Entries in Media (9)


Seven Killed in Syrian TV Station Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- In one of the boldest attacks yet during the 16-month conflict in Syria, gunmen believed to be linked to anti-government forces stormed a TV station south of Damascus on Wednesday, killing workers there and destroying buildings.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi said that seven employees died in the carnage at Al-Ikhbariya's compound, while others appeared to be kidnapped by the assailants.

Meanwhile, the gunmen also used explosives to knock down portable buildings the TV station uses for broadcasts.

Al-Zoebi accused terrorists of launching "a massacre against the freedom of the press."

Al-Ikhbariya is a privately-owned media company that regularly expresses the government's point of view, barely distinguishing itself from state-run media.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iraq Backs Off Shutting Down Dozens of News Organizations

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- A threat by Baghdad to shut down 44 news organizations in the country has passed, at least for the moment.

There were reports that Iraq's Communications and Media Commission had told the media outlets that they would be subject to raids or closures over licensing issues.

While most are national news organizations, the list also included the Voice of America, the U.S. government-funded Radio Sawa and the BBC.

However, under pressure from the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, an Iraqi press freedom group, the government has rescinded its order.

In a statement, the VOA and Radio Sawa said they would "continue to work with Iraqi authorities to ensure full compliance with any new Iraqi regulations and licenses."

Meanwhile, the BBC declared that it was important for the broadcast company and other news organizations "to operate freely, and bring independent and impartial news to audiences in Iraq and the wider region."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Record Broken for World's Longest Interview

Hemera/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- An Australian radio show host has set the Guinness World Record for the longest-ever one-on-one radio interview.

Guinness officials were on hand as Richard Glover began a chat with author and journalist Peter FitzSimons at 10 a.m. GMT Sunday Morning, and were there when the two men wrapped it up exactly a day later.

The interview on Sydney's Australian Broadcasting Corporation beat the previous record holding chat set back in 2009 by 12 hours and 30 seconds.

Glover and FitzSimmons -- who were allowed to take short refreshment breaks, but forbidden from repeating questions -- spoke about history and FitzSimmons' life.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Piers Morgan Defends Phone Hacking Denials

Turner Broadcasting(NEW YORK) -- Former Fleet Street editor and current CNN host Piers Morgan says he in no way has admitted to knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids.

Morgan was responding to British political blogger Paul Staines who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes and who claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of the hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

Morgan says "there is no contradiction" between his 2009 comments to BBC radio host Kirsty Young and his "unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking."

"Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC's longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity," Morgan said in a statement Wednesday to ABC News. "Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators."

Morgan spent last week denying that he was involved in phone hacking while editor of News of the World and the Daily Mirror after a member of Parliament accused him of publishing an article obtained by phone hacking.

"For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room.

"As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone," Morgan concluded in his statement.

In the June 2009 interview, Morgan was asked how he felt about so-called "gutter" journalistic practices, such as digging through trash cans and tapping people's phones to get information and taking secret photographs. "To be honest, let's put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work," he said. "I'm quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do."

"I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the supposed newspaper market," Morgan told the BBC interviewer.

Morgan, who's also a judge on America's Got Talent, served as editor at News of the World in 1994 and 1995, before helming the Mirror, where he stayed until 2004.

Last week, during a Parliamentary hearing with Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, whose now closed News of the World is at the center of the scandal, committee member Louise Mensch accused Morgan of publishing an article in 2002 that had been obtained via phone hacking.

Morgan denied the accusation and demanded an apology from Mensch.

He's also fighting off accusations from James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial columnist who called illegal phone hacking "endemic" during Morgan's tenure.

"Piers was extremely hands-on as an editor," Hipwell told British newspaper The Independent Saturday. "I can't say 100 percent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn't."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Bra-Gate' Angers Foreign Press in Israel

Jim Hollander/Pool/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- The Foreign Press Association in Israel blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office Thursday, after the security team forced several female journalists to take off their bras before being allowed into press events. The incidents follow a similar episode in January dubbed "Bra-gate" by the Israeli press when a female reporter for Al Jazeera was denied entrance to a Netanyahu press conference for refusing to remove her bra, after already taking off other items of clothing.

The FPA said that it condemned the "continued harassment" of journalists and said it would be discussing whether its members should continue covering events at the prime minister's office.

"In the past two days, three female reporters in separate incidents were forced to undress, remove their bras and have them placed through an X-ray machine in front of a group of colleagues," the statement read. "In addition, pocketbooks were emptied in public, with personal items also put on display and X-rayed for everyone to see."

"This type of treatment is unnecessary, humiliating and counterproductive. After repeated appeals and promises by security officials it appears that the Prime Minister's Office does not have the desire to stop this happening," the statement said.

The FPA said that it is only at the prime minister's office that this type of intrusive scrutiny occurs.

The prime minister's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Murdoch Pulls Bid to Take Over BSkyB

MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- After days of relentless pressure, the Rupert Murdoch media empire has yanked its bid to take over all of the lucrative BSkyB satellite television operation.

In the end, the might of Murdoch's formidable power was no match for the angry mood of the country -- which was reflected in this case by U.K. politicians. The global media mogul owned 39 percent of the British-based broadcaster and was angling for complete control, but in light of the weight of the unfolding phone hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News of the World, that couldn't happen.

"We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies, but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,” said Newscorp. chief operating officer Chase Carey. “News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and our contribution to it."

Criminal charges could still follow from a police investigation into the News of the World journalists' reported hacking of cellphones of celebrities, politicians, and even murder victims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


The Pakistani Military's ‘Cronkite Moment?’

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images(ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan) -- The raid by American Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, has left an increasing number of Pakistanis angry with the country’s leadership. Now, one of the nation’s top broadcasters – a typically pro-military primetime news anchor – has denounced the army and declared his country the epicenter of terrorism.

Television news anchors in Pakistan are regarded as “secular mullahs,” as the UK’s Guardian put it, preachers who dominate primetime in a country where there are almost no options for entertainment. Though nearly all of them are on a similar political page – whether for ideological reasons or because they are pressured – few broadcasters have been as pro-military as Kamran Khan, who hosts a self-titled show on the country’s most popular channel. But Khan, a dependably pro-army broadcaster, decided recently that enough is simply enough.

“It’s important for this nation not to buy into the conspiracy theories about Americans, Israelis, and Indians,” Khan said. “The nation should know that 3,900 Pakistanis have been killed in 225 suicide attacks -- which have spared neither mosques nor schools -- and not a single suicide bomber was Indian, nor American, nor even Israeli. All of them were Pakistanis, and Muslims.

“We need to accept the bitter pill: in almost all the terrorist attacks across the world, either Pakistanis have been used or the planning was done on Pakistani soil. Pakistan is seen as a heaven for militants… If the world perceives our dear country as the largest sanctuary of terrorists, their reasons are solid... If we want to save our dear country, if we want to raise it even to the standard of Bangladesh -- never mind India -- and if you want to develop it like the Islamic countries of southeast Asia, all of this must change... It’s now or never.”

Khan has since backtracked a bit, but his diatribe is making the rounds on social websites like YouTube and Twitter. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the clip may be the Pakistani military’s “Walter Cronkite moment,” akin to when the United States’ most popular television anchor declared in 1968 that Vietnam was unwinnable -- after which Lyndon Johnson said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egypt: ABC News Reporter Brian Hartman Threatened with Beheading

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (CAIRO) -- A group of angry Egyptian men carjacked an ABC News crew and threatened to behead them Thursday in the latest and most menacing attack on foreign reporters trying to cover the anti-government uprising.

Producer Brian Hartman, cameraman Akram Abi-hanna and two other ABC News employees were surrounded on a crowded road that leads from Cairo's airport to the city's downtown area.

While ABC News and other press agencies had been taking precautions to avoid volatile situations, the road to the airport had been a secure route until Thursday. One of their two vehicles was carrying cameras and transmission equipment strapped to the roof, indicating they were foreign journalists.

Hartman says it was only through the appeal of Abi-hanna, who is Lebanese and a veteran ABC cameraman, that they were saved from being killed or severely beaten.

"We thought we were goners," Hartman said later. "We absolutely thought we were doomed."

Word of their harrowing ordeal came in a Twitter message from Hartman that stated, "Just escaped after being carjacked at a checkpoint and driven to a compound where men surrounded the car and threatened to behead us."

"The men released us only after our camera man appealed to the generous spirit of the Egyptian people, hugging and kissing an elder," he added in a subsequent tweet.

Hartman said that through it all, none of their equipment was stolen and they were not punched or physically abused.

Minutes after receiving news that Hartman had been safely released, ABC News anchor Christiane Amanpour and her team were surrounded and interrogated by a threatening crowd in Cairo when they were en route to the presidential palace to interview Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman. A rock was thrown through the car's windshield, shattering glass on the occupants.

Reporters for other news outlets, including NBC, BBC and FOX, have reported that their hotel rooms have been ransacked.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Media Becomes a Target as Egypt Protests Turn Violent

ABC News' Christiane Amanpour trying to speak to pro-government protesters in Cairo. The encounter disintegrated into an attack on her and her cameraman, with rocks being thrown and shouts of "We hate America." Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- The worst clashes in a week erupted Wednesday in Cairo with pro-Mubarak mobs rushing Tahrir (Liberation) Square in an effort to wrestle the territory from the anti-government demonstrators.

It was a dynamic change. After five days of peaceful protest, suddenly it was an all-out battle. This did not look to be a spontaneous eruption. It appeared to be deliberately orchestrated political theater, planned and organized bid by pro-Mubarak forces, taking place on a stage, Tahrir Square, in full view of the world audience. It was an apparently a bid for control of the territory that anti-government demonstrators had occupied for more than a week.

Tensions erupted on a day that had begun with some improvements. The Internet was restored and curfew hours were shortened. But even Wednesday morning, before the clashes, the jubilation of the last few days had already given way to an overwhelming sense of fear about how this is now going to go.

In Tahrir Square, protesters told ABC News reporters two things. Some were saying that President Hosni Mubarak's announcement Tuesday night, in which he announced that he would not seek re-election, was not enough and that he has to go now. Others said that although they have protested against him, they want him to leave in an orderly fashion, with dignity. A majority, it seemed, were concerned that if he left quickly, the economy and institutions could collapse, resulting in an explosion of crime and violence.

If Mubarak leaves precipitously, there could be real chaos. Mubarak's party had been sending a message on state TV regarding moves to restore law and order. The army, in a new statement on television, had urged the protesters to go home, "for the love of Egypt."

Wednesday, as ABC News journalists and crew were trying to film on the bridge into Tahrir Square, an angry mob of pro-Mubarak protesters surrounded them and chased them into their car, shouting that they hated them and America. Some of the protesters kicked in the car doors and broke the windshield as the journalists drove away.  Journalists from several news outlets, including CNN's Anderson Cooper, reported being attacked by the mob of protestors.

As night fell, nobody was certain what would come next. There are fears that now the military and the people may now be headed for a showdown. The military amended its earlier request that "everyone go home." Now they have issued an order: "Leave Tahrir Square."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio