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National media council to be set up soon, says Syed Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 Oct 2008: A national media council will be established soon to identify the weaknesses in the media, besides finding ways to ensure accurate reporting, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said today.

He said the idea of creating the council had already been brought up to the cabinet and was well received.

“Various aspects needed to be addressed and a series of discussions is underway before we can formulate the policy.

“I believe it’s a right platform at the right time to strengthen relations between the government and the media organisations,” he told reporters after opening the Colloquium on Media Policy in Malaysia here.

The two-day colloquium, organised by the Asian Institute for Communication Development (Aidcom) and the High Commission of Canada to discuss issues on media policy and freedom, was attended by 50 participants.

Syed Hamid said the establishment of the media council should not be judged as a step to further restrict the media, as the future of the media in the country was being decided through collective effort.

“It’s our responsibility to formulate a national media policy which represents our identity, values and beliefs as Malaysians. A new media policy needs to be updated in line with current global trends which place a high value on liberalisation and advancement of technology.

“We need a clear national media policy and through that, we can discuss and identify suitable reforms as well as understand the importance of the introduction of the national media council with an open mind,” he said, adding that distortions and inaccuracies in news reporting must be omitted.

He said a truly liberal media environment could only be obtained if the government implemented guidelines and code of ethics which form the basis of the national media policy.

Meanwhile, commenting on cyberspace news, Syed Hamid said: “We can’t identify this group as alternative media anymore, since the demand for their stories is greater than that for the mainstream media.

“Cyberspace is a free platform and the young generation is more in favour of online news. Even the mainstream media are now focusing on uploading their news online,” he added. — Bernama


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