Adela Navarro Bello, general director and columnist for Zeta news magazine in Mexico, Parisa Hafezi, bureau chief for Reuters in Iran, and Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai online newspaper in Thailand, collected this year’s Courage in Journalism awards in Los Angeles, organised by the International Women’s Media Foundation. Navarro works for Zeta in Tijuana, Mexico where, along with many other parts of the country, the drug trade has empowered cartels willing to intimidate and murder journalists who investigate their operations. The co-founder of Zeta, Hector Felix Miranda, was murdered in 1988 and co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was killed in 2004. Navarro, who has reported on their murders and the investigations that followed, has received death threats during her time at the magazine. Hafezi, Reuters bureau chief in Iran, has been threatened and intimidated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the wake of the country’s disputed 2009 election, according to the IWMF. Hafezi had her press accreditation revoked last year for six weeks in the wake of violent protests over the election. She was reportedly interrogated by authorities and put under surveillance. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai online newspaper in Thailand, is facing between 20 and 70 years in prison, depending on reports, over failing to delete critical remarks about the Thai monarchy on the site. A lifetime achievement award was given to veteran BBC correspondent Kate Adie, who has been reporting from warzones for the past 40 years.
The BBC is developing an app that will allow its reporters in the field to file video, stills and audio directly into the BBC system from an iPhone or iPad. The software is being adapted for the Apple phones from an existing app used by the BBC and is due to be in use within around a month. As part of a new strategy which will see the broadcaster focus on getting the most out of smartphone technology, it is also aiming to obtain iPhone licenses for existing app Luci Live, allowing reporters to broadcast live from the phone using 3G signal. Martin Turner, head of operations for newsgathering, said developing the software for iPhone was “a logical extension of what the BBC can do already” but added that it was a “significant development”. “Reporters have been using smart phones for a while now but it was never good quality. Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them.” He added that the development was part of a wider strategy at the broadcaster to make better use of smartphones in its field reporting.
BBC is locked in talks with the government over drastic cuts to the World Service budget which could force it to withdraw from Burma and several other countries. The Foreign Office, which funds the World Service through an annual GBP 272m grant, has told executives to prepare for a possible budget cut of 25 percent from April 2011 as part of the public sector cutbacks. The BBC service in Burma is one of those identified by the government as under threat, according to a diplomatic source. The World Service Russian presence, which reaches about 700,000 listeners and a further 1 million through its Russian-language website, may also be vulnerable to cuts, according to BBC insiders. BBC sources said talks with the government would continue for six weeks, however, and claim no final decisions have been made. The outcome of the consultation will be known on 20 October, when the chancellor, George Osborne, outlines the scale of the government cuts in the Treasury’s public spending review. Although best known for its radio broadcasts the World Service also runs websites and TV stations in 32 countries in dozens of languages. It has a global audience of 241 million across TV, online, radio and mobile phones. The World Service was criticised for pulling out of eight countries in eastern Europe three years ago to fund new services in the Middle East, including a new Persian TV service.
The BBC launched its revamped news website Wednesday. The redesign is the first since March 2008 and “the biggest rethink of the design of the site since 2003,” according to editor Steve Herrmann. New features include tools to share stories via social media, including Twitter and Facebook, and the ability to personalise the homepage to display news and weather from readers’ local areas. The navigation menu has been moved from the left-hand side of the homepage and now runs along the top of the site. To cater for the increasing number of readers arriving directly on story pages, the new layout features the day’s top stories and features displayed across the site. Both the homepage and story pages are designed to give more prominence to new stories and the latest headlines will be flagged with a ‘new’ badge. Video content has also been given more prominence across all pages with a new, larger video player and links to a selection of the best multimedia content on every video page.
The U.K. Office of Fair Trading won’t investigate Project Canvas, the joint venture to bring Internet content and new video-on-demand services to television. The OFT has decided that it doesn’t have jurisdiction to review Project Canvas under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 as none of the partners, including the British Broadcasting Corp., contributes an existing business to the venture.
The BBC started the project, contributing only existing research and development rather than a separate business unit. The contributions of the other joint venture partners will be primarily financial. Project Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV PLC, BT Group PLC, RTL Group SA’s Five, Channel 4, TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC and Arqiva Ltd. The partners plan to launch the project around Christmas.
Under the Enterprise Act 2002, a relevant merger situation is created if two or more enterprises cease to be distinct and if the value of U.K. revenue of the business being taken over exceeds £70 million. It also applies if a 25% share of supply in the U.K. is created as a result of a transaction. The project, which will allow U.K. viewers to watch free-to-air broadcasts and Internet content on television, will help traditional broadcasters attract new audiences while retaining existing viewers who have turned to the Internet for entertainment.
Project Canvas partners welcomed the OFT decision, noting the joint venture wouldn’t own, control or aggregate any content. “Project Canvas aims to create an open platform that delivers a connected future for free-to-air TV and a competitive market for internet-connected TV services in the U.K. The Project Canvas partners are committed to achieving that aim,” Project Canvas director Richard Halton said in a statement.
In December last year, the BBC’s controlling trust provisionally approved the corporation’s involvement in Project Canvas, saying that “the likely public value of the proposal justifies any potential negative market impact.” Watching TV programs online has increased in popularity, aided by the BBC’s on-demand Internet-TV service, iPlayer. Commercial broadcasters are exploring ways to distribute their programs to boost advertising. Project Canvas has faced criticism from pay-TV companies, particularly British Sky Broadcasting PLC, which cites a lack of independent scrutiny for the project. News Corp., the owner of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., holds about a 39% stake in BSkyB.
The New York Times was the biggest news organisation winner at Tuesday’s annual Webby Awards. The title took away the overall news website award and an accolade in the news and politics series category for its video series on a reporter’s kidnap by the Taliban. It was also named best news service on mobile. The BBC won two People’s Voice Awards, the alternative prizes in each category voted for by the public, in the news website category alongside the Times’ official award and for BBC Blast’s Blast Studio project for best “net art”. NewYorker.com won the official prize in the magazine category, while the Los Angeles Times scooped the news and politics award for an individual episode in the online film and video category
Facebook is the fastest growing video site in the UK over the last year, according to new comScore data.
The latest comScore data reveals that during February 2010, 43 million videos were watched on Facebook – which is a 205 per cent increase on the year. Last February only 14 million videos were watched via the site. Overall online video viewing in the UK has grown by 37 per cent during the last 12 months – with 5.5 billion videos watched via websites during February 2010. Google properties, mainly driven by YouTube, were still the most popular online video destinations, recording 2.5 billion video views during February 2010, which marked a 17 per cent annual increase.
The BBC websites ranked second with 140 million videos viewed across its web properties during February 2010, and was followed by Megavideo, which recorded 53 million video views – during the same month.
Facebook came fourth in the list, closely followed by Microsoft’s collective web properties. Channel 4 came in sixth position with 39 million videos watched during February 2010 – which was a 76 per cent increase on the year. And ITV came in eighth position recording 29 million video views – which was a 134% increase on the year.
Blinkx, the popular video search engine experienced the second largest growth spurt, behind Facebook, increasing its video views by 205 per cent over the year. During February 201, 29 million videos were viewed via the site.
Sky came in 10th position, experiencing a 139 per cent increase in video views, with 20 million videos watched via its sites during February 2010.
The UK video market has grown substantially over the last year, with several aggregators entering the market, as well as the UK broadcasters increasing their own video presence. Channel 4, for instance, is concentrating on developing its own catch up service, 4oD, while signing syndication deals with the likes of YouTube, and new players, like SeeSaw.