Monday, January 31, 2011

Al-Jazeera using Skype to cover unrest

Text of report by Qatari newspaper The Peninsula website on 30 January

Doha: The Al Jazeera Network have adapted to restricted communications in Egypt by adopting innovative social media techniques to extract news and views from the country.

While ordinary Egyptians have not had access to social networks like Twitter, Al Jazeera have been using Skype to record messages by members of the public. Al Jazeera has made the recordings available on Audioboo, promoting them through Facebook.

Al Jazeera’s web output has proved incredibly popular in the last 24 hours. The livestream from their English news channel has been viewed for 26 million minutes in the last 12 hours. The livestream has even been twice as popular as the website itself, putting more pressure on US cable platforms in particular to air the channel.

A spokesman said “Al Jazeera has been the most searched for term on the internet after Egypt itself, according to Alexa. The outside world was starved of first hand accounts when the internet went black in Egypt. Al Jazeera filled the void with live reports from across the country as the world flocked to our website for the latest developments on the ground.”
(Source: The Peninsula website, Doha, in English 30 Jan 11 via BBC Monitoring)

Related story:

Al Jazeera kicked out of Egypt, Nilesat signal cut
Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera was ordered by Egypt’s information ministry earlier today to shut down its operations in the country, and later in the day its signal to some parts of the Middle East was cut. The news channel, which says it can reach 220 million households in more than 100 countries, said in a message on its broadcast that Egypt’s satellite Nilesat had cut off its broadcasting signal. That effectively took Al Jazeera off the air in some parts of the Arab world, but other signals were still available.

“Dear viewers, Al Jazeera’s signal has been cut off on Nilesat,” it broadcast via a signal visible in Kuwait, and gave satellite frequencies on which the channel was still available.

Earlier, Egyptian authorities ordered it to stop operations in Egypt, though correspondents were still reporting news by telephone. “The Information Minister ordered … suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” a statement on Egypt’s official Mena news agency said.

Launched in Doha, Qatar, in 1996, Al Jazeera has more than 400 reporters in over 60 countries, according to its website.

(Source: Reuters)

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. “Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their [sic] coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt,” the statement said.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless. “Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists,” the statement said.

“In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.

“Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt. Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparallelled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt.”

Al Jazeera’s Arabic channels are now broadcast as follows:

1) New frequency for Arabic and Mubasher on Nilesat 7W:
10949 vertical (new)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

2) New frequency for Arabic and Mubasher on Arabsat 26E:
11585 vertical (new)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

3) Arabic and Mubasher on Hotbird:
12111 MHz Vertical (Old)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

4) Arabic and Mubasher on Arabsat Badr4 (Old):
12034 MHz Horizontal
SR: 27.500
FEC: 3/4

5) Arabic and Mubasher on Arabsat Badr4 (Old):
11996 MHz Horizontal
SR: 27.500
FEC: 3/4

(Source: Al Jazeera/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)