The thirteenth meeting of the Permanent Committee on Television News was held on September 9, 2020, following the accompanying news webinar, held on September 8, 2020, via the Zoom application. The ASBU Director General Eng. Abderrahim Suleiman, and Ms. Dalila Fradi, Chair of the Committee, attended the meeting, while participation included several representatives of member corporations, among news directors and heads of news exchange departments. The meetings were held remotely, due to the exceptional circumstances imposed by the Corona pandemic and in order to preserve everyone’s safety.
In his opening statement, the Director General highlighted the importance of the Committee within ASBU’s structures, considering the scale of events and developments taking place in the Arab region. He noted the committee’s efforts and contributions of member corporations in improving news contents included in the Arab news exchange system, despite what has characterized the situation throughout the past months.
The Director General added that in the context of implementing precautionary measures to face the Coronavirus pandemic and in the interest of implementing the programmed activities, ASBU will continue to organize remote meetings and seminars until the end of the current year 2020. In 2020, ASBU will alternate holding its meetings between on site on remotely.
At the end of its meeting, the Committee recommended the following:
• Invite absentee corporations to participate in the audio conferences, considered as news editorial conferences, in order to raise the daily Arab news exchanges to the desired level according to the standards of the news exchange charter, while stressing the need for them to send feedback tables of the news materials they used.
• Highlight the role of the ASBU Cloud platform and its extensive use by member corporations during the tough curfew conditions, and call on all corporations to use the new media basket on the cloud platform to send news of social media networks after ensuring its reliability.
• Adopt the coverage plan for the next Arab Summit at its 31st regular session and include the events scheduled for coverage in 2020 in the 2021 coverage plan, namely, the Hajj season for the Hegira year 1442, the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, the climate summit 26Cop, in addition to the African summit and the G-20 summit.
• Express satisfaction with the various remote training options adopted by the ASBU training Academy as an alternative to in-house training.
• Establish a program technical working group to work on linking the MENOS + and the cloud networks with newsrooms of member corporations, and urge member corporations that did not request the MENoS + radio stations to expedite the request for these stations and benefit from the service.
• Call upon member corporations to support the ASBU efforts to ensure success for the 21st session of the Arab Radio and TV Festival.
• The Director General gave insight on the study being carried out by ASBU and recommended by the Executive Council, on the mechanism of holding meetings and carrying out some training courses remotely. The study aims to strengthen the ASBU role and increase its activity in parallel with reducing the financial burdens and obligations on its members.
The news webinar on "Media crisis coverage: the Corona pandemic as a model" included the following themes:
1. Arab television strategies and news coverage of the Corona pandemic crisis
2. Remote media coverage and the role of multiple platforms in publishing and interacting with the Corona pandemic
3. The communication dimension of the crisis and how to deal with news sources
4. The requirements for media coverage in times of crises and lessons learned from the Corona pandemic.
The webinar issued several recommendations, including:
ü The need for public television and radio corporations to diversify the news and program contents covering the Corona pandemic, and not only reporting official activities and press conferences, but to present human-interest stories.
ü Establish a permanent crisis cell in every media institution made up of press and technical staff and activate its role in covering events in times of crisis.
ü Train media professionals on health crises coverage and communication in order to avoid the state of confusion and errors that may occur in covering the global epidemic.
ü Train Arab television and radio staffers on new media techniques and on facing fake news and countering rumors.
ü Intensify the production of news magazines specialized in the health field and devoted to awareness and news on radio and television.
ü Raise health awareness of the right prevention methods and dealing with the treatment protocol of the global pandemic.