SRMG and Warner Bros. Discovery launch Asharq Discovery, a unique free-to-view Arabic-language infotainment platform

SRMG boasts a track record of successful partnerships with a prestigious lineup that includes Bloomberg Media, The Independent Group and Billboard. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 10 October 2023
Follow

SRMG and Warner Bros. Discovery launch Asharq Discovery, a unique free-to-view Arabic-language infotainment platform

  • Asharq Discovery showcases world-class global content in the Arabic-language, all available for free
  • Content includes programmes from the award-winning Warner Bros. Discovery catalogue

RIYADH: SRMG, the largest integrated media group from the MENA region, has unveiled Asharq Discovery, a new free-to-view Arabic-language infotainment platform, in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery.

Going live today, Asharq Discovery will showcase thousands of hours of premium content from Discovery’s critically acclaimed catalogue, as well as hand-picked acquisitions from all over the region and an exciting lineup of original productions. 

The launch of the new platform responds directly to changing viewer preferences and the surging demand for Arabic-language content. A recent SRMG survey found that over 80 percent of viewers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are eager for more Arabic shows. 

To cater to a diverse regional audience, the platform offers a wide range of genres, including pop science and engineering, crime and mystery, motoring, adventure and travel, food and cooking, wildlife and nature, lifestyle, and reality.  

Asharq Discovery features exclusive programmes from Warner Bros. Discovery’s award-winning catalogue including beloved titles from Discovery, Animal Planet, TLC, Investigation Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, and regional favourite, Fatafeat. The selected programmes are fully reversioned with Arabic voiceovers and graphics.

At launch, Asharq Discovery’s lineup includes shows never before seen in Arabic and for free including Gold Rush, 90 Day Fiancé, Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole, and Wheeler Dealers.  

Asharq Discovery is the result of a long-term strategic partnership between SRMG and Warner Bros. Discovery. Beyond SRMG’s content selection rights from Warner Bros. Discovery’s catalogue, this collaboration will involve the co-production of up to 30 hours per year with Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO.

These collaborations will create authentic and compelling stories about MENA, offering opportunities for regional talent since production will take place within the region. Furthermore, Warner Bros. Discovery has the option to globally distribute co-produced content through the Warner Bros. Discovery platforms and services, thereby showcasing regional narratives to a global audience. 

Jomana R. Al-Rashid, CEO of SRMG, said: “Asharq Discovery’s launch is a direct response to the growing demand and changing consumption habits. We can see from several studies that there is an increase in the demand for audio and visual content across our region. The new free-to-view platform is the latest example of SRMG’s transformation strategy in action. At SRMG, we are dedicated to enhancing and expanding our media portfolio and elevating the media and entertainment ecosystem in the region. Just this past month, we launched Asharq Documentary, dedicated to uncovering the stories behind the headlines in politics, business and economics, and history. Now, with Asharq Discovery, we continue to redefine the viewing experience with seven distinct genres, each offering a fresh perspective on storytelling. The Asharq Discovery platform is unique as it provides a wide range of exceptional content in Arabic, and for the first time, for free. Our partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery is testament to our ambition to produce and showcase award-winning, authentic content that captivates and inspires audiences both here in our region and across the globe. The launch is just the start; we have extremely ambitious plans for co-production, and I look forward to watching the platform’s growth.” 

Jamie Cooke, GM CEE, Middle East & Turkey of Warner Bros. Discovery, said: “The entertainment industry in the MENA region is an area of major global talent and transformative growth. We have seen immense changes over the last few years, and MENA audiences are eager for fresh and new content. I am excited to start developing Arabic content that can inspire viewers not just in the region but Arabic speaking audiences around the world. Warner Bros. Discovery has the greatest and broadest collection of brands, franchises, and storytelling IP in the world, and we’re excited to provide a new free-to-view channel where we can reach new audiences and bring them our stories through our partnership with SRMG.” 

SRMG boasts a track record of successful partnerships with a prestigious lineup that includes Bloomberg Media, The Independent Group and Billboard. 

Asharq Discovery is the latest addition to SRMG’s award-winning 'Asharq News Network’, which includes Asharq News and Asharq Business with Bloomberg, the fastest growing news channels in the MENA region for the past three years, along with the recently launched Asharq Documentary, featuring hard-hitting and factual documentary content. 

Asharq Discovery is accessible free-to-view across the region through satellite coverage on Arabsat and Nilesat, and through the catch-up service Asharq NOW and Asharq Discovery’s social media platforms. 

 


Saudi Journalists Association observes International Federation meetings in London

Updated 20 June 2024
Follow

Saudi Journalists Association observes International Federation meetings in London

  • The meetings discussed the impact of artificial intelligence on journalism and the safety of media professionals in conflict zones

LONDON: The Saudi Journalists Association took part on Wednesday as an observer in the International Federation of Journalists’ meetings in London.

The event, hosted by the UK National Union of Journalists, explored the impact of artificial intelligence on journalism and the safety of media professionals in conflict zones.

The IFJ, the world’s largest union of journalists’ trade unions, vowed to help develop journalists’ skills to adapt to the rapid evolution of journalistic tools, including the growing influence of AI.

Adhwan Al-Ahmari, chairman of the Saudi Journalists Association, emphasized the importance of collaborating with international press federations and knowledge exchange to further develop the Saudi association.

“This marks the first time the association has participated as an observer after joining the IFJ late last year,” Al-Ahmari said.

“Our goal is to play a more significant role within the federation in the coming period.”

The Saudi Journalists Association was founded in 2003 as a civil society body that acts as an umbrella for the country’s press professionals, enhancing their role and instilling a sense of responsibility towards their country and people.


Wikipedia labels prominent Israeli civil rights organization ‘unreliable’ on Israel-Palestine crisis, antisemitism

Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

Wikipedia labels prominent Israeli civil rights organization ‘unreliable’ on Israel-Palestine crisis, antisemitism

  • Anti-Defamation League cannot be trusted as neutral source of information, Wikipedia editors conclude
  • Organization under scrutiny for its methods of tracking antisemitism and its rigid definition of the term

LONDON: Wikipedia has labelled the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Israeli civil rights organization, as “generally unreliable” for its work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, effectively declassifying it as a top source on its pages.

Editors of the world’s largest online encyclopedia concluded that the ADL, known as the premier Jewish civil rights organization in the US, cannot be trusted as a neutral source of information about antisemitism and the Israel-Palestine crisis.

“ADL no longer appears to adhere to a serious, mainstream and intellectually cogent definition of antisemitism, but has instead given in to the shameless politicization of the very subject that it was originally esteemed for being reliable on,” an editor known as Iskandar323, who initiated the discussion about the ADL, wrote in a debate thread.

Editors highlighted the definition of Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement advocating for the creation of an Israeli state, as a key reason for the declassification.

The decision, which equates the ADL with tabloids, is a significant blow to the organization’s historical status as a key source of information regarding the tracking of antisemitism in the US.

The ADL has faced scrutiny for its methodologies and its rigid definition of antisemitism.

Experts repeatedly expressed skepticism about the organization’s decision to classify demonstrations featuring “anti-Zionist chants and slogans” as antisemitic.

Critics argue that this classification does not represent the full spectrum of antisemitism, because it excludes Jewish progressives and others critical of Israel.

The Forward, a US-Jewish newspaper, found at least 3,000 cases that raised concerns about the ADL’s logging system.

This decision appears to reflect ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s position that “anti-Zionism is antisemitism, full stop,” as he stated in a 2022 speech.

Greenblatt has often been criticized for his strong stance on the issue and has been accused of a partisan approach toward Israel.

In November, he endorsed Elon Musk, who had posted an antisemitic conspiracy theory on his X account, while more recently he described US student protests as Iranian “proxies” and compared the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf to a swastika.

In a statement, the ADL said the Wikipedia decision was part of a “campaign to delegitimize the ADL.”

“This is a sad development for research and education, but ADL will not be daunted in our age-old fight against antisemitism and all forms of hate,” the statement said.


US regulator says TikTok may be violating child privacy law

Updated 19 June 2024
Follow

US regulator says TikTok may be violating child privacy law

NEW YORK: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Tuesday that it had referred a complaint against TikTok to the Justice Department, saying the popular video sharing app may be violating child privacy laws.
The complaint, which also names TikTok’s Chinese parent company Bytedance, stems from an investigation launched following a 2019 settlement, the FTC said in a statement.
At the time, the US regulator accused TikTok’s predecessor, Musical.ly, of having improperly collected child users’ personal data.
TikTok agreed to pay $5.7 million under the settlement and to take actions to come into compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a 1998 law.
FTC chair Lina Khan said Tuesday on X that the follow-up investigation had “found reason to believe that TikTok is violating or about to violate” COPPA and other federal laws.
A separate FTC statement said that the public announcement of the referral was atypical, but “we have determined that doing so here is in the public interest.”
Neither Khan nor the FTC statement further specified the violations TikTok and Bytedance were believed to have committed.
TikTok said Tuesday on X that it had worked for more than a year with the FTC “to address its concerns,” and was “disappointed” the agency was “pursuing litigation instead of continuing to work with us on a reasonable solution.”
“We strongly disagree with the FTC’s allegations, many of which relate to past events and practices that are factually inaccurate or have been addressed,” it said.
“We’re proud of and remain deeply committed to the work we’ve done to protect children and we will continue to update and improve our product.”
The complaint comes a day after US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called for new restrictions on social media to combat a sweeping mental health crisis among young people.
Among the steps proposed by Murthy in his New York Times op-ed was notably a tobacco-style warning label “stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents.”
TikTok, with roughly 170 million US users, is facing a possible ban across the United States within months, as part of legislation signed by President Joe Biden in late April.
The company has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban, which is working its way through US courts.
Meanwhile TikTok has been targeted by several civil suits alleging the company insufficiently protected minors who use the platform.


Snap launches AI tools for advanced augmented reality

Updated 18 June 2024
Follow

Snap launches AI tools for advanced augmented reality

  • Snap hopes special lenses will attract new users and advertisers
  • AI-led Lens Studio reduces filter creation time and enhances realism

LONDON: Snapchat owner Snap on Tuesday launched its latest iteration of generative AI technology that will allow users to see more realistic special effects when using phone cameras to film themselves, as it seeks to stay ahead of social media rivals.
Snap has been a pioneer in the field of augmented reality (AR), which overlays computerized effects onto photos or videos of the real world. While the company remains much smaller than rival platforms like Meta, it is betting that making more advanced and whimsical special effects, called lenses, will attract new users and advertisers to Snapchat.
AR developers are now able to create AI-powered lenses, and Snapchat users will be able to use them in their content, the company said.
Santa Monica, California-based Snap also announced an upgraded version of its developer program called Lens Studio, which artists and developers can use to create AR features for Snapchat or other websites and apps.
Bobby Murphy, Snap’s chief technology officer, said the enhanced Lens Studio would reduce the time it takes to create AR effects from weeks to hours and produce more complex work.
“What’s fun for us is that these tools both stretch the creative space in which people can work, but they’re also easy to use, so newcomers can build something unique very quickly,” Murphy said in an interview.
Lens Studio now includes a new suite of generative AI tools, such as an AI assistant that can answer questions if a developer needs help. Another tool will allow artists to type a prompt and automatically generate a three-dimensional image that they can use for their AR lens, removing the need to develop a 3D model from scratch.
Earlier versions of AR technology have been capable only of simple effects, like placing a hat on a person’s head in a video. Snap’s advancements will now allow AR developers to create more realistic lenses, such as having the hat move seamlessly along with a person’s head and match the lighting in the video, Murphy said.
Snap also has plans to create full body, rather than just facial, AR experiences such as generating a new outfit, which is currently very difficult to create, Murphy added.


YouTube tests context ‘notes’ feature for videos

Updated 18 June 2024
Follow

YouTube tests context ‘notes’ feature for videos

  • Notes will allow users to provide additional context on videos

LONDON: Alphabet’s YouTube will soon allow users to add ‘notes’ that will provide context on some of its videos as part of a new feature that will be initially rolled out in the United States, it said on Monday.
YouTube will invite certain users and creators, as part of the initial test phase, to write notes that are meant to provide “relevant, timely, and easy-to-understand context” on videos.
The notes, for instance could clarify when a song is meant to be a parody, point out when a new version of a product being reviewed is available, or let viewers know when older footage is mistakenly portrayed as a current event.
Social media platform X has a similar feature called Community Notes through which it allows select contributors to add context to posts including tags such as “misleading” and “out of context.”
The notes feature on YouTube will be available initially on mobile to users in the US and in English. In this phase, third-party evaluators will rate the helpfulness of notes, which will help train the systems, before a potential broader rollout, YouTube said.
Viewers in the US will start to see notes on videos in the coming weeks and months.