NPC wants MCMC to push the envelope, ‘get Meta and Google to finally pay for our journalism’

The National Press Club of Malaysia (NPC) has thrown its support behind the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for wanting Meta and Google to pay for journalism.

In the same vein, NPC president Datuk Ahirudin Attan stressed that consultation is key in ensuring media practitioners in the country continue to practice journalism, without fear or favour.

“As a journalist, I would like to thank MCMC for doing this for us,” said Ahirudin, following MCMC’s discussions with Meta and Google that took place at the commission’s headquarters in Cyberjaya yesterday.

“We have, over the years, both individually and collectively, asked the Malaysian government to take this matter up, and look at what the Australians are doing. Our voices were rather muted then, perhaps it was our fault for not being united in facing this issue.

“Now, MCMC is fighting the battle for us … ironically, this comes at a time when the commission is being attacked by some senior editors for its supposed handling of online platforms.

“I hope the same editors will credit MCMC and the authorities when they help us. They don’t do that often, but this is an example of the authorities and journalists wanting the same thing. We can disagree on matters of principle, but it’s always important to communicate,” he added.

A group of senior newsmen, in a joint statement recently, voiced concerns over MCMC’s action of calling up media organisations to explain their content.

The commission responded by saying that it was duty-bound to do so, to take the necessary actions to tackle issues, such as the spread of false information, and offensive and defamatory content, adding that in recent times, there had been an alarming increase in news reporting that lacked responsibility, sensibility, and accuracy.

The MCMC, in its meeting with Google and Meta yesterday, said it would consult with the Communications and Digital Ministry to address the imbalance in traditional advertising expenditure income between digital platforms and local media, to create a more level playing field.

References were made to Australia and Canada’s approach in ensuring established and legitimate media outlets were compensated accordingly.

“Look, I’ve been called in by MCMC in the past, its officers have raided my house, even taken my laptop. I’m looking at this not as an armchair critic, but as someone who has been subjected to such scrutiny. But we’ve always found solutions.

“Why am I saying this? Here’s an example of both parties wanting the same thing, but it looks like the authorities (MCMC) have beaten us to it, and it’s okay.

“We want MCMC to push the envelope to convince these guys (Meta and Google), and make them finally pay for our journalism. This is our blood, sweat, and tears, and we have been robbed in broad daylight.

“My thanks to MCMC. Well done, and we will support, and be behind you on this. But when it comes to our freedoms, please consult with us before taking any action,” Ahirudin added.