Disastrous summer for Macedonian media, with TV station and three dailies closed

first_img August 17, 2011 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Disastrous summer for Macedonian media, with TV station and three dailies closed RSF_en Organisation Receive email alerts Reporters Without Borders is very worried about a steady decline in respect for press freedom in Macedonia since the start of the year. The closure of three national dailies, the withdrawal of the leading privately-owned TV station’s licence and changes to the Broadcasting Council that facilitate government control have caused an upheaval in the media world that does not bode well for freedom of expression.Closure of three leading dailies and A1 TVReporters Without Borders deplores the 3 July closure of three dailies owned by the Macedonian media company Plus Produkcija and the fact that A1, a TV station owned by the same group, has been stripped of its broadcasting licence. Vreme, Macedonia’s most widely-read newspaper, the Albanian-language daily Koha e Re and the tabloid Špic were all put in administration as a result of a tax investigation into Plus Produkcija owner Velija Ramkovski that began in December 2010.An influential businessman and media baron, Ramkovski was an unconditional supporter and partner of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s government from 2006 to 2008 but distanced himself in 2009. Thereafter, Plus Produkcija became the bugbear of the government, which found it hard to accept A1’s outspoken criticism. March 8, 2017 Find out more May 29, 2015 Find out more Follow the news on North Macedonia News Journalists repeatedly attacked in Macedonian political crisis North MacedoniaEurope – Central Asia to go further News North MacedoniaEurope – Central Asia Sinister threat to Macedonian journalist and his family News A detachment of police special forces raided A1’s headquarters in November 2010 as part of an investigation into Ramkovski on suspicion of tax fraud, money laundering and organized crime. Ramkovski and 10 of his aides and associates were placed in pre-trial detention in June 2011. Their trial, dubbed the Spider’s Web, began at the end of June but has been repeatedly adjourned since then.After the launch of the investigation into Ramkovski and his arrest, the bank accounts of Plus Produkcija and A1 were frozen. Despite the financial difficulties, the determination shown by the journalists and staff at the three newspapers and A1 paid off and normal operations resumed after debts had been repaid (70,000 euros by Plus Produkcija and 2.4 million euros by A1).But the four media had their accounts frozen again at the end of June when Macedonia’s public treasury demanded the immediate settlement of unpaid taxes and social security contributions amounting to 1 million euros for Plus Produkcija and 9.5 million euros for A1. Although they appealed to an administrative court, they were ordered to settle these debts by 8 August.The government originally said the investigation would not threaten A1 but this is clearly no longer the case. In an 8 July press release, the government said: “The situation that the TV station A1 is undergoing has a simple explanation, namely the legal action against its owner, who is the subject of judicial proceedings. Any attempt to stir up a controversy about irregularities in the institutional system would be to misinform the public, a practice for which A1 is already well known.”“We are astonished by these upheavals in the media landscape,” Reporters Without Borders said. “While it is clearly legitimate to combat money laundering and tax fraud, we are disturbed by the decisions to place the same media group in administration twice in a row and the hasty closure of its newspapers before the outcome of its legal appeals. “Journalists cannot be blamed for any misconduct by their media owners. A staggered debt payment schedule could and should have been negotiated to ensure the survival of these independent media. The government clearly seized the chance to silence some of the few media that criticize it.“We also call on the government to act consistently in the A1 case and to respect the law. The broadcast frequency A1 had been using until 30 July was arbitrarily withdrawn by the Electronic Communications Agency (AEC) without the Broadcasting Council’s approval, violating article 55 of the broadcasting law and disregarding the council’s members. We warn the government not to let broadcast licences be rescinded arbitrarily. The council’s prerogatives must be scrupulously respected.”Questionable reform of Broadcasting CouncilThe government is meanwhile in the process of reforming the Broadcasting Council in such a way as to bring it under its control by increasing the number of its members from nine to 15. The six new members are to be name by the country’s president, the parliament’s anti-corruption commission and the Electronic Communications Agency – all of which are controlled by the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party.The changes to the Broadcasting Council were rushed through parliament, which approved them in a vote on 18 July.Reporters Without Borders condemns the reform of the Broadcasting Council and, in particular, the use of an emergency procedure to speed it through parliament. The changes to the council’s composition are far from minor and should have been the subject of a debate with media and civil society organizations.There was no justification for such haste except to gain control of the Broadcasting Council which, in theory at least, will have to endorse the withdrawal of A1’s frequency. It is hard to believe that all this was just a coincidence. There is every reason for questioning the real goals being pursued by a government that seems bent on tightening its grip on the media.State TV coup attemptReporters Without Borders also condemns last week’s decision by the state TV broadcaster’s executive committee to fire its entire board of governors. According to the broadcasting law, each of the board’s seven members holds the post for a single five-year term that can be shortened only in exceptional circumstances that include personal choice, a prison sentence or a political appointment incompatible with continuing in the position.According to the information available to Reporters Without Borders, none of these circumstances was cited by the executive committee. Only two of the board’s seven members were reaching the end of their term. The others had at least several months to serve and the newest member began his term of office just seven months ago. No attempt has so far been made to form a new board, and this is now blocking all management decisions.The government seems to be acting in an utterly illegal manner, as it did with the Broadcasting Council. It is gradually gaining very direct control over both the regulatory bodies and the management of the state-owned media.In an opinion piece for Utrinski Vesnik on 9 August, Ace Dukovski, one of the board’s members, described what is happening within the state TV broadcaster as an attempted coup. He said it was Slobodan Čašule, the recently-elected head of the executive committee, who had requested that the mandates of all the board’s members be rescinded. Čašule insists that he has respected the broadcasting law. But article 137 of this law says that, while the executive committee may exceptionally decide to change the length of the term of office of board member, it can only do so at the board’s suggestion.Labour unions targetedReporters Without Borders also deplores the arbitrary dismissal of journalists who are active labour union members, including Tamara Čausidis, the president of the Union of Journalists of Macedonia, who was fired from the privately-owned TV station Alsat-M on 9 July.She told Reporters Without Borders that, before being dismissed, she had been subjected to threats and pressure to abandon her union activities and she had turned down various suggestions from her superiors that she should resign voluntarily. Even now, Alsat-M claims that she left by mutual consent and that her departure was confirmed by a “voluntary cancellation” agreement signed on 9 August. “I never signed and never even saw this document,” Čausidis said. “It is up to the police to find out how my signature was put on it.” She said the use of agreements signed under pressure or in ignorance in order to fire journalists is on the increase in Macedonia. Such practices are widely used in the private sector and are tolerated by the government, which uses them itself.“This is why I don’t want to dispense with legal proceedings. It is crucial for me to win these legal proceedings, not just for myself but for all the other media and their employees. I don’t know how long it may take, but I have no intention of dispensing with them.”Tamara Grnčaroska, another member of the union’s board, worked for Utrinski Vesnik, a daily newspaper that is having financial difficulties and is in the process of restructuring. A demonstration was organized which led to the dismissal of five journalists, including Grnčaroska, for alleged misconduct.“After the demonstration, I was fired for disobeying my editor and for lack of discipline,” she said. “The dismissal procedure, the arbitration committee, none of this was respected.” She added that, as someone specialized in covering foreign affairs, she has never been pressured in connection with her reporting. News Help by sharing this information Outspoken columnist threatened, his car torched April 22, 2015 Find out morelast_img read more

Building owners face deadline for relief from emission caps

first_img Message* Email Address* Building owners have until July 1 to apply for temporary relief from the city’s Local Law 97. (iStock)Building owners can apply for a reprieve from the city’s stringent emission caps, but time is running out.Under Local Law 97, buildings considered the city’s biggest global warming contributors — those larger than 25,000 square feet — must meet new greenhouse-gas emission caps starting in 2024. But the law also allows owners of certain properties to apply for an adjustment to those limits that runs through 2029.The catch: Owners only have until July 1 to apply. Complicating matters, the Department of Buildings has yet to release an application form or further guidance on the law’s parameters.“Nearly two years after Local Law 97 was passed, it is still unclear how the law will be applied and how building owners are supposed to comply — endangering environmental efforts while setting building owners up for unnecessary fines,” Real Estate Board of New York President James Whelan said in a statement.ADVERTISEMENTThe law says the adjustment is available but not limited to buildings with 24-hour operations, facilities critical to human health and safety, those with high-density occupancy and properties dedicated to energy-intensive industrial use or communications technologies.Owners must show that meeting 2024 caps is impossible because their building’s emissions in 2018 exceeded the caps set for 2024 by more than 40 percent. If approved, the building’s emission limits will temporarily be adjusted to 70 percent of its 2018 level.Some attorneys are concerned that not enough owners know this option is on the table.“Owners are not paying attention, but neither is the city,” said YuhTyng Patka, a partner with Duval & Stachenfeld. “The sense of urgency is not there.”The Department of Buildings plans to open the application process in the next few weeks and will provide additional guidance once that window opens, according to an agency spokesperson.Real estate professionals have been fighting for a different reprieve, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo included in his budget proposal. It would give building owners the option to offset their carbon emissions by buying renewable energy credits generated outside the city. The city’s law counts only credits from renewable energy generated within the city — which makes the credits a non-option, given the lack of wind and solar farms and hydroelectric plants in the city.Environmental groups, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, oppose Cuomo’s proposal, saying it circumvents the city’s law. The proposal doesn’t seem to have the support of the Assembly or Senate majorities, which excluded it from their budget resolutions.Owners argue that the city hasn’t provided enough clarity on how they can meet the law’s requirements, while supporters of the measure say landlords have known since the law’s passage in 2019 that they would need to limit their emissions. Those who don’t face millions of dollars in annual fines.New York Communities for Change, one of the groups fighting the Cuomo proposal, released a report this week targeting the Durst Organization and Rudin Management as some of the city’s “biggest polluters,” noting those companies would owe $581.5 million between 2024 and 2050 based on their buildings’ current emissions. (Those figures don’t factor in any retrofitting or upgrades across their portfolios or greening of the grid.) The group says the fines could pay for thousands of green jobs annually.The Durst Organization’s Jordan Barowitz said the analysis highlights the “critical flaw” in the law — that energy-efficient buildings have only two choices, and both do nothing for climate change:“Disperse people to work in less energy-efficient buildings or pay millions of dollars in fines that will go into City Hall’s pocket, not investments in renewable energy or carbon reduction,” he said in a statement.A spokesperson for Rudin said the law focuses on “source power, not energy efficiency.”Even if a building doesn’t explicitly qualify for a temporary adjustment, attorneys are encouraging building owners to apply. Alexis Saba, an environmental and land use attorney with Sive Paget & Riesel, said the application process could lay the foundation for seeking other adjustments or reduction of penalties from the Department of Buildings.“The spirit of that adjustment is that you have tenants that are high-energy users,” she said. “Now is a good time to apply and make your case to DOB.”Contact Kathryn Brenzel Full Name* Commercial Real EstateLocal Law 97Politicscenter_img Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Tagslast_img read more

No more Scarlet Letters

first_imgTo the Editor:How typical, another political campaign is coming up and out come the sexual misconduct allegations. This practice dates back to the mid-’80s when Supreme Court Judge Thomas underwent his Senate hearings. I lost a dear friend to suicide when his ex accused him falsely of molesting his 3-year-old daughter. Another friend went through six months of hell because his 11-year-old daughter said out of compassion for her sexually abused classmate that her dad, my friend, did the same thing to her. I can understand that an 11-year-old girl cannot foresee the results of her actions and words, but supposedly responsible adults? By using sexual misconduct for purposes of political influence or vendetta, true misconduct will not be pursued and prosecuted with the seriousness it deserves. We the people, the citizens of Bayonne, create our culture, not the government, not even the press. It is by what we accept, consume and follow, that we, each and every citizen, create the culture we live in and live with. By accepting this sensationalism we fuel the forces that turn neighbor against neighbor and that have turned this beautiful country into a country driven by hatred. It is up to us to reject stories of unproven accusations, be it accusations of sexual misconduct or accusations of conspiracies. We the people have the power to be neighbor helping neighbor, to be a people of compassion and benevolence, the people that I decided to join 37 years ago coming from Germany legally. Journalists are members of us the people, are our neighbors, and as such are responsible for their publications. Let us stop publishing accusations that cannot be proven publicly. If accusations are only alleged, wait until they are proven before they are published. Lives are being ruined too easily and too quickly. And as citizens, let us reject those who accuse without proof and start to support the accused, who have become the victims of the accusers. No more witch hunts, no more scarlet letters. We must start learning from history and become better people. ALEXANDER H. SCHENKlast_img read more

Keeping your strategic plan in focus

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr As we approach the end of the year, many financial institutions are wrapping up their 2016 plans and getting ready for the next phase – execution. This is where the real work begins. You’ve spent the better part of 2015 preparing for this next chapter. It’s time to put the pieces in place so those plans become actions when the calendar flips to 2016.Hopefully, your financial institution won’t fall into the trap that so many other organizations do. They breathe a sigh of relief that planning is over for a while. They tuck all of their papers and reports back into their respective folders, and they forget about most of what was discussed until it’s time to start planning for the next year.Here are three ways to help you avoid this:Make goal review part of every monthly board meeting. The first thing your board members should see in their board books/packets, even before the meeting agenda, is a list of 2016 goals with a status update for each one. Board members must stay in the know. continue reading »last_img read more

Swedish adjustment sees GiG report Q1 2019 revenue dip

first_img Share Betsson outrides pandemic challenges as regulatory dramas loom July 21, 2020 Related Articles Submit Share GiG lauds its ‘B2B makeover’ delivering Q2 growth August 11, 2020 StumbleUpon LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 Issuing its first trading statement as a Nasdaq Stockholm-listed enterprise, Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) details a tough opening to 2019 trading, as the company undertakes Swedish market adjustments.Updating investors, GiG records a 13% group revenue decline to €32 million (Q12018: €37m), attributed to anticipated Swedish market costs following the re-regulation of the market.Swedish adjustments impacted GIG’s revenue segments for both B2B €14.2 million (Q12018: €15.3m)  and B2C €20.2 million (Q12018: €25.4m) segments.Adjusting to new Swedish conditions, GiG governance details that the company ‘tightened its cost control’, reducing its period cost of sales and marketing expenditures.Despite its revenue slowdown, GiG maintained a positive EBITDA of €4.1 million (Q12018: €4.3m) in-line with corporate expectations.Robin Reed, GiG CEO, commented: “The Company delivered an EBITDA of €4.1m in Q1 and the key highlight was all-time high revenues and EBITDA in our media business. It is a performance I am reasonably satisfied with in light of the loss of a major B2B customer which we announced in Q4-18, and the new regulation in Sweden which is impacting both our B2C and B2B revenues. We had anticipated this and managed the impact by careful cost control.“The business is robust with cash flow from operating activities of €2.6m. GiG has become better and more competitive as the Company matures. Our leadership has never been stronger, our processes are more robust, and our strategic understanding and intent has evolved. I am looking forward with confidence to the growth opportunities for the rest of the year.”last_img read more

‘You deserve accolades’ – Hearts of Oak receive praise after brilliant transfer announcements

first_imgHearts of Oak are taking Ghana’s Twitter by storm.Elaborate transfer announcements might be commonplace, particularly in Europe – think Alexis Sanchez playing the piano for his move to United, which has become the ultimate meme on social media – but in Ghana, this is relatively new.Most of the clubs in the country, the ones that are on social media anyway, restrict themselves to simple photos of the players with a one-sentence welcome message.If they are lucky maybe they’ll get a mobile phone video with the standard two-finger salute and an awkward smile.A few have tried to buck the trend including Ashgold and NC Special Competition champions, Asante Kotoko, to varying results.Rivals Kotoko, in particular, have offered some egregious updates, sparking the anger of their fans and the amusement of opposition supporters.Kotoko, usually very creative with their designs and announcements on social media, have earned the ire of fans, particularly on Twitter with recent attempts to communicate their activities to their 124,000 followers on the site.In the last month, the club sent out a number of, according to many of their fans, half-hearted tweets announcing club signings, exits and other announcements.The tweet involved the confirmation of the departure of Adingrah Moussa is one such post. Now Phobia is doing something! Up up, now learn the social media terms and we good to go— Genevieve Naa Amerley Quaye (@NaaBardina) July 26, 2019 Chaley ,,I can’t stop watching diz video ..Heerrr..Phobia…..— KAY (@KAY68841040) August 5, 2019Even with announcements of new deals for current players, the club are not showing any signs of slowing down.Attacking midfielder Manaf Umar has signed an improved contract at the club as he looks to take his career to new heights in the famous rainbow colours. #AHOSC❤️💛💙 pic.twitter.com/uGQCEaHTgo— Phobians (@HeartsOfOakGH) July 25, 2019 However, Kotoko’s recent failings on social media have been put into starker contrast by rivals, Hearts of Oak’s upturn in online form.The Rainbow club has outstripped the other teams in terms of their engagement with fans. Their announcement of new signing Dominic Eshun got fans buzzing as it was accompanied by a well-shot, very well edited and emotional video. Hearts of Oak taking this player unveiling to a different level.Bernard Arthur is in pic.twitter.com/SpO9x6RzaS— Saddick Adams (@SaddickAdams) August 5, 2019 great photographs, great graphics, great everything ❤️— WanReal (@YawBlavk) July 26, 2019center_img Midfielder Mitchelle Sarpong has committed himself to an improved deal at the club and insists that he has more to offer going into the new season.❤️💛💙 pic.twitter.com/lDoNDySsdx— Phobians (@HeartsOfOakGH) July 26, 2019 New striker, Bernard Arthur, might not be the biggest name to be making a move in the window but you wouldn’t know it with Heart’s announcement and the excitement it has generated all over social media. Proper unveiling. Accra hearts of oak 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/tfjKmmtqnb— quarshiega (@nuworkP) August 5, 2019 This ma club hearts of oak ,big ups to the management— Edem Zigah (@ZigahEdem) July 26, 2019 Good news and nice pictures, pls add video clips. But great work done— Agbanyo Godwin Kofi (@godkofi81) July 26, 2019Fans of the club will hope that this newfound success on social media will translate into equally impressive results on the pitch.last_img read more

Milla predicts tough test for Ghana and Africa

first_imgThe African footballing legend has rated African teams ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.Cameroon football legend Roger Milla has predicted tough test for Ghana and the other four African countries – Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire – at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.Milla was part of the Indomitable Lions’ team that ensured an African team reached the last eight for the first time in the World Cup 24 years ago in Italy.But the retired striker was diplomatic with the chances of the African representatives set for this year’s prestigious showpiece which kicks off a fortnight’s time.”I must say Africans are in the toughest groups in this World Cup,” Milla told Supersports.”The five representatives will have to work harder to get our of their groups. This is different from the previous one, it a tough path to take for all teams and all we can hope if they go the extra mile to overcome their challenges.” “Once we get out of the groups to the next round then maybe we can determine our potential to go all the way. It is impossible for me to pick the best performer of the five at this point. You cannot really tell because all teams have equal opposition if not even opportunities.”Milla is the oldest player to feature and score in the tournament, at the age of 42 and is famously remembered for his trademark goal celebration in the 1990 World when they eliminated Colombia 2-1in the round of 16 courtesy of Milla’s brace.last_img read more

Pau Gasol returns to L.A. as Lakers beat Bulls in double OT

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Sitting on a bench at the Student Activities Center at UCLA at the morning shootaround, Gasol first talked about what the night might be like.“It’s going to be an exciting, emotional experience-type moment, so looking forward to be out there and play a good game and absorb the experience and thank the fans and the organization for all the time and experiences that we shared together,” he said.Gasol made three All-Star teams with the Lakers. He averaged 18.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in 23 playoff games in 2009 and 19.6 points and 11.1 rebounds in 23 playoff games in 2010.That could be why Scott told reporters that fans should give Gasol a standing ovation. They did when he was introduced by himself before the game. He stood in the middle of the court, waving to fans, many of whom were wearing T-shirts passed out by the Lakers that read, “Thanks, Pau,” as a video tribute to him played on the scoreboard.“I think it’s a compliment from Byron,” Gasol, 34, said. “I appreciate his support and anybody’s support, for that matter. But he’s a head coach of the team at a time that their team is struggling and not going through the best, so any kind words or words of support are a compliment and well-received and welcome.” Television cameras shone brightly in the face of former Lakers post Pau Gasol as he walked through a Staples Center corridor Thursday. It was to be the first time Gasol would grace the arena against the team for which he toiled for seven years, helping the Lakers win NBA titles in 2009 and 2010 along the way.Earlier in the day, Gasol spoke with sentiment and candor about the team he left behind to join the Chicago Bulls, who later were defeated by the Lakers 123-118 in double overtime before 18,977.The victory allowed the Lakers (13-34) to avoid tying the franchise record for consecutive losses, which is 10. Jordan Hill led the Lakers with 26 points and 12 rebounds, Wayne Ellington scored 23 and Jordan Clarkson had 18. Chicago (30-18) got 35 points from Jimmy Butler and 20 points and 10 rebounds from Gasol.“I think our guys just battled and played extremely hard all game long,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said.center_img Gasol is having a fine season, averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 11.9 rebounds before Thursday. He was voted in by fans to start the All-Star game for the Eastern Conference.Gasol, who left the Lakers for less money for a fresh start with a contender after all the hoopla with the Lakers that included multiple trade rumors, came off as stoked to be in Chicago. Whereas the Lakers won’t reach the playoffs, the Bulls entered play Thursday at 30-17 and in fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.“Just things coming together,” said Gasol, who was averaging 15.4 rebounds over his previous five games. “Just continuing to work and playing with energy, playing with passion, which I always try to do.”Scott is not surprised.“I think you put Pau in any situation, he’ll be successful,” he said.Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can’t say enough about Gasol, either.“The Lakers have a great history and I think he’s an important part of that history,” Thibodeau said. “He did a great job when he was in Memphis, he did a great job here and he’s doing a great job for us.”Gasol said he misses quite a bit about Los Angeles. Not the media scrutiny, though.“When things were going well here, it was exceptional,” he said. “They say L.A. and New York are two of the top cities, the best cities to win at. But they’re probably two of the tougher cities to lose and struggle because you get so much coverage that media have to create stories.“And sometimes the bad or negative stories are more attractive and so I felt like there was always searching for something bad or negative to talk about, some drama that was created whether it was some truth to it or not. Chicago so far has been great; very positive. Even when we had that six-game skid (recently) where we lost six out of eight, people were still positive, media was still positive.” .Gasol referred to Staples Center as a “special building,” and figured once he got there “the distractions will kick in, the emotions and memories will kick in.”He was treated nicely, so that adds another memory.Meanwhile, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak met with reporters Thursday morning to discuss the future of a Lakers team that is in the midst of its second consecutive losing season.“I think the first thing in order is the draft,” Kupchak said. “And prior to the draft, there’s trade deadline, which is Feb. 19. Are we going to be in a position to do something prior to the trade deadline? Will that affect the draft? As you know, we have a conditional pick with our own pick. We have Houston’s pick.“And then there are second-round picks that come into play, so I think that’s next on the agenda. When that comes to fruition we’ll look at the free agent market. And see what our needs are and what’s realistic. We do have an awful lot of financial flexibility.”As for tanking games to protect the conditional pick from Phoenix, forget about it.“Our coaches and players have been instructed to win games,” Kupchak said. “Maybe I used the wrong word, ‘instructed.’ I don’t have to instruct players to win games and to try to win games; I don’t have to instruct Byron to do that. That’s why they’re here.”As was Gasol. Now he’s winning for another team.last_img read more