Saudi competition body first to approve Microsoft takeover of Activision Blizzard

The deal is expected to be the most expensive video game acquisition in history and the third biggest corporate deal of the decade. (Shutterstock/File)
The deal is expected to be the most expensive video game acquisition in history and the third biggest corporate deal of the decade. (Shutterstock/File)
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Updated 24 August 2022

Saudi competition body first to approve Microsoft takeover of Activision Blizzard

Saudi competition body first to approve Microsoft takeover of Activision Blizzard
  • ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Candy Crush’ among video game company's hits

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Competition is the first international regulatory body to approve Microsoft’s takeover of the video game company Activision Blizzard.

The GAC “issued a No Objection Certificate with respect to the completion of the economic concentration transaction between Microsoft Corporation and Activision Blizzard, Inc.” on Sunday, becoming the first regulatory body in the world to announce its approval.

In January, Xbox maker Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. If approved, the merger will create one of the world’s largest video game companies while allowing the tech giant to compete with rivals such as Meta in creating immersive virtual worlds.

The acquisition is being scrutinized by other international authorities, who will assess if it conforms with competition rules.

The deal, which is waiting for approval from US and European internet regulators, is expected to be the most expensive video game acquisition in history and the third biggest corporate deal of the decade.

But it has also been criticized.

Sony, the maker of PlayStation and one of Microsoft’s direct competitors, recently said the proposed acquisition would create a publishing clash and eventually lead to Microsoft holding a monopoly over the market due to the massive popularity of Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty” franchise.

In a letter filed to Brazilian authorities, it said: “Call of Duty is so popular that it influences users’ choice of console, and its community of loyal users is entrenched enough that even if a competitor had the budget to develop a similar product, it would not be able to rival it.”

Microsoft’s head of gaming revealed the company had no intention to remove “Call of Duty” from the PlayStation platform and expected the game to remain multiplatform due to “contractual agreements.”

Activision Blizzard has also been at the center of intense criticism having been buffeted for months by allegations of misconduct and unequal pay.

Earlier this year, the company was hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit, which further exposed its workplace culture to intense scrutiny. Last year, an employee committed suicide while on a company retreat.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has a great interest in the deal, having previously acquired stakes in Activision Blizzard as part of its effort to diversify the country's investment beyond oil. After Microsoft announced the deal, the sovereign wealth fund enjoyed a $1.1 billion boost in its investment in the video game producer.

The Saudi government is betting heavily on the gaming industry.

The Kingdom this year hosted Gamers8, the biggest esports and gaming event worldwide. It expects the sector will make up about 1 percent of its economy—for a value of around $21 billion—by 2030.


Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 
Updated 06 December 2022

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

Google Doodle celebrates late Kuwaiti actor and comedian 

DUBAI: Google Doodle marked on Tuesday the birthday of the late Kuwaiti actor and comedian Abdul Hussein Abdul Reda, which falls on Dec. 6. 

Abdul Reda is one of the most famous and prominent Gulf and Arab artists, and one of the Gulf region’s pioneers of acting, with a career that exceeded 50 years.

He participated in the first theatrical play in classical Arabic under the title “Saqr Quraish” in 1961. 

(Internet)

Abdul Reda presented many prominent works in theater and television, where he became famous on television with series like The Slippery Path and Destinies.  

He was nicknamed by Dubai Ruler and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid as the “Gulf’s laughter and joy” for his famous theatrical roles in well-known Khaleej plays like Bye Bye London and Bani Samet. 

On his passing, Sheikh Mohammed took to Twitter to pay tribute to the late Kuwaiti actor, saying: “We bid farewell to the Gulf's laughter and joy. Every Khaleeji citizen had a beautiful time with you.” 

After suffering several diseases in his lifetime, Abdul Reda passed away in London and was buried in Sulaibikhiyat Al Jaafariah on Aug. 16, 2017.


Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
Updated 06 December 2022

Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum launches joint broadcasting initiative

A joint Saudi-Chinese TV program will spotlight the stories of Chinese and Saudi Arabian individuals. (Supplied)
  • Majid Al-Qasabi: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group”

RIYADH: Ahead of the Chinese President’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group announced the launch of a joint partnership initiative to promote relations between Arab countries and China through media in a ceremony in Riyadh on Monday.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Arab-Chinese Media Cooperation Forum, which is being held today in Riyadh...between the Saudi Ministry of Media and the China Media Group,” Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said.

Al-Qasabi addressed the audience in a speech via video extending his support for the cooperation.

“We look forward to the cooperation today to launch new media initiatives that contribute to deepening the ties between the Arab and Chinese cultures and between their peoples,” he said.

The initiative, he explained, will promote the presence of Chinese media on Arab channels, translating Chinese television shows into Arabic.

Through the initiative, Saudi and Chinese television will also work together to create programs highlighting the stories of individuals from both Saudi Arabia and China who achieved success in each other’s countries.

The initiative will also create opportunities for travel between the two countries, opening a space for greater understanding and strengthening the relationship between China and Saudi Arabia through media and cultural exchange.

In line with the aim of improving communication, the ceremony was held in both Arabic and Chinese in the presence of Ambassador of China to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing, Director-General of the Arab States Broadcasting Union Abdulraheem Sulaiman, and Chinese politician Li Shulei, head of publicity at the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, president of the Arab States Broadcasting Union and CEO of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, presented the initiative in a speech during the ceremony.

“Saudi-Chinese relations are old and well-established and strong, and they are witnessing prosperity and expansion,” he said, citing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to China, the over 20,000 Arab students studying in China and the several schools in Saudi Arabia that teach the Chinese language and culture.

“We hope that this relationship will witness greater growth with the connection of interests and relations between the two peoples,” he added.

Toward the end of the ceremony, top media representatives from Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Iraq extended their support for the initiative.

Al-Harthi stressed the importance of media in any country’s diplomatic relations.

“To achieve a solid relationship between the two societies, the media must play this role,” Al-Harthi said.

Through the initiative, translated Chinese works will be broadcast in Palestine, Algeria, Jordan, Sudan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

 


Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future
Updated 05 December 2022

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future

Sky News chief to step down as channel adapts to post-TV future
  • John Ryley departing operation after 17 years

LONDON: Sky News chief John Ryley announced on Sunday that he will step down after 17 years in charge as the channel faces the challenges of a post-television future.

Ryley, 60, assumed his role as head of the news outlet in 2006, when Sky News was almost fully dedicated to producing its flagship live television channel. He led the channel’s transformation into a multimedia operation with a large online audience.

Sky News, however, continues to spend a substantial part of its budget on traditional broadcasting.

Sources at the channel told the Guardian that Ryley’s departure will be announced to staff in a call on Dec. 5. Details are yet to be confirmed, but the call is also expected to reveal new hires for Sky News’ data, podcasts and original journalism teams.

The sources added that investment in several new studios would be paused.

Across almost two decades, Ryley won many journalism awards as he faced the challenge of running a news outlet in an era of media decline.

He said in recent years that he believed television news, instead of relying on patrician presenters, should increasingly feature reporters offering expert analysis and context. “The age of the all-powerful anchor is gone — instead they share the stage with journalists in the field, providing the audience with the high-fiber news they demand,” he wrote.

The announcements, according to The Guardian, suggest that Sky News’ leadership is preparing for a future where the channel’s focus shifts away from its live news operation.

While figures show that some 10.2 million people across Britain watched Sky News in November, audience figures for individual shows came in below 100,000 viewers in some cases. The channel is increasingly turning to platforms such as TikTok to reach the younger generations.

Sky News’ financial backing is wrapped up in corporate politics. When founder Rupert Murdoch sold Sky in 2018 to US media giant Comcast, the new owners pledged to maintain Sky News’ funding for a decade.

However, that agreement has yet to be honored, and decisions will be made soon about the outlet’s long-term future and funding model. Comcast is thought to be exploring ways to integrate Sky News into its US-based NBC News operation.

The wider Sky business has faced many challenges in recent years, with revenues slumping as consumers and advertisers cut back on spending in the face of tough economic conditions. The company is already looking beyond its satellite dish model toward a future where its subscription service is delivered over the internet.


New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news
Updated 05 December 2022

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news

New Zealand plans law to require Facebook, Google to pay for news
  • The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament and is expected to be passed

WELLINGTON: The New Zealand government said it will introduce a law that will require big online digital companies such as Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) to pay New Zealand media companies for the local news content that appears on their feeds.

Minister of Broadcasting Willie Jackson said in a statement on Sunday that the legislation will be modeled on similar laws in Australia and Canada and he hoped it would act as an incentive for the digital platforms to reach deals with local news outlets.

"New Zealand news media, particularly small regional and community newspapers, are struggling to remain financially viable as more advertising moves online," Jackson said. "It is critical that those benefiting from their news content actually pay for it."

The new legislation will go to a vote in parliament where the governing Labour Party's majority is expected to pass it.

Australia introduced a law in 2021 that gave the government power to make internet companies negotiate content supply deals with media outlets. A review released by the Australian government last week found it largely worked.


Apple and Amazon resume advertising on Twitter — reports

Apple and Amazon resume advertising on Twitter — reports
Updated 05 December 2022

Apple and Amazon resume advertising on Twitter — reports

Apple and Amazon resume advertising on Twitter — reports

Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are planning to resume advertising on Twitter, according to media reports on Saturday.
The developments follow an email sent by Twitter on Thursday to advertising agencies offering advertisers incentives to increase their spending on the platform, an effort to jump-start its business after Elon Musk’s takeover prompted many companies to pull back.
Twitter billed the offer as the “biggest advertiser incentive ever on Twitter,” according to the email reviewed by Reuters. US advertisers who book $500,000 in incremental spending will qualify to have their spending matched with a “100 percent value add,” up to a $1 million cap, the email said.
On Saturday, a Platformer News reporter tweeted that Amazon is planning to resume advertising on Twitter at about $100 million a year, pending some security tweaks to the company’s ads platform.
However, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Amazon had never stopped advertising on Twitter.
Separately, during a Twitter Spaces conversation, Musk announced that Apple is the largest advertiser on Twitter and has “fully resumed” advertising on the platform, according to a Bloomberg report.
Musk’s first month as Twitter’s owner has included a slashing of staff including employees who work on content moderation and incidents of spammers impersonating major public companies, which has spooked the advertising industry.
Many companies from General Mills Inc. to luxury automaker Audi of America stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said in November that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.
Apple and Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on the matter.