agile team, which meant that, with some virtual prowess and at-home production equipment, our brilliant chefs and producers were able to continue creating content for fans remotely,” she said.

Layla Tamim, commercial manager at Discovery, Fatafeat’s parent company. (Supplied)

The content being produced at the Dubai-based Fatafeat studio is not only designed for Fatafeat’s linear television channel but also curated for its Genius Kitchen app, as well as social media content for YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook.

Tamim pointed out that the increase in content output, as well as its regional relevance, had resulted in more inquiries for brand collaborations and sponsored programming.

“Our plans for 2021 are not only to increase the hours of output from the studio but also capitalize on the opportunity to develop creative content solutions, which not only add value to our burgeoning fanbase but also showcase real value to our partners.”


Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app Clubhouse

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app Clubhouse
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year. (Getty Images)
Updated 03 March 2021

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app Clubhouse

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app Clubhouse
  • The Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year

JEDDAH: A group of recruitment experts in Saudi Arabia have joined forces to launch a jobs initiative via a popular new audio-only app.
The six volunteers have been giving up three hours a day to speak with job seekers on the Clubhouse social networking platform which is rapidly becoming a go-to staging post for connecting users with the country’s employers.
The team’s Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.
The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide — to discuss labor market needs, job interview techniques, freelancing opportunities, and other employment-related issues.
One of the forum’s founders, Saleh Al-Sodmi, told Arab News: “We are a group of volunteers representing ourselves in this initiative where we united our love of giving and compassion to help people. We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.”
Al-Sodmi and his colleagues all work in the human resources and recruitment sector but have been sacrificing their time on a daily basis to help Clubhouse users in their hunt for jobs.


During the first five days of the initiative, the group helped more than 20 people to find employment and numerous others to get job interviews, and Al-Sodmi expected more success stories as the app’s network of HR and recruitment specialists grew.
“It began with two young sisters who were looking for a job and started a room in Clubhouse for that purpose. Gradually many people within the recruitment field joined, and we agreed to carry on such meetings on a daily basis,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.

• The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

Between 700 and 1,000 users have been attending the group’s forums in recent days, and numbers are increasing.
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year.
Al-Sodmi added: “This initiative has shown how people love good and giving. Personally, all I want in return is an honest prayer. We can always help. Even when we do not have the proper job for the job seeker, we can still offer advice on how to improve their chances or overcome concerns.”
Maryam Saleh, a Clubhouse user, told Arab News: “I am truly fascinated with the idea, and I appreciate the moderators’ commitment to giving three hours of their time or sometimes more to help others.

We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.

Saleh Al-Sodmi, Co-founder

“I found out about it from my friend; I hope it grows further and helps young people to get the opportunities they deserve, especially those, like me, who graduated in these difficult times amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Al-Sodmi said Clubhouse had helped users reach out to a wider audience and connect with people that were not as easily accessible via social media platforms.
“For instance, Clubhouse allowed the influencers’ privilege to dissolve and helped the different groups of societies to truly mingle amongst themselves and talk to each other.


“We have seen artists, economists, and CEOs connecting and interacting with the public easily and comfortably,” he added.
Hanan bin Fantokh, another volunteer recruitment specialist within the employment initiative, told Arab News that the platform has helped save recruiters’ time finding candidates and conducting initial interviews.
“It has also helped people break through their fear barrier by allowing them to introduce and market themselves publicly. It also helped many enhance their dialogue and persuasion skills.
“On the jobs front, many have started getting interviews, and some have signed contracts. However, the availability of jobs is less than the number of job seekers,” she added.


Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor
Updated 02 March 2021

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor
  • McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role
  • While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews

NEW YORK: As widely anticipated, Fox News said Tuesday that it had signed former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as a contributor to offer commentary on various network programs.
McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role during an interview with Fox’s Harris Faulkner that aired Tuesday.
It was reported in January that McEnany had disclosed to the US Office of Government Ethics while still in office that she would work for Fox after leaving the White House. Fox said at the time that it had been in discussions with McEnany but had paused them.
Before working for Trump, McEnany was a commentator at CNN.
While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews.
She said Tuesday that her biggest regret at the White House was not being able to hold a briefing outlining all the accomplishments of the Trump administration.
“But after Jan. 6, it just was not tenable,” she said.
She said that “everyone in the administration was horrified” by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, led by a mob of Trump supporters, but she insisted that it did not represent the former president’s backers.
Asked if she believed Trump bore any responsibility for the riot, she said, “No, I don’t.”
Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the insurrection but acquitted by the House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump, citing the fact that the former president was out of office by the time the Senate trial began, but McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the riot.