Without any reps from the TV stations, the first meeting of the proposed Media Consultative Council (MCC) was attended by only a few media chiefs, a new media spokesperson who represented the bloggers, and 'tier-2' personnel from Prime Minister's Office, the Home Ministry and Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim's officers.
It was chaired by Sec-Gen of Information, Communication and Culture Ministry, Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf (pic). Uninvited reps from some news portals and 'akhbar nyamuk' were nearby. I was one of them.
It was an interesting idea and I believe it comes from Rais himself. The MCC will be put under a joint-jurisdiction - Rais and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, our Home Minister (a 'abang-adik' control).
I guess I saw a few red faces after the meeting, which was meant to get feedback about the Council prior to its official establishment. But the meeting turned sour as most of the participants, especially from the mainstream media took it as another government tool to control them.
The issue about the direction to be taken by the Council, the kind of benefit it will bring and who will be appointed to the panel, are still unclear. However, all parties should consider it and give inputs as to how its embodiment should be managed to the interest of the booming media industry (new media such as blogs and portals are also part of it).
The only MCC that I came across is the Botswana Media Consultative Council (BACC) which was established in 1998. Malaysia is years ahead of Botswana in terms of economic achievement and development but the idea only cropped up now. I wonder...
The BACC is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-governmental organisation registered in September 1998 as a trust under applicable domestic law. Its primary mission is to promote and preserve the further development of a multimedia industry in Botswana which is free, democratic, pluralistic and productive.
"In our vision, we recognise that Botswana will only realise its full economic as well as democratic potential if both its public and private sectors successfully embrace the political and social, as well as technological challenges of the rapidly evolving global information age. The BMCC was established to help secure this goal by constituting itself as an institutionalised forum for media stakeholders to enter into constructive dialogue both among themselves and with the wider community, including the government and regional organisations, on issues of common concern".
That's part of its Charter (read here).
What differs our MCC and BMCC is, ours is chaired by ministers while theirs fully comprises non-govt figures. The BMCC is chaired by a senior journalist/columnist while no govt officials sit on its panel.
Anyway, I think ours is slightly better as we will have govt and media reps on the same panel.
Good idea... but I hope we can be more specific in its objectives and benefits. I am sure its not all about taking punitive action on any media reports but a channel to discuss problems besetting our media industry.