Afghan government shuts down TV station:
The Afghan cabinet has closed a private television station, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reports. The government’s closing on 27 July of the Emroz (Today) television channel, owned by Afghan parliament member Najibulla Kabuli, is unprecedented.
Mr Kabuli told Radio Free Afghanistan by phone that the government’s decision to shut down his TV station was politically motivated. He said Emroz has been trying to reveal to viewers “Iran’s interference in Afghanistan’s affairs.” Kabuli accused some politicians and political parties of “pressuring Afghan President Hamid Karzai to close” the station.
Hakim Asher, the head of the Afghan government’s Centre for Information and Media, told Radio Free Afghanistan that the decision to close Emroz was made “because the television channel was fueling religious tensions and harming national unity.”
Emroz has aired mainly recreational programs since 2008. It also provided in-depth coverage of several executions of Afghans in neighbouring Iran last year.
There are currently more than 20 television stations operating in Afghanistan.
President’s daughter, 16, ‘new face of Tajik TV’:
The 16-year-old daughter of the president of Tajikistan started a new summer job this week, as a newsreader on national television, officials said yesterday. “The new face of Tajik television is the anchor Zarrina Rakhmonova. She is 16, one of the seven daughters of the Tajik president Emomali Rakhmon,” the head of TV Tajikistan’s news service, Khudzhanazari Aminien, told AFP.
The president’s daughter, who goes to school in Britain, is presenting a daily news slot in English on Channel One over the summer, the news chief said, adding that the Tajik channel broadcasts abroad on satellite. She will not be paid for her work, he said. “Zarrina is trying to get work experience.” Her work will last two months, Aminien said, after which she will presumably resume her studies
President Rakhmon has headed Tajikistan, the poorest of the ex-Soviet republics, since 1992. He has nine children, two of whom occupy political posts. His eldest daughter, Ozoda Rakhmonova, serves as deputy foreign minister, while his son Rustam, 23, was elected as a deputy for a district of Dushanbe in February this year.
President Rakhmon changed his surname from Russian-sounding Rakhmonov, but some of his children kept their original Russian-style surnames. In neighbouring Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov’s daughter Gulnara Karimova serves as the country’s ambassador to Spain as well as performing as a pop star, whose songs are rotated on state television
BSkyB in talks to launch Arabic news channel:
British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is in talks with a private Abu Dhabi investor to launch a round-the-clock Arabic news service based in the UAE capital, the Financial Times reported today. If the talks are successful the satellite channel, operating under the Sky News name, would launch within two years, the FT said, citing people close to the situation.
It would be the first venture outside of its home market for Britain’s dominant pay-TV broadcaster, the paper said. Citing two people familiar with the matter, the FT said the venture would be 50-50 owned and has no ties to the Abu Dhabi government.
The Sky News website quotes the Head of Sky News, John Ryley, as saying “”The Middle East is undergoing rapid economic and social development and is becoming an increasingly attractive region for media investment. This venture would build on our existing strengths as an international news provider and bring the Sky News brand to a new audience. Discussions are progressing well and we look forward to bringing a new approach to Arabic-language news.”
France 24 in French launches across US on 14 July:
The French-language version of international news channel France 24 will be available throughout the US from 14 July, which is “Bastille Day”. Up to now, France 24 has been available in English in certain regions of the United States. Now the French channel will be broadcast 24 hours a day throughout the US via the Dish satellite television service.
The Director General of France 24, Christine Ockrent, has made the trip to New York for the occasion: “When the major [domestic] channels, whatever their qualities, are covering less international news, you have everything here in America for an audience looking for news, a global public who wish to compare points of view and especially to know what happens. ”
This new offering meets a demand from many American viewers, first and foremost the representative of Barack Obama to Afghanistan and Pakistan , Richard Holbrooke, who appreciates the arrival of France 24. “I think it is very important for the United States, for Americans who do not know enough about foreign countries, that there is a different viewpoint from other countries. ”
France 24 TV joins Turkish satellite platform:
France 24 has signed a distribution agreement with the Digiturk satellite platform in Turkey. The French news channel is part of the basic package
Out-of-home broadcasting of France 24 hopes to benefit from this agreement as Digiturk is not only available to individual households, but also in a majority of luxury and upscale hotels in the country.
“This agreement is another step towards our global expansion. Digiturk is a leading platform in the region and this will enhance our global development on a strategic market,” said Philippe Rouxel, VP worldwide for distribution, at France 24, in a statement.
“Turkey’s leading digital broadcaster Digiturk is proud to announce the launch of a new channel, France 24, on its platform. Over the past 10 years, when it comes to launching new networks and gauging audience appetites Digiturk has always been at the forefront of trends and a leader in the region through its innovations, experience and technology. With the addition of France 24, Digiturk’s varied content will once again resonate with Turkish consumers and enrich even further choice, quality and excellence in broadcasting,” said Esra Osaral, head of content and acquisition at Digiturk.
Afghanistan gets first 24-hour news TV channel:
A home-grown 24-hour TV news channel has been launched in Afghanistan by Saad Mohseni, the country’s biggest media mogul. The politically connected Moby Media Group chairman last week launched a CNN-style news feed to what he expects to be about 1 million viewers shaping Afghanistan’s future, from government to foreigners and even the resurgent Taliban.
“For me, 24-hour news was a no brainer,” Mohseni told Reuters in an interview. “In Afghanistan, you need to know what’s going on. If there’s a bomb blast in Karte-Seh and you’ve got your kids going to school there, you need to know which roads are closed, if security forces are in control of the area.”
A strong critic of President Hamid Karzai, Mr Mohseni and his brother Jahid control a modest but growing media empire based out of a cluster of dilapidated houses at the end of a barricaded cul-de-sac, guarded by a dozen men armed with AK-47s. From a small upstairs office walled with flatscreens and curtained off from the street, the fast-talking ex-banker has in 5 years gone from owning a single Kabul FM radio station to cutting deals with News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch to beam-in Persian-language programmes to 120 million people in Iran and central Asia.
Mohseni’s Tolo (Dawn) 24 began broadcasting at a vital time in Afghanistan, with new US and NATO forces commander General David Petraeus arriving to take command of the fight against a Taliban at their strongest since their 2001 overthrow. At the same time, President Karzai is under pressure to match a US troop surge meant to turn the tide of the war with improved governance and development, including a crackdown on the entrenched corruption driving support away from his government.
Mr Mohseni, raised largely in Australia and a strong supporter of the American presence in the country, said the new channel aimed to inform Afghans and allow debate, providing the public with different policy alternatives and possibilities. Afghanistan’s 30 million population is on track to reach 100 million by 2050, with 60 percent under the age of 20 and rapidly urbanising. The capital is set to grow from 5 million people to 8 million by 2014, bringing new opportunities for Mr Mohseni’s Tolo.
“We are going to be grappling with a very young nation, much bigger than it is now, and we have to move forward,” he said. “Corruption is a major issue, but we all have a role to play in that. We have all made mistakes. People bribe on a daily basis. Ultimately I’m optimistic, or I wouldn’t be investing all this money here.”
Al Jazeera English named “Best News Channel” at annual Freesat Awards:
Al Jazeera English has received the Freesat Award for “Best News Channel”. Presented on 30 June at a gala ceremony in London, the Freesat Awards recognize the very best channels and services available on Freesat, a not-for-profit digital satellite television service in the United Kingdom owned by the BBC and ITV. Al Anstey, Director of Media Development for Al Jazeera Network, accepted the award on behalf of Al Jazeera English.
This is the second year in a row that Al Jazeera English has been recognized with the award. This year’s nominees included BBC News Channel, BBC Radio 5, CNN International and Bloomberg. The panel of judges for the award was made up of senior representatives from the broadcasting industry.
“It is an honour to receive this award for the second year in a row and to be recognised by our peers in the industry as a leading source of news and current affairs programming,” said Salah Nagm, Director of News for Al Jazeera English. “In our short time on air, AJE has worked hard to fill a void in international news by providing coverage of key regions of the world. We are pleased to be part of Freesat’s strong line-up of channels and their rapidly growing UK platform.”
The judging panel commended Al Jazeera for the following reasons: “Al Jazeera was the standout channel for the panel, telling stories no-one else does and helping viewers discover things about other countries that just aren’t reported elsewhere. We like its journalism and impartiality and the way it shows a completely different window on the world.”
Since its launch in 2006, Al Jazeera English has been recognized for its distinguished reporting and programming including being awarded “Best 24 Hour News Programme” at the 48th and 50th Annual Monte-Carlo Television Festival. AJE has also received awards from RTS, Amnesty International and YouTube and has received nominations for international Emmy awards in both the News and Current Affairs categories and the Royal Television Society awards as the 2009 “News Channel of the Year”.
Space Systems/Loral to build new Hispasat satellite:
Space Systems/Loral has been awarded a contract to manufacture a new spacecraft for Hispasat Group, the seventh largest satellite operator in the world and the leading operator in the broadcasting and distribution of contents in Spanish and Portuguese. Hispasat will use the new satellite to broadcast and distribute TV and radio programming in the Americas and Europe, as well as for deploying universal social services and corporate fixed and mobile telephone networks in the regions.
Amazonas 3 is a powerful, state-of-the art satellite designed to replace and expand on Amazonas 1 at 61 degrees West. It is scheduled to be available for launch in 2012. The new satellite will be capable of operating up to 33 simultaneous Ku-band transponders and 19 simultaneous C-band transponders over Europe and North and South America.
Georgia: GPB outsources Russian-language channel:
Georgian Public Broadcaster’s (GPB) Russian-language channel, First Caucasian, has been handed over in management to a private firm, which will received GEL 4.7 million (about US$ 2.54 million) from the state to run the channel. GEL 4.7 million is part of the total funding of GEL 7 million, which has been allocated to GPB for the First Caucasian based on the government’s decree dated 9 July, 2010.
“We do not want this project [the First Caucasian] to be stopped, especially after what has happened with court proceedings,” Gia Chanturia told the GPB board members at a meeting on 14 July, referring to a decision of Paris court of commerce which ruled against GPB in its case against satellite operator Eutelsat.
“I think it was totally unfair and incompetent decision [by the Paris-based court],” Mr Chanturia said and added that GPB had one more month to decide whether to appeal the verdict or not. He also said that he personally was in favour of appealing.
The channel’s broadcasting is currently suspended; GPB said the channel, which mainly aims at an audience in Russia and its North Caucasus region, would resume broadcasting in the next few months. Mr Chanturia told the GPB board members that the launch of satellite broadcasts had already been “resolved with other more honest partners”; however he declined to discuss the details of the matter publicly at this stage.
Mr Chanturia said that it had been decided to outsource the entire channel in order to make its management more effective and for that purpose a private firm was hired. The firm was co-founded by a British journalist Robert Parsons. He has been international affairs editor at France24 and worked as BBC Moscow correspondent in1993-2002; he was a director of RFE/RL’s Georgian Service in 2003-2005.
Mr Parsons told members of the GPB board of trustees on 14 July that the idea of setting up such a channel was “very good” in the region where “media environment is very hostile towards Georgia”, wherein the Russian media was trying to create “distorted image” of Georgia. He also said that while pursuing this idea “we have to be very careful.”
“It [the channel] must not under any circumstances be perceived as propagandistic… What I try to make clear to my staff is that we won’t go down that road… that would be a waste of time; it should be an objective, fair channel in which this [Georgian] government will be as subjected to a fair criticism as any other government in this region,” Mr Parsons said.
He said that the channel should talk to viewers in the Caucasus region “critically, but constructively” about developments in Georgia. Mr Parsons said his goal was turn the channel into a standard of journalism in Georgia, into a kind of “new school of journalism.”
He said it would be expensive, because the channel will have to compete with foreign broadcasters in the region. “It has to look good,” he said. Mr Parsons said that he had invited an award winning journalist, David Chater, with more than 30 years experience in television news to lead the First Caucasian Channel’s newsroom. The current head of news programmes ar the channel is Ekaterina Kotrikadze, with whom Mr Parsons co-founded the firm that will manage the channel.
He said the plan was to have correspondents in Moscow, Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, Makhachkala in Dagestan, Kiev, Brussels, Washington, Yerevan, Baku, Ankara and Tehran.
The decision on handing over of the channel into private management was approved by GPB’s board of trustees at the meeting on 14 July, although three of its members, those from Media Club, abstained from supporting the decision; they were requesting not to take the decision hastily and to allow more discussions on the matter; but their request was not shared by most of the board members present at the session.
Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed to launch TV news channel:
The Kingdom Holding group, owned by Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, ranked by Forbes as the world’s 19th richest figure, said yesterday that it will launch a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel. The channel will highlight development in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world and aims to promote moderation on the political, economic and social aspects, Prince Alwaleed said in a statement.
“The Arab satellite broadcasting sector is no longer void as it has been a decade ago. So, the new channel has to be an addition and an alternative for viewers,” he said, referring to possible future competition with dominating pan-Arab channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.
The statement did not say when the channel would be on air or what would be its name. Yet, it said it would be independent of the tycoon’s Rotana entertainment network. Prince Alwaleed also announced that veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will run the channel. Mr Khashoggi was previously editor-in-chief of Saudi Arabia’s al-Watan newspaper before resigning in May over the publishing of an opinion column questioning Salafism, a form of Islam in the oil-rich kingdom. He also served as a media advisor to Saudi diplomat Prince Turki al-Faisal when the latter served as the kingdom’s ambassador in both London and Washington, the statement noted.
BBC Persian now available on four satellites:
The BBC’s Persian-language television channel, BBC Persian, is now available on Eurobird 2 which is positioned in the same location as Arabsat. This is the latest in a series of recent moves to ensure that BBC Persian television is available to audiences in Iran despite attempts to jam the channel’s signal.
In May 2010, as part of the BBC’s commitment to ensure that its Iranian audiences have access to accurate and impartial television news and current affairs, BBC Persian television started broadcasting on the Hotbird 8 satellite. The channel continues to be available on Eutelsat W3A and Telstar 12. The EB2 satellite (co-located with Arabsat) is the third Eutelsat-owned platform to carry the Persian service.
BBC Persian television started suffering deliberate attempts to interfere with its signal during its extended coverage of Iran’s disputed presidential election in June 2009. The source of the interference has been identified as being situated in Iran.
Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News, has reaffirmed the broadcaster’s commitment to its Persian-speaking audiences saying: “We have been working closely with Eutelsat and other satellite operators to find alternative and more robust avenues to give our large audiences in Iran access to our Persian-language content. Our audiences in Iran value the BBC as a high quality source of impartial and editorially independent news and information and we will do everything we can to give them that news.”
BBC Persian television is now available on the following platforms:
Hotbird 8, (transponder 77)
Eutelsat W3A (transponder A1)
10.721 GHz – (Horizontal)
Telstar 12, (transponder 10)
12.608 GHz (Horizontal)
EuroBird2 – EB2 (transponder 158) [co-located with Arabsat]