Public television, the golden hue of premeditated theft

Once the jewel of the Tunisian media landscape, public television has just been held up by YouTube for copyright theft. After several warnings, the online video giant has just deleted the channel’s account and its two million subscribers.

For decades, when it occupied the Tunisian audiovisual monopoly, public television was the happiness and pride of Tunisians. With its series Ommi Traki, Les contes de Laroui or more recently Choufli Hall, the channel was a true unifier of Tunisians and their identity.

With the arrival of competition, in the mid-2000s, the chain began to decline. It got worse with the departure of several of its star journalists to petro-dollar monarchies.

After the revolution, it was systematically and constantly overtaken by the private channels, especially El Hiwar by Sami El Fehri and Nessma by Nabil Karoui. However, freedom of expression has been secured, suggesting that its 1,100 employees have the opportunity to do good work with the gigantic funds at their disposal. None of the private channels owns 10% of the public channel’s material and human resources, more than 98% of which are funded by taxpayers.

Continuing its downward trend, things got worse after the July 25 coup and the arrival of new CEO Awatef Dali.

It has simply become a propaganda tool for the putschist power and no longer respects the ethics of the journalistic profession and even less the viewer.

Some of its journalists came forward to defend their television, but they were all put in the fridge. Worse, they have been publicly singled out by the CEO who accuses them of not wanting to work.

Maher Abderrahman, journalist, producer, ex-BBC and ex-presenter of 20-Heures in the 80s and 90s, has published an entire book on public television and its failings. There was no follow up on the content and it only garnered disdain from management!

On Thursday, October 27, a scandal erupted with the deletion of the Watanya 1 channel’s YouTube account. Overnight, two million subscribers went live.

As everyone knows, YouTube only applies these drastic measures after several warnings.

The channel has been accused of stealing content from others and dumping it on YouTube.

This practice is common in the Tunisian media landscape. Business News knows something about this with regular and daily theft of its articles from a large number of Facebook pages, but also from well-established newspapers with more than twenty years of existence.

Enough is enough, a young Tunisian designer refused to let his work be stolen without reacting. This is Rabii Ben Brahim, aka The Dreamer, who produces thematic videos and then sells them. His videos film landscapes and promote Tunisian tourism and culture.

First, he noted the re-recording without permission of some excerpts of his videos, without citing the source, on public television and by the Ministry of Culture.

Rabii Ben Brahim contacted officials at the Ministry of Culture, who admitted the theft of his creations and apologized.

On public television, we would have also admitted the theft of his creations, but we did it again anyway!

Despite his complaints, he found that Public Television was no longer content with snippets, but simply took over entire videos by removing “The Dreamer” logo and replacing it with his own “Wataniya 1”. In the process, the original soundtrack is deleted so that the theft is not detected by YouTube’s artificial intelligence. There would be a good dozen stolen films.

The creator had to assert his rights with YouTube if he could do nothing else to force the public broadcaster to stop stealing his videos. The American giant, very picky about copyright, notified public television and deleted the disputed videos. However, this did not cause the TV to react, which continued its carousel. Once, twice, three times, the fourth came down on October 27 with the outright cancellation of the multi-recidivism chain.

Contacted by Business News, the director of communications for Public TV promised to get back to us for an official response within twenty minutes. Promise not kept. We will not fail to publish it later if he ever sends it to us.

Deleting the account should cause a national scandal. Except it isn’t. In the Tunisian media landscape, few have mentioned the subject, primary corporatism obliges.

On social networks, we border on surrealism, as it is Rabii Ben Brahim that we insult and demean by accusing him of causing the deletion of the national channel’s YouTube account!

The characteristic rush of social networks to defend the thief and attack the victim is impossible to explain.

This is a business within the company. Not only is Rabii Ben Brahim the victim of the blatant theft of so-called journalists from Public Television, but he is being lynched on social networks!

Fortunately, there are still a few sane people in the country to defend the trampled rights of the creator.

National television committed repeated and premeditated thefts. She steals the content, crops, edits, removes The Dreamer mentions, logo and any element related to the original author. She did it on purpose. It was no longer an unusual practice, but a deeply rooted culture. The culture of appropriating the work of others, believing that they have the right to do so without any accountability. The arrogance of not following up on superfluous regularization calls from various authors led to this predictable epilogue. The dreamer is a young Tunisian who fights, works, produces in an extremely hostile environment. And he gets robbed repeatedly. The dreamer should be thanked, not rejected. For national television, in addition to the collective sanction, the institution should file a complaint against the people who cause its losses on a daily basis and waste public funds. A scandal, a genuine, revealing mediocrity and, above all, a widespread practice. All my solidarity with the Dreamer and all those who have not been rewarded for their efforts. ” choked Mehdi Kettou, journalist and host on private radio and TV channels.

Same story with producer Néjib Belkadhi: “ The closure of the national channel’s YouTube channel for repeated copyright violations (use of the videographer The Dreamer’s videos without his consent) is a (well-deserved) slap in the face of a system that has shamelessly mocked intellectual property for decades. In another country that respects its creators, this is considered a state scandal! #3000_years_of_civilization “.

In a normal country, the public television journalists who committed this theft would have been fired and put on trial. Ditto for those responsible who did not respond to Mr. Ben Brahim’s complaints and YouTube’s subpoena. The CEO is said to have resigned following the scandal. We bet no one will be worried as long as they are under the protection of Awatef Dali, beloved propagandist for the Palace of Carthage.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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