Elon Musk’s Twitter countersuit due by Friday as acrimony grows

Musk had offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, saying he believed it could be a global platform for free speech. (Shutterstock/File)
Musk had offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, saying he believed it could be a global platform for free speech. (Shutterstock/File)
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Updated 04 August 2022

Elon Musk’s Twitter countersuit due by Friday as acrimony grows

Elon Musk’s Twitter countersuit due by Friday as acrimony grows
  • Twitter has this week issued dozens of subpoenas to banks, investors and law firms that backed Musk’s bid, while Musk issued subpoenas to Twitter’s advisers at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan

LONDON: Twitter Inc. and Elon Musk, who are suing each other over the world’s richest person’s effort to exit their $44 billion merger, couldn’t even agree on how much to tell the public about their dispute.
The presiding judge, Chancellor Kathleen McCormick of Delaware Chancery Court, ruled on Wednesday that Musk’s countersuit shall be made public by the afternoon of Aug. 5, two days later than Musk wanted.
Musk’s countersuit may be released as soon as Thursday, according to a person familiar with but not authorized to discuss the case.
McCormick ruled after San Francisco-based Twitter accused Musk of trying to release his 163-page countersuit on Wednesday without giving it a chance to redact, or black out, confidential information about the company.
Hours later, Musk’s lawyers shot back, accusing Twitter of trying to bury “the side of the story it does not want publicly disclosed” and undermine the public’s First Amendment constitutional right to know what both sides are arguing about.
Twitter had received a copy of the countersuit on July 29, and said court rules allowed it five business days to work on redactions. Musk said three business days were enough.
The dispute highlights the acrimony between Twitter and Musk, who is also chief executive of the electric car company Tesla Inc.
Musk agreed to buy Twitter on April 25, but sought to back out on July 8 without paying a $1 billion breakup fee, citing Twitter’s failure to provide details about the prevalence of bot and spam accounts.
Twitter sued him four days later, accusing him of sabotaging the merger because it no longer served his interests, and demanding he complete the merger.
An Oct. 17 trial is scheduled. Twitter has this week issued dozens of subpoenas to banks, investors and law firms that backed Musk’s bid, while Musk issued subpoenas to Twitter’s advisers at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.
Musk had offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, saying he believed it could be a global platform for free speech.
Twitter shares closed up 2 cents at $41.00 on Wednesday.


Netflix launches ‘New Saudi Voices’ collection to celebrate Saudi filmmakers

Netflix launches ‘New Saudi Voices’ collection to celebrate Saudi filmmakers
Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

Netflix launches ‘New Saudi Voices’ collection to celebrate Saudi filmmakers

Netflix launches ‘New Saudi Voices’ collection to celebrate Saudi filmmakers
  • 11 films will celebrate creativity and talent of emerging figures in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Netflix is releasing a collection titled “New Saudi Voices” consisting of 11 specially curated short films to celebrate the creativity of emerging Saudi filmmakers.

The collection comprises movies across genres including horror, fantasy and animation, in an attempt to capture the full scope of Saudi filmmakers’ creativity and talent.

The 11 films are part of the New Saudi/New Cinema Shorts showcased at the Red Sea Film Festival last year and encapsulate the work of some of the most promising new voices in the Kingdom.

The films include Mohamed Basalamah’s “Hallucinated,” which tells the story of a delivery worker who suffers from worsening insomnia until the line blurs between his reality and hallucinations; and Rami Alzayer’s “The Day I Lost Myself,” which explores how a young man with anxiety finds himself stuck in an elevator on his way to an interview.

Documentaries like “Arufea” by Abbas Alshuwayfie offer a peek into an old Saudi neighborhood, and Omar Al-Omirat’s “Covida the 19th” explores lifestyle changes post-pandemic.

The collection also includes an animated short called “Whisper Down the Lane” by Raghad Albarqi, “The Jakar” by Abdulaziz Saleh, “The Palm Witch” by Hala Alhaid, “Hide and Seek” by Mohammad Helal, “Red Circle” by Abdulaziz Sarhan and “Little Bird” by Khalid Fahad.

Nuha El-Tayeb, director of content acquisitions, Netflix, MENA and Turkey, said: “We’re very excited to amplify the voices of up-and-coming filmmakers in Saudi Arabia through this collection. There’s incredible talent in the Kingdom, and they have unique stories to tell. We hope that as people tune into the films, they learn more about these creators, and catch a glimpse of their passion, originality and creativity, as we have.”

It is not the first time that Netflix has shined the spotlight on Saudi cinema. Earlier this year, the company launched a specially curated collection of 21 Arab films, “Because She Created,” featuring movies from filmmakers across Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt and more.

At the time, El-Tayeb told Arab News: “There’s incredible talent in Saudi Arabia. The entertainment landscape is rapidly evolving and Saudi women — like other women from the Arab world and globally — have beautiful, complex and layered stories to tell.”

The streaming giant has also worked with writer and director Hana Al-Omair on “Whispers,” an eight-part psychological thriller, as well as with Haifaa Al-Mansour on “Wadjda,” the first feature film made by a female Saudi director.

The “New Saudi Voices” collection will be available on Netflix on Sept. 29.


Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful
Updated 28 September 2022

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful

Prior restraint: Elon Musk claims government-imposed muzzle unlawful
  • Court brief: Musk’s speech is chilled by the threat of SEC investigations and prosecution for contempt of court

DETROIT: US Securities regulators are unlawfully muzzling Tesla CEO Elon Musk, violating his free speech rights by continually trying to enforce a 2018 securities fraud settlement, Musk’s lawyer contends in a court brief.
The document, filed late Tuesday with the federal appeals court in Manhattan, was written to support Musk’s appeal of a lower court’s April decision to uphold the settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission.
The brief says that a provision in the settlement requiring Musk to get prior approval before tweeting about the electric car company is an illegal “government-imposed muzzle on Mr. Musk’s speech before it is made.”
The settlement required that his tweets be approved by a Tesla attorney before being published. The SEC is investigating whether Musk violated the settlement with tweets last November asking Twitter followers if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock.
But in the brief, Musk attorney Alex Spiro contends that the SEC is continually investigating Musk for topics not covered by the settlement. It asks the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to strike or modify the prior approval provision.
“The pre-approval provision in the consent decree qualifies as a prior restraint on speech that runs afoul of the First Amendment,” Spiro wrote. “It forbids future lawful speech on a range of topics absent approval.”
Further, Musk’s speech is chilled by the threat of SEC investigations and prosecution for contempt of court, the brief said.
The whole dispute stems from an October 2018 agreement with the SEC that Musk signed. He and Tesla each agreed to pay $20 million in civil fines over Musk’s tweets about having the “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
The funding was far from locked up, and the electric vehicle company remains public, but Tesla’s stock price jumped. The settlement specified governance changes, including Musk’s ouster as board chairman, as well as pre-approval of his tweets.
In April, US District Judge Lewis Liman in New York rejected Musk’s bid to throw out the settlement that he signed with the SEC. He also denied a motion to nullify a subpoena of Musk seeking information about possible violations of the settlement.
Liman’s ruling said that Musk made the tweets without getting pre-approval, but the judge later wrote that he didn’t mean to pass judgment on that issue.
A message was left early Wednesday seeking comment from the SEC.
Spiro writes that Mr. Musk’s waiver of his First Amendment rights in the settlement was not voluntary because there was no way for Musk to know how far reaching it was. “The provision applies to future speech about circumstances no one could anticipate in advance,” he wrote.
Musk, he said, is under constant threat that the SEC will disagree with his interpretation of what he can say. Musk also agreed to the deal when Tesla was a smaller company and the SEC action could have jeopardized its financing.
“The SEC has maintained constant investigations into Mr. Musk’s speech, employing nebulous interpretations of the consent decree seemingly designed to curb and chill his future speech, all regarding speech entirely unrelated to the 2018 tweet for which the SEC initiated this action,” Spiro wrote.
Tesla is now the most valuable automaker in the world, and Musk is the world’s wealthiest person.
Liman ruled that Musk’s claim that economic duress caused him to sign the settlement is “wholly unpersuasive.”
Even if Musk was worried that litigation with the SEC would ruin Tesla financially, “that does not establish a basis for him to get out of the judgment he voluntarily signed,” Liman wrote.
The judge also said Musk’s argument that the SEC had used the settlement order to harass Musk and launch investigations was “meritless.”


Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East
Updated 27 September 2022

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East

Google launches new tools to help travel industry in Middle East
  • The free tools, available in Arabic and English, provide insights that can help destinations and hotels quickly identify travel trends and plan accordingly

DUBAI: Google unveiled two new tools on Tuesday, World Tourism Day, designed to help travel-related businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Destination Insights and Hotel Insights, which were launched on the Travel Insights With Google website, aim to help businesses quickly identify travel trends and plan accordingly. They are free to use and available in English and Arabic.

For example, in the past eight months internet users in Saudi Arabia searched for information about many countries, including Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Thailand, the UAE and the UK, according to Google Trends. In addition, searches for “booking tickets” increased by 153 percent in the Kingdom compared with the previous year.

Over the same period in the UAE, people searched for local entertainment destinations including the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Butterfly Garden, along with hotels in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The number of searches for “ticket prices” in the UAE increased by 122 percent compared with the previous year.

“From our continuous conversations with travel partners around the region, we heard that timely insights are very much necessary for the travel industry at this period, especially with many local and regional events coming up,” said Anthony Nakache, managing director of Google MENA.

“This is why we’re very excited to bring a new insights portal for the region’s travel and tourism sector, to help businesses reach regular and new travelers.”

Google said its Destination Insights tool provides travel businesses, governments and tourism boards with a clearer picture of the leading sources of demand for a destination, and the places and attractions within their countries that travelers are most interested in visiting.

It also allows businesses and authorities to explore the ways in which tourism demand is changing compared with previous months or years, and adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly.

According to Google, the Hotel Insights tool provides businesses with in-depth information about interest in their accommodations, aiding understanding about the sources of that interest and how best to attract new guests by creating a stronger digital presence.

The launch of the tools comes as the travel industry begins to bounce back following a challenging few years as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The value of the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East alone is expected to reach $246 billion this year, based on a recent study, Nakache said.

Google said it will continue to develop tech-driven tools that can help businesses in the travel and tourism sector better engage with customers.


Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game
Updated 27 September 2022

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game

Anghami partners with EA Sports to celebrate launch of ‘FIFA 23’ video game
  • Collaboration includes song track, music video, live radio show hosted by Big Hass

ABU DHABI: Streaming platform Anghami has partnered with EA Sports, a division of Electronic Arts that develops and publishes sports video games, to produce and release a special track and music video to mark the launch of the “FIFA 23” video game in the region.

The hip-hop track “Merengue” featuring Saudi-based rapper and hip-hop artist Lil Eazy has been produced by Outlaw Productions and the music video by Anghami’s production arm Anghami Studios.

Ramy Al-Kadhi, head of Anghami Studios, said: “As Anghami’s production arm, we are delighted to be part of this project together with EA Sports to celebrate with all the video gamers’ generations the 30th edition of the world’s most popular football simulation video game, ‘FIFA.’

“This occasion will be one to remember as we have put all our efforts to produce a track that illustrates it best.”

The track celebrates the latest edition of the video game, developed by EA Sports, and scheduled for global release on Sept. 30.

Anghami will also air a three-episode live radio show hosted by Big Hass. The platform launched the feature in May, allowing users to talk while any audio is being played in real-time.

Over the course of the three shows, Big Hass will invite guests to discuss the entertainment and sports scene in Saudi Arabia, with conversations focusing on gaming and women’s football in the Kingdom.

Arbie Artinian, director of brand marketing and franchise development at EA Sports, said: “Gaming, music, and football are intrinsically linked, and we are excited to partner with Anghami in this space.”


Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’
Updated 27 September 2022

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’

DUBAI: Warner Bros. Discovery, the global leader in media and entertainment and SRMG, the MENA region’s largest media group, announced today their long-term partnership to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’, a new free-to-air (FTA) Arabic language channel, exclusively for audiences in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Asharq Discovery will be the newest addition to SRMG's fast-growing media and international offerings.

The new FTA channel will be an authentic gateway connecting MENA-wide audiences to the world and global viewers to the region, offering compelling content, enriching experiences, and memorable stories that allow audiences a step outside their established media consumption habits.

The partnership upholds Warner Bros. Discovery's MENA expansion strategy and SRMG's growth strategy, brought together by a shared goal of diversifying content and improving its accessibility, and to help propel MENA's maturing entertainment industry to become one of the largest globally.

"The MENA's entertainment industry has been undergoing an incredible transformation and exponential growth, posing great potential and offering immense opportunities for content players and consumers. Having established our Discovery brand in linear channels and successfully launching our non-fictional streaming service discovery+ last year, we believe launching a new FTA channel in MENA with the homegrown powerhouse, SRMG is a solid step for us to build a 360 ecosystem of entertainment. This partnership will also support our MENA business development strategy to increase our presence in KSA," says Jamie Cooke, GM CEE, Middle East & Turkey.

“Our new strategic collaboration with Warner Bros Discovery will further bolster our ability to deliver dynamic, innovative, and exciting Arabic content, through new multiple formats and platforms. This partnership is a further demonstration of SRMG’s unrelenting focus and commitment to its consumer-centric approach; bringing our audiences engaging and premium content - when, where and how they want it. Discovery has an unrivaled legacy of producing cutting-edge, high-quality documentaries. We look forward to working together to deliver co-commissioned quality content, provide new job opportunities and best-in-class training, as well as tap into a new global network for our growing audiences,” says Jomana Al Rashid, SRMG CEO.

Asharq Discovery will offer audiences unparalleled real-life entertainment with thousands of hours' worth of premium content, including originals, premiers and exclusives, across a wide selection of genres spanning pop science and engineering, motoring and turbo, wildlife and nature, adventure and travel, reality and lifestyle, crime mystery documentaries.  In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG have earmarked co-productions of high-quality local programming, to be distributed globally through the Discovery Global network – thus adding more cultural and market relevance to the mix.

‘Asharq Discovery’ launch-related forward planning and necessary steps are currently underway, with the aim for it to be available to end-users in MENA, during the course of 2023, through broadcast, streaming and third-party local apps, with a catch-up facility available on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

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