Lebanese media outlet Sawt Beirut International to stream Lebanese Basketball Championship

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
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Updated 28 September 2021

Lebanese media outlet Sawt Beirut International to stream Lebanese Basketball Championship

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news. (SBI)
  • Sawt Beirut International acquires live streaming rights for the next 3 years for $468,000
  • ‘Primary agenda behind this step is to support sports in Lebanon,’ CEO Jerry Maher says 

LONDON: Sawt Beirut International on Tuesday won the live streaming rights to broadcast the Lebanese Basketball Championship for the next three seasons. 

The live streaming rights were acquired by the platform for $468,000. 

“The primary agenda behind this step is to support sports in Lebanon, support clubs and athletes, and provide the service of watching matches on SBI’s social media platforms,” Jerry Maher, CEO chairman at SBI, told Arab News.

“The streaming service will be available to both Lebanese and Arab audiences and those residing outside of Lebanon. The service will also be of particular interest to those who prefer social media over television.”

Maher said the project could not have been achieved without the support of businessman Bahaa Hariri, who is the eldest son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. 

“Supporting the Lebanese people in light of the economic crisis is the fundamental goal behind this step,” Maher said.

SBI is a Lebanese e-platform that provides objective and professional real-time news that covers political, economic, and security developments in Lebanon and around the world.


Abu Dhabi Media launches Majid Universe app

Abu Dhabi Media launches Majid Universe app
Updated 25 sec ago

Abu Dhabi Media launches Majid Universe app

Abu Dhabi Media launches Majid Universe app
  • Monthly subscription allows users to stream over 800 hours of exclusive and new content, live and animated shows, games, and digital magazines

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Media has launched Majid Universe, a new app that will be home to kids’ favorite animated characters from the pan-Arab children’s comic magazine, TV channel and website, “Majid.”

The paid app will feature a library with over 800 hours of content including live and animated TV shows, games, and the original “Majid” magazines dating back to 1979, some of which have never been seen by audiences before.

Designed to be family-friendly, the app allows users to sign in via a single account across five devices and create personalized avatars and playlists for each user.

“Building on a legacy that spans over four decades of original beloved IPs, the Majid Universe App is groundbreaking in its own right. Not only does it feature the region’s largest library of Arabic original programming, animated and live-action, it’s also the first-ever multi-experiential app for children in the Middle East, offering video content, e-magazines and interactive games, a reflection of the holistic value that ultimately sets the Majid Universe apart,” said Mariam Al-Serkal, head of Majid Platform at ADM.

The launch of the app comes 42 years after the magazine’s debut in 1979 and represents the latest in the ongoing stories of various “Majid” characters that have been told over four decades via several formats, including an animated series, TV channel and a monthly print publication.

The Majid Universe app also grants users access to exclusive “Majid” world content, including the series “My Little Pony,” “Charley Goes to School,” the animated editions of the original “Peanuts” comic strips, “Mick the Mini Chef,” “Pablo,” and Anitta, the club focusing on wellness issues, community and original songs performed by the host.

Users will also have access to “Freej” and the “Mansour” comedy series, as well as exclusive ADM content, including Majid TV’s first girl power superheroine “ZAKIA,” brand-new bedtime stories from Amoona, and animations of the “Hikayat Abo Al Thurafaa” comic series.

“We can’t wait for both children and adults to connect with Majid’s extensive library of both nostalgic and modern content that speaks to today’s audience in unique, accessible and entertaining ways,” added Al-Serkal.

The Majid Universe app is available on iOS, Google Play, Android TV, Apple TV, and Smart TVs on a subscription of AED/SR 16.99/month ($4.53) or 132.99/year in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and EGP 39.99/month ($2.55) or 309.99/year in Egypt.


Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law

Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law
Updated 25 October 2021

Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law

Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law
  • Since the controversial law was passed in March, Facebook and Google have struck licensing deals with most of Australia’s largest news outlets

SYDNEY: The Australian regulator behind a law forcing large Internet platforms to negotiate licencing deals with media outlets said on Monday he was “concerned” about Facebook’s cooperation, seven months after the rule took effect.
Under the News Media Bargaining Code, the social media giant and Alphabet’s Google must negotiate with news outlets for content that drives traffic to their websites or face possible government intervention.
“Google is still negotiating and finalizing deals with more news media companies and seems to be approaching this exercise in the right spirit,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
“We are concerned that Facebook does not currently seem to take the same approach.”
Since the controversial law was passed in March, Facebook and Google have struck licensing deals with most of Australia’s largest news outlets, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
But some smaller publishers say Facebook, in contrast to Google, has declined to negotiate with them.
Academic publisher The Conversation and foreign language broadcaster SBS were both denied discussions. As reported first by Reuters, Facebook said in an email to publishers in September it had concluded deals to pay Australian companies for content on its “Facebook News” channel.
Facebook was not immediately available for comment on Monday. The company told Reuters in September that content deals were “just one of the ways Facebook provides support to publishers” and it continued to have discussions about alternatives.
The media law allows for the government to intervene if a platform fails to negotiate with a media company, a condition that has not yet been invoked.
Sims said a planned federal government review of the law next year would “examine closely the performance of all parties and whether the government’s expectations have been met.”


Facebook dithered in curbing divisive user content in India

Facebook dithered in curbing divisive user content in India
Updated 24 October 2021

Facebook dithered in curbing divisive user content in India

Facebook dithered in curbing divisive user content in India
  • Communal and religious tensions in India have a history of boiling over on social media and stoking violence
  • Facebook has become increasingly important in politics, and India is no different

NEW DELHI: Facebook in India has been selective in curbing hate speech, misinformation and inflammatory posts, particularly anti-Muslim content, according to leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press, even as the Internet giant’s own employees cast doubt over the its motivations and interests.
Based on research produced as recently as March of this year to company memos that date back to 2019, internal company documents on India highlight Facebook’s constant struggles in quashing abusive content on its platforms in the world’s biggest democracy and the company’s largest growth market. Communal and religious tensions in India have a history of boiling over on social media and stoking violence.
The files show that Facebook has been aware of the problems for years, raising questions over whether it has done enough to address the issues. Many critics and digital experts say it has failed to do so, especially in cases where members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are involved.
Across the world, Facebook has become increasingly important in politics, and India is no different.
Modi has been credited for leveraging the platform to his party’s advantage during elections, and reporting from The Wall Street Journal last year cast doubt over whether Facebook was selectively enforcing its policies on hate speech to avoid blowback from the BJP. Modi and Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have exuded bonhomie, memorialized by a 2015 image of the two hugging at the Facebook headquarters.
The leaked documents include a trove of internal company reports on hate speech and misinformation in India that in some cases appeared to have been intensified by its own “recommended” feature and algorithms. They also include the company staffers’ concerns over the mishandling of these issues and their discontent over the viral “malcontent” on the platform.
According to the documents, Facebook saw India as one of the most “at risk countries” in the world and identified both Hindi and Bengali languages as priorities for “automation on violating hostile speech.” Yet, Facebook didn’t have enough local language moderators or content-flagging in place to stop misinformation that at times led to real-world violence.
In a statement to the AP, Facebook said it has “invested significantly in technology to find hate speech in various languages, including Hindi and Bengali” which “reduced the amount of hate speech that people see by half” in 2021.
“Hate speech against marginalized groups, including Muslims, is on the rise globally. So we are improving enforcement and are committed to updating our policies as hate speech evolves online,” a company spokesperson said.
This AP story, along with others being published, is based on disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including the AP.
Back in February 2019 and ahead of a general election when concerns of misinformation were running high, a Facebook employee wanted to understand what a new user in India saw on their news feed if all they did was follow pages and groups solely recommended by the platform itself.
The employee created a test user account and kept it live for three weeks, a period during which an extraordinary event shook India — a militant attack in disputed Kashmir had killed over 40 Indian soldiers, bringing the country close to war with rival Pakistan.
In the note, titled “An Indian Test User’s Descent into a Sea of Polarizing, Nationalistic Messages,” the employee whose name is redacted said they were “shocked” by the content flooding the news feed. The person described the content as having “become a near constant barrage of polarizing nationalist content, misinformation, and violence and gore.”
Seemingly benign and innocuous groups recommended by Facebook quickly morphed into something else altogether, where hate speech, unverified rumors and viral content ran rampant.
The recommended groups were inundated with fake news, anti-Pakistan rhetoric and Islamophobic content. Much of the content was extremely graphic.
One included a man holding the bloodied head of another man covered in a Pakistani flag, with an Indian flag partially covering it. Its “Popular Across Facebook” feature showed a slew of unverified content related to the retaliatory Indian strikes into Pakistan after the bombings, including an image of a napalm bomb from a video game clip debunked by one of Facebook’s fact-check partners.
“Following this test user’s News Feed, I’ve seen more images of dead people in the past three weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life total,” the researcher wrote.
The report sparked deep concerns over what such divisive content could lead to in the real world, where local news outlets at the time were reporting on Kashmiris being attacked in the fallout.
“Should we as a company have an extra responsibility for preventing integrity harms that result from recommended content?” the researcher asked in their conclusion.
The memo, circulated with other employees, did not answer that question. But it did expose how the platform’s own algorithms or default settings played a part in producing such objectionable content. The employee noted that there were clear “blind spots,” particularly in “local language content.” They said they hoped these findings would start conversations on how to avoid such “integrity harms,” especially for those who “differ significantly” from the typical US user.
Even though the research was conducted during three weeks that weren’t an average representation, they acknowledged that it did show how such “unmoderated” and problematic content “could totally take over” during “a major crisis event.”
The Facebook spokesperson said the test study “inspired deeper, more rigorous analysis” of its recommendation systems and “contributed to product changes to improve them.”
“Separately, our work on curbing hate speech continues and we have further strengthened our hate classifiers, to include four Indian languages,” the spokesperson said.


Snap’s stock drops as iPhone privacy controls pinch ad sales

In a statement, Snap CEO said the company has had to recalibrate its operations. (Twitter/AFP)
Updated 22 October 2021

Snap’s stock drops as iPhone privacy controls pinch ad sales

In a statement, Snap CEO said the company has had to recalibrate its operations. (Twitter/AFP)
  • Third-quarter earnings call reveals slump due to Apple’s privacy changes to iOS software on iPhones

SANTA MONICA: Snapchat’s corporate parent, Snap Inc., revealed during its third-quarter earnings call that its ad sales were being hit by a privacy crackdown rolled out on Apple’s iPhones earlier this year.

The disclosure raised investor fears that the app’s financial growth was going into tailspin, sparking a sell-off in after-hours trading that could foreshadow one of the biggest one-day drops in the company’s stock since it went public in 2017.

Snap’s shares plunged by nearly 22 percent in Thursday’s extended trading. If the decrease was mirrored in Friday’s regular trading session, it would approach the stock’s previous one-day nadir in May 2018 when its price also plummeted by nearly 22 percent — a decline which would wipe out nearly $30 billion in shareholder wealth.

The alarms set off by Snap’s disappointing performance could foreshadow troubles for other apps that may be having more problems tracking their users’ online activities because of an Apple update to the iPhone’s iOS software released in April.

The change blocks online tracking on iPhones unless a user grants explicit permission to do so, making it difficult for companies that sell ads based on the information they collect about people’s interests and location.

In a statement, Snap chief executive officer, Evan Spiegel, said the company has had to recalibrate its operations to “navigate significant headwinds, including changes to the iOS platform that impact the way advertising is targeted.”

Facebook, an outspoken critic of Apple’s new privacy controls, had already told investors that its ad sales could suffer because of the change, but Snap’s results indicated the blow may be even bigger than Wall Street anticipated. Facebook’s shares shed more than 4 percent in Thursday’s extending trading. The social networking company is scheduled to release its latest quarterly results on Monday.

Snap reported revenue of $1.07 billion for the July to September period, a 57 percent increase from the same time last year, but that was about $30 million below the projections of Wall Street analysts who steer investor expectations.

Perhaps even more troubling to investors, Snap predicted its revenue for the current quarter would range from $1.17 billion to $1.21 billion, whereas analysts had been forecasting revenue of $1.36 billion, according to FactSet.


Report: Advertising money on TV and social media is double daily consumption

Report: Advertising money on TV and social media is double daily consumption
Updated 22 October 2021

Report: Advertising money on TV and social media is double daily consumption

Report: Advertising money on TV and social media is double daily consumption
  • New report by WARC says social media spend would need to reduce by $94.3 billion to mirror global consumption levels next year

DUBAI: Advertiser spend on TV and social media is highly inflated in relation to daily consumption, according to a new WARC analysis of advertising spend forecasts for 100 markets worldwide and the results of a survey by GlobalWebIndex of more than 715,000 consumers.

“The study shines a light on divergences between media investment and consumption, two metrics which are rarely seen to be in lockstep with one another,” said James McDonald, managing editor, WARC Data, and author of the report.

The analysis finds that, as of the first quarter of 2021, social media attracts more investment from advertisers than linear TV for the first time— however, both media channels draw far more advertising budgets than the average consumer spends with these channels each day.

Social media, for example, is forecast to account for 39.1 percent of 2022 ad spend among the eight media studied in the report: Linear TV, online video, social media, print press, online press, podcasts, broadcast radio and online audio.

However, social media has a 21.4 percent share of daily media consumption— a discrepancy of 17.7 percentage points, which is valued at $94.3 billion.

Since Q2 2016, social media has accounted for more than two hours of daily media consumption and is expected to reach two and a half hours during the second half of next year.

Linear TV ad spend, on the other hand, is twice the daily consumption and is forecast to account for a 31.5 percent share of advertising spend next year, compared to a 16.1 percent share of daily media consumption. This would equate to an investment gap of $86.9 billion worldwide next year.

“The seemingly inflated investment gap actually speaks more to the enduring power of the medium — its vast reach combined with attentive audiences and the heightened impact of audiovisual creative. These traits allow it to command a premium in the media mix, one which is likely to sustain even as social media further grows its share of budgets,” McDonald said.

While linear TV spend is inflated in relation to its consumption, online video is now close to parity after years of underinvestment. It is worth noting that the world’s largest online video platform, Netflix, is predominantly ad-free, while platforms such as YouTube are prone to adblocking on desktop and mobile devices.

Still, advertisers are forecast to spend $71.9 billion on online video this year — a 13.6 percent share of the eight studied media, which compares to a 12.9 percent of media consumption.

The most heavily undervalued media channels are undeniably audio and online press. Podcasts are undervalued by a massive $40 billion. Even with one in three Internet users now listening to a podcast each month, the advertising rates are much higher than even TV, which is well known to be a premium medium with high advertising costs.

Online press also appears to be another heavy undervalued medium: Advertisers would need to spend $58 billion on online press ads globally next year to achieve parity with consumption levels. However, the forecast spend is only $12.8 billion.

Consumers already spend a fifth of their media day in social feeds and are forecast to spend twice as long with social media than with online press next year signaling a dire future for online press.

Print press investment is now on a par with daily consumption on a global level, but advertisers would need to spend $45.3 billion more on online press to mirror these levels. This has led to publishers diversifying their business models to counter the shortfall in advertising revenue with 76 percent of publishers prioritizing subscriptions this year.