Gobind: Control, not just ownership, a factor in media slant

KUALA LUMPUR: The government simply wants a media system where there is no political interference in the reports published, Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo said.

He said there were concerns that reports published by certain media companies and certain media were slanted politically because of their ownership.

Appearing to take a softer stand on the issue of ownership of media houses by political parties following an ongoing debate, Gobind said today the real question was whether or not ownership was the only factor in determining how reports came out.

He agreed that it was not just ownership, but also control that determined the slant in news reporting.

Last August, however, he had said: “I have always been clear on this – we should avoid ownership of media by political parties but of course the decision to outlaw it has to be decided by the government.”

He said there was no hard and fast rule over the percentage or quota that political shareholders should have in media companies.

“Of course, people have suggested, there are some suggestions of 8% or 10%, but I think that we need to refocus on the real problem,

“What we want is to have a system, whereby there is no political interference in the reports made by independent media, so that is our focus.”

He was speaking to reporters after a panel discussion and question and answer session at the investment conference “Malaysia: A New Dawn” organised by the ministry of finance.

In his speech, he said his ministry would engage with the media themselves to consider their views and recommendations.

Recently, The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd publisher and group chief executive officer Ho Kay Tat, in a radio interview, said political parties should not be prevented from owning media companies and should be free to compete for readers.

Ho said he did not believe in having such a restriction. Instead, he argued that anyone who wanted to invest or to start a media company should be allowed to do it.

He argued that the public should decide which media worked and which did not work.

The issue continues to be debated following a statement by Gobind that political parties should stay away from owning media companies in order to improve the quality of journalism in the country.