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Amid UNTV Lay Offs, UN Says Its Up to Contractor, Like Garment Industry: Skeleton Crew & EZTV

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 27 -- Two days before long time UN sound engineers and camera operators stand to lose their jobs, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey about Ban's labor practices and new and mounting criticism of them.

Del Buey declined to respond to the critical letter of the ITUC federation of unions, with 176 million members, which Inner City Press put online yesterday. On the situation of the audio visual technicians, he said he'd supply an answer. And now he has:

Subject: Your question on TV services at the UN
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at] org
Date: Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 2:39 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding the contract for Audiovisual Services at the UN, we have the following to say:

Following a standard procurement solicitation process, a new contract for Broadcast and Audiovisual Services at UN Headquarters in New York has been awarded to TeamPeople, a media talent staffing company based in Virginia. TeamPeople has broad experience in providing technical staffing to broadcasters, media operations, video production companies and conference facilities in the US and the UK. TeamPeople will assume full operational responsibilities on 1 July, and the contract will run for a period of two years with options to extend.

The new contractor has sole responsibility for supplying the technicians, i.e. sound engineers, camera operators and studio technicians. The UN's contract is with the contractor only and the UN is not involved in the contractor's hiring processes.

  Not only does this sound suspiciously like a clothing company saying it is not responsible for its contractors, like the one's whose factory recently collapsed in Bangladesh -- it ignores the question of the quality of the broadcasts.

  Already on Thursday when Iraq's foreign minister Zebari spoke, there was no boom microphone operator. Inner City Press shouted out its question about the $11 billion Iraq still owes Kuwait -- but still on the webcast, trying to transcribe it, questions could barely be heard.

  And it stands to get worse. TeamPeople has told those it has interviewed that it plans to go to a “skeleton crew” through August. They will be doing trainings this weekend -- the two days before they become entirely responsible for UNTV productions.

  Meanwhile on the UN's new “EZTV” system, already not working at BBC, Al Jazeera English, TV5 Monde, MSNBC and all local stations. The UN says it wants the news out, but of late makes things difficult for reporters, and even threatens them with the suspension or withdrawal of accreditation for aligning with and hanging the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access, pushing for more access, to hold the UN to its stated principles. Watch this site.

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