Fraudulent PR campaign blows up in M’sia’s face

Millions spent on a public relations campaign abroad to boost Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s image and the Barisan Nasional government has turned sour.

(Free Malaysia Today) – British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has suspended all programming from the London-based FBC Media after it was ‘confirmed’ that the TV production company had received payment to produce and air, as genuine content, at least four documentaries on Malaysia’s palm oil industry and its ‘treatment of the rainforest and indigenous people’.

BBC in a statement to UK’s prestigious daily The Independent yesterday said that “FBC has now admitted to the BBC that it has worked for the Malaysian government”.

“That information was not disclosed to the BBC as we believe it should have been when the BBC contracted programming from FBC.

“Given this, the BBC has decided to transmit no more programming from FBC while it reviews its relationship with the company.”

It is understood that prior to it’s TV productions for Malaysia, FBC had already produced some 20 programmes for the BBC and had signed the BBC’s standard producer guidelines which guarantee to “not accept money or other services or benefits from any individual, company or organisation with a view to endorsing or promoting such services and/or products in the series or series publicity or which could lead to doubts about the subjectivity or impartiality of the series”.

In a published statement to The Independent, the BBC said: “All independent TV companies who produce programmes for BBC World News have to sign strict agreements to ensure programmes meet the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including avoiding any conflict of interest.”

BBC’s World News attracts 78 million viewers a week and is available in more than 200 countries.

The Independent had further flogged the fact that FBC received “almost £6 million” (RM28 million) from the Malaysian governmnent and the amount had been reflected in the Malaysian government’s Supplementary Budget 2010.

The report noted that the payout had been for work on a “Global Strategic Communications Campaign” in 2009.

It also noted that a similar sum of RM29.34 million was also allocated to the company for the previous year and that the matter had been raised in Malaysian parliament.

FBC, with offices in London, Mumbai and Rome, has however denied any impropriety in its programmes for any broadcaster.

Speaking through its lawyers, FBC media said: “At no time have the television programmes made for the BBC ever been influenced or affected by our client’s commercial activities”.