Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: al-Qaeda, business

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

image for Al-Qaeda Corners Cassette Market
Cassettes - cornering the news market.

Al-Qaeda is dominating a niche business market - cassette tapes.

As the good old C30, C60 and C90 tapes disappear forever from the shelves of Western shops, it seems the Middle East just can't get enough of them.

They are being snapped up by the truckload as Osama Bin Laden, his cohorts in Al-Qaeda and a host of satellite groups press ‘play' and ‘record' to send out their chilling threats to the West.

And these messages are receiving an international audience thanks to Aljazeera, the last newsroom on the planet with a cassette player.

That has prompted some of the world's major news gatherers to start trawling pawn and charity shops in a frantic bid to find and re-install this antiquated piece of equipment.

Their plight has reached such levels that Sefton Delmer, the BBC's Head of Procurement, was caught red-handed last week breaking into a 1974 Triumph Toledo in an attempt to prise out its cassette player.

Journalists around the world have breathed a heavy sigh of relief that Middle Eastern kidnappers have at least advanced to video-cameras and playback equipment is still readily available through church and car boot sales.

However, while ITN, MTV, CNN, ITN, NBC and a great many other acronyms dig out the surgical spirit and cotton buds and get to grips cleaning these ancient tape heads, it seems the ingenuity of the Middle East propaganda machine knows no boundaries.

Inside sources believe Aljazeera is now installing 8-track audioplayers - a forerunner of the cassette deck which dropped out of fashion in the early 1970s.

"If groups like Al Qaeda have recording facilities for 8-track, and manage to get their hands on some tapes, then they will control the news," said Ray Wynd, President of the International Society of Journalists.

"Museums don't even have examples of this kind of equipment so, when it comes to breaking news, we will always be beaten to the punch and playing catch-up. We desperately need these guys to enter the digital age."

Footnote: It is believed a single C90 tape can change hands for as much as nine barrels of oil in Afghanistan while AA batteries fetch two barrels each.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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