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This week’s report begins in Saudi Arabia where government officials say they will soon require Internet users to obtain a state-issued permit in order to post videos on YouTube. Videos would be evaluated based on their consistency with Saudi “culture, values and tradition.” The policy could have troublesome implications for activists, whose strategic use of YouTube for actions like the Women2Drive campaign has brought international attention to the issue. Saudi citizens reportedly boast the highest YouTube usage rate per capita in the world.
A Saudi judge recommended that blogger Raif Badawi face charges of apostasy, or denouncing Islam, before the country’s high court. Individuals convicted of apostasy in Saudi Arabia typically receive the death penalty. Last summer, Badawi was convicted of insulting Islam on his blog, Free Saudi Liberals, and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. The current recommendation came after Badawi’s lawyers appealed the decision.
YouTube won a News Innovation Award from the International Center for Journalists last night. Ironically, that’s just a day before the Israeli army used the service, along with Twitter and its own blog, to almost livecast the assassination of a Hamas leader.
YouTube has become a massive news destination, YouTube chief executive Salar Kamangar said in his acceptance speech, with 7000 hours of news-related footage uploaded every single day. Fully a third of searches on YouTube are news-related, and after the March earthquake in Japan this year, the top 20 YouTube videos of the disaster were watched almost 100 million times.
Uygur is host and creator of “The Young Turks,” a political show on YouTube and carried by Current TV. The 42-year-old has built up a large and loyal fanbase in the last seven years. He does a daily live stream — “TYT” has 413,00 subscribers who have watched its videos a whopping 850 million times — and since December 2011, “TYT” has had a nightly one-hour show on Current TV. But Uygur, whose show is focused on politics, hasn’t stopped there. In the last two years, “TYT” has added eight other shows to its fledgling network, ranging from a film review show to a sports show and a college-focused show. The Young Turks Network is a modern video network, all owned and operated by Uygur and team, and it runs through YouTube.
Related: NPR’s special series on the future of TV: How We Watch What We Watch