Under the headline “BBC to issue global apology for documentaries that broke rules”, UK’s The Independent newspaper reported that “The BBC will today apologise to an estimated 74 million people around the world for a news fixing scandal, exposed by The Independent, in which it broadcast documentaries made by a London TV company that was earning millions of pounds from PR clients which it featured in its programming.
“BBC World News viewers from Kuala Lumpur to Khartoum and Bangkok to
Buenos Aires will watch the remarkable broadcast, available in 295
million homes, 1.7 million hotel rooms, 81 cruise ships, 46 airlines and
on 35 mobile phone platforms, at four different times, staged in order
to reach audiences in different time zones. The BBC will apologise for
breaking ‘rules aimed at protecting our editorial integrity’.”
The Independent exposed last year in an investigation into
the global television news industry how the BBC paid nominal fees of as
little as £1 for programmes made by FBC Media (UK), whose PR client list
included foreign governments and multinational companies. The company
made eight pieces for the BBC about Malaysia while failing to declare it
was paid £17 million by the Malaysian government for “global strategic
The programmes included positive coverage of Malaysia’s controversial palm oil industry.
According to the report, investigations into the scandal “uncovered
15 breaches of editorial guidelines”, of which eight were related to
FBC’s programmes on Malaysia.
The apology, according to the report, will read: “In the case of
eight other programmes, all of which featured Malaysia, we found that
the production company which made the programmes appeared to have a
financial relationship with the Malaysian government. “This meant there was a potential conflict of interest, though the BBC was not aware of it when the programmes were broadcast.”
That the BBC had been duped into airing the programmes is its
problem. The British broadcaster is paying the price for its oversight.
What should concern us is that taxpayers’ money paid to FBC Media.
Its unprofessional conduct has caused our country shame. Instead of
benefiting from FBC’s costly handiwork, Malaysia’s image has instead
been further damaged.
The question is: how could our government (and its agencies) have
made such a mistake when we know that teams upon teams of “high-powered”
media professionals have been employed by Putrajaya since Prime
Minister Mohd Najib took over in 2009?
Did they not know who or what FBC Media is? To have their “global
strategic communications” contractor caught red-handed, and with its
pants down, does not speak well of the government’s media teams and
Perhaps this is the problem and outcome of being too dependent on
outside advisers and consultants, and not being hands-on enough.
[Source : A Kadir Jasin]