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

Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’
1 / 2
Warner Bros. Discovery and SRMG partner to launch ‘Asharq Discovery’
2 / 2
Short Url
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.

Related


Turkiye detains four over quake social media posts

Turkiye detains four over quake social media posts
Updated 55 min 35 sec ago

Turkiye detains four over quake social media posts

Turkiye detains four over quake social media posts
  • The four individuals detained for sharing “provocative posts aiming to create fear and panic”

ISTANBUL: Turkish police on Tuesday said they had detained four people over “provocative” social media posts following a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Turkiye.
The quake struck the region early on Monday, killing more than 4,800 people in Turkiye and Syria, injuring thousands and leaving many more without shelter in the bitter cold.
The four individuals were detained after officers found accounts that shared “provocative posts aiming to create fear and panic,” the police said.
It added that a wider investigation into social media accounts was ongoing but offered no information on the content of the posts.
Turkish social media have been filled with posts by people who complain about a lack of search and rescue efforts in their area, particularly in Hatay.
The police appeared to address such claims on Tuesday.
“The address and location information of citizens who seek help is immediately ascertained and coordination is established,” they said.
Turkish authorities have in the last few years cracked down on social media posts, especially those considered to support “terror,” but this has led to accusations that freedom of expression has been curtailed.


Disney+ in Hong Kong drops ‘Simpsons’ episode with ‘forced labor’ mention

Disney+ in Hong Kong drops ‘Simpsons’ episode with ‘forced labor’ mention
Updated 07 February 2023

Disney+ in Hong Kong drops ‘Simpsons’ episode with ‘forced labor’ mention

Disney+ in Hong Kong drops ‘Simpsons’ episode with ‘forced labor’ mention

HONG KONG: An episode of “The Simpsons” that refers to “forced labor camps” in China is nowhere to be found on the Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong amid growing censorship concerns in the city.
Hong Kong once boasted significant artistic and cultural freedoms compared to mainland China, but authorities have clamped down on dissent following democracy protests in 2019, including stepping up film censorship.
Episode 2 of the US animated hit’s 34th season included the line: “Behold the wonders of China. Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones and romance.”
“One Angry Lisa,” which first aired last October, could not be accessed on Disney+ using a Hong Kong connection but is available elsewhere, AFP confirmed.
It is the second time in three years that the streaming service’s Hong Kong version has dropped a Simpsons episode that satirised China.
The previously affected episode showed the Simpsons visiting Beijing’s Tiananmen Square — the site of a deadly 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters — finding a sign there that read: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.”
The Hong Kong government and Disney did not immediately provide comment.
In 2021, Hong Kong passed censorship laws forbidding broadcasts that might breach a broad national security law that China imposed on the city.
Censors have since ordered directors to make cuts to their films and refused permission for others to be shown.
While those rules do not cover streaming services, authorities have warned that online platforms are still subject to the national security law, which criminalizes the broadly defined crimes of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
In recent years, Hollywood has been accused of bending to China’s censorship regime to tap into its vast consumer base and billion-dollar box office.
A recent United Nations report found allegations of torture and forced labor in the far-western Xinjiang region were credible, accusations Beijing denies.
Rights groups say more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are detained in what the US State Department and others have said amounts to genocide.
In 2020, Disney came under fire for filming the live-action Mulan remake in Xinjiang, with local government agencies thanked in the credits.


Google unveils ChatGPT rival Bard, AI search plans in battle with Microsoft

A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 2019. (AP)
A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 2019. (AP)
Updated 07 February 2023

Google unveils ChatGPT rival Bard, AI search plans in battle with Microsoft

A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 2019. (AP)
  • Currently, Google presents text that exists elsewhere on the Web for questions where the answer is clear

CALIFORNIA: Google owner Alphabet Inc. on Monday said it will launch a chatbot service and more artificial intelligence for its search engine as well as developers, an answer to Microsoft Corp. in their rivalry to lead a new wave of computing.
Microsoft, meanwhile, said it planned its own AI reveal for Tuesday.
The cascade of news reflects how Silicon Valley is anticipating massive change from so-called generative AI, technology that can create prose or other content on command and free up white-collar workers’ time.
The ascent of ChatGPT, a chatbot from Microsoft-backed OpenAI that could disrupt how consumers search for information, has been one of the biggest challenges to Google in recent memory.
In a blog post, Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said his company is opening a conversational AI service called Bard to test users for feedback, followed by a public release in the coming weeks.
He also said Google plans to add AI features to its search engine that synthesize material for complex queries, like whether learning guitar or piano is easier. Currently, Google presents text that exists elsewhere on the Web for questions where the answer is clear.
Google’s update for search, the timing of which it did not disclose, reflects how the company is bolstering its service while Microsoft is doing the same for Bing, embedding OpenAI’s capabilities in it.
Microsoft has said it plans to imbue AI into its all its products and on Tuesday plans to brief news outlets on developments it did not specify, with its CEO Satya Nadella, according to an invitation seen by Reuters. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, tweeted that he would also attend the event.
How Google aims to differentiate Bard from OpenAI’s ChatGPT was unclear. Pichai said the new service draws on information from the Internet; ChatGPT’s knowledge is up to date as of 2021.
“Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our” AI, Pichai said.
Behind the new chatbot is LaMDA, Google’s AI that generated text with such skill that a company engineer last year called it sentient, a claim the technology giant and scientists widely dismissed.
In a demo of the service, Bard like its rival chatbot invites users to give it a prompt while warning its response may be inappropriate or inaccurate. It then bulleted three answers to a query about a space telescope’s discoveries, the demo showed.
Google is relying on a version of LaMDA that requires less computing power so it can serve more users and improve with their feedback, Pichai said.
ChatGPT at times has turned away users because of explosive growth, with UBS analysts reporting it had 57 million unique visitors in December outpacing potentially TikTok in adoption.
Google also plans to give technology tools, first powered by LaMDA and later by other AI, to creators and enterprises starting next month, Pichai said.

 


Twitter saved from bankruptcy, Musk claims

Twitter saved from bankruptcy, Musk claims
Updated 07 February 2023

Twitter saved from bankruptcy, Musk claims

Twitter saved from bankruptcy, Musk claims
  • Responding to a Wall Street Journal report, Musk said the business is ‘trending to breakeven’ but admitted that it still faces challenges
  • The platform expanded its Twitter Blue paid-for verification service to Saudi Arabia and 5 other territories last week, as it looks for ways to boost revenues

LONDON: Twitter has been saved from bankruptcy and the business is on track to break even, according to CEO Elon Musk.

In a message posted on the social media platform on Sunday, he said recent months had been difficult but the company is now in a stronger financial position, though there are further hurdles to overcome.

“Last three months were extremely tough, as had to save Twitter from bankruptcy, while fulfilling essential Tesla (and) SpaceX duties,” he wrote.

“Wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. Twitter still has challenges, but is now trending to break even if we keep at it. Public support is much appreciated!

“To be extra clear, Twitter is definitely not financially healthy yet but is trending to be so. Lots of work still needed to get there.”

Musk posted his comment in response to a news report in The Wall Street Journal that examined his personal struggles while running several companies simultaneously, and questioned his physical well-being.

Following Musk’s takeover of Twitter in October, the company reported a massive drop in revenues from advertisers. This prompted the South African-born billionaire to say Twitter was like a “plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire, and the controls don’t work,” and was at risk of going bust. He blamed the revenue decline on activists putting pressure on advertisers not to do business with the company after his takeover.

In his efforts to tackle the financial challenges Twitter faces, Musk has implemented a number of changes to the business and the platform. Shortly after completing his acquisition, he restructured the company and laid off about half of its 7,500 staff.

In an effort to enhance monetization of the platform, in December he revamped its Twitter Blue verification service in some territories and introduced a subscription-based tier that allows any user to obtain a “blue check” badge next to their name for $12 a month. The service expanded to six additional countries last week, including Saudi Arabia, increasing to 12 the total number in which it is available.

Also last week, Twitter announced it would end free access to its application programming interface, or API, which is used by third-party developers, and offer a basic paid tier instead. To further expand its revenue pool, the company was also reportedly considering offering popular usernames for sale at auction. In January, Twitter auctioned memorabilia from the company’s San Francisco headquarters.

Though the business appears to still be in a precarious financial state, the platform announced on Friday it will start sharing advertising revenue with some content creators.


French channel airs three-part Hezbollah documentary investigating Beirut port blast links

French channel airs three-part Hezbollah documentary investigating Beirut port blast links
Updated 06 February 2023

French channel airs three-part Hezbollah documentary investigating Beirut port blast links

French channel airs three-part Hezbollah documentary investigating Beirut port blast links
  • Two-year investigation reveals the militia’s defiance of justice, ties with drug cartels
  • Three part docuseries receives mixed reception in Lebanon

LONDON: French broadcaster France 5 aired night a three-part docuseries on Sunday looking into Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah and its ties to drug cartels and the Beirut port explosion.

The series, titled “Hezbollah, l’enquête interdite” which translates to “Hezbollah, the Forbidden Investigation,” delves into the Lebanese militant group’s history over the past 40 years.

Through a series of testimonials from high-profile officials, it casts a light on the group’s defiance of justice, protected by the Iranian regime.

The three-part film, each episode an hour long, also exposes Hezbollah’s secretive funding methods and seeks to highlight how the international community failed to curb its activities.

Directed by Jerome Fritel and Sofia Amara, it is based on the US Drug Enforcement Agency investigations and indictments and includes interviews with high-ranking Hezbollah leaders, including the number two official, Naim Qassem.

Alternating archive images and exclusive testimonies, Fritel and Amara explore in detail the story of Hezbollah from its creation in hiding during the Lebanese Civil War in 1982, up to the explosion which ravaged the Port of Beirut in 2020.

The two journalists also uncover the ambiguities that surround Hezbollah’s finances, revealing its involvement in Colombian cocaine trafficking.

The docuseries, which is currently only available in France, immediately triggered reactions from Lebanese people and the international community.

Some people welcomed the documentary, saying that although Hezbollah’s facts are well known to the Lebanese people, the report helps to expose the group to international scrutiny.

Hezbollah “is responsible for the explosion of Beirut and the destruction of our beautiful country,” one user said on Twitter.

“We Lebanese knew it but it’s time for the world to know it too!”

 

Following the revelations, some users urged foreign actors to take action against Hezbollah.

“The International Society now knows an important part of the truth … what we really hope is a reaction to the magnitude of our expectations,” commented a Lebanese Twitter user.

 

Sky News Arabia and Arab News columnist Maria Maalouf was among the many users who posted links to download the episodes and urged followers to watch the documentary, which otherwise would not be available in Lebanon.

Some users, however, accused France 5 of propaganda against Hezbollah, and argued that the report is only a tactic to deter people, to “scare” and “alienate” them.

“Leave Lebanon in peace. No need for fake reportage,” one user said.