Govt mulls to limit political parties’ media stakeholding


The government is studying a proposal to limit political parties and its members’ stakeholding in media companies to ensure news organisations remain neutral and their reports are not influenced by specific agenda.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (picture) said the study would also decide whether the government should be involved in setting any limit in shareholding of such companies.

He said the proposal would eliminate agenda-driven reporting that negatively tinge public perception.

“We are looking into the matter and we are still studying it. We need to ensure that news reports are neutral, transparent, truthful and factual for the public. News reports must also discuss current events.

“This is critical because if you look at things globally, the people of a nation are developed through what they read in news reports, regardless if they are online or mainstream. The government takes this matter seriously and we are looking on how to improve it,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Gobind was responding to MP Tan Kok Wai (Pakatan Harapan-Cheras) who had asked whether the government has any plans to limit political ownership in media firms.

The minister said while he agreed that some mainstream media are still controlled by Opposition political parties, a newspaper’s political leanings might go beyond the shareholders’ views.

“A media company should have non-partisan shareholders, otherwise, there would be very biased reports.

“This could happen because it is what the shareholders want. But the government is looking at limiting the amount of shares politicians or political companies will hold in media companies.

“But we must also see the difference between shareholders and the control (a political party) has in these companies,” said Gobind.

Umno owns significant stakes in Utusan Melayu Bhd and Media Prima Bhd, while MCA controls the Star Media Group Bhd.