Sub-Committees Formed To Pursue Fruition Of Media Council

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KUALA LUMPUR: Various sub-committees have been formed to pursue fruition of the Malaysian Media Council, said its pro-tem committee chairman Premesh Chandran.

In a statement here today, the CEO of  the Malaysiakini news portal said the pro-tem  committee held its first meeting last Thursday and formed the sub-committees which have been tasked with pursuing six principles for a draft bill  towards realisation of the council.

He noted that the meeting included a robust discussion on the scope of the proposed media council, laws that would need to be abolished or amended for the council to work effectively and how to incorporate interests of various stakeholders including the media industry, journalists, government and the public.

“The committee acknowledged the differing perspectives among stakeholders while also affirming that all parties are in favour of an independent, responsible and professional media industry,” he said.

He said the committee would meet again in two weeks.

Premesh said the draft bill would encompass the following principles:

  1. The scope of the media council shall cover all forms of media including print, broadcast and online and shall cover private as well as public-owned media. 
  2. The media council will not cover individual speech on social media or blogs, for which other laws currently or should cover. 
  3. Participation in the media council will be on a volunteer or opt-in basis, there will have to be sufficient benefits and incentives for the media industry to participate.
  4. Laws that curb press freedom or inhibit good journalistic practices will have to be abolished. 
  5. The media council will have a code of conduct for media as well as a proper grievance procedure. 
  6. The media council will also look into the overall sustainability of the media industry, improving journalism standards and media literacy. 

The 17-member pro-tem committee was set up on Jan 16 at a meeting of leading media practitioners.

It has given itself two months to come up with proposals for a bill to formalise the formation of the council by way of an Act of Parliament.

The formation of the pro-tem committee fulfills a promise by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in its manifesto for the 14th general election held in May 2018 to facilitate the setting up of a media council.

The Malaysian Media Council will also function as an ombudsman with regard to public complaints against errant members.

It will promote and regulate media ethics, uphold professionalism through standards-setting, and promote and uphold media freedom.