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Right-wing media hypocrisy: Suddenly Trump’s health is off limits

Alex Jones, Hannity’s rival in conspiracy conservatism, and his Infowars team have also been outraged at the idea of questioning Trump’s physical fitness for office. Last year, however, Jones and his colleagues hyped numerous unsupported stories about Clinton suffering health problems. Like Hannity, they argued that Clinton might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but they also claimed that a Secret Service official had told them Clinton suffers seizures from camera flashes, asserted that she might have a brain tumor, said that Clinton required injections to treat seizures, and suggested she might have epilepsy or syphilis. The site even wondered if Clinton might die before Election Day or be forced to drop out of the race for health reasons.

Right-wing media hypocrisy: Suddenly Trump’s health is off limits

Alex Jones, Hannity’s rival in conspiracy conservatism, and his Infowars team have also been outraged at the idea of questioning Trump’s physical fitness for office. Last year, however, Jones and his colleagues hyped numerous unsupported stories about Clinton suffering health problems. Like Hannity, they argued that Clinton might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but they also claimed that a Secret Service official had told them Clinton suffers seizures from camera flashes, asserted that she might have a brain tumor, said that Clinton required injections to treat seizures, and suggested she might have epilepsy or syphilis. The site even wondered if Clinton might die before Election Day or be forced to drop out of the race for health reasons.

Right-wing media hypocrisy: Suddenly Trump’s health is off limits

Alex Jones, Hannity’s rival in conspiracy conservatism, and his Infowars team have also been outraged at the idea of questioning Trump’s physical fitness for office. Last year, however, Jones and his colleagues hyped numerous unsupported stories about Clinton suffering health problems. Like Hannity, they argued that Clinton might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but they also claimed that a Secret Service official had told them Clinton suffers seizures from camera flashes, asserted that she might have a brain tumor, said that Clinton required injections to treat seizures, and suggested she might have epilepsy or syphilis. The site even wondered if Clinton might die before Election Day or be forced to drop out of the race for health reasons.

Right-wing media hypocrisy: Suddenly Trump’s health is off limits

Alex Jones, Hannity’s rival in conspiracy conservatism, and his Infowars team have also been outraged at the idea of questioning Trump’s physical fitness for office. Last year, however, Jones and his colleagues hyped numerous unsupported stories about Clinton suffering health problems. Like Hannity, they argued that Clinton might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but they also claimed that a Secret Service official had told them Clinton suffers seizures from camera flashes, asserted that she might have a brain tumor, said that Clinton required injections to treat seizures, and suggested she might have epilepsy or syphilis. The site even wondered if Clinton might die before Election Day or be forced to drop out of the race for health reasons.

Right-wing media hypocrisy: Suddenly Trump’s health is off limits

Alex Jones, Hannity’s rival in conspiracy conservatism, and his Infowars team have also been outraged at the idea of questioning Trump’s physical fitness for office. Last year, however, Jones and his colleagues hyped numerous unsupported stories about Clinton suffering health problems. Like Hannity, they argued that Clinton might be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, but they also claimed that a Secret Service official had told them Clinton suffers seizures from camera flashes, asserted that she might have a brain tumor, said that Clinton required injections to treat seizures, and suggested she might have epilepsy or syphilis. The site even wondered if Clinton might die before Election Day or be forced to drop out of the race for health reasons.

VLC media player for iOS now optimized for iPhone X screen, HEVC 4K videos

VideoLAN has released a new version of its VLC for Mobile app that adds improved support for Apple’s latest hardware and software.

Version 2.8.6 includes adjustments to the user interface on the taller, 5.8-inch iPhone X OLED display. The latest version also includes “full support” for 4K videos formatted in HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) which Apple has embraced to limit file sizes on ultra high-definition videos.


52981_happy-hour-16-9 VLC media player for iOS now optimized for iPhone X screen, HEVC 4K videos

9to5Mac Happy Hour

In general, VideoLAN has been quick to adopt the latest features and embrace new platforms for its VLC client for Apple devices. VLC returned to the App Store in 2015 after a storied back and forth with being pulled and rejected, and VLC joined the new Apple TV last year which enables wider format playback. The app also works with Apple Watch for remote control and supports multitasking features on iPad.

If you’re not familiar with VideoLAN’s media streamer, here’s their description:

VLC for Mobile is a port of the free VLC media player to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
It can play all your movies, shows and music in most formats directly without conversion.
It allows file synchronization with Dropbox, GDrive, OneDrive, Box, iCloud Drive, iTunes, direct downloads and through WiFi sharing as well as streaming from SMB, FTP, UPnP/DLNA media servers and the web.
VLC offers support for advanced subtitles including full SSA compatibility, multi-track audio, and playback speed control.

VLC for Mobile is completely free and open source.

Download VLC for Mobile for free on the App Store.


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Daisy Ridley: Social media is bad for your mental health

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


4aa00_gettyimages-881271590 Daisy Ridley: Social media is bad for your mental health

She wants to be social like, you know, a human being.


Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Recently, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, worried that the site was detrimental to children’s health.

He admitted that Facebook’s design deliberately exploited human vulnerabilities.

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley has no worries. She seems certain that social media is bad for you.

In an interview with the BBC’s Radio Times, Ridley explained: “I don’t do social anymore. I came off it last September and I will never get back on. The more I read about teenage anxiety, the more I think it’s highly unhealthy for people’s mental health.”

It’s hard to view the obsessional, self-obsessional  nature of social media as a wonderful thing.

Indeed, scientists have long worried that increasing social media use brings with it increasing mental problems.

Too many people seem desperate not to be liked, but to be “liked.” You know, on Facebook and Instagram. 

Ridley herself used to be an enthusiastic Instagrammer. 

Now she says: “I find the whole taking pictures thing weird. I’d prefer to have a conversation than someone asking for a picture, but I guess people feel the need to prove they’ve had the interaction through social media.”

How much of an interaction is it, though, if the only words exchanged are: “Hullo, Daisy. Would you mind if we took a selfie together?”

As Ridley says, this isn’t a conversation. It’s an exercise in self-aggrandizement. Just think how many “likes” you’ll get for that selfie.

Of course, some stars choose to have staff perform their social media tasks for them. Their Instagram and Twitter accounts become a steady flow of anodyne messages designed to say: “Yes, I’m still a star.”

Yes, they want “likes” and retweets just as much as you do. Except they’re trying to sell you something.

CNET en Español: Get all your tech news and reviews in Spanish.

Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.

CBC, media producers, actors call for internet and Netflix tax — again

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, media producers and actors are once more calling for a tax on internet service providers and online streaming services like Netflix Inc. to fund Canadian content despite the Liberals’ insistence the federal government will do no such thing.

In submissions to the federal broadcast regulator, the CBC, the Canadian Media Producers Association and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists argued internet providers should contribute financially to the broadcasting system given Canadians are increasingly ditching cable packages to watch video online. The CBC also argued that internet providers should favour Canadian content – a tactic that could undermine net neutrality.

The submissions are part of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s consultations on future programming distribution models. Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly ordered it to report on potential models by June 2018.

Canadians may have assumed the issues of internet taxes and future content consumption models were closed with the Creative Canada strategy, which Joly released in September after more than a year of consultations on how to support Canadian content in the digital era.

But the strategy didn’t contain specifics on how Canadian content will be funded. Instead, Joly asked the CRTC to hammer out the details.

Under existing legislation, broadcasters must contribute a percentage of revenue to fund Canadian programming. The funds have declined as TV revenues stagnate. Netflix and other video streaming services were explicitly excluded from this regime with a digital media exemption in 1999.

Joly has repeatedly stated the government will not tax internet service providers to fund content, citing the need for affordable access. Nor does it plan to tax Netflix, which currently does not collect and remit sales taxes.

Joly did, however, ink a deal with Netflix to invest $500 million in production in Canada over the next five years. Some saw this as a boon for producers, but others were wary since Netflix does not have to follow the same strict Canadian content requirements that local broadcasters.

Creative groups want to get rid of different treatment for online content. Their submissions called for legislative change so internet providers and video streaming services must pay into the system outlined by the Broadcasting Act.

Submissions from all parties, including the country’s largest internet, TV and wireless service providers, agreed Canadians will increasingly use the internet to watch video and listen to music. No one disputes the internet is here to stay.

But fragmentation in new media has strained traditional business models of advertising and subscriptions, CBC submitted. At a minimum, it said the new rules should require streaming services, wireless carriers and internet providers to contribute to Canadian content like traditional cable and satellite players.

“This is essential to ensure a level playing field among domestic players and between domestic and foreign players,” CBC wrote.

It also proposed regulations to require service providers to enhance the visibility of Canadian programming, a proposal that could flout net neutrality principles that all content should be treated equally. Finally, it repeated a call for additional annual funding of $400 million in order to go ad free.

ACTRA, which represents 23,000 performers, noted that Canada’s film and TV industry is thriving despite the challenges. But it wants internet providers to contribute financially to Canadian content. Approximately two thirds of fixed internet traffic at peak times is used to watch video, according to the CRTC.

ACTRA also asked that online streaming services such as Netflix be required to pay GST or HST (Quebec is already taking steps to require this) and contribute 5 per cent of their gross revenue to Canadian content production.

In its submission to the CRTC, Netflix argued that regulating new media like legacy broadcasters won’t work. Content quotas don’t make sense since consumers choose what they want to watch, and foreign financing is already one of the top two sources of cash for English-language TV production, it said.

Consumer groups, academics and internet providers do not support an internet tax, but many believe Netflix should pay sales taxes like their Canadian counterparts.

ejackson@nationalpost.com

Daisy Ridley: Social media is bad for mental health

59926__99096196_gettyimages-881271590 Daisy Ridley: Social media is bad for mental healthImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Daisy Ridley deleted her social media after becoming famous

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley says becoming famous made her delete her social media.

The 25-year-old, who stars as Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, quit Instagram earlier this year.

In an interview with Radio Times, she says she did it because of how bad it is for mental health.

Ridley says: “The more I read about teenage anxiety, the more I think it’s highly unhealthy for people’s mental health.”

She adds: “It’s such a weird thing for young people to look at distorted images of things they should be.”

Image copyright
Lucasfilm

Image caption

Daisy Ridley plays Rey in the Star Wars trilogy

Ridley’s big break came in 2014 when she was cast in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Before that she had only had minor roles in Casualty and Mr Selfridge.

She says her “life suddenly got a bit different” after being cast in the sci-fi film franchise.

“I’m definitely recognised more, but I find the whole taking pictures thing weird,” she says.

“I’d prefer to have a conversation than someone asking for a picture, but I guess people feel the need to prove they’ve had the interaction through social media.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Ridley with her co-stars Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega and director Rian Johnson.

Ridley deleted her social media in September, following the likes of celebrities like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, who have all deleted their accounts in the past after being overwhelmed by the online world.


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Microsoft releases Web Media Extensions package for Edge and Windows 10

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft also introduced the world to its latest browser, Edge. Despite the heavy push, users are not flocking to use it, with the browser still struggling to gain market share. Today, Microsoft is attempting to push the browser into a better position amongst its competitors with the announcement that it will be offering support for the Web Media Extensions package.

The Web Media Extensions package will give the Edge browser and Windows 10 apps support for open source formats that are frequently found on the internet. When a user installs the package, they will be able to natively play content “delivered in the OGG container or encoded using the Vorbis or Theora codecs.”

Once the extension is installed, it will automatically be used by websites and apps without the need for the user to do any extra work. If interested, you can head to the source link down below and download the Web Media Extensions package​ that will come in at roughly 8.55MB.

Source: Microsoft via On MSFT

Microsoft releases Web Media Extensions package for Edge and Windows 10

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft also introduced the world to its latest browser, Edge. Despite the heavy push, users are not flocking to use it, with the browser still struggling to gain market share. Today, Microsoft is attempting to push the browser into a better position amongst its competitors with the announcement that it will be offering support for the Web Media Extensions package.

The Web Media Extensions package will give the Edge browser and Windows 10 apps support for open source formats that are frequently found on the internet. When a user installs the package, they will be able to natively play content “delivered in the OGG container or encoded using the Vorbis or Theora codecs.”

Once the extension is installed, it will automatically be used by websites and apps without the need for the user to do any extra work. If interested, you can head to the source link down below and download the Web Media Extensions package​ that will come in at roughly 8.55MB.

Source: Microsoft via On MSFT

Everything That’s Wrong With Social Media And Big Internet Companies: Part 1

Some of today’s anxiety about social-media platforms is driven by the concern that Russian operatives somehow used Facebook and Twitter to affect our electoral process. Some of it’s due a general perception that big American social-media companies, amorally or immorally driven by the profit motive, are eroding our privacy and selling our data to other companies or turning it over to the government—or both. Some of it’s due to the perception that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms are bad for us—that maybe even Google’s or Microsoft’s search engines are bad for us—and that they make us worse people or debase public discourse. Taken together, it’s more than enough fodder for politicians or would-be pundits to stir up generalized anxiety about big tech.

But regardless of where this moral panic came from, the current wave of anxiety about internet intermediaries and social-media platforms has its own momentum now. So we can expect many more calls for regulation of these internet tools and platforms in the coming months and years. Which is why it’s a good idea to itemize the criticisms we’ve already seen, or are likely to see, in current and future public-policy debates about regulating the internet. We need to chart the kinds of arguments for new internet regulation that are going to confront us, so I’ve been compiling a list of them. It’s a work in progress, but here are three major claims that are driving recent expressions of concern about social media and internet companies generally.

(1) Social media are bad for you because they use algorithms to target you, based on the data they collect about you.

It’s well-understood now that Facebook and other platforms gather data about what interests you in order to shape what kinds of advertising you see and what kind of news stories you see in your news feed (if you’re using a service that provides one). Some part of the anxiety here is driven by the idea (more or less correct) that an internet company is gathering data about your likes, dislikes, interests, and usage patterns, which means it knows more about you in some ways than perhaps your friends (on social media and in what we now quaintly call “real life”) know about you. Possibly more worrying than that, the companies are using algorithms—computerized procedures aimed at analyzing and interpreting data—to decide what ads and topics to show you.

It’s worth noting, however, that commercial interests have been gathering data about you since long before the advent of the internet. In the 1980s and before in the United States, if you joined one book club or ordered one winter coat on Land’s End, you almost certainly ended up on mailing lists and received other offers and many, many mail-order catalogs. Your transactional information was marketed, packaged, and sold to other vendors (as was your payment and credit history). If false information was shared about you, you perhaps had some options ranging from writing remove-me-from-your-list letters to legal remedies under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. But the process was typically cumbersome, slow, and less-than-completely satisfactory (and still is when it comes to credit-bureau records). One advantage with some internet platforms is that (a) they give you options to quit seeing ads you don’t like (and often to say just why you don’t like them), and (b) the internet companies, anxious about regulation, don’t exactly want to piss you off. (In that sense, they may be more responsive than TiVo could be.)

Of course it’s fair—and, I think, prudent—to note that the combination of algorithms and “big data” may have real consequences for democracy and for freedom of speech. Yale’s Jack Balkin has recently written an excellent law-review article that targets these issues. At the same time, it seems possible for internet platforms to anonymize data they collect in ways that pre-internet commercial enterprises never could.

(2) Social Media are bad for you because they allow you to create a filter bubble where you see only (or mostly) opinions you agree with. (2)(a) Social media are bad for you because they foment heated arguments between you and those you disagree with.

To some extent, these two arguments run against each other—if you only hang out online with people who think like you, it seems unlikely that you’ll have quite so many fierce arguments, right? (But maybe the arguments between people who share most opinions and backgrounds are fiercer?) In any case, it seems clear that both “filter bubbles” and “flames” can occur. But when they do, statistical research suggests, it’s primarily because of user choice, not algorithms. In fact, as a study in Public Opinion Quarterly reported last year, the algorithmically driven social-media platforms may be both increasing polarization and increasing users’ exposures to opposing views. The authors summarize their conclusions this way:

“We find that social networks and search engines are associated with an increase in the mean ideological distance between individuals. However, somewhat counterintuitively, these same channels also are associated with an increase in an individual’s exposure to material from his or her less preferred side of the political spectrum.”

In contrast, the case that “filter bubbles” are a particular, polarizing problem relies to a large degree not on statistics but on anecdotal evidence. That is, the people who don’t like arguing or who can’t bear too different a set of political opinions tend to curate their social-media feeds accordingly, while people who don’t mind arguments (or even love them) have no difficulty encountering heterodox viewpoints on Facebook or Twitter. (At various times I’ve fallen into one or the other category on the internet, even before the invention of social media or the rise of Google’s search engine.)

The argument about “filter bubbles”—people self-segregating and self-isolating into like-minded online groups—is an argument that predates modern social media and the dominance of modern search engines. Law professor Cass Sunstein advanced it in his 2001 book, Republic.com and hosted a website forum to promote that book. I remember this well because I showed up in the forum to express my disagreement with his conclusions—hoping that my showing up as a dissenter would itself raise questions about Sunstein’s version of the “filter bubble” hypothesis. I didn’t imagine I’d change Sunstein’s mind, though, so I was unsurprised to see the professor has revised and refined his hypothesis, first in Republic.com 2.0 in 2007 and now in #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, published just this year.

(3) Social media are bad for you because they are profit-centered, mostly (including the social media that don’t generate profits).

“If you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product.” That’s a maxim with real memetic resonance, I have to admit. This argument is related to argument number 1 above, except that instead of focusing on one’s privacy concerns, it’s aimed at the even-more-disturbing idea that we’re being commodified and sold by the companies who give us free services. This necessarily includes Google and Facebook, which provide users with free access but which gather data that is used primarily to target ads. Both of those companies are profitable. Twitter, which also serves ads to its users, isn’t yet profitable, but of course aspires to be.

As a former employee of the Wikimedia Foundation—which is dedicated to providing Wikipedia and other informational resources to everyone in the world, for free—I don’t quite know what to make of this. Certainly the accounts of the early days of Google or of Facebook suggest that advertising as a mission typically arose after the founders realized that their new internet services needed to make money. But once any new company starts making money by the yacht-load, it’s easy to dismiss the whole enterprise as essentially mercenary.

(In Europe, much more ambivalent to commercial enterprises than the United States, it’s far more common to encounter this dismissiveness. This helps explain some the Europe’s greater willingness to regulate the online world. The fact that so many successful internet companies are American also helps explain that impulse.)

But Wikipedia has steadfastly resisted even the temptation to sell ads—even though it could have become an internet commercial success just as IMDB.com has—because the Wikipedia volunteers and the Wikimedia Foundation see value in providing something useful and fun to everyone regardless of whether one gets rich doing so. So do the creators of free and open-source software. If creating free products and services doesn’t always mean you’re out to sell other people into data slavery, shouldn’t we at least consider the possibility that social-media companies may really mean it when they declare their intentions to do well by doing good? (“Do Well By Doing Good” is a maxim commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin—who of course sold advertising, and even wrote advertising copy, for his Pennsylvania Gazette.) I think it’s a good idea to follow Mike Masnick’s advice to stop repeating this “you’re the product” slogan—unless you’re ready to condemn all traditional journals that subsidize giving their content to you through advertising.

So that’s the current top three chart-toppers for the Social Media-Are-Bad-For-You Greatest Hits. But this is a crowded field—only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to trendy criticisms of social-media platforms, search engines, and unregulated mischievous speech on the internet–and we expect to see many other competing criticisms of Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. surface in the weeks and months to come. I’m already working on Part 2.

Mike Godwin (@sfmnemonic) is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute.

Windows 10 now supports OGG, Vorbis, and Theora media formats

a31a9_W10 Windows 10 now supports OGG, Vorbis, and Theora media formats

The reports recently confirmed that the future versions of Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft Edge browser will support the media formats OGG, Vorbis, and Theora. Today, Microsoft has enabled the support for OGG, Vorbis and Theora media formats in Windows 10 operating system with an app.

Back in October, we discovered that the Microsoft Edge development platform status page list included support for all three formats. The company has today published a new app ‘Web Media Extensions’ to the Microsoft Store and you can install it on your Windows 10 device running the Fall Creators Update.

Since Windows Phone is technically not running Windows 10 Mobile Fall Creators Update, you cannot install Web Media Extensions on your phone. The application is designed to run on devices with build 16299+.

“The Web Media Extensions package extends Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 to support open source formats commonly encountered on the web. By installing this Media Extension package, users will be able to natively play content delivered in the OGG container or encoded using the Vorbis or Theora codecs. Once installed, this extension is automatically used by both web sites and apps with no user action required,” the company explains.

Once the app is installed, Windows 10 operating system and Microsoft Edge will be able to play the open media formats Ogg, Vorbis and Theora. Microsoft won’t enable the feature by default, users will apparently need to download the app from the Store and manually enable the functionality on their Windows 10 machines.

Download Web Media Extensions for Windows 10.


Vorbis, Theora and Ogg media formats swims onto Windows 10

by Surur

 

Vorbis, Theora and Ogg media formats swims onto Windows 10

by Surur

 

Israel’s Social Media War: How The IDF Uses the Internet To Fight Hezbollah

Israel has been fighting Hezbollah on the battlefield for more than three decades, most recently in 2006, but the country is increasingly taking the fight to their Lebanese rivals online too. 

Israel’s chief military spokesman Ronen Manelis told journalists that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) was conducting a “psychological war” against Hezbollah as well as preparing conventional operations against the Iran-backed group.

Related: Iran: Israel Will Be ‘Eradicated’ In Next War With Hezbollah

Such operations, Manelis said, included the targeting of Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. “There won’t be a clear victory picture in the next war, though it’s clear that Nasrallah is a target,” he explained, according to Haaretz.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a war against each other in northern Lebanon in 2006, with the Israeli army probing deep into Hezbollah territory in southern Lebanon and bombarding the Lebanese capital, Beirut. But the Shiite paramilitary group emerges from the war in Syria a stronger, more battle-hardened force.  

e16a9_gettyimages-82408846 Israel's Social Media War: How The IDF Uses the Internet To Fight Hezbollah An Israeli flag flies from the Kidmat Zion Jewish settlement community on the outskirts of the Arab village of Abu Dis, where the Old City with its golden Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine is seen in the background, August 18, 2008 in East Jerusalem David Silverman/Getty Images

Manelis said that the propaganda war is shifting from traditional media to online: “One of the things we talk about is the transition from traditional media consumption to social media. We are also active in this theater, and it is an operational theater in every respect. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve taken a great many actions that caused consternation on the other side.”

Since 2013 the Israeli government has been engaged in recruiting what it has referred to as “cover units,” the Guardian reported. A mixture of international students and domestic students have been employed by Israel in a “professional trolling” capacity to defeat a wide range of enemies from the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement to to foreign governments.

During the 2014 Gaza war the student group “Israel Under Fire” emerged as a key voice on social media promoting Israel’s narrative of the conflict. “Social media is another place where the war goes on. This is another way to tell our story,” the group’s leader, Yarden Ben-Yosef, said.

Hezbollah has itself maintained a sophisticated media operation since the 1980s. In 1984 its political wing, the Loyalty To the Resistance Bloc, has published a weekly newspaper al-Ahad, and subsequently the party began broadcasting on two radio stations. In 1989 Hezbollah created its own television station, al-Manar.

According to the Jersualem Post, more recently Hezbollah has bolstered its media presence operating more than 50 websites including the website of its leader Hassan Nasrallah. On the Hezbollah leader’s website the archives of his speeches and and pronouncements are available.

Tensions have ratcheted between Israel, Hezbollah and the militia’s backers in Iran in recent weeks. In a of recent statements Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has attacked Israel, saying Saturday Israel would be “eradicated” in the next war with Hezbollah.

The comments by IRGC commander Mohammed Ali Jafri came against a backdrop of increased sectarian pressure between Shiite Tehran and Sunni Riyadh. At a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo a week ago the body condemned Hezbollah and Iran, accusing both of supporting terrorism and extremist groups with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.

In a Thursday interview with the New York Times Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, said Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameni, the Supreme Leader of Iran, was the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” He went on to further compare the sectarian power struggle in the region between Riyadh and Tehran to Europe in World War II.   

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The Internet Broke the Media, and There’s No Turning Back

The last few weeks have been a bloodbath for several digital media companies. The blame fell on the usual suspects: Google and Facebook are commanding more of people’s attention and advertising dollars, which leaves little room for anyone else. This is true, but it’s also not the complete picture.

The reality is that there’s no single villain, nor a magic formula for success in a world in which the internet and smartphones changed everything. Media companies young and old are still coming to terms with this reality and must brace themselves for the possibility that they may fail even if they do everything right. 

629b3_60x-1 The Internet Broke the Media, and There's No Turning Back

Here’s a snapshot of the recent digital media bloodbath: Onetime darling Mashable sold for a pittance, and more sales are likely coming. Spanish-language television titan Univision Communications Inc. is looking to sell a slice of the online media empire it assembled just last year. Billionaire Joe Ricketts abruptly shut his local news websites in New York, Chicago and other cities. Verizon Communications Inc. is firing hundreds of people from the company it cobbled together in acquisitions of Yahoo and AOL. Two muscular and richly valued young news organizations, BuzzFeed Inc. and Vice Media Inc., aren’t pulling in as much revenue as they expected this year. 

It’s not a pretty picture. But it’s also a complex one. It’s true that a growing share of the population is digesting news and entertainment digitally. A survey this summer by the Pew Research Center found that about two-thirds of U.S. adults get their news at least some of the time from social media. Young Americans are watching far less TV than older ones, but they devour TV programming online and other digital videos. 

The people are online, but the spoils are distributed unevenly. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. collectively have a global audience in the billions, and many of them are hanging out there instead of watching TV, reading newspapers or scouring other companies’ media and entertainment websites.

629b3_60x-1 The Internet Broke the Media, and There's No Turning Back

Those two technology giants also grab about two-thirds of all U.S. digital advertising spending, according to research firm eMarketer. That commanding share is due both to Google and Facebook’s hold on people’s attention and to their sophisticated technology that hits on the right mix of advertising volume, performance and prices. Almost no other companies can match their digital expertise. 

For everyone else, the road is tough but in different ways. The pain in digital media of late falls into at least three distinct categories. BuzzFeed and Vice are building substantial businesses but most likely took on too much investment money, which ratcheted up the pressure to deliver big revenue that might not be sustainable.

Mashable is among the companies that for a variety of reasons are losing readers and may never get them back. And the third category is reliance on a billionaire owner. Sometimes it works out, as appears to be the case with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post. And sometimes, as in the case of Ricketts, fickle rich people decide they don’t want to be in journalism anymore. 

What’s the fix? There is none. Sorry. Digital media upstarts are trying to rely less on advertising and charge readers for subscriptions or make money in other ways such as hosting events, licensing their programming to TV or movie companies and referring people to products in return for a finder’s fee. 

These tactics all make sense for young digital media companies, but they’re also incredibly difficult to pull off and not a panacea. The best approach is to have a coherent strategy, make money from multiple sources, minimize costs and lower expectations. And even if companies do all these things, they still may not survive. 

Digital media companies aren’t the only ones casting about for survival strategies. Traditional media companies have a tough slog, too. And nearly every industry is learning that business models are breaking, and it’s not easy to put them back together.

Sure, old-school retailers can sell stuff online just as they did in stores, but those sales come at lower profits. Traditional media and entertainment companies can put their news articles and TV shows online, but they may draw smaller revenue than they did in the days when a handful of TV stations and newspapers dominated people’s time and money. 

There is no silver bullet for what the internet and smartphones have destroyed. There will be sustainable business models carved — painfully — from the new media landscape. But even the winners will most likely have to do more with less. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

The Internet Broke the Media, and There’s No Turning Back

The last few weeks have been a bloodbath for several digital media companies. The blame fell on the usual suspects: Google and Facebook are commanding more of people’s attention and advertising dollars, which leaves little room for anyone else. This is true, but it’s also not the complete picture.

The reality is that there’s no single villain, nor a magic formula for success in a world in which the internet and smartphones changed everything. Media companies young and old are still coming to terms with this reality and must brace themselves for the possibility that they may fail even if they do everything right. 

5c5b3_60x-1 The Internet Broke the Media, and There's No Turning Back

Here’s a snapshot of the recent digital media bloodbath: Onetime darling Mashable sold for a pittance, and more sales are likely coming. Spanish-language television titan Univision Communications Inc. is looking to sell a slice of the online media empire it assembled just last year. Billionaire Joe Ricketts abruptly shut his local news websites in New York, Chicago and other cities. Verizon Communications Inc. is firing hundreds of people from the company it cobbled together in acquisitions of Yahoo and AOL. Two muscular and richly valued young news organizations, BuzzFeed Inc. and Vice Media Inc., aren’t pulling in as much revenue as they expected this year. 

It’s not a pretty picture. But it’s also a complex one. It’s true that a growing share of the population is digesting news and entertainment digitally. A survey this summer by the Pew Research Center found that about two-thirds of U.S. adults get their news at least some of the time from social media. Young Americans are watching far less TV than older ones, but they devour TV programming online and other digital videos. 

The people are online, but the spoils are distributed unevenly. Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. collectively have a global audience in the billions, and many of them are hanging out there instead of watching TV, reading newspapers or scouring other companies’ media and entertainment websites.

5c5b3_60x-1 The Internet Broke the Media, and There's No Turning Back

Those two technology giants also grab about two-thirds of all U.S. digital advertising spending, according to research firm eMarketer. That commanding share is due both to Google and Facebook’s hold on people’s attention and to their sophisticated technology that hits on the right mix of advertising volume, performance and prices. Almost no other companies can match their digital expertise. 

For everyone else, the road is tough but in different ways. The pain in digital media of late falls into at least three distinct categories. BuzzFeed and Vice are building substantial businesses but most likely took on too much investment money, which ratcheted up the pressure to deliver big revenue that might not be sustainable.

Mashable is among the companies that for a variety of reasons are losing readers and may never get them back. And the third category is reliance on a billionaire owner. Sometimes it works out, as appears to be the case with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post. And sometimes, as in the case of Ricketts, fickle rich people decide they don’t want to be in journalism anymore. 

What’s the fix? There is none. Sorry. Digital media upstarts are trying to rely less on advertising and charge readers for subscriptions or make money in other ways such as hosting events, licensing their programming to TV or movie companies and referring people to products in return for a finder’s fee. 

These tactics all make sense for young digital media companies, but they’re also incredibly difficult to pull off and not a panacea. The best approach is to have a coherent strategy, make money from multiple sources, minimize costs and lower expectations. And even if companies do all these things, they still may not survive. 

Digital media companies aren’t the only ones casting about for survival strategies. Traditional media companies have a tough slog, too. And nearly every industry is learning that business models are breaking, and it’s not easy to put them back together.

Sure, old-school retailers can sell stuff online just as they did in stores, but those sales come at lower profits. Traditional media and entertainment companies can put their news articles and TV shows online, but they may draw smaller revenue than they did in the days when a handful of TV stations and newspapers dominated people’s time and money. 

There is no silver bullet for what the internet and smartphones have destroyed. There will be sustainable business models carved — painfully — from the new media landscape. But even the winners will most likely have to do more with less. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Trump’s FCC moves quickly to upend internet, media rules

Ajit Pai may go down as one of President Trump’s most effective, and controversial, regulators.

Pai, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, has moved fast to eliminate regulations for large internet service providers and broadcast media conglomerates.

In the process, Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon who was appointed to the FCC job by Trump, has earned the praise of the telecommunications industry and the contempt of tech companies and consumer advocacy groups.

“Every single thing they’re doing is for incumbent telephone cable and media companies,” Gigi Sohn, a counselor to Obama administration FCC chair Tom Wheeler, told CNNMoney earlier this year. “Pai wants to make the big bigger and the rich richer.”

Concerns about Pai’s deregulatory agenda grew as the FCC unveiled significant policy proposals in the final days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Net neutrality

On Tuesday, Pai unveiled his plan to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections intended to ensure that all content online is treated the same.

The net neutrality rules, approved by the previous FCC administration in 2015, prevent internet providers like Comcast from deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.

The full proposal was published online Wednesday and is expected to pass on a party-line vote at the FCC’s meeting next month. Pai said in a statement that repealing the rules will free the internet from micromanaging by the government.

Critics say the repeal threatens to fracture the internet into fast lanes and slow lanes, and let internet providers offer preferential treatment to companies that are willing to pay more. The plan could also make it harder for upstart online services to compete against incumbents.

As if the actual repeal weren’t enough of a lightning rod, there’s also controversy around the process itself. The FCC received 22 million comments from the public during a review period, but millions of those comments turned out to be fake.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office has spent six months investigating “a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC’s notice and comment process,” but he said the FCC has so far refused to provide a “substantive response.”

Schneiderman didn’t say which side the fraudulent comments favored, but cited studies showing that the “overwhelming majority” of authentic comments were in favor of the net neutrality rules.

The FCC pushed back in a statement Wednesday. “This so-called investigation is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed Internet regulations to gain publicity for himself,” the statement said.

Media consolidation

The outcry over net neutrality overshadowed another major FCC proposal on Tuesday.

Pai announced plans to review existing rules that prevent broadcast companies from owning TV stations that reach more than 39% of all TV households in the United States. The vote will take place at the same monthly meeting, on Dec. 14.

It’s just the latest proposal from the FCC that paves the way for greater media consolidation.

Earlier this year, the FCC voted to reinstate the “UHF discount,” which allows broadcasters to understate the reach of their stations. Shortly after, the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group announced plans to acquire Tribune Media in a deal that would push the total TV stations it owns above 200 nationwide. Without the discount, Sinclair’s reach would easily exceed the 39% cap.

Nearly two dozen Senate Democrats sent a letter to Pai in late September expressing “grave concerns” with his move to upend the media landscape.

“Moves to repeal the media ownership rules threatens to create a world of corporatized, nationalized content being force fed to consumers under the guise of local news and public affairs programming,” the senators wrote.

The outcry did not slow Pai. Earlier this month, the FCC voted to eliminate a longstanding rule that prevented entities from owning a radio or TV station and a newspaper in the same market. The FCC also loosened restrictions to make it easier for a company to own more than one TV station in one market.

These moves allowing for more media consolidation come at the same time that Trump’s Justice Department is trying to prevent greater media consolidation by suing to stop ATT from buying Time Warner, CNN’s parent company.

Internet access for low-income homes

This month, the FCC also voted to begin scaling back a federal program intended to help low-income U.S. households get access to the internet.

The decades-old program, called Lifeline, offers discounted phone and internet service in poorer communities.

Now the commission is about to limit the recipients who can receive a $25 subsidy intended for homes on tribal lands by restricting it to rural areas only.

The FCC is also considering a spending cap for the program’s budget as well as preventing certain internet providers from offering Lifeline support, which might mean some in the program can’t stay with their current providers.

Why social media and the internet are vital for Filipino indie bands

Disruptive technology and the wide reach of the internet have been sweet music to the ears of the world’s independent bands that lack support from monolithic entertainment corporations.

Nowhere is it sweeter than in the Philippines, a country that is passionate about music – even if it’s just a trip to one of the country’s ubiquitous karaoke bars.

Backed by massive media and entertainment groups such as ABS-CBN, the country’s top stars are often television stars turned pop singers, but there’s a thriving independent music scene in the Philippines.

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Equipped with cheap and easy-to-use recording tools and platforms such as Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Spotify to promote their sound, ambitious independent musicians are finding an opportunity to break through the noise and carve out their own niche in Manila’s music scene.

Filipino indie artists are the most active in the country’s recording industry, according to local non-profit publication The Manila Review. And independent licensing agency Merlin says a growing number of indie musicians are emerging via self-release services. A few have even managed to use the reach of the internet to cross the line between indie and mainstream, expanding the boundaries of genre and redefining contemporary music in the country.

One example is Autotelic. Members of the Metro Manila-based group originally got together in 2012 to make heavy rock. The band formed as a side project for musicians who had all previously played in rock outfits. The driving force was Neil Tin, former lead guitarist of a punk band called The Naked Lights, and Josh Villena, former lead guitarist of Maya’s Anklet and Peryodiko.

Tin and Villena wanted to create something that would have a lasting impact on Filipino music, which would require venturing beyond the sounds they grew up with.

Historically, the Philippines has been heavily influenced by the American entertainment industry. Rock’n’roll was introduced in the 1970s, with stars including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Vale enjoying massive popularity. Filipinos developed their own style, with lyrics in the local language and dialects. This became known as Filipino rock, or “Pinoy rock”.

 Why social media and the internet are vital for Filipino indie bands“Alternative rock music in the Philippines boomed in the 1990s, led by bands like Eraserheads and Rivermaya,” says Gep Macadaeg, Autotelic’s drummer.

However, interest in the genre slowly waned when Electronic Dance Music (EDM) swept into the country in the early 2010s.

Autotelic recognised that EDM would have a lasting impact on music worldwide. Without losing their rock sound and artistic identity, the band decided to try out a fresh approach, infusing their new songs with electronica.

Wanting to expand traditional genre boundaries, in 2015 Autotelic crafted a new sound that band members believed would find wide enough appeal to be picked up by local radio stations.

According to Macadaeg, new listeners began to search for the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. “We always announce our gigs and band updates through social media, and we try our best to entertain every post and inquiry from our followers,” the drummer says.

Macadaeg says the internet has become the most effective platform to showcase the band and its music – the radio stations are already playing their songs. “We owe our exposure to social media and the buzz generated from it,” Macadaeg says.

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Since the band was established, the number of Autotelic fans has grown steadily. It now has about 103,000 monthly listeners on the Spotify music streaming app alone, and more than 74,000 followers on Facebook.

Macadaeg says the band wants to reach as many people as possible – which is always a struggle for an indie outfit. So they take any opportunity to perform, ranging from hosting regular gigs to playing at corporate events.

The band’s biggest fan base is in Metro Manila, especially among teenagers and young adults. Whenever they perform, crowds shout loudly to request the band’s two most popular songs: Laro and Gising.

 Why social media and the internet are vital for Filipino indie bandsAlthough Autotelic began as an indie group, it has crossed the commercial barrier. In 2016, the band signed a deal with MCA Music, the Philippine arm of Universal Music Group. The label is now helping to promote the band, together with Autotelic’s own independent management – a hybrid arrangement of sorts.

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But despite the band’s growing popularity, its members continue to struggle with drawbacks such as a lack of budget and disposable income. Although playing live generates a fair level of income, it’s not a living wage. So each member has another job.

Villena works as a designer for a brand of chilli garlic called Silly Garlic. Kai Honasan, who joined Autotelic in 2014 as a vocalist, also performs as a solo artist and released a pop EP that year. Tin works as an account manager for a design agency, while Macadaeg has a day job as a marketer for international schools in Metro Manila.

 Why social media and the internet are vital for Filipino indie bandsThe band is now writing songs for its second album, which is slated for release in mid-2018.

For some musicians, diving into the indie scene is a path to artistic renewal. Jensen Gomez had years of experience performing as a solo artist in the early 2000s, while under contract with Universal Records. But around 2010, Gomez wanted a more adventurous creative experience. He realised that being signed to major label wouldn’t allow him to fully express his creativity, because of the control they exert in their search for commercial success.

 Why social media and the internet are vital for Filipino indie bandsSo he ended his partnership with Universal and approached the backup session musicians who had been playing live with him, explaining that he wanted to form a solid band whose music would stand out from the mainstream.

Jensen and the Flips was born. Gomez wanted the band to be in total control of its style and its future. Image wise, they decided they wanted the group to be easily recognisable by always performing in button-down shirts and ties. Musically, they wanted to deliver a unique blend of indie pop and Motown soul.

It was a successful formula. In 2012, Jensen and The Flips was signed by Yellow Room Music, a local indie record label. In 2014, Gomez’s personal popularity was given a boost when Universal Records released one of his previously recorded solo albums, called Umpisa, which had been stuck in limbo for years following his departure from the label.

Jensen and the Flips released their debut album Honeymoon in 2015. It was distributed by MCA Records and the band inched its way into the mainstream.

“You need to be resourceful and have connections with the right people,” says Gomez.

The band is now fairly well known in Metro Manila, particularly around Makati and Quezon City. Gomez says the band has been playing gigs at local high schools in these areas, and demand for the band’s retro sound is high among Manila’s youth.

Jensen and the Flips – which has earned a reputation for its energetic stage performances – once performed 23 gigs in a single month, Gomez recalls. The band’s songs have more than 170,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Gomez says that social media and streaming services have been a big help for Jensen and the Flips in building a fan base. The band routinely updates its Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud and other channels to pull in new listeners. Social media also helps them connect to important people in the industry, Gomez says.

Like Autotelic, live gigs account for most of the band’s income, while digital streaming media serves to build its image and help reach new audiences. Gomez describes the band’s internet presence as its “calling card”.

When they are not making music, band members have other activities to juggle. Lead vocalist Gomez produces for other artists. Guitarist Samuel Valenia and bassist Choi Padilla usually jam with their other band, The Espasouls. Percussionist Fitz Manto has a day job as an audio engineer at Yellow Room Music recording studio. Miggy Concepcion, who plays keyboard, organises a union for composers, called Phalanx Score.

The popularity of digital streaming media gave indie artists in the Philippines the chance to stand their ground against the might of the mainstream pop industry. But despite the many ways to build a following online, the musicians have to remain inventive to make ends meet.




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