videos

The BBC in the Dock Over Bias

Researchers point to clear and consistent bias on the main BBC bulletins in favor of critics of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn following a wave of shadow cabinet resignations after the UK decided to leave the EU.
 
The BBC, the U.K.’s flagship broadcaster, has been for decades a model of inspiration for other public media supporters across the globe. The public broadcaster was lauded for its governing structure, which prevented political interference, and for its funding model, which ensures stable, long-term financing. But above all, the BBC garnered kudos for its unbiased, objective, fact-anchored reporting – a paragon of independent journalism.
 
In recent years, however, the BBC has come under increased critical scrutiny for its slanted coverage. A recent study by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) and Birkbeck, University of London, browbeat the British broadcaster for its “consistent bias” against Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party.
 
The study’s findings are worrisome not so much because of the target of the bias, an opposition politician, but for how the BBC is performing its public service media role.

How to Neuter Critical Media in Eastern Europe: Buy Them an Ad

The integrity and independence of journalism is in dire straits in eastern Europe. The preferential distribution of state advertising has had to do with much of this.
 
Celebrating 175 years of existence last year, Turkey’s leading telecom provider, Turk Telekom, organized a glamorous reception in Ankara, the nation’s capital city, attended by many of the country’s bigwigs. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan came in person to congratulate the telco’s chairman Mohammed Hariri for the company’s “exceptional service” to Turkey.
 
But the party was only a sprinkling in the company’s anniversary budget. On top of it, and other things, Turk Telekom splurged in 2014 on a massive advertising campaign ballyhooing its then upcoming anniversary. However, this spending spree turned out to be a rather clever political maneuver instead of a usual corporate stint. Data from Nielsen Company AdEx, which monitors ad spending in Turkey, show that Turk Telekom doled out some US$ 63m to 16 pro-government media outlets. Opposition newspapers such as Zaman, BirGun or Cumhuriyet didn’t receive a dime.

Middle East: Online Conversation Moves out of Facebook and Twitter

Uncomfortable with the government’s aggressive snooping, internet users in the Middle East are increasingly beginning to move their discussions to more impervious chatrooms.
Last summer, the Saudi Arabian government stunned internet freedom activists, and others, when they announced new legal provisions that allow the naming and shaming of offenders of the kingdom’s anti-cyber crime law. The law enables authorities to throw people who produce, prepare, distribute and even store content that “impinges” on public order, religious values and “public morals” via the internet into jail.
 
As if that was not sufficient, the same law allows the naming and shaming of those found guilty of these offenses. In a region like the Middle East where individual reputation is a cornerstone of societal value, naming and shaming has the potential to be even more intimidating than rotting in a Saudi quod. Local observers saw these legal provisions as another step towards stifling criticism by the local authorities, through such a powerful social deterrent.
 

Reviving Greek Journalism With AthensLive

The pathetic state of Greek journalism is not a mystery to anyone anymore. The number of disgruntled readers looking for fresh journalism is growing and stories from Greece aimed at foreign audiences are poor or slanted. Now, AthensLive wants to change all of that.

Tassos Morfis, Angelos Christofilopoulos, Yannis Drakoulidis and Gerry Domenikos are a group of journalists and photographers living in Athens who have, in the past few years, grown increasingly frustrated with the state of Greek journalism, but also with the quality of news that comes out of Greece to the broader, international public.
 
“The year 2015 was a very turbulent year for Greece,” says Mr Morfis in a presentational video. “We had elections twice with a radical left government getting elected, we almost got kicked out of the eurozone, we had a referendum and now we are dealing with a huge refugee influx.”
 
But that is all already known.
 

How Indalo Group Used Taxpayers’ Money to Buy More Media

A journalistic investigation unearths a raft of favors the former Argentinian government made to the group Indalo. But it also highlights an unsettling pattern of tradeoffs and favors between mighty media moguls and state institutions.
 
In their past four years in power, the Kirchner regime in Argentina allowed the businessman Cristobal Lopez to get away with accruing some US$550m (something close to ARS 8bn in local currency) in debts. The money was owed to the Federal Public Revenue Administration (AFIP), Argentina’s fiscal administrator. That debt is unlikely to be paid in the near future, according to an investigation from the Argentinian newspaper La Nacion, which analyzed a bevy of balance sheets from Indalo, the group controlled by Mr Lopez and his business partner Fabian De Sousa.
 

 
The debt consists of taxes on gasoline that Oil Combustibles, one of Indalo’s companies, failed to pay to the state. For each ARS 14 per liter of gasoline sold, Oil Combustibles was supposed to transfer some ARS 4 to AFIP. 
 
It didn’t do so. 
 

Asian Telcos, the Poorest at Reporting on Anti-corruption

Telecom behemoths drive technology advancement and help to grow the digital economy. But many of them have serious problems with reining in corruption. Asia leads in that category. 

Chang Xiaobing, the chairman of the telco China Telecommunications Corp (China Telecom), came under investigation last December under suspicion of serious disciplinary violations, which in the local legal lingo usually means corruption-related crimes. Mr Chang is the highest-ranking official from the country’s telecom industry to date being investigated for corruption.

But that was not the first corruption investigation case in the Chinese telecom sector. In November 2014, two top executives from China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom), the second largest telco in China by number of subscribers, came under investigation for a slew of legal violations.
 

Prime Minister’s War With Critical Journalists Puts off Slovak Voters

The Social-Democrat party Smer-SD in power in Slovakia now expects another victory in the upcoming elections on Saturday. But its leader’s unabated nastiness towards critical journalists might cost them some votes. 
 
Prostitutes, crooks, idiots, hyenas: this is what the incumbent prime minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, has repeatedly called those journalists who dared to ask him critical questions. The best that Slovak journalists could ever expect from Mr Fico at news conferences was to ignore a question and turn to another journalist. 
 
But Mr Fico’s bumptiousness and refusal to talk to some media seem to irk an increasing number of Slovaks, even those who support him and were planning to give him a vote on 5 March 2016.

How to Fight Abuses of Media Power in UK: Be the Media, Know the Media, Change the Media

We have more media, but only a few very powerful companies controlling them. Can anything be done against this hegemony? Professor Des Freedman offers a recipe: “Be the media, know the media, change the media.” He also calls on academics to come out of their ivory towers and join in the policy battles. 
 
“We’re facing a crisis at the heart of our media system – in other words with the dominant players across the media landscape – on many different levels: of funding, of ethics, of representation and of legitimacy,” Mr Freedman of Goldsmiths in London said at his inaugural lecture last Tuesday. The crisis is “the increasingly unequal distribution of resources in our media landscape.” Attention, audiences and agendas are dominated by a relatively small number of very powerful companies that all have close associations with the highest echelons in the political system, according to Mr Freedman.
 
 

Government Sacks Heads of Polish Public Media

TVP is to be headed by a politician.
 
Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda signed a controversial law today that enables the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party to appoint the directors of the country’s public TV and radio. Thanks to the new legal provisions, the treasury minister now has the full power to hire and fire the heads of the Polish public service broadcasters, which have a healthy audience share. Before the law was passed, only a media supervisory committee could do that.

 

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.

Concentration of Media Ownership Increases Worldwide: Where Is the Limit?

A new study from Columbia University Business School unveils worrying trends. Some say the answer to growing media concentration is protecting quality journalism.

A landmark study by researchers covering 30 countries has found that concentration of media ownership is growing around the world and that the internet seems to be part of the problem. The results were made public at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information at Columbia University Business School on 20 October 2015. The project was led by Professor Eli M. Noam, who is head of the institute.

 

 

Following four years of research, the institute has produced the most detailed analysis to date of global media ownership. The results are gathered in a book to be published by Oxford University Press, Who Owns the World’s Media?