TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rallyWith the Bersih 2.0 rally just around the corner, the authorities have launched a media campaign to label the rally as an illegal gathering to the extent that TV stations are required to submit daily reports detailing their news coverage on the rally.
Malaysiakini learnt that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which oversees all private TV and radio stations, has directed the broadcasters to state the number and content of news related to Bersih in their reports.
Yesterday, the commission also invited representatives from 22 electronic media and telecommunications operators to attend a one-day seminar titled 'Content Monitoring Seminar 2011' at its auditorium in Cyberjaya.
According to the MCMC letter issued to the electronic media, a copy of which was obtained by Malaysiakini, the aim of the seminar is to "discuss compliance with licensing criteria and other relevant provisions".
Editors who attended the seminar told Malaysiakini that they were implicitly advised by the MCMC not to refer to the rally as "Bersih rally" but as "illegal gathering" in their news coverage and to discourage members of the public from taking part in it.
On July 9, the day of the rally, footage showing police using violence on protesters is considered taboo, the editors said.
Instead the news should highlight the difficulties and inconvenience caused by the rally to the people, as well as scenes of protesters heckling, public property being vandalised and massive traffic congestions.
RTM already playing the roleState-owned RTM TV stations have been airing street polls against the rally on an almost daily basis in the past week.
Messages telling people to stay away from the rally are also being aired daily over both RTM and MCA-owned Mandarin radio station 988, which has highlighted the rally's status as illegal.
Most of the mainstream local dailies, meanwhile, have already been referrring to the Bersih 2.0 rally as an "illegal gathering".
Even the Chinese dailies, which exercise comparatively greater editorial independence, are leaning toward a conservative stand on this issue.
Both China Press and Nanyang Siang Pau have in their editorials recently dissuaded the people from taking part in the rally in order to "protect the national security".
Among others, they recalled the May 13 racial clashes of 1969 in order to convince their readers about the potential harm the illegal assembly could bring about.
Websites warnedMeanwhile, MCMC has warned it would shut down websites deemed a threat to national security, including those promoting the July 9 rally.
MCMC chief strategy officer Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi told the Star that the commission would not hesitate to take action against any website for breaching the Communication and Multimedia Act.
Anything deemed illegal or wrong in the real world also applied to the cyber world, said Sharil.
Responding to an anti-Bersih advertisement aired on RTM channel TV2 yesterday, PAS Youth urged RTM to stop “misusing taxpayers' money to commit slander against a people's movement”.
“The short advertisement starts with an actor showing a Bersih leaflet, which was well-received by actor Bell Ngasri who showed interest in joining the rally.
"This was followed by actor Ezany Nizariff who showed a clip of chaos breaking out overseas, while saying that this will be what will happen at the Bersih rally and that the rakyat will feel threatened while tourists will flee.
“The advertisement ended with Bell throwing away the leaflet and saying that the Bersih rally is actually a dirty rally... RTM has allowed itself to become a political tool, but worse still, it showed no evidence that such violence and chaos would happen in Bersih and was forced to steal footage from overseas,” said the Selangor PAS Youth information chief Riduan Mohd Nor.
He added that if RTM wanted to let the people know the truth about Bersih then they should telecast on TV1 and TV2 a debate between Bersih and the Election Commission or BN representatives.- Malaysiakini, 1/7/2011, TV, radio told to demonise Bersih rally
According to those who attended the poorly-represented closed- door meeting chaired by Information, Communication and Culture Ministry secretary general Kamaruddin Siaraf (right), the editors were "about 100 percent" against government involvement in the council.
Notable absences in the one-hour meeting today were top editors of widely-read publications The Star, The Edge and Malay Mail.
Those who made it included representatives from The Sun, Bernama, the China Press group, Sin Chew group and the NSTP group, as well as the National Union of Journalists Malaysia.
Also present were media officials from the Prime Minister's Department.
“The print media is sending a very clear message that we feel that this is another layer of control.
“The perception is that we are already battered,” said a source who attended the meeting.
“How is going to help our circulation?” she asked, raising anxiety over the council's effect on the bottom line.
However, Kamaruddin, who according to the Home Ministry and Information, Communication and Ministry joint-proposal is to be the co-deputy chairperson of the council, said that the press have gotten the wrong impression.
“The council is not about regulation, it is just a consultative council that has no executive powers.
“All we want is to pave the way to establish (an independent) media council... we have enough laws to regulate already,” he said, adding that he will take the feedback to the government.
“We had called the print media first.. but it has failed even with them... so I have to report this to the government,” he said.
He added that they will also consider the suggestion from Bernama editor-in-chief Yong Soo Heong to also include media owners in the council.
According to NUJ secretary-general V Anbalagan (right), what the media essentially wants is a council independent of the government in order to maintain its role as the fourth estate.
“This is a step backward, an exercise in futility... What we want is to set up a council made up of media members which is funded with taxpayers' money.
“It should not be headed by the government but by a retired judge,” he said, relating the outcome of a NUJ meeting in April on the matter.
The government proposal discussed today suggested that the council be co-chaired by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.
The deputy co-chairpersons will be the ministries' secretary generals, while officials from the Prime Minister's Department, National Security Council, and the Information Ministry's Special Functions Department (Jasa) were also proposed as council members.
The council aims to, among others, be a forum for “harmonious” cooperation in the interest of nation-building, and to produce “communication strategies to tackle recurring issues”. - Malaysiakini, 25/7/2011, Editors snub gov't-led media council at first meeting