A Sarawak Report expose that top BN politicians had allegedly paid RM15m annually to buy positive publicity on shows like CNBC’s World Business has sent shock-waves in the media industry.

The Sarawak Report expose can be found here.

CNBC has since withdrawn the World Business show. The BBC has taken similar action, Malaysian Insider reports.

The Insider also reported: “According to Politico, FBC Media is listed in lobbying reports as having paid tens of thousands of dollars to Washington-based lobbying firm APCO in recent years to lobby on behalf of the Malaysian government…

The Insider also reported that records showed that between 2008 and 2009, RM57.7 million was paid by the Prime Minister’s office to FBC Media for the campaign.

When the Sarawak Report expose was first published, I contacted a UK-based media analyst, John Hilley, who is familiar with Malaysian affairs and global media power play. He responded, “You can just see how readily … the big revenue-seeking media are embracing the kind of power-client stuff being put out by FBC, all serving the political-corporate narrative of ‘development’.”

So much for the ‘objectivity’, ‘professionalism’ and ‘balanced journalism’ propounded by these big global media stations.

It just goes to show the extent the global media will go to churn out unquestioning, uncritical propaganda that fits within the framework of corporate media propaganda. It’s a framework that often furthers the interests of MNCs while paying lip service to the people’s struggle for real democracy and economic and environmental justice.

While budget cuts result in spending on real journalistic work being slashed, the production of programmes is increasingly farmed out to private media outfits, whose sources of funding and sponsorship are beneath the public radar (as in the case of FBC).

As a result, it is sometimes hard to figure out whether what you are reading or watching is really news or stuff churned out by some company or public relations outfit. The line between real journalism and advertorials/public relations trash was blurred a long time ago, not just overseas but in some of our local media as well.

And what do the Malaysian leaders implicated by Sarawak Report have to say?