Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America
A reflected view of the exterior of the US Agency for Global Media building, where government funded media company Voice of America is based. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 July 2022

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America
  • An Ankara court ruled to restrict access to their websites late Thursday
  • Deutsche Welle said it did not comply with the licensing requirement because it “would have allowed the Turkish government to censor editorial content”

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s media watchdog has banned access to the Turkish services of US public service broadcaster Voice of America and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, prompting complaints of censorship.
The Supreme Board of Radio and Television enforced a February warning to the two companies which air Turkish-language television content online to apply for a broadcast license or be blocked. An Ankara court ruled to restrict access to their websites late Thursday.
Neither website was available in Turkey on Friday. Deutsche Welle is German taxpayer-funded and Voice of America is funded by the US government through the US Agency for Global Media.
In a statement, Deutsche Welle said it did not comply with the licensing requirement because it “would have allowed the Turkish government to censor editorial content.”
Director general Peter Limbourg said this was explained in detail to the Turkish radio and TV board, abbreviated as RTUK.
“For example, media licensed in Turkey are required to delete online content that RTUK interprets as inappropriate. This is simply unacceptable for an independent broadcaster. DW will take legal action against the blocking that has now taken place,” Limbourg said.
The German government said it took note of the reports “with regret.”
“Our concern about the state of freedom of opinion and the press in Turkey continues,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said, adding that Germany is in a “regular, critical exchange” with Turkey on the issue.
Asked whether the German government can intervene in this case, Hebestreit noted that Deutsche Welle has said it plans to take legal action “and we have to wait for that.”
RTUK dismissed any criticism in a statement on its website Friday, saying that “no one needs to have uncertainties on the freedom of expression or press, worry unnecessarily or incriminate our Supreme Board that is doing its duties based on legal grounds.”
The RTUK statement added that had the media organizations “acted in line with regulations,” there wouldn’t have been access bans. It also promised to request from the court that the restrictions be revoked if the websites launch companies in Turkey and get licensed.
But Ilhan Tasci, a RTUK member from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, said he opposed the move to block the two foreign broadcasters. “Here is press freedom and advanced democracy,” he tweeted sarcastically.
The RTUK board is dominated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies, and regularly fines critical broadcasters.
Thursday’s move is based on an August 2019 regulation that says the RTUK would give 72-hour advance notice to unlicensed online media regarding when they had to apply and pay three months of licensing fees. Failure to do so could result in legal action against a media organization’s executives and access restrictions.
In February, RTUK said it identified three websites without broadcast licenses, which also included the Turkish services of Euronews. But Euronews said it argued that it did not broadcast live in Turkish or air visual bulletins and was therefore exempt from the licensing requirements.
The Journalists’ Union of Turkey called the decision censorship. “Give up on trying to ban everything you don’t like, this society wants freedom,” it tweeted.
Voice of America noted in February that while licensing for TV and radio broadcasts is a norm because broadcast airwaves are finite resources, the Internet does not have limited bandwidth. “The only possible purpose of a licensing requirement for Internet distribution is enabling censorship,” VOA said in a statement then.
State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted when the licensing regulation emerged in February that the US was concerned with RTUK’s “decision to expand government control over free press outlets.”
In response, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic noted that the US required Turkey’s state English-language broadcaster, TRT World, to register as a foreign agent under a law intended for lobbyists and public relations firms working for foreign governments. TRT said it was newsgathering and reporting like any other international media but had to register as a foreign agent in 2020.
“TRT abides by relevant regulations for its activities in the US Is that censorship? We expect the same from @VoATurkish and others,” Bilgic tweeted.
Turkey was rated “Not Free” for 2021 on the Freedom of the Net index by Freedom House. Hundreds of thousands of domains and web addresses have been blocked.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey at 149 out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index, saying “all possible means are used to undermine critics,” including stripping journalists of press cards, online censorship, lawsuits and arrests.


Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 
Updated 07 October 2022

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 

Saudi advertising agency wins big at Cresta Awards 
  • Leo Burnett Riyadh picks up 10 prizes for its work for client Ikea
  • Middle East region collects 36 awards at event to celebrate creativity in advertising and marketing

DUBAI: Leo Burnett Riyadh was the big winner at this year’s Cresta Awards ceremony, an annual event held to recognize creativity in advertising and marketing.

The agency collected five silver and five bronze awards in various categories — including Print Craft, Print and Out-of-Home, and The Media Magic Award — for its campaigns for client Ikea.

The Middle East region as a whole won 36 awards in the competition, which saw entries from more than 70 countries.

A total of 347 entries were shortlisted, of which 58 were from the Middle East.

The UAE was also a big winner thanks to its push toward digitization and innovation.

The UAE Government Media Office picked up two silver and seven bronze awards for its three campaigns: “The Donation Plate,” which promotes the “100 Million Meals” scheme, “The Warm Winter Livestream” tourism campaign and “The Visitor from the Future” for the Dubai Museum of the Future.

Advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi MEA won one gold, one silver and four bronze awards for its “Empty Plates” campaign for the UAE Government Media Office.

Horizon FCB Dubai picked up four gold, two silver and two bronze awards for its “Breakchains with Blockchain” campaign for the Children of Female Prisoners’ Association.

In Egypt, thousands of women are sent to prison every year for being unable to repay loans often worth only a few hundred dollars.

Working with global artists, Horizon FCB and the association created non-fungible tokens, each designed to tell the story of a woman sent to prison and priced at the amount it would cost to free her.

Among the other winners were Impact BBDO Dubai, which picked up a Grand Prix in the Print and OOH category and a gold award in the Ambient and Experiential category for its “The Elections Edition” campaign for Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar.

The Film House Doha won a bronze award in the Brand Content category for its “Unparalleled” campaign.
 


Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 
Updated 07 October 2022

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

Saudi GCAM lists new Mawthooq advertising license rules 

LONDON: The Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) on Thursday released new guidelines for obtaining “Mawthooq” (trustworthy) licenses to advertise in Saudi Arabia. 

Under the campaign name “Your ad is #Mawthooq,” GCAM revealed on its website a list of questions and answers to simplify the process of identifying which businesses need to obtain the license. 

For example, an individual promoting work on a personal social media account does not require a Mawthooq license, but working as a marketer in a bank and promoting personal loans as well as banking services on social media requires a license.

Working as a designer and promoting designs on personal social media accounts does not require a Mawthooq license. Similarly, those operating gift wrapping, non-commercial photography and workshop business and using personal social media accounts do not require a license. 

The news comes following an announcement by GCAM last August stating that from early October, every Saudi and non-Saudi content creator in the Kingdom who earns revenue through advertising on social media must first apply for an official permit. 

For a fee of SR15,000 ($4,000), content creators will receive a permit lasting three years, during which time they can work with as many private entities as they wish and promote any product or service, as long as it does not violate the Kingdom’s laws or values.

The new regulations are being touted as legal protections, both for influencers and businesses wishing to advertise with them, so that rates and contractual obligations are standardized across the industry.

Saudi influencers, whether based in the Kingdom or abroad, must apply for the permit if they wish to work with a brand — local or international. However, non-Saudi residents in the country must follow a different track.

After applying to the Ministry of Investment for a permit to work in the country, they can then apply for an influencer permit through GCAM. However, non-Saudi residents must be represented by specific advertising agencies.


Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
Updated 06 October 2022

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral

Female Arab influencers star in new reality show from Warner Bros. Discovery and Intigral
  • ‘Dare to take Risks,’ featuring Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar, will begin streaming on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17
  • It will follow them as they travel across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt participating in activities such as mountain climbing and diving

DUBAI: Warner Bros. Discovery has partnered with the Saudi Telecommunication Company’s TV service Intigral to launch a new reality show, “Dare to take Risks,” starring Arab influencers Amy Roko, Hadeel Marei and Maha Jaafar.

The six-episode series will follow the three friends as they embark on a journey across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, participating along the way in activities such as mountain climbing and diving.

“This unique project is a landmark moment within our long-standing partnership with Intigral,” said Francesco Perta, vice-president of business development and distribution for MENA and Turkey at Warner Bros. Discovery.

“We are excited for viewers to be inspired by this new generation of Arab women, with their extraordinary creativity, zest and humor.”

The show was filmed in some of the region’s most historic and distinctive locations, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hegra in Saudi and Aswan in Egypt, as well as at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai.

Peter Mrkic, Intigral’s chief commercial officer, said the partnership “marks a new milestone for digital entertainment in the region as it engages a group of talents from the Kingdom and the region, and the best production and broadcast technologies.

“It will also enhance the Kingdom’s position as a production powerhouse and a hub for the latest digital entertainment productions.”

The first episode of “Dare to take Risks” will be available to stream on Jawwy TV on Oct. 17, with new episodes released each week.


More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
Updated 06 October 2022

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds

More or Less? Facebook gives users greater control over their feeds
  • New buttons will allow people to customize what they see, company says
  • Move is part of wider effort to improve AI systems

LONDON: Facebook has introduced a new set of features to give users more control over what appears on their feeds.

The changes mean that on all posts from individuals and communities that a user is linked to, including recommended posts, there will be buttons offering the options to “Show more” or “Show less.”

“Today, we’re announcing new ways to customize what you see in your Facebook Feed so you can discover what’s most relevant to you,” the company said in a blog post.

Depending on which button is pressed, the algorithm will temporarily increase or decrease related content, it said.

Facebook said the move was part of its ongoing efforts to improve its artificial intelligence systems.

“By offering more ways to incorporate direct feedback into feed ranking, we’re making our artificial intelligence systems smarter and more responsive”, it said.

According to Tom Alison, the head of Facebook’s core app, the algorithm will record the preference for 30 to 60 days, a time frame decided after a study of users’ preferences.

“We are looking at it as a signal you are giving us that is a little more time-bound than liking a post,” Alison said.

Currently, users of Facebook and Instagram — both of which are owned by Meta Platforms Inc. — can hide posts from people they follow or have been suggested, but the new feature will encompass Facebook posts from friends and recommendations.

The company said also it was trialing new ways to help users customize how much content they see in their feeds from the friends and family, groups and other pages to which they are connected.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the changes were part of the company’s efforts to compete with the surge in popularity of Chinese rival TikTok, whose recommendation-based algorithm has proven a hit for the video-sharing app.

“Features like these can help you discover more of the content that’s valuable to you, so you can see more of what you want and less of what you don’t,” the company said.

“As with every product change we make, we’ll use direct feedback to continually refine our approach.”


Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
Updated 06 October 2022

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group

Prince Harry launches legal action against UK media group
  • ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it "utterly and unambiguously" rejected the allegations
  • There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Harry and singer Elton John are among six public figures suing the publisher of the Daily Mail over alleged unlawful information-gathering at its titles.
The others taking part in the legal action are actresses Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, John’s husband David Furnish and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence, the domestic PA news agency said in a report.
The six had “become aware of compelling and highly distressing evidence that they have been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy” by Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), a statement by law firm Hamlins acting for the group said.
ANL, also the publisher of The Mail On Sunday and MailOnline, said on Thursday it “utterly and unambiguously” rejected the allegations.
Lawrence, whose son was killed in a racially-motivated attack in south London in 1993, had also lodged a claim against Rupert Murdoch-owned News Group Newspapers, publisher of various titles including The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World.
The details of that claim are not known, but it is understood also to relate to misuse of private information.
The statement about the legal action against ANL released by Hamlins claimed that the unlawful acts alleged to have taken place included the hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside cars and homes and the recording of private phone conversations.
It also alleged that payments were made to police “with corrupt links to private investigators” for sensitive information, that medical information was “obtained by deception” and that bank accounts and financial information was accessed “through illicit means and manipulation.”
Hamlins is representing Harry and Frost, while the other claimants are represented by law firm Gunnercooke.
There have been a number of damages claims over unlawful activity at newspapers in the wake of Britain’s phone-hacking scandal.
That resulted in the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World.
While most of those claims have now been settled, this is the first claim to be brought against ANL.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) settled claims relating to the News Of The World, while never admitting any liability over claims made in relation to The Sun.
Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) has settled claims relating to its titles, including The People and The Sunday Mirror.
Both publishers are currently facing further claims, and have recently made attempts to bring the long-running litigation to an end.
A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said it “utterly and unambiguously” refuted “these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old.
“These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims, based on no credible evidence, appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.”