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Outcome from the National Consultation on a Malaysian Media Council

The participants at the National Consultation reiterate that any moves to institute a media council are contingent upon the repeal of repressive laws that govern the media, in particular the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, the Sedition Act 1972, sections 233 and 211 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, along with review of the Official Secrets Act and the implementation of a Freedom of Information Act.

The Malaysian media needs an independent self-regulatory body to uphold standards of journalism, raising levels of professionalism, and provide an avenue for arbitrating public complaints. A media council which is open, accountable and transparent can help to build confidence in the media, contributing to the credibility of news media organisations.

Nonetheless, a media council which fulfils these functions can only be the result of a process of open and transparent consultation. Media freedom and responsibility are the concerns of all Malaysians, and the particular concerns of journalists and editors. Any process of constituting a media council must involve at the least key stakeholders, including journalist organisations, be transparent and responsive to the comments of the general public.

Given the commercial challenges faced by the local media, particularly from international social media organisations, there is an urgent need to enhance the credibility and public confidence in journalism and to build support for local actors for local media. Local media often produce content that is monetised by large foreign social media entities, and local support is vital in efforts to ensure that content producers are able to reap the benefits of their work.

While there is a need for urgency, for the process to be inclusive, there needs to be the opportunity for key stakeholders, particularly journalist organisations, to have meaningful consultation with their members. This process will involve building understanding about what a media council is, how it affects journalists and organisations, and how councils work in other jurisdictions.

Aims of the Media council

  1. To defend, uphold, and promote media freedom
    • Promoting a legislative and regulatory environment conducive to media freedom
    2.Promotion and education of journalism as a public good.
    • Target group: the public, stakeholders, media industry professionals
    • This entails media literacy and journalism education.
  2. An independent body that responds to public complaints, mediates complaints and advocates on behalf of media industry professionals.
    • Code of ethics; sets the benchmark for journalism and professional standards, must include provisions of accountability and transparency across the board.
    • Independent body to address complaints.
  3. Protect journalists welfare and safety
    • Safe working environment

Composition

The council should be composed of 13 members, comprising:

  • 4 from editors/publishers (voted from amongst member organisations)
  • 4 from Journalist Groups (voted from amongst registered journalist associations)
  • 4 from public (nominated by anyone, with support letter from organisations, and voted on by member organisations and journalist associations)
  • 1 Chair (Retired judge – chosen by Media Council)
  • Minimum requirement of one woman from each of the three groups
  • Stakeholder groups (no voting rights) – consulted by media council (eg Experts – academicians, lawyers, civil society groups)

There should also be provision for affiliates (e.g. FCC, Sabah/Sarawak media councils)

There was strong agreement from journalists from Sabah that any draft should allow for the establishment of regional media councils, if necessary from the perspective of local media practitioners. The regional media councils could be subsidiaries of the Federal body, and agree to uphold the Code of Ethics agreed at the Federal level.

Complaints procedure

The group agrees that there must be a supplementary body/ombudsman present to investigate, curate and filter the complaints before proceeding to the media council. The parameter of the complaint will be addressed according to the code of ethics and TOR. It is advisable to liaise with CMCF on identifying and establishing the content code that is applicable to the media council. Every member of the public can file a complaint regardless of status, with due regard for the privacy of complainants where applicable.

Complaints should be able to be submitted according to online webforms and hotline centres and will be acknowledged. An ombudsman will screen and filter the cases before submitting it to the media council. Selected members of the council will conduct an investigation and form a decision. The media council must issue a public statement on the resolution of cases.

Compliance

To get support from all stakeholders, rather than have the media council come across as an antagonistic entity. As part of the process in forming the media council, stakeholders and the steering committee should:
◦ have a proactive approach to issues affecting the media;
◦ start media literacy initiatives to get support from the public and CSOs;
◦ To initiate media education to get journalists and editors/publishers on board.

To help ensure compliance, the Council should educate media practitioners on the code of conduct and conduct annual assessments/ trainings. Further all editors and journalists should annually sign a Code of Ethics agreement, reiterating their commitment to uphold these principles.
• To draft/write the Code of Conduct for media practitioners (This would be a public document)
• To introduce penalties for non-compliance of the Code of Conduct (Proposing reprimands and sanctions but not punitive actions)

Code of Ethics

The code of ethics should aspire to the highest journalistic principles. It should be simple, concise, and deal with real ethical questions that journalists face every day. It should work towards greater ideals, as pervasive discriminatory beliefs and ideas in the media are likely to be replicated in a self-regulatory model and would not necessarily eradicate the problem. Thus a code of ethics aspiring to the highest standards would set the tone for Malaysian media actually playing the role of the fourth estate.

Next steps

A committee has been established to continue these discussions. While at present the committee consists of representatives from groups that were present at the National Consultation, the committee welcomes and encourages inclusion of groups who are not present, balancing between keeping the committee manageable and being representative. The majority of the committee should be practising journalists.

The committee will aim to have a meeting in the next three weeks; and to come up with a draft bill and/ or constitution by 30 April 2019. Drafts will build upon the discussions during the National Consultation. The committee will publish ongoing drafts online, which will be available for comment by all interested parties and members of the public, with clear deadlines for comment. All comments made will be published online and as an appendix to the document produced.

The committee will be facilitated by the Centre for Independent Journalism and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights.

Collection of Media Council links – End March 2019

Self-regulating media council may be up this year, says Kadir
https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/137854

The government is pleased to see positive progress in the establishment of the Malaysia Media Council (MMC), said the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Media and Communications A. Kadir Jasin. The veteran newsman said the MMC might be established by this year.

We want a free, but responsible media, says Kadir
https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/04/we-want-a-free-but-responsible-media-says-kadir/

“I have seen at least two pretty good drafts about what MMC should be and those drafts may be discussed here in the next two days. I hope some bright ideas will come out of this conference so that it can be presented to the government,” the veteran newsman said in his keynote address at the National Consultation for MMC 2019 here today.


Draft bill for media council targeted for end-April
https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/466726

A draft bill for the establishment of a media council is set for completion by the end of next month, according to the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (MCCHR). This was decided following a two-day consultation in Kuala Lumpur, which was attended by journalist associations, editors, media owners, NGOs, academics, think tanks and lawyers


Steering committee to help realise Malaysian Media Council
https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/138120

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) director Sonia Randhawa said the majority of the committee will comprise reporters, journalists’ associations and academics.

Media council: Govt to play a role of listening, accepting proposals and assisting media players
https://www.theborneopost.com/2019/03/08/media-council-govt-to-play-a-role-of-listening-accepting-proposals-and-assisting-media-players-2/

Gobind said he was “happy” that the process of setting up the council was almost completed and he would meet the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Media and Communications Datuk A. Kadir Jasin on the matter. “I have asked the media industry to meet and come up with suggestions. This shows that we (government) want to get the media players to set up the council and come to us, and discuss the needs. This is how the government will play a role,”


K’jaan mahu media bebas dan bertanggungjawab – Kadir Jasin [VIDEO]
https://www.kinitv.com/video/71172O74#vmTPUvWrLFymM5ij.99

Penasihat Media Perdana Menteri Datuk A Kadir Jasin berkata kerajaan mengalu-alukan penubuhan Majlis Media Malaysia. Namun menurut Kadir penubuhan Majlis Media haruslah dimulakan oleh pengamal media kerana polisi kerajaan adalah tidak mencampuri urusan media.

Gobind: Putrajaya will leave media council for industry to decide
https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/07/gobind-putrajaya-will-leave-media-council-for-industry-to-decide/1730041

The Puchong MP said the government intended to be silent partners to the council and extend aid when sought, he said was asked if it will appoint representatives to the body. He pointed out that from the beginning, he has asked the industry to provide its suggestions and feedback. “This shows that we want to actually get the media industry to set up the council, and then, of course, to come to us and discuss with us what it is their needs are.”


[KKMM/Bernama] Majlis media : Kerajaan main peranan dengar, terima cadangan dan bantu pemain industri media – Gobind
https://www.kkmm.gov.my/awam/berita-terkini/14624-bernama-07-mac-2019-majlis-media-kerajaan-main-peranan-dengar-terima-cadangan-dan-bantu-pemain-industri-media-gobind

Kerajaan akan memainkan peranan mendengar, menerima cadangan dan membantu para pemain industri media apabila Majlis Media Malaysia (MMC) ditubuhkan kelak, yang dijangka pada tahun ini, kata Menteri Komunikasi dan Multimedia, Gobind Singh Deo. Gobind berkata beliau “gembira” bahawa proses penubuhan majlis berkenaan telah hampir selesai dan beliau akan berjumpa Penasihat Khas Media dan Komunikasi kepada Perdana Menteri Datuk A. Kadir Jasin mengenai perkara itu.

Gobind says “government to play a role of listening”

http://bernama.com/en/news.php?id=1702381

The government will play the role of listening, accepting proposals and assisting media industry players when the Malaysian Media Council (MMC) is set up, probably by this year, said Communications and Multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo.

Gobind said he was “happy” that the process of setting up the council was almost completed and he would meet the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Media and Communications Datuk A. Kadir Jasin on the matter.

Bernama report, 7 March 2019

Statement: Formation of a Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Malaysia, Institute of Journalists (IOJ) Malaysia, Gerakan Media Merdeka (GERAMM), Sabah Journalists Association and Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM) have agreed to work together on a proposal on the setting up of a Malaysian media council.

It has come to our attention that a proposal for such a council is being submitted to the government by a group of publishers in the media industry.

While we welcome the formation of a media council, neither the contents of this proposal were made public or shared with all journalists, nor were we invited to take part in its consultative process. We cannot endorse any submitted proposal that has not been seen or reviewed in detail by journalists at all levels of the industry.

We believe it is essential that journalists be involved as they are the largest stakeholders in the media landscape, and have driven the formation of media councils around the world.

As such, we believe that the time has come to form a Malaysian Media Council Journalists Alliance, with the intent of pushing a proposal to the government by April 2019. This is to ensure that journalists’ interests are represented in the government’s pre-stated intentions to form a media council.

To further ensure those interests are met, we call upon all journalists to participate in our Media Council Survey at https://goo.gl/sDczm1. This survey will close on March 31st 2019, and results will be considered heavily in the Alliance’s proposal.

We also call upon interest groups to contact us at geramm.media@gmail.com if they are interested in being part of this Alliance by March 31st 2019. Please note that we are only considering representatives of journalist interest groups, and not individuals.

We would also like to acknowledge the efforts taken by non-governmental organisations such as the Centre for Independent Journalism and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights in facilitating the discourse on the setting up of the media council this week. This has resulted in the reported announcement on a formation of a steering committee involving our groups.

However, we would like to clarify that not all of us have committed to their process. While some of us may continue to be part of external discussions on the bill, such as the CIJ-MCCHR initiative, any proposal will be taken back to our alliance of journalists for final endorsement or amendments, if need be. This resulting document is what will be backed by our groups rather than any produced by external stakeholders.

We also believe that any effort towards the creation of a media council will be futile if it’s not in tandem with the repeal and/or amendment of certain repressive laws such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

NCMCC Day 2 – In the News

Malay Mail, “Steering committee set up to discuss forming Malaysia Media Council”
https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/05/steering-committee-set-up-to-discuss-forming-malaysia-media-council/1729384

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) director Sonia Randhawa said the majority of the committee would consist among others, practising journalists, journalist associations and members of the academia.

Malaysiakini, ‘Draft bill for media council targeted for end-April’
https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/466726

A draft bill for the establishment of a media council is set for completion by the end of next month, according to CIJ and MCCHR. This was decided following a two-day consultation in Kuala Lumpur, which was attended by journalist associations, editors, media owners, NGOs, academics, think tanks and lawyers.

Utusan Malaysia, ‘Penubuhan Majlis Media Malaysia dibincang’
http://www.utusan.com.my/berita/nasional/penubuhan-majlis-media-malaysia-dibincang-1.854623

“(Bagaimanapun) kami juga menyedari bahawa terdapat keperluan segera untuk meminda kerangka kerja perundangan yang mengatur media di Malaysia pada masa ini…dan kerajaan komited untuk memansuhkan Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 (PPPA) tetapi mereka juga mahu melihat kemajuan idea majlis media.”

NCMCC Day 1 – In the News


MalaysiaKini, ‘Majlis media dibentuk tahun ini – Kadir Jasin’, ‘Kadir presses for media council to be formed this year’

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/466560
https://m.malaysiakini.com/news/466561

The Edge Markets / Bernama, ‘Positive progress in setting up Malaysia Media Council’

https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/positive-progress-setting-malaysia-media-council

DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOR A FOR MEDIA COUNCIL

January 2019: The following draft constitution was prepared by CIJ in consultation with various journalist groups and academics. This electronic version was formatted with ease of access in mind and numbering does not follow the original document fully. For the definitive version, please access it within the CIJ-MCCHR report on page 16-22.

Continue reading “DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOR A FOR MEDIA COUNCIL”

Who mediates the media?

The role of a Media Council is, in part, to make decisions about when and where media have overstepped the bounds, when they have behaved badly. They work in accordance with a code of ethics, and arbitrate in much the same manner as a judge. The aim is to help build trust between the media and the public, and to enforce uphold standards of journalism.

But do you think that you have what it takes to make those judgements? TAKE THE QUIZ.

Continue reading “Who mediates the media?”

MMC Looking for Volunteers

Are You A Student Passionate About Media, Journalism and Civil Society?

CIJ and MCCHR are looking for EIGHT student volunteers to assist with a National Consultation for a Malaysian Media Council. Students, preferably from a media studies/journalism course, will interview participants on self-regulation for the Malaysian media.

The student volunteers will have the opportunity to:

  • meet with senior editors, journalists, members of Government, and civil society activists;
  • experience interviewing and recording people at an important national consultation;
  • add to their portfolio and enhance employability.

The National Consultation takes palce 4-5 March 2019, at a downtown hotel in Central Kuala Lumpur.

Volunteers are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis — to be notified by 22 February 2019. Join us now!

Edit: Registration is now closed.

Interview with Gayathry Venkiteswaran: What is a Media Council?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be presenting a few interviews with academics to help understand why Malaysia needs a system of self-regulation for the media; looking at who loses under the current system; and discussing potential models for self-regulation.

Kicking off this season, CIJ director Sonia Randhawa is chatting with University of Nottingham Malaysia lecturer Gayathry Venkiteswaran to understand what self-regulation means, and why it is important for Malaysia at this point.