BBC Arabic accused of withholding guest pay for 2 years
LONDON: BBC Arabic was accused last week of not paying its contributors for two years after one of its guests cut a live interview to raise the issue.
Political analyst Mehdi Eliefifi was invited to speak on a BBC Arabic newscast about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict when he cut his commentary in order to raise the failed payments issue.
“The important matter I want to discuss now is that BBC Arabic hasn’t paid us any dues for two years,” he said, in reference to analysts appearing on the channel’s program.
He then held a piece of paper in front of the camera, on which the names of the channel’s officials were written in English and Arabic, as well as the question “where are my financial dues that haven’t been paid for two years?”
BBC Arabic issued a statement to Arab News and on Twitter, saying: “To clarify the issue of the symbolic payments owed to some of the BBC’s guests, we conducted further investigations and we are aware of a technical defect in the payment mechanism within the institution, which led to the delay in the dues of some guests.
“Therefore, we apologize for the delay to all those affected by this matter and assure that we are working hard to solve this case as soon as possible.”
The BBC’s English-language service declined to comment on the matter while it “looked into the technical issue.”
BBC Arabic was also embroiled in another controversy last year, when an investigation by The Jewish Chronicle titled “Shame of BBC Arabic as systematic bias revealed,” highlighted the Arabic-language news channel’s consistent use of antisemitic and “Hamas-inspired language.”
However, a BBC spokesperson strongly rejected claims of compromised impartiality and said: “BBC Arabic shares exactly the same principles of accuracy and impartiality as BBC News in English.”
DUBAI: CNN Arabic has partnered with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education on two major projects in the areas of Arab youth development and female empowerment, Emirates News Agency reported.
The projects are a part of CNN Arabic’s key initiatives marking its 20th anniversary.
The Siraj initiative will train 300 Emirati and Arab youths in core journalistic principles and practices over the next three years.
The UAE-based course aims to equip young people with skills to boost their employability and competitiveness in the job market.
Siraj is part of the foundation’s recently launched NOMU initiative, which is committed to a national vision for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Earlier this summer, 55 people completed the first Siraj course virtually, and two more cohorts of Emirati youth will begin six-week courses integrating online and in-person learning and development in October.
Participants sourced by the foundation will work directly with CNN journalists and executives on topics such as ideation and brainstorming, strategy building, storytelling, critical and design thinking, debate skills, and distribution and audience reach, with sessions supplemented by exercises and practical learning programs.
The second project on which CNN Arabic and the foundation are collaborating is centered on women’s empowerment project and will highlight the contributions of Arab women who have made a difference in their communities.
The foundation has assisted CNN Arabic in identifying and granting access to 30 women who have benefited from its programs and the Refugee Education Fund in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, providing them with filmmaking equipment and training.
The content will be featured in CNN Arabic’s Her Story section and will be widely shared on social media.
“These unique projects give our participants skills that they can utilize in their personal and professional lives as well as a platform in which to make their stories heard across the world. In CNN Arabic’s 20th anniversary year, these initiatives show the impact that journalism can have on the world around us and society at large,” CNN Arabic Editor-in-Chief Caroline Faraj said.
Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education CEO Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar said: “Creativity and communication are vital in the modern workplace and the young people who participate in these programs will develop skills, which will enable them to thrive in their current and future careers.
“As a foundation, we are excited to work with CNN Arabic, an organization that shares our values and is wholeheartedly committed to upskilling Emirati and Arab youth and promoting female empowerment in the region.
“Together we look forward to equipping young people with the tools to succeed as journalists and bringing to life the untold stories of the many inspirational women across this region.”
HONG KONG: The head of Hong Kong’s leading journalist group was charged on Monday with obstructing police officers, a case seen by critics as a further blow to media freedoms in the Chinese-ruled city.
Ronson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was detained on Sept. 7 by two plainclothes officers while he was out reporting a story.
Chan, who requested the officers identify themselves before handing over his identity document, was handcuffed and arrested.
Speaking to reporters on Monday after he was formally charged with obstructing police officers at a police station, Chan maintained he had acted within his rights by asking to see the officers’ warrant cards.
He said he was charged with obstructing police officers and needed to appear in court on Thursday.
“Not an easy environment” he said, when asked whether media freedoms were deteriorating in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association is one of the last major professional groups in Hong Kong advocating fundamental rights and media freedoms, following the enactment in June 2020 of a controversial national security law by Chinese authorities.
Some Western governments have criticized the law as a tool of repression in Hong Kong, which was handed back to Chinese rule by Britain in 1997. Beijing and Hong Kong authorities say the law has brought stability after mass pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019.
The HKJA has been under pressure to disband from pro-Beijing media outlets who accuse it of being an anti-China organization with ties to overseas groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy — claims the HKJA has denied.
In April, Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) suspended its annual Human Rights Press Awards so as not to “unintentionally” violate any laws, in what was seen as another sign of eroding media freedoms in the Asian financial hub.
Chan had previously worked for the liberal media outlet Stand News, which was raided by police last December and had its assets frozen and several staff arrested, prompting it to shut down soon afterwards.
Chan said it was not yet clear whether he would be able to leave Hong Kong as scheduled on Sept. 29 to participate in a Reuters Institute fellowship program in Oxford, England.
Media rights advocacy group Reporters without Borders (RSF) called on the Hong Kong government to “drop all charges against Chan.”
BERLIN: Facebook’s parent company Meta on Tuesday suffered a setback in its challenge against German antitrust rules as a top adviser to the EU Court of Justice backed the regulator.
Meta’s challenge came after it was banned by the German authority from collecting data from its various services including Instagram and WhatsApp, and linking the information to the Facebook account of the user for advertising purposes.
The German Federal Competition Authority had prohibited Meta from the data processing practice after finding that it constituted an abuse of the company’s dominant position on the social network market.
Facebook had challenged the German decision at a court in Duesseldorf, which had sent the case on to the European court.
On Tuesday, the EU court’s advocate general said that while the antitrust authority does not have the jurisdiction to rule on an infringement of data protection rules, compliance with such rules could be taken as an “important indicator” in ascertaining if an entity has breached competition rules.
The court adviser also noted that a ban on processing sensitive personal data, such as an individual’s ethnic origin, health or sexual orientation, could apply in this case.
In order for an exemption to the prohibition concerning such data to apply, the user “must be fully aware that, by an explicit act, he is making personal data public.”
The advocate general added that the “conduct consisting in visiting websites and apps, entering data into those websites and apps and clicking on buttons integrated into them cannot, in principle, be regarded in the same way as conduct that manifestly makes public the user’s sensitive personal data.”
The advocate general’s opinion is non-binding but it often indicates which way the court will rule.
THE HAGUE: A series of civil society-led hearings culminated Monday in The Hague with a call for an “independent and comprehensive” review of how to protect media workers in an age of increasing authoritarianism.
Launched by a coalition of press freedom organizations in November last year, this “People’s Tribunal” heard evidence and analysis about the killing of journalists in Mexico, Sri Lanka and Syria.
While it had no legal powers to convict anyone, the tribunal aimed to raise awareness, pressure governments and gathered evidence through what it called its form of “grassroots justice.”
The tribunal’s leaders said Mexico, Sri Lanka and Syria each failed to protect the lives of journalists — whose cases were examined in the hearings — and “demonstrated the lack of a wider will” to bring journalists’ killers to justice.
“There should be a comprehensive independent review of the apparent inability of the international community’s initiatives, largely through the United Nations… to protect journalists, media workers and even media organizations,” said Gill Boehringer, a judge on the panel.
He also detailed a raft of other measures to be taken, saying “impunity must end.”
The tribunal examined the 2009 killing of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge during Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist conflict, the 2011 murder of Mexican journalist Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco along with his wife and son, as well the death of Nabil Al-Sharbaji in a Syrian detention center in 2015.
Mexico, Sri Lanka and Syria “through their acts of omission including the lack of investigation, the lack of reparation for the victims and impunity… are guilty of all the human rights violations brought against them in the indictment,” Argentinian judge Eduardo Bertoni said.
But the problem of attacks on journalists remained “and was getting worse worldwide,” tribunal judge Helen Jarvis said.
The latest case was that of Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who was shot in the head during an Israeli army operation in mid-May, the judges said.
Israel has pushed back at suggestions that the soldier who likely pulled the trigger be prosecuted, after conceding earlier this month one of its troops may have mistaken her for a militant.
Worldwide more than 2,170 journalists have been killed since 1992 and in the vast majority of cases the killers have gone free, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
A Maryland judge on Monday vacated the 2000 murder conviction of Adnan Syed after prosecutors said there were two other possible suspects in the killing of his former girlfriend who were never disclosed to the defense at trial.
The case gained national attention when the podcast “Serial” raised doubts about his guilt. Syed, now 42, has always said he was innocent and did not kill Hae Min Lee, who was 18 when she was strangled and buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.
Judge Melissa Phinn of the Circuit Court in Baltimore ordered Syed to be released from prison and put on home detention and that a new trial be scheduled.
The state’s attorney for Baltimore filed a motion to vacate the conviction on Wednesday following a year-long investigation conducted alongside a public defender representing Syed, in which several problems were found with witnesses and evidence from the trial.
Prosecutors told the court that they were not asserting that Syed is innocent but that they no longer had confidence in “the integrity of the conviction,” and that justice required that Syed at least be afforded a new trial. They said Syed should be released from prison, where he has spent two decades, while prosecutors complete the investigation and decide whether to seek a new trial.
Prosecutors said that they had found new information about two alternative suspects, whom they have not named. Their identities were known to the original prosecutors but not disclosed to the defense as required by law.
Prosecutors also decided a key witness and the detective who investigated the murder were unreliable. They also found new information that cast doubt on the cellphone data prosecutors relied upon at trial to place Syed at the scene of the murder.
The podcast “Serial,” produced by Chicago public radio station WBEZ, drew national attention to the case in 2014.
Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, in a statement said that “the person responsible for this heinous crime must be held accountable.”
Young Lee, the victim’s brother, told the court he was shocked and his family felt betrayed that the prosecutors had reversed course after standing by the conviction for decades.
“It’s really tough to go through this again and again and again,” he said, his voice breaking and wavering at times. “It’s a living nightmare.”