Malaysia targets private TV, Radio stations

Written by Ali Cordoba, World Futures

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has urged private television (TV) and radio stations to change by putting national interest above commercial value. Earlier he said newspapers should have a 'nation building' column to voice government views.

Observers in and outside Malaysia called the move by the new Information Minister as a 'big brother' attempt at stepping up control of the local media, targeting the audio-visual media with the intent of forcing more pro-government input on air. The government intend to target mobile phone providers to push forward its messages and the official views.

"Most people are already tired of the pro-government news agencies, media and television station. Stepping up the control of radio and TV stations like Astro and NTV or TV9 for example will cause chaos in the population. This will force the people to direct themselves to seek more independent news from blogs and online media," said one observer to an Indonesian website in Riau.

"People will not blame the private TV and radio stations if they had complied with the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998.