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 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.
Newspaper outcry prompts BBC Trust to examine initiative
The BBC has postponed plans to release free iPhone news applications after concerns about an unfair market advantage.
A report on BBC News said that the BBC Trust had decided to halt the planned April release of news and sports applications for the Apple handsets, after newspaper publishers claimed that the BBC would unfairly influence the market for news apps.
The BBC Trust will review the plans, and decide whether the apps would violate its public service agreement.The row comes as newspaper publishers seek to capitalise on Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platforms amid slowing sales of print editions.
Major papers such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have announced agreements with Apple to offer special subscription offers formatted for the iPad tablet
Recent media reports claim that the BBC intends to reduce its web operations by as much as a half.
British state broadcaster BBC has delayed launching mobile applications delivering its news and sport free to devices like Apple’s iPhone after newspapers expressed concern about direct competition. The Newspaper Publishers Association had asked the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust, to examine proposals it feared could harm efforts by commercial rivals to succeed with their own mobile offerings. The BBC Trust will now examine the proposals. It did not give any timetable, but the earliest it was likely to discuss the matter is at a meeting late next month. The BBC, which receives a guaranteed GBP 3.6bn each year (USD 5.4bn) in license fees paid by householders, has come under fierce attack from broadcaster BSkyB and other commercial rivals exposed to a severe advertising slump. The amount of free content the BBC already makes available online has discouraged many newspapers from attempting to charge readers for content on the Web. Earlier this month, the BBC signaled a retreat from some commercial operations to focus on core services, bowing to pressure from rivals and ahead of a general election almost certain to result in public spending cuts
Entry into creative jobs still based on ‘who you know’ culture, says Skillset, urging pay for graduate internships
Almost half of with jobs in the creative media – 44 percent – did unpaid work to get into their industry, research issued by the training body Skillset has found. Skillset said that entry into the sector still remains often informal and open to the “who you know” culture, rather than ensuring open opportunities for all. In an effort to counteract this, it has issued Monday best practice guidelines and case studies about a range of schemes, with feedback from interns at a large selection of media organisations, from the BBC, which offers 1,000 work experience places year, to Global Radio, which has a commercial programming internship scheme. Animation company Framestore has internships for junior animators and Channel 4’s 4Talent schemes offers six paid three month internships. Skillset said that media organisations should pay at least the minimum wage to anyone on a graduate internship, which should last no more than three to six months with working weeks of no more than 40 hours. Work experience should be limited to 160 hours and expenses should be reimbursed
The BBC Trust has been urged to block the corporation’s plans to launch phone apps for its news and sport content. The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) said that the corporation would “damage the nascent market” for apps. The group said that it would also raise the issues with the the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and MPs on the Media Select Committee. The BBC has said it plans to launch its first news app on the iPhone in April, followed by one for its sport content. It is also planning to develop more apps for its popular on-demand video iPlayer. Several newspapers already offer iPhone apps, including the Independent and the Daily Telegraph – which are free – and the Guardian – which costs GBP 2.39. A spokesperson for the BBC said that its online service licence, granted by the BBC Trust, was “quite explicit in allowing the BBC to repurpose its online content for consumption on mobile devices”. The BBC news app, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will offer content from the BBC News website including written stories, correspondent blogs and video. A sports app will be released before the World Cup, which starts in June, and will combine content from the BBC Sport website and 5 Live radio. It will allow football fans to watch World Cup matches live on their phone. The corporation said that it would initially focus on building applications for the iPhone but will then focus on developing similar software for Google’s Android operating system and RIM (Blackberry).
This morning, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne promised that a Conservative government would deliver 100Mbps broadband services to the ‘majority’ of homes by 2017. In an interview for the Andrew Marr show, he also suggested that where the private sector was unable to deliver a solution, such as in some rural areas, the BBC license fee might be used to fund this.
The suggestion is that the BBC continues to set aside the 3.5% of the license fee that is currently being used to fund the digital switchover but for this money to be diverted to fund broadband expansion. Exactly what constitutes a ‘majority’ of UK homes having access to 100Mbps by 2017 is unclear, so we hope this is clarified if it forms part of an election manifesto.
“In the 19th century we built the railways. In the 20th century we built the motorways. In the 21st century, let’s build the super-fast broadband network that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain.”George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor
The current government has promised a Universal Service Commitment (USC) of 2Mbps by 2012 and has also planned a 50p/month levy (the ‘broadband tax’) which will be used to fund ‘next generation broadband’ for areas where the market is unlikely to deliver. This levy is expected to raise between £1-1.5bn by 2017 to pay for the ‘final third’ project to connect the most rural of areas resulting in 90% next-generation broadband coverage. It is not quite clear exactly what ‘next generation’ means in this context, however we expect this is referring to services in the 25Mbps+ range.
Mr Osborne goes on to compare the Labour government’s 2Mbps USC with the promises by South Korea for 1Gbps, although he did not expand on the Conservative policy for delivering basic broadband services in a shorter timescale which may be of concern to those who can’t get broadband at the moment. He also proposes the break up of BT to enable LLU operators and cable operator Virgin Media to deliver better services:
“If there are some parts of the country where the market can’t get to; because I think the best way to deliver this is by breaking up the British Telecom monopoly at the moment which holds back companies like Carphone Warehouse or Virgin. If we find the market can’t do that, then use the BBC license fee, the digital switchover money in the license fee, to get broadband out to the rest of the country, but let’s see first of all if we can have the market delivering that super-fast broadband.”George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor
The license fee is currently £142.50 per year, so 3.5% would amount to about £5/year per household. This amount is not too dissimilar to the £6/year levy (50 pence per month for every phone line; although we note that businesses would also be caught in the levy being planned by the government) particularly after factoring in any increases in the license fee. We are therefore seeing a shift from one type of tax to another
Project Canvas, the proposed on-demand web TV venture, is looking for an agency to handle its UK advertising account. The service, which is backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and TalkTalk, is planning to approach agencies with a view to holding a pitch for the business.
The successful agency will be responsible for handling all of Project Canvas’ ad campaigns, with the venture due to spend almost £50 million on marketing and brand development in its first four years. Project Canvas is due to launch its set-top boxes later this year, which will allow consumers to access each of the participating broadcasters’ video-on-demand offerings, as well as giving people access to internet content on their TV screens. Research conducted last year predicts that, by 2014, Project Canvas could reach up to 3.5 million homes.
However, the venture still faces problems, such as keeping set-top box costs down and finding a way around bandwidth bottlenecks.
News of the advertising pitch comes a month after the BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, gave its provisional approval to the organisation’s involvement in the project