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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last minute: Al Jazeera banned in Morocco

The Moroccan communications ministry has said its has suspended the operations of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television news channel in Rabat and withdrawn the accreditations of its staff, AFP has reported. The move followed "numerous failures in (following) the rules of serious and responsible journalism," the ministry said. The authorities took exception 'to the way Al-Jazeera handles the issues of Islamists and Western Sahara', a government official who declined to be named was quoted as saying.

Netanyahu on speaking to the Arab Media

from Jerusalem Post:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will grant an interview to the Palestinian or pan- Arab media when the message he wants to convey may actually make a difference, government sources said this week.

These comments came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave an interview to Channel 1 on Sunday evening, bringing his message directly to the Israeli people.

This is the third time Abbas has brought his message into Israeli living rooms in recent months. The PA President was interviewed by Channel 2 in April, and in July, briefed print journalists. And now, this latest an interview with Channel 1.

In contrast, even though standing requests have been made to the Prime Minister’s Office by numerous Palestinian and Pan-Arabic outlets – including from networks like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya – no decision has yet been made by Netanyahu to grant any of them an interview.

An internal discussion was held on the matter “of late,” according to one source, but the discussions haven’t yet “come to fruition.”

Netanyahu heard the Abbas interview, and during a meeting with the Likud faction the following day said, “I must say that I prefer to talk to him face-to-face. This interview took place seven minutes from here. A direct conversation can advance the resolution of the conflict.”

When Abbas wants to address the Israeli public he knows that if he interviews with one of the Israeli stations he will have a significant audience. But this is not the case if Netanyahu wants to address the Palestinians, since the Palestinian Authority television news is not widely viewed, certainly less than Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera.

The Arab media is not the only media outlet that has failed to secure an interview with Netanyahu. The prime minister has given only a few in-depth interviews to the Israeli media since taking power in March 2009. And for the first time in recent memory, this year no Rosh Hashana interview was granted.

On Sunday, Netanyahu gave a brief interview to Army Radio to mark its 60th anniversary, but mostly gave his personal reminiscences of the radio station; the PM made little mention of the weighty issues facing the country.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Rotana in Egypt

Rotana Egypt is planned to go live on January 1, and will complement Rotana's other offerings in Egypt, including Rotana Cinema and Rotana Radio


After a one year stop, this blog is back!

To start with my OpEd in this month's Communication mag. It's about blogs and social networks.

By Jihad Bitar
Head of Knowledge at Quantum Communications

When the editor of this fine magazine contacted me for this column, the first question she asked me was “why haven’t you been updating your blog?”. Even though the true reason was a fashionable laziness attitude in these hot summer days, I also noted that my “blog monitoring” business had gone down by 50% in the last two years, while my Facebook and Twitter listening revenues was up by 400%!

So are blogs dying? What is certain is that we are a large 190 million worldwide blog population… but a declining one. The number of blogs created has gone down significantly in the last 3 years. And of the 190 million blogs out there, only 4% (source: Technocrati) were updated in the last 4 months, indicating a slow but certain erosion. Instead of creating a blog to post ideas or comments on the neighbors, user x now prefers to open a Facebook page (much faster) and/or twit on the predicament of having noisy neighbors. Twitter and Facebook’s unique strength is unmatchable for the typical blog: they both need less content: Creating and updating content is probably one of the most annoying thing user x has ever done.

The venerable Economist magazine put it best in its June 24th 2010 issue, when it quoted a researcher - a self proclaimed “blog archeologist” – describing his research platform as a “vast field of dead blogs”. In the last year, growth of Blogger and WordPress, the world’s two leading blog hosting platforms, have stagnated , while that of Facebook surged by 66% and Twitter by 47% (source: Nielsen Research)

In our own Arab world, reliable figures are even harder to find. I estimate the number at around 500,000 (of which an estimated 50% are in English). But like all other webbers, Arabs are slowly moving away from blogs, and going to Facebook, Twiter and MySpace (and even blackberry chat). Egypt is still the main provider of blogging content (no surprise there, as Egyptians are known to be the most talkative of the Arabs), but Gulf countries are slowly catching up. Lebanon & Jordan (thanks to Maktoob’s platform) benefit from their “more liberal” cultures, and are hosts to a number of very opinionated blogs (which is how blogs should be anyhow)

If blogs can die, then they are alive. And like life, Darwin’s theory of evolution also applies to the blogosphere. It is evolving, and only those that adapt to internet changes will survive. Blogs with access to recurrent content are thriving, and who better to create content than both the corporate and political worlds. Technocrati’s top 100 blogs (by number of visits) show the strong lead corporate blogs have (number one is the hugely successful Huffington Post, a leading US political commentary site).

The blogosphere is being slowly eaten by the brand builders; they have the money and the time. Blogs are not dead, they are just getting older and more capitalistic.
The real question now is, will Facebook and Twitter follow their “old” (born in 2004! roughly 200 years in internet age) cousin’s fate? My guess is to watch out for the corporatization disease; it has no known cure!

Being Lebanese, here is a list of my favorite Lebanese Blogs: don’t agree with him on many issues, but very well written and entertaining great pictures and videos. The king of Lebanese blogs (in number of visits) a must see very ironic An immigrants perspective if you like politics : Not really Lebanese, but very interesting