Marius Dragomir

Myanmar's Government Hints About Closure of State-Run TV Are Merely an Odd Hoax

Many media observers were discombobulated when a state official hinted that Myanmar’s state-run TV could be shut down. But that’s just part of an outlandish government gambit to confuse people and, if possible, garner more support.
 
Media experts and journalists were left dumbfounded when last Sunday an official of the information ministry in Myanmar insinuated at a powwow of ethnic media groups in Arakan state that the country’s state broadcaster Myanmar TV (MRTV) would or could be dismantled. If MRTV is dissolved, then ethnic media will suffer, said U Tint Swe, a permanent secretary at the ministry.
 
The state has been pumping hefty cash in the past few years into strengthening its mouthpiece, as MRTV is known. Why would the government want to shut it down now?

European Court Decision Allows Media to Be Less Paranoid About Online Comments

In summer 2015, a much-criticized decision by Europe’s human rights court left online portals anxious about what comments they allowed on their sites. Now, the same court has reversed that decision in a lawsuit lodged by two Hungarian websites. That means less stress for online media.
 

Internet Providers in Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union: Non-Transparent, Dubious, Politically Linked

The Internet has become the new heaven for unheard voices, new forms of commerce and limitless communication across eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But who owns the companies providing this service? Many of these owners are unknown, others are linked with politics and some are dubious characters embroiled in criminal investigations.
 
A decade ago, the internet was the realm solely of the progressive, technically savvy, often nerdy youth in many countries of eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. But today, people who in the 2000s didn’t even have a computer regularly browse through their favorite news sites, email and buy their groceries online. 
 
Since 2000, internet usage in the Czech Republic has skyrocketed from less than 10% to nearly 80% of the population in 2014, according to data from World Bank. In less advanced economies such as Bulgaria, it has jumped as well to some 56% in 2014 from a mere 5% in 2000. Even in some slowly growing markets such as Armenia, over 46% of the people used the service in 2014, a gigantic leap from a mere 1.3% in 2000. 
 
But who is behind the telecom groups that provide this service?

European Audiovisual Groups Increase Their Market Share at Home

European broadcast groups are dwarfed by American ones on the global level. But at home, they enjoy a comfortable position. And they tend to further grow.

Growing media concentration continues to be a troubling global trend. Worldwide, the top 10 global media players, dominated by U.S. companies, control ever-larger swaths of the media landscape. This situation causes media scholars and activists to raise concerns about the impact on democracy when an ever-growing share of the global communications environment is controlled by fewer people.

Ranking Telcos: Name and Shame Them and They Will Improve

There are several initiatives out there that measure and rank companies. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are ranked according to how they ensure access to medicines and major foodstuffs producers are ranked according to their impact on communities. Now, we have the Corporate Accountability Index that measures how internet companies and telcos fare in their general commitment to digital rights and practices related to freedom of expression and privacy.
 
However, is this merely a game of name and shame?
 

Though it seems like one, the ultimate goal is to actually improve companies. Rebecca MacKinnon, the director of the Corporate Accountability Index, an initiative supported by a dozen of funders and several research centers, says that the main goal of this initiative and the kind of impact the index is craving is to force companies to improve their policies, because that will ultimately have positive repercussions on consumers.

How a Corrupt Minister in Romania Brought Media, Journalists and Bloggers to Clobber a Journalistic Investigation

For four years, two journalists investigating a suspected money laundering and influence peddling case at a Romanian ministry faced numerous obstacles. But they didn’t expect to grapple with so many obstructions from their own peers. A spate of emails between people involved in the case shows why journalists turned against journalists.

“Two bloggers cost €1,200, VAT included. Some of those big bloggers.”  This is what an online media advisor in Romania replied when asked whether she could place a piece written by Elena Udrea, a former tourism and regional development minister in Romania, on a popular blog.

It happened in 2011 at a time when sports journalists Catalin Tolontan and Mirela Neag were sweating over unearthing evidence of suspected graft among officials in the ministry in an investigation that became known as the Bute Gala case. The two were following tips that a ring of public officials were siphoning off public cash by illegally awarding funds to companies involved in the organization of a major boxing event in Bucharest. The event was named after Lucian Bute, a 35-year old renowned pugilist born in Romania.
 

The Moscow Times Changes: Trimming Costs and Fighting for Independence

With a new owner and now a new editor, the English-language paper The Moscow Times is being reformed from the ground up. A leaner, more economically resilient publication is likely to emerge - but, what rises from the ashes is an entirely different kind of paper which will probably not be very critical of the Russian government.

The appointment yesterday of the liberal journalist Mikhail Fishman at the helm of The Moscow Times has been lauded by many journalists as Mr Fishman is well known for his integrity and courage. He was the editor-in-chief of Russian Newsweek when it closed down in 2010, reportedly because of financial problems. He then moved on to work as an anchor on a political show aired by the liberal TV station Dozhd, which is known as virtually the sole television station in Russia that offers a non-governmental perspective on the political life. The station’s critical standpoint has often attracted the ire of the regime.

Pakistan's BOL TV Shutters Before Launching, but They Are Not Disappearing

BOL TV boasted that it would be better than anyone and change Pakistani media. They shut down before starting broadcasting, but the operation is not likely to be scrapped. When security services needs it, BOL will rise again.

“Were [there] such salaries before?”, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, chairman and CEO of Axact group, the company that planned to launch a raft of television stations and newspapers in Pakistan, boasted in September last year in front of a gathering of journalists. “We will lead and others will follow in Pakistan,” he said.

A year later, Mr Shaikh is in prison and the media empire he wanted to create is in ruin. Swank studios in Karachi are empty and they’re likely to remain so. Three weeks after touting on its Facebook page that it was going to “change the face of Pakistani media”, on the very same page BOL announced its closure on 6 October 2015.

Russia Today. What About Tomorrow?

Regulator rebukes RT channel. But does that really hurt them?

Images of people covered in blood, with gashes and burns on their bodies, standing or lying down on the floor. A voiceover commentary follows: “The British Broadcasting Corporation is accused of staging a chemical weapons attack.” This was part of the Truthseeker program that RT, formerly Russia Today, aired several times on 23 and 24 March 2014 in the U.K.

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