Tag Archives: Media

New Year – New Focus

First of all: Thanks to all followers of the econoTwist’s TWISTED blog! You know that the purpose of this blog is to raise awareness about the increasing threats from cyberspace. And it seems like my small contribution has contributed to just that. Cyber security is now on the agenda amongst most leading politicians, authorities and regulators. The topic has also found its way to the headlines of the mainstream media.

This does not mean that my work here is done. But I’ve decided to change my main focus for 2013 towards another serious threat; the threat against one of the basic human rights, the freedom of speech. Including freedom of the Press, (both off and online), and media pluralism.

Never before has so many journalist been jailed as in 2012, never before have so many journalist got killed as in 2012. Strong forces, not seen in the media industry before,  are now trying to gain control over the internet, control the information, bloggers and independent writers are under pressure, the mainstream media, too, and never before has so few publishers dominated the mass media market, large corporations who belive that the sole purpose of media is to advertize and sell stuff.

It’s a real threat to our democracy.

So, here we go: Introducing RATIONAL ARROGANCE – a brand new WordPress blog, dedicated to this particular subject. EconoTwist’s style, of course…

Click the pick and check it out!

media-deception-for-rr

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The econoTwist’s TWISTED site will still be updated, but not as frequently as before. And some stories will be published at both sites.

For those of you who would like to keep an eye on me and my writings, I recommend following my Twitter accounts; “fhxx” or “econotwist”.

I wish you all a happy new year!

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Filed under Laws and Regulations, Philosophy

Media Freedom Threatened In Most European Countries

Media freedom is threatened in most European countries, warns the Organismic for Co-operation and Security in Europe, highlighting incidences in several of its member states including EU countries France, Italy and Greece.

“Authorities have yet to understand that media are not their private property and that journalists have the right to scrutinize those who are elected.”

Dunja Mijatovic

In a report published last Thursday, the 56-member OSCE, a loose gathering of states monitoring regional security, says that “freedom of the media concerns arise in most OSCE participating States. They only manifest themselves differently.”

The report, published annually, says the “freedom to express ourselves is questioned and challenged from many sides” and the threats manifest themselves through “traditional methods” to silence free speech as well as “new technologies to suppress and restrict the free flow of information and media pluralism.”

The breaches, either existing or potential, to media freedom range from a draft law on electronic surveillance and electronic eavesdropping law in Italy which could “seriously hinder investigative journalism” to a draft law in Estonia that may allow too many exemptions to the right to protect the identity of sources, to the fact that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is head of the public service broadcaster, France Televisions.

Dunja Mijatovic

Dunja Mijatovic

“The presidential nomination of the head of a country’s public service broadcaster is an obstacle to its independence and contradicts OSCE commitments,” says the OSCE’s Dunja Mijatovic, in charge of monitoring media freedom, according to the EUobserver.com.

Other areas of concern include the recent adoption by the Hungarian Parliament of parts of a media package with elements threatening media freedom and a possible threat in Greece to a minority radio station that broadcasts in Turkish, while the organization expresses hope that Germany will adopt a law protecting investigative journalists.

Beyond the EU, the “brutal attack” against a Serbian journalist known for his outspokenness against nationalism was highlighted as was the the “high number of criminal prosecutions” against journalists in Turkey covering sensitive issues as well “serious infringements” on media pluralism in Kyrgyzstan and a series of attacks against journalists in Russia.

“Many argue that media freedom is in decline across the OSCE region. In some aspects, I can subscribe to that,” Ms. Mitjatovic says.

“Authorities have yet to understand that media are not their private property and that journalists have the right to scrutinize those who are elected.”

“Violence against journalists equals violence against society and democracy and should be met with harsh condemnation and prosecution of the perpetrators,” she adds.

With the internet changing the nature and scope of reporting, Ms Mijatovi also promised a study into the various internet laws in place across the OSCE countries.

“My office is currently working on the compilation of the first comprehensive matrix on internet legislation which will include an overview of legal provisions related to freedom of the media, the free flow of information and media pluralism on the internet in the OSCE region.”

Here’s a copy of the the report.

Related by the Econotwist:

European criminals and politicians taking “libel tourism” trips to UK

Estonia Put Pressure On Journalists

E.U. Hunts For Journalist’s Sources

Estonian Newspapers Protesting With Blank Front Page

E.U. Lobbyists Complains Over Unfair Treatment

Warns Against Euro Zone “Elite”

Norway’s al-Queda: A Chinese Muslim, Some Baking Soda and Puff! There Goes Privacy…

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Filed under International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics

European criminals and politicians taking "libel tourism" trips to UK

Organised criminals, businessmen and politicians, particularly from eastern Europe, are flocking to the UK courts to file libel cases. Their objective is to punish and scare off journalists who ask too many awkward questions.

“The UK’s plaintiff-friendly laws, high defamation awards, strong willingness of British courts to accept jurisdiction, and exorbitant cost of legal fees make the United Kingdom perfect for oligarchs, organised crime figures, and wealthy businessmen”

The EU Observer

(Article in English)

Organised criminals, businessmen and politicians, particularly from eastern Europe, are flocking to the UK courts to file libel cases, writes EUobserver.


Their objective is to punish and scare off journalists who ask too many awkward questions, threatening the very existence of publications in the east that engage in investigative journalism since in English and Welsh courts the burden of proof is borne by the accused rather than the complainant.

Oligarchs, mafiosi. Saudi billionaires and even totalitarian governments regularly take advantage of UK laws that say that a journalist is guilty until proven innocent, according to a report by an editor with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Bosnia-Herzegovina (CIN), Drew Sullivan.

The report, published last week by the US-based Center for International Media Assistance, says that while the problem of “libel tourism” is an old one, in recent years as daily newspapers, which to a greater or lesser extent had the funds to stand up for their reporters in court, have abandoned investigative reporting, the baton has been taken up by smaller, non-profit web-publishing outfits that are in a much more precarious situation.

“By publishing online, a media organisation faces the risk of libel and defamation suits in just about every jurisdiction in the world,” the report says.

“[The UK’s] plaintiff-friendly laws, high defamation awards, strong willingness of British courts to accept jurisdiction, and exorbitant cost of legal fees make the United Kingdom perfect for oligarchs, organised crime figures, and wealthy businessmen.”

Ireland and France too are increasingly popular stopovers on the libel tourism trail, although Paris is attractive not because of the size of the awards (which are capped at €12,000), but because libel is still considered a criminal case. A journalist branded a criminal sometimes serves a complainant’s interests much more than bankrupting him or her.

In one example from June, 2008, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov sued Ukraine’s Kyiv Post newspaper and Obozrevatel, a news website, over stories about him. The Kyiv Post only had around 100 subscribers in Britain, but fears were such that the Post rapidly settled and apologised.

Obozrevatel, which had almost no visitors from the United Kingdom and published only in Ukrainian, could not afford to defend itself and so Mr Akhmetov won a default judgment of £50,000.

“From press accounts and parliamentary testimony, we know that in the UK, there are even lawyers who will read the newspapers just to identify possible cases, call the people involved and suggest a suit in order to drum up business,” Mr Sullivan told EUobserver. “It’s a sort of libel ambulance chasing.”

Mr Sullivan’s own civil society ‘start-up’ at the CIN, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, regularly feels the heat from the subjects of its investigations, requiring the publication to have a British lawyer kept on retainer.

“For our work, we are investigating organised crime figures, politicians, businessmen of fairly high standing in the community. In the 1990s in Russia, say, they would just send some guys to beat us up, but this is a bit harder to do now, so they are using the legal route to do basically the same thing. It’s been very effective in eastern Europe.”

He said that the OCCRP is considering shutting off access to the UK to put an end to the lawsuits: “We have maybe two percent of our readership there, but the UK is causing 97 percent of our risk.”

Media lawyer Mark Stephens, who specialises in battling the libel tourists, explained to this website how things have accelerated in the last few years. “It really started off [in the 1950s], with Liberace suing over accusations that he was a homosexual, which he won. This opened the floodgates to a large number of celebrities doing the same thing for many years. This died away more recently when they began to realise that it was cheaper and more effective to spend a million on a PR man than a team of lawyers, and with much less reputational damage,”

“The claimant lawyers then moved on to Russian oligarchs, Gulf billionaires, multinationals and heads of totalitarian states, making London in recent years the libel capital of the world.”

But the problem is not limited to the east. In 2007, the Icelandic investment bank Kaupthing sued Ekstra Bladet, a Danish newspaper, after a reporter wrote articles critical of the bank’s handling of tax shelters for the wealthy. While Ekstra Bladet stories were republished in English on a Danish website that gets few or no visitors from the UK, British courts accepted jurisdiction after the bank argued that London was a major banking centre and Kaupthing’s chief executive resided in Britain.

Fearing the huge costs of the case, the paper sought a settlement from the beginning and eventually paid Kaupthing’s legal fees and additional damages, apologising to the bank.

One of the institutions at the heart of the collapse of the Icelandic economy, Kaupthing nevertheless in December 2009 became the subject of a investigation into the bank’s practices by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

Sources:

Center for Investigative Reporting

Baltic Business News

EUobserver.com

Related by The Econotwist:

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How Sweden sent Estonian economy into free fall

Circus Wall Street – Act 2

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Filed under International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics