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What are the key findings of Freedom of the Press Report

Press freedom in 2015 declined to lowest point in 12 years

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Utkal Deepika. Wikimedia Commons

Freedom of the Press is an annual report on media independence around the world, produced by Freedom House, a watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.

https://youtu.be/oAf3J6eF3yk

The report assesses the degree of print, broadcast and digital media freedom in 199 countries and territories.

Freedom of the Press 2016, key findings:

• Press freedom in 2015 declined to lowest point in 12 years.

• Report blames political, criminal and terrorist forces behind efforts to silence media.

• Loss of press freedom primarily linked to heightened partisanship in many countries, and the degree of extralegal intimidation and physical violence faced by journalists.

What is a free press? Area where political news is robust, safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.

Media access

31: percentage of countries with a free press
36: percentage with a partly free press
33: percentage with no free press

13: percentage of world’s population that lives with a free press
41: percentage that lives with a partly free press
46: percentage that lives with no free press

10 worst countries and territories

Belarus, Crimea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

Countries with largest 1-year decline in press freedom

Bangladesh, Turkey, Burundi, France, Serbia, Yemen, Egypt, Macedonia and Zimbabwe

Nauru

Report cites the tiny Pacific island nation as the country with the largest loss of press freedom because it began assessing thousands of dollars in fees against journalists wanting to enter the country or blocking their entry altogether, apparently in an effort to silence reports about migrants being held in Nauru who are seeking asylum in Australia.

Bright points in report

Report found two countries moved to ease restrictions on journalists in 2015.

Sri Lanka: After new government was installed, fewer threats and attacks aimed at journalists, and blocks against Internet websites were lifted.

Burkina Faso: Officials dropped prison sentences as punishment for libel, and state interference in news content was curtailed, the report found.

Dangerous issues for media coverage

• Organized crime

• Corruption

• Environment/land development

• Religion

• Disputed Sovereignty

• Lese-majeste (injured magesty)

Countries to watch

The report attributed the declines to a rise in the authoritarian nature of some governments, such as those in Tajikistan, Egypt and Turkey; security situations that have become more dangerous, such as in Libya, Yemen and Burundi; blasphemy laws, such as in Brunei, and tighter government control of state-owned media, such as Poland.

72: Number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year
43: Number of countries that made gains.

Middle East and North Africa region: Received the worst ratings for press freedom, followed closely by Eurasia.

Freedom on the Net Report

Internet freedom declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, report finds.

More governments

• Censored information of public interest

• Expanded surveillance

• Cracked down on privacy tools

Source: Freedom of the Press 2016, Freedom House

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Facebook doesn’t Hire Journalists, says Sheryl Sandberg

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Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg quoted that Facebook doesn't hire Journalists. ians

San Francisco, Oct 14: As people debate Facebook’s role in influencing people during the US presidential elections by Russian ads and fake news on the platform, the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has stressed that the social media giant is not a media organization, and therefore does not hire journalists.

Sandberg said that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers and according to her, the company does not produce news content, therefore it can’t be a media company.

In an interview with US-based news website Axios on Thursday, she said, “At our heart we are a tech company. We hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters. No one is a journalist.”

“We don’t cover the news. But when we say that, we’re not saying we don’t have a responsibility. In fact we’re a new kind of platform… as our size grows, we think we have more responsibility,” the executive was quoted as saying.

Business Insider said a firm that is a major source of news and information for people, generates billions in ad revenue and is producing its own original television shows is classified as a media company and Facebook does all of that.

Contrary to her claim, it hired former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in January to head up the company’s news division and work with other journalists to maximise their use of Facebook’s platform.

Reportedly, Facebook does not want to harm its $500 billion valuations by admitting it is a media company. If the company accepts that it is a media firm, it would open the platform up to regulatory rules in the US and other countries which Facebook would rather avoid.

Facebook
Facebook Ads were considered during US Presidential Elections. Pixabay

Business Insider said Britain was already considering regulations that would treat it more like a media company.

Meanwhile, on the Russian ad issue, Sandberg said the election meddling on the platform “shouldn’t have happened” and she wouldn’t discuss Russia or Trump.

“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms… and so we told Congress and the Intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them,” she said.

Sandberg said that if the Russian-linked ads were posted by “real people” and not fake accounts, Facebook would have let their content remain on the site. “When you allow free expression, you allow free expression.”

“Facebook owes the American people an apology. Not just an apology, but determination for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election,” she said. (IANS)

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The True Story behind Case against NDTV Founders: Read Here!

While the mainstream media has opinionated on the case against NDTV, here are some facts that paint the true picture

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Case against NDTV founders
Prannoy Roy, founder of New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV). Twitter
  • After a case against NDTV founders had been registered, the CBI raided the residence
  • The raids prompted the NDTV to respond by alleging that the investigating agency is acting “under pressure” and further calling the fiasco a ‘witch-hunt’
  • The case has been registered by the Banking Fraud Division of the CBI alleging the NDTV founders for defrauding the ICICI Bank along with other violations 

The Background

So the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against NDTV founders – Prannoy Roy and wife Radhika Roy- on the 5th of June, 2017. Consequently, a day after, the investigative agency also raided the residences of Prannoy Roy and his wife, along with four other premises in Delhi and Dehradun belonging to promoters. Cases have been registered against their company RRPR Holding Ltd as well as ICICI Bank officials.

The FIR has been filed by Sanjay Dutt, a former consultant at NDTV. The NDTV is also being investigated by Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate when it was discovered that NDTV received funds from a foreign institution but settled the account at 80% less than the actual amount received.

The case comes as a consequence of an allegation against the founders for causing over Rs. 48 crore losses to ICICI bank. They are booked under the Indian Penal Code and Prevent of Corruption Act for criminal conspiracy, cheating, and criminal misconduct.

The ICICI had given the founders’ private holding company-RRPR Holding Private Ltd-a loan of Rs 366 crore. The Roys had guaranteed their NDTV shares at a price more than the prevailing price at Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The loan was closed within a year, however, the interest was waived off resulting in a loss of Rs 48 crores for the bank. The equivalent amount was moved out of the holding company’s bank account.

The FIR report explicitly states that NDTV as well as ICICI “entered into a criminal conspiracy to transfer ownership of a news company, i.e NDTV, to a shell company against banking rule and SEBI Act.”

On the basis of last year’s letter by the Enforcement Directorate to the CBI showcasing irregularities by the ICICI bank, a FIR was registered.

The NDTV responded by calling the whole incident a ‘witch-hunt’ after stating that the founders have not defaulted any loans. The media organization has called Dutt’s allegations false. The NDTV and its allies have countered this as an attack on free speech.

Case Against NDTV Founders
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Wikimedia

The Focus

The NDTV issued a statement calling this whole incident a ‘witch-hunt’ and a political attack on the freedom of speech. It also argued that the CBI has no jurisdiction to investigate such matters that concern the private banks and EVEN IF there has indeed been a loss incurred. CBI, in counter, has cited the example of ‘CBI vs Ramesh Gelli’ case which was ruled in the favor of the investigating agency. CBI has the right to investigate the matter.

It is worth noting that the CBI is not just investing the loan default case but violations of SEBI guidelines and RBI rules. NDTV’s decision to address the CBI as “acting under pressure” is shameful.

Dutt has also claimed that the collateral shares that the Roys had guaranteed were never notified to stock exchanges and SEBI. SEBI has also initiated a probe.

The priority of the investigation is to explore “wrongful gain” of Rs 48 crores to the Roys and their holding company. That clearly implies how NDTV’s claim that this whole fiasco is an “agenda” is simply not true.

NDTV and allies that have been questioning the investigations must understand deeper forms of suspicion that have surrounded the transactions.

Manisha Pande, from Newslaundry, has explained with the remarkable simplicity about the essential factor that investigations are to keep in mind. So RRPR, the holding company, received Rs. 403.85 crores from a shell company- Vishwapradhan Commercial Private Ltd. Now this shell company had received this same amount from Shinano Retail as a loan. The Shinano Retail is fully owned by Reliance Industrial Investments and Holding which received this same loan from the main source Reliance Ventures Ltd, subsidiary of Reliance Ltd.

Hence, Dutt urges to find out “who is the true owner of NDTV?” by calling it, what many would agree, a Hawala (money laundering) transaction.

Manisha Pande has thus rightly pointed out the “investigation cannot start and end at NDTV.” She continues “CBI would have to probe some other important people” especially since the trail points to other noticeable direction.

It is also worth noting how NDTV had been enjoying heavenly fortunes when the UPA came to power. The company raised $417 million in different parts of the world through 20 wholly-owned subsidiaries.

Therefore, while the mainstream media and Twitterites will continue to raise and justify political factors, continuing with their blame game and bargaining, at the end of the day it is the law which is over everything. The law and justice must prevail. None of the facts point to the CBI trying to “silence the media under pressure”.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

ALSO READ: Salil Gewali’s ‘Exclusive: Fall of the Draconian Roar of NDTV?’ on NewsGram

You can follow Manisha Pande and her views on her Twitter handle @MnshaP

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President of India presents KCK International Award for excellence in print Journalism

Journalists and journalism played an exemplary role in the social renaissance movement as well as the freedom struggle of the country

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Award
Representational Image, Courtesy: Wikimedia commons

India, March 21, 2017: The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the KCK International Award for Excellence in Print Journalism organized by Rajasthan Patrika in New Delhi on Monday.

Go to NewsGram and check out news related to political current issues.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that journalism has had a long history in our country. It has been closely associated with our struggle for independence and social reforms. Journalists and journalism played an exemplary role in the social renaissance movement as well as the freedom struggle of the country. The history of Indian journalism has been that of progressive reform, social renaissance and anti-colonialism. Beginning with the Samvad Kaumudi brought out by Raja Rammohun Roy in 1819 to Samachar Chandrika and Mirat-Ul-Akhbar, the Harijan and Young India edited by the Mahatma and later, through various other publications, the contribution of print journalism to an evolving Indian society and nationhood was immense.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

The President said that print journalism has its own impact because journalists through their columns/ stories/ comments etc. find a permanent place in the minds of readers. He stated that media has expanded with increasing use of technology and the influence of social media has also increased over the years.

The President said that he was glad to have the opportunity of conferring the KCK International award for excellence for print journalism on the distinguished awardees. He hoped that this would inspire others to follow their path and wished them all success in their future endeavours. (IANS)