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

Australian regulator ‘concerned’ about Facebook’s approach to media law
The media law allows for the Australian government to intervene if a platform fails to negotiate with a media company, a condition that has not yet been invoked. (AFP)
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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.”


Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
Updated 27 January 2022

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
  • GEI tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace

DUBAI: Multinational advertising and communication group WPP has been named in the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the fourth consecutive year.

WPP CEO Mark Read said that the company is a “people business” and its “client work directly benefits from having diversity in our teams.”

He added: “We’re proud of our recognition in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which reflects our continued investment in our people and culture, and our progress in driving greater gender balance throughout the company.”

Peter T. Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg, said: “We are proud to recognize WPP and the other 417 companies included in the 2022 GEI for their commitment to transparency and setting a new standard in gender-related data reporting.”

The Index tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace, and helps bring transparency to gender-related practices and policies at publicly-listed companies around the world, increasing the environmental, social, governance (ESG) data available to investors.

This year, Bloomberg lost a total of 418 companies representing a combined market capitalization of $16 trillion from across 45 territories.

A record number of companies disclosed their data for this year’s GEI by using the GEI Framework, marking a 20 percent increase year-over-year.

The GEI Framework scores companies across five pillars: Female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand. Bloomberg also requests information from other expanded areas to support the broader goal of providing more robust ESG data to investors.

“Even though the threshold for inclusion in the GEI has risen, the member list continues to grow. This is a testament that more companies are working to improve upon their gender-related metrics, fostering more opportunity for diverse talent to succeed in their organizations,” said Grauer.


Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
Updated 27 January 2022

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
  • The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television
  • For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq

DUBAI: Channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images Thursday showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic demanding the country’s supreme leader be killed, an incident that state TV later described as a hack.
For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the name of a social media account, which claimed to be a group of hackers who broadcast the message honoring the dissidents.
The MEK, now largely based in Albania, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television, long believed to controlled and operated by members of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence branches, particularly its hard-line Revolutionary Guard. Such an incident hasn’t happened for years.
Iran’s state TV acknowledged the breach as a “hack,” saying the case was “under investigation.”
A clip of the incident seen by the AP showed the faces of MEK leaders Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi, suddenly superimposed on the channel’s regular 3 p.m. news programming. A man’s voice chants, “Salute to Rajavi, death to (supreme leader) Khamenei.”
Then, a speech from Rajavi briefly plays over the images. He can be heard saying, “Today, we still honor the time that we declared death to the reactionary. We stood by it ...”
Massoud Rajavi hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly two decades and is presumed to have died. Maryam Rajavi now runs the MEK.
The MEK began as a socialist organization against the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It claimed and was suspected in a series of attacks against US officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against the clerical regime. It carried out a series of assassinations and bombings targeting the young Islamic Republic.
The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s. That saw many oppose the group in Iran, though to this day it claims to operate a network inside of the country.


Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
Updated 27 January 2022

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
  • Programs include the IPA’s Foundation Certificate and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business

DUBAI: The UAE-based Advertising Business Group has partnered with the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising to bring the latter’s training programs to the region.

The IPA’s professional development program has so far helped 30,870 delegates in 87 countries expand their understanding and skills related to advertising.

“As communication becomes increasingly globally interconnected, it is vital that learning and development is available to as many people as possible all over the world, so we can share expertise, language and experience to deliver better work for our clients and agencies,” said Louise Hinchliffe, the IPA’s associate director of professional development.

ABG members will get discounted access to a range of IPA qualifications, including the entry-level Foundation Certificate, and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business.

“Knowledge- and capability-building is a key pillar of the ABG, and we are committed to providing the MENA advertising and marketing industry with the latest resources and tools to create accountable and effective marketing,” said ABG chairman Sanjiv Kakkar, the executive vice-president of Unilever MENA, in a statement.

“This partnership will go a long way in helping strengthen talent, growing the industry and raising standards,” he added.

The two bodies are running an introductory workshop for ABG members on February 3, which will include a presentation from Sera Holland, author of “IPA Effectiveness Essentials” and co-chair of the IPA Excellence Diploma in Brands.


Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
Updated 27 January 2022

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
  • ‘Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money’

Neil Young’s music is being removed from Spotify’s streaming service after the singer-songwriter objected to his songs playing on the same platform that offers Joe Rogan’s podcast, the company and the musician said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Young had released a letter addressed to his manager and record label, Warner Music Group , demanding that Spotify no longer carry his music because he said Rogan spreads misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
On Wednesday, the “Heart of Gold” and “Rocking In the Free World” singer thanked his record label for “standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify,” and he encouraged other musicians to do the same.
“Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation,” he said on his website. “Lies being sold for money.”
The Swedish company said it worked to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related COVID-19 in accordance with its “detailed content policies.”
“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” Spotify said in a statement.
Rogan, 54, is the host of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the top-rated podcast on Spotify, which holds exclusive rights to the program.
He has stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.
Young, 76, said Spotify accounted for 60 percent of the streaming of his music to listeners around the world. The removal is “a huge loss for my record company to absorb,” he said.


VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region
Updated 27 January 2022

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region
  • Khan, joining from Outform, will work closely with MENA CEO Nick Walsh

DUBAI: VMLY&R COMMERCE, WPP’s creative commerce agency, has appointed Nazia Khan to the newly formed role of head of growth for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Khan will work closely with MENA CEO Nick Walsh to enhance the agency’s growth plans and business opportunities by opening new verticals across existing sectors.

“We are delighted to welcome Nazia to the team. She comes with a proven track record of driving growth across EMEA and her drive and ambition match strongly with our own,” said Walsh.

The agency enjoyed organic client growth in the last quarter of 2021 as online commerce boomed.

Khan will work with existing clients to integrate the agency’s creative commerce offering into business plans as well as look to further develop the roster of clients across sectors including FMCG, beauty, automotive, technology, consumer electronics and retail.

“We are in a hyper-growth region and the recent explosion of commerce means we need talent like Nazia who can help identify and support clients to reach their goals across the unified commerce landscape,” Walsh added.

Khan previously worked at Outform, a global retail agency where she was the business development director for EMEA and managed multi-million sales channels with a focus on retail transformation clients.

“VMLY&R COMMERCE is the largest end-to-end creative commerce company in the world and I look forward to engaging clients in the pivotal role that the agency can play in leveraging its powerful creative commerce portfolio to drive brand growth,” said Khan.